Pakistan: Music once again in the crosshairs

On 2 July 2017, Islamabad police raided a late-night dance party at the Grand Ambassador Hotel and arrested over 50 people, mostly male, including the hotel owner and manager, on charges of “obscene acts and songs”, reported The Express Tribune on 3 July 2017. Police officers stated that the male and female participants were dancing […]

Georgia: Rappers arrested for alleged drug possession

Both members of Georgian rap duo Birja Mafia were arrested on 8 June 2017 for allegedly purchasing and possessing several grams of ecstasy (MDMA) in what they claim was a response to a recent video they released featuring a police officer being treated like a dog, reported several local Georgian sources. In the video, an […]

Belarus: Ukrainian writer apprehended and banned from entry

Belarusian security agents apprehended Ukrainian writer and poet Serhiy Zhadan from his hotel in Minsk in the middle of the night of 11 February 2017, detained him overnight in a prison cell and ordered him to leave the country by the end of the day, reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on 11 February 2017. Zhadan, […]

Israel: Police detain Palestinian writer allegedly over novel

Israeli police detained Palestinian writer Khalida Ghosheh after raiding her home in the neighbourdhood of Beit Hanina in eastern Jerusalem and took her into custody for interrogation on 11 March 2017, reported the Ma’an News Agency. Ghosheh told her lawyer that the reason for her detention was related to her latest novel ‘Masyadat Ibn Awa’ […]

Nigeria: Singer arrested, out on bail for releasing uncensored song

Singer Sadiq Zazzabi (real name: Sadiq Usman Saleh) was released on bail on 6 March 2017 after having been detained since 1 March 2017 for allegedly releasing a song before receiving approval from the Kano State Censorship Board in the country’s north, reported Nigerian newspaper Premium Times on 6 March 2017. The newspaper reported on […]

Israel: Gazan singer on conditional release by Hamas authorities

On 25 January 2017, Hamas authorities in Gaza released singer-comedian Adel al-Mashwakhi on bail after having been arrested and in prison since 11 January 2017 for a video he posted on his Facebook page, reported Minneapolis Star Tribune on 26 January 2017. Al-Mashwakhi said his release was conditional upon him no longer making “politically flavoured” […]

Israel: Palestinian writer arrested and detained

Israeli forces arrested writer Walid Hodali on 16 January 2017 after storming his home and confiscating some of his belongings in Ramallah in the West Bank, reported Palestine Today. The Voice of Palestine reported on 16 January 2017 that the writer was taken to an unknown location and the reason for his arrest was unknown. […]

USA: Artists arrested, banned, receive death threats related to Trump actions

Italian opera tenor Andrea Bocelli and US singer Jennifer Holliday both backed out from performing at the US presidential inauguration of Donald Trump just days before the event revealing they received death threats if they went ahead with their performances, reported Daily Mail on 15 January 2017. “They were saying I should kill myself or […]

Zambia: Hounded singer remains defiant

by Phoenix Gauthier, Freemuse correspondent On 11 August 2016, incumbent Zambian president Edgar Lungu squeezed out a controversial victory in the general elections, taking 50.35% of the votes. In the months that followed, Zambia experienced its worst attacks on press freedom in years. Three of its media outlets were suspended, including Muvi TV, the southern […]

Iran: Two artists arrested, released on bail

Security forces arrested poet and actor Raouf Delfi and actor Sayed Hasan Mousavi (also known as Sayed Blood) in Abadan, in western Iran, on 13 December 2016. At the time of arrest the location of their detention was unknown, as well as their charges, reported PEN International on 22 December 2016. The organization reported on […]

Turkey: Novelist released on probation after 132 days of detention

Novelist Aslı Erdoğan was released from prison on 29 December 2016 after 132 days of being held in pre-trial detention on charges of terror propaganda due to her affiliation, as an advisory board member, to newspaper Özgür Gündem, reported The Guardian on 30 December 2016. The writer was released on probation, pending trial. If convicted, […]

Cuba: Artist El Sexto violently arrested over Castro-related graffiti

Cuban artist Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado was violently arrested by state security forces at his apartment in capital Havana, on 26 November 2016, hours after he took to the streets, upon the official announcement of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro’s death, and painted graffiti around the city stating “se fue”(he’s gone), reported Cuban newspaper 14ymedio […]

Iran: Art gallery owning couple held in detention since July without charge

In late July 2016, Islamic Revolutionary Guards detained art gallery owners Afarin Niasari and her Iranian-American husband Karan Vafadari at the Tehran airport, where they were arrested and taken to Iran’s infamous Evin Prison, reported International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on 2 December 2016. The couple have been held without charge or access […]

Turkey: Seven members of Grup Yorum arrested

Turkish police arrested seven members of famous folk band Grup Yorum on 23 November 2016 on charges of assault, resisting and insulting police, and being members of a terrorist group, reported Birgün on 24 November 2016. Grup Yorum’s lawyer Aytaç Ünsal told the Turkish newspaper: Even 3 days after they were initially taken into custody, […]

Malaysia: Cartoonist arrested after exhibition attack

Cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, popularly known as Zunar, was arrested on 26 November 2016 for breaching the peace under Malaysia’s Sedition Act, just one day after an angry pro-government mob attacked his exhibition of satirical cartoons about the prime minister and other national leaders at the George Town Literary Festival, reported newspaper Free Malaysia Today. […]

Tanzania: Two artists arrested for allegedly insulting president in latest song

Tanzanian musician Mwana Cotide (real name: Fulgency Mapunda) and music producer Mussa Sikabwe were arrested for allegedly producing, singing and distributing a song called ‘Dikteta Uchwara’ (Petty Dictator) that contained “seditious and offensive” content against Tanzanian President John Magufuli, reported the Swahili Times on 29 September 2016. The two artists were charged at the Kisutu […]

China: Tibetan poet re-detained after being released from prison one day earlier

Chinese authorities took writer and poet Gangkye Drupa Kyab back into custody just one day after his early release, having spent over four years of a five-and-a-half year sentence in a prison in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, reported Radio Free Asia on 23 September 2016. Kyab was released on 16 September and went back to […]

Turkey: Writer and brother detained on alleged coup-related charges

Prominent Turkish writer Ahmet Altan and his brother, academic and columnist Mehmet Altan, were detained by polce on 10 September 2016 for questioning on alleged coup-related charges that the brothers, according to the prosecutor’s office, “gave subliminal messages suggesting a military coup” on a TV programme that aired on 14 July 2016, a day before […]

Mauritania: Rapper harassed and attacked by police

Police stopped Mauritanian rapper Yëro Gaynääko (real name Yéro Abdoulaye Sow) on 16 August 2016 while on the road back to the capital Nouakchott, forcibly removing the rapper out of the car, accusing him of being drugged and taking him to a police station where he was assaulted and verbally abused, reported human rights organisation […]

Israel: Detained Palestinian poet heads to trial over poem

On 6 September 2016, Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour heads back to trial facing charges that one of her poems posted on YouTube and two Facebook posts constitute “incitement to violence”, a charge that carries a prison term of up to eight years. The charges mainly relate to Tatour’s poem on YouTube, ‘Resist my people, resist’, […]

Iran: Musician arrested on charges of “spreading depravity”

Authorities arrested Iranian singer Amir Tataloo (real name: Amirhossein Maghsoodloo) on 23 August 2016 on charges of “spreading depravity among the youth” brought up in an 8 August 2016 judicial order, reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on 25 August 2016. “Sadly, this latest imprisonment of Amir Tataloo is not an isolated case. Iranian governmental and […]

Malaysia: Artist detained over allegedly “insulting Islam” in music video

Police detained Malaysian artist Namewee upon his return from being abroad on 21 August 2016 at the Kuala Lampur airport and are investigating him after groups filed reports that his latest music video “insulted Islam”, reported The Star Online on 22 August 2016. “Malaysian authorities must release Namewee and drop all charges against him,” said Freemuse […]

Egypt: Satirist troupe’s detention renewed, totalling 105 days

The Giza Criminal Court rejected satirist troupe Street Children’s second appeal against their lengthy pre-trial detention and further extended their detention by yet another 15 days, meaning that the four members of the group have been in detention for 105 days awaiting an investigation or even a court date, reported Daily News Egypt on 1 […]

United Kingdom: Woman’s right to read violated

British woman Faizah Shaheen, who was returning home with her husband after their honeymoon in Turkey, was detained by South Yorkshire police at Doncaster Airport on 25 July 2016 after Thomson Airways cabin crew members had reported her of “suspicious behaviour” for reading a book on Syrian culture, reported The Independent on 3 August 2016. […]

Turkey: Writer arrested amidst crackdown after coup attempt

Turkish police arrested novelist Aslı Erdoğan on 16 August 2016 in a raid on her apartment after a Turkish court ordered the temporary closure of newspaper Özgür Gündem. Erdoğan is on the advisory board of the newspaper. The closure is part of an intense state-of-emergency crackdown in response to a failed coup attempt on 15 […]

India: Writer detained over attempted murder charges

Dalit writer Durai Guna and activist friend Bhoopathy Karthikeyan were arrested on 10 June 2016 for attempted murder during the Chennai Book Fair, though those close to the writer and human rights activists claim the charges are false and are a continuation of harassment Guna has suffered for works he’s published on Dalit issues, reported […]

Saint Kitts and Nevis: US rapper arrested, fined for profane lyrics

Local police in the Caribbean island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis arrested US rapper 50 Cent (real name Curtis Jackson) on 25 June 2016 for using “indecent language” onstage during one of his songs. The rapper later pleaded guilty to the offence, paid a fine of USD $1,100 and was released, reported Rolling Stone […]

China: Tibetan film director detained, hospitalised

Chinese police at the airport in Xining, the capital of Qinghai province, detained Tibetan director Pema Tseden on 25 June 2016 for five days for “disturbing public order” and was hospitalised during that time on 27 June 2016 after he “displayed health problems”, reported The New York Times on 29 June 2016. Staff members and […]

Poland: Ukrainian band stopped at border due to local threats

Polish authorities did not let Ukrainian band Ot Vinta cross the border into Poland as local hard-core football fans known as Ultras threatened to stage mass riots and burn down the stage the band was set to perform on if they were let into the country. The band was scheduled to play in a festival […]

Egypt: Satirist troupe’s detention renewed, amounting to 75 days

A North Cairo court decided on 2 July 2016 to renew the detention of satirist troupe Street Children for yet another 15 days, reported Egyptian online news source Aswat Masriya on 2 July 2016. This latest renewal is the group’s fifth such consecutive ruling totalling 75 days in detention as they await ever-delayed court proceedings […]

Nigeria: Musician kidnapped, found, later detained allegedly due to song

Musician Ado Daukaka was abducted in Adamawa State in north-eastern Nigeria in the early hours of 25 June 2016 just after the release of his latest anti-corruption song ‘Gyara Kayanka’ (‘Put your house in order’), and found five days later on 29 June 2016 unconscious in some bushes 80 kilometres away from state capital of […]

Senegal: Singer arrested and detained for indecency

Singer Déesse Major was arrested and released after three days of detention on indecency and assault on morality charges brought on by complaints of the artist wearing provocative clothes, reported French global radio RFI on 22 June 2016. Troubles for the singer began in October 2014 when Adama Mboup, president of the Senegalese Committee for […]

Egypt: Heavy metal concert cancelled, three arrested

Concert promoter and musician Nader Sadek, along with two others, were arrested by Giza police when they stopped a heavy metal concert on 4 June 2016 featuring Brazilian band Sepultura before it even started due to a lack of permits, reported Ahram Online on 5 June 2016. Head of the Giza Security Directorate General Ahmed […]

Iran: Eight producers arrested for “obscene” music videos

Eight producers of music videos broadcasted on Persian-language satellite networks outside Iran have been arrested, reported Iranian judiciary news agency Mizan Online on 28 May 2016. According to Tehran prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi the videos were “obscene” and “broadcast on a famous anti-revolutionary television channel” and added that a special court for media and […]

Russia: Artist convicted to 16 months in prison for vandalism

A Moscow court found Russian dissident artist Pyotr Pavlensky guilty of vandalism, Dimitri Kozlov of the Associated Press reported on 19 May 2016. The artist was convicted for setting fire to car tires on Saint Petersburg’s Tripartite Bridge during a pro-Ukraine performance, titled ‘Freedom’, in February 2014. While the court sentenced Pavlensky to 16 months […]

Egypt: Five members of satirist troupe arrested

As the climate for artists, journalists, intellectuals and regular citizens who wish to criticise, politicise or simply satirise current Egyptian values and society gets more heated and dangerous, a troupe of young comedians has become the latest group to be targeted by authorities. Freemuse stringer Shahira Amin reports on the recent developments in the deteriorating state […]

Oman: Writer and filmmaker arrested and detained

Author, poet and film-maker Abdullah Habib has been arrested in Oman. It is being assumed that he was arrested due to one of his post on Facebook, but no one really knows for sure. On the evening of 15 April 2016, the Omani Internal Security Service (ISS) summoned Habib to appear for investigation before the […]

Zimbabwe: Theatre producer arrested for staging one-man play

Police arrested theatre producer and actor Silvanos Mudzvova on 13 April 2016 in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare for staging his new play ‘Missing Diamonds, I Need My Share’ at parliament, reported national newspaper News Day. Mudzvova was released later that evening, according to the artist’s Facebook status update on 14 April 2016: “Cdes, colleagues and friends […]

Sierra Leone: Two filmmakers detained and fined; film banned

Police detained filmmakers Sheku Ngaojia and Alpha Sibbie on 8 March 2016 on charges that their latest film ‘Tribal War: Mende vs Temne’ provoked fear and incited ethnic conflict, according to Arterial Network. The filmmakers pleaded guilty to the charges on 18 March 2016 and opted to pay a 1,000,000 leone fine (approx. USD $200) […]

Burundi: Comedian detained for making fun of president

Popular Burundian comedian and radio host Alfred Aubin Mugenzi, known popularly as Kigingi, was arrested and detained for three days by SNR agents from the country’s national intelligence service on 29 March 2016, family members told News 24 on 1 April 2016. Agents told the comedian’s family that he was arrested for contempt for a […]

Azerbaijan: Writer detained at airport

Police detained writer Akram Aylisli for 11 hours at Baku’s Heydar Aliyev Airport, preventing him from traveling to a literary festival in Venice, Italy at which he was scheduled to appear, reported Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty on 30 March 2016. Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Interior reported that Aylisli was held in connection with a […]

Cuba: Artists and activists detained for eight hours

During the American president’s visit to the country, Cuba has seen a crack-down on the opposition and activists. Two artists, rock musician Gorki and visual street artist El Sexto, were arrested on 20 March 2016 along with several other demonstrators from Damas de Blanco – the Ladies in White – during a pro-democracy demonstration. The incident took […]

Burundi: Musician detained for insulting head of state

Cedric Bangirinama, a musician also known as Bangy, was arrested on 27 January 2016 by SNR agents from Burundi’s national intelligence service for statements he made on his personal Facebook account that were deemed “insulting to the head of state”, French-language Burundi news portal Iwacu reported on 2 February 2016. Witnesses say they saw agents […]

Nigeria: Artist arrested for political performance piece

Performance artist Jelili Atiku was arrested on 18 January 2016 for his performance entitled ‘Aragamago Will Rid this Land off Terrorism’, which he staged on 14 January 2016 in the Ejigbo area of Oshodi-Isolo in Lagos state, reported News 24 Nigeria. The artist and four others were arrested on a four-count charge of disturbing the […]

Iran: 165 Iranian artists and activists protest charges against two musicians and a filmmaker

165 Iranian musicians, filmmakers, writers and activists have signed and released a statement objecting to the 2013 imprisonment and 2015 sentencing of Mehdi Rajabian, a musician and founder of BargMusic, an alternative music distributor in Iran, along with his filmmaker brother Hossein Rajabian and musician Yousef Emadi. All three have been sentenced to six years […]

Egypt: Singer released after paying bail on contempt of religion charges

Shaaban Abdel Rahim, famed and controversial Egyptian folklore singer, was under legal and public attacks for the Youtube release of a video of him singing Qur’an lyrics while wearing the religious clothing of Al-Azhar clerics, which landed him in jail, reported The Cairo Post. Attorney Mohammed Kamal filed a claim in October 2015 against Abdel […]

Call on Iranian authorities to drop charges on two musicians and a filmmaker

Human rights organisations Freemuse and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, along with 14 other organisations, protest the 2013 imprisonment and 2015 sentencing of musicians Mehdi Rajabian and Yousef Emadi, and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, and call on the head of the judiciary and other Iranian authorities to drop the charges against them. Mehdi […]

Egypt: Poet banned from travel

Egyptian authorities prevented poet Omar Hazek from traveling to the Netherlands on 14 January 2016 where he was set to accept the 2016 Oxfam Novib/PEN Award for Freedom of Expression, reported PEN International. Authorities detained and questioned Hazek in Cairo International Airport for five hours, eventually releasing him, but not after confiscating his passport. Authorities […]

Nigeria: Singer detained for song critical of politician

Singer Baba Iyali was arrested on 9 January 2016 in the Adamawa state in north-eastern Nigeria for a song he recently released criticising the speaker of the Adamawa state house of assembly, Kabiru Mijinyawa. This was reported by the online news site The Whistle. The singer remains in detention in police headquarters in reportedly inhuman […]

Iran: Poet/activist detained; released on bail

** Updated as of 13 January 2016 ** Poet and activist Hila Sedighi was arrested on 7 January 2016 at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport upon her and her husband’s return from a trip to the United Arab Emirates, reported the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Two days later, on 9 January 2016, […]

Iran: Detained poet released on bail

On 16 December 2015 Iranian poet Mohamadreza Haj Rostambegloo was arrested from his home by six Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization agents and was released on bail four days later from Karaj Central Prison, reported the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. The poet ’ s mother Maryam Soltani told the organisation that one of the […]

China: Hip-hop group censored and detained

Chinese rap trio IN3 may never be able perform in Beijing after garnering the current unenviable status of having the top 17 spots in China’s list of 120 banned songs, according to the Daily Mail. Due to the blacklist the Beijing-based group has had a difficult time finding venues to play, going as far as […]

Ethiopia: Three singers arrested, abducted and tortured

Three Oromo protest singers have reportedly been arrested, abducted and tortured in Ethiopia during December 2015: Hawi Tezera, Jireenyaa Shifarraa and Bilisummaa Dinquu. Hawi Tezera, an ethnic Oromo singer, was reportedly beaten, arrested, released and then rearrested in the space of just seven days in December 2015 by Ethiopian government security forces in connection with […]

Iran: Detained writers released on bail

The two Iranian writers Rouzbeh Gilasian and Elaheh Sorooshnia, who were arrested on 14 December 2015, were released on bail from Amirabad Prison in Gorgan after three weeks in detention, according to Payvand Iran News quoting Radio Zamaneh. The writers were held primarily in the Revolutionary Guards detention centre and then transferred to Amirabad Prison […]

Iran: Two writers arrested

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry forces allegedly arrested two Iranian writers, Rouzbeh Gilasian and Elaheh Soroushnia, on 14 December 2015. The two writers were arrested in Gorgan in northern Iran and transferred to an unknown location, according to the organisation Journalism Is Not A Crime, citing Human Rights Activists News Agency, HRANA. The reason for the arrests and […]

Tunisia: Three artists imprisoned

Three Tunisian artists have been imprisoned for cannabis use, after being wrongly accused of terrorist activity. The law related to possession of narcotics is widely used in Tunisia against artists who are addressing social injustice and criticising government and police through art and activism. Photographer Fakhri El-Ghezal, artist Atef Maatallah, and filmmaker Ala Eddine Slim […]

Iran: Songwriter and poet released

Iranian songwriter and poet Yaghma Golrouee was released on bail from detention on 9 December 2015 after being arrested on unclear charges on 30 November 2015, according to the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA). Though the reason behind the arrest is still unknown, it is thought that Golrouee was detained in response to his new […]

Iran: Songwriter and poet arrested

Iranian songwriter and poet Yaghma Golrouee was arrested on 30 November 2015, according to the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA). Details on the reason behind the arrest or where Golrouee was taken are still unknown and unclear. According to in 2013 one of Goulrouee’s poems was used by controversial Iranian rapper Shahin Najafi, who […]

Russia: Political performance artist arrested

Pyotr Pavlensky, a 32-year-old performance artist from Saint Petersburg, was arrested in Moscow on 9 November 2015 after dousing the doors of the FSB, the Russian security agency, with gasoline and setting it ablaze as part of a political art performance he titled ‘Menace’. Later the same day, a Moscow court sentenced Pyotr Pavlensky to a […]

India: Police remove floating cow art and detain artists

In India two artists were detained for their work on 21 November 2015: a life-size styrofoam art installation of a flying cow in Rajasthan’s Jaipur city. Following protests by right-wing Hindu groups alleging their religious sentiments were hurt, local police dismantled the work and detained the two artists. Later, amid public outrage, the chief minister […]

Myanmar/Burma: Poet arrested for posting ‘defamatory’ poem

According to PEN Myanmar, poet Maung Saung Kha was arrested on 5 November 2015 for defaming the president in a poem he posted on Facebook in early October 2015 in which a line said that he had a portrait of the president tattooed on his penis. The 23-year-old poet published the poem, ‘Image’, on 8 […]

Cuba: Musician Gorki Águila arrested again

Cuban musician Gorki Águila was arrested on 7 November 2015 in Havana, as he was traveling in a car with two journalists from the television channel France24, reported 14ymedio. The composer and singer managed to call the newspaper from the Fifth Police Station in the Playa municipality, where he was taken with the two reporters. […]

Morocco: Rapper prosecuted over song deemed insulting

The Moroccan rapper Al Muntaqim was arrested in August 2015 and accused of inciting violence and drug abuse through his song ‘Korsika’. He has been released, but his court case is still pending. In August 2015, the Public Prosecution at the Court of First Instance in Khenifra city in Morocco instructed the judicial police to […]

Tunisia: Calls for the release of arrested rapper Klay BBJ

On 17 October 2015, the public prosecution of the Court of First Instance in Tunis permitted National Security officers in Bab Swika district to arrest the rapper Klay BBJ (real name: Ahmed Ben Ahmed) along with two other men. They were allegedly apprehended for possession of drugs. The news agency AFP quoted a judicial source […]

Angola: Freemuse calls for immediate release of detained rapper

On 15 October 2015, the 33-year-old Angolan rapper Luaty Beirão entered his fourth week of hunger strike in protest of his detention without trial since June – along with 14 other opposition activists accused of ‘rebellion’ and of seeking to ‘attack the president’. Freemuse holds the Angolan authorities responsible for Luaty Beirão’s well-being and calls […]

Somalia: Regional court orders four singers released from custody

Somaliland Informer reported on 30 September 2015 that a Hargeisa regional court has ordered the release of the four detained Horn Star singers who were arrested as they four days earlier had returned from a tour to Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. Court chairman Hon. Ahmed Dalmar Ismail has issued a formal statement saying the police have […]

Cuba: Dissident artist released after eight months of detention

Performance artist Tania Bruguera, who had her passport confiscated in Cuba after trying to stage a performance about freedom of expression in a public plaza in Havana, is back in the United States, according to a statement issued by #YoTambienExijo, the art and activism program run by Bruguera and her sister Deborah. Her return caps […]

Cuba: Cuban rocker Gorki Aguila arrested

According to Capital Hill Cubans and other sources, Castro regime officials showed up on 5 August 2015 at the home of Cuban rocker Gorki Aguila and arrested him. According to his daughter, Gorki Aguila was given no cause for his arrest Aguila, front-man of the band Porno Para Ricardo, recently authored a song in honor […]

Iran/Lebanon/Ukraine: Artists affected by conflicts

When conflicts unfold between and within countries, artists’ rights to artistic freedom of expression are often violated. Recently, artists have been affected by the ongoing conflicts between Russia and Ukraine, and between Israel and Lebanon as well as Iran. Singer banned in Iran after performance in Israel The Iranian-born British Muslim singer Sami Yusuf, whose […]

Russia: Musicians protest against illegal police detentions

“Police is attacking artists, taking them to police stations, confiscating their instruments, giving them court summons, and the courts then appoint huge fines based on various articles, depending on their imagination,” wrote Oleg Mokryakov, a leader of one of the music collectives playing on Arbat street, on his Facebook page. On 28 June 2015 those […]

Egypt: One year imprisonment for music video

The Agouza Misdemeanour Court sentenced Sunday the dancer Salma Al-Foly, the director Wael El-Sedik and an assistant to one year in prison for a low-cost production homemade video which they posted on El-Sedik’s private YouTube channel on 18 May 2015. The video has since been viewed over 1.5 million times. Singer and dancer Salma Al-Foly […]

Cuba: Artist Tania Bruguera arrested again in Havana

On 7 June 2015, artist Tania Bruguera was arrested once again in Cuba, along with dozens of other activists, and was manhandled by the police, reported Hyperallergic. As with most information about Bruguera over the past few months, the news — which Hyperallergic has not been able to independently verify — comes via the Facebook […]

Zambia: Singer Pilato detained and prosecuted for song about president

In Zambia, the popular satirical singer Pilato (real name: Chama Fumba) is being prosecuted because of a song he wrote, entitled ‘Alungu Anabwela’. Officials said the song defamed President Edgar Lungu by accusing him of drinking too much and being incompetent. Police said that the song could “provoke public clashes”. Pilato was arrested on 8 […]

Syrian artists standing against tyranny

The nationwide uprising that swept through Syria in March 2011 has created a rift between the country’s artists and intellectuals. Some of whom took the regime’s side, some preferred to remain neutral, while others chose to join the revolution since its early beginnings. However, their support of the uprising has had serious repercussions: assault, threat, […]

China: Tibetan monk and artist reportedly arrested

41-year-old Tibetan monk and artist of traditional thanka painting, Ngawang Gyaltsen, is reported to have been arrested by Chinese police in Nagchu County of Central Tibet on 24 February 2015. The exact reason of his arrest remains unclear, reported Ngawang Tharpa, an exile Tibetan with contacts in the region, said his sources indicated the arrest […]

Cuba: Graffiti artist arrested over insulting leaders

Danilo Maldonado, a graffiti artist better known as ‘El Sexto’ (The Sixth), was arrested again on 26 December 2014 while driving two pigs to a Havana park, prior to one of his scheduled visual art performances, reported Capitol Hill Cubans. He is facing three years in prison. The performance allegedly entailed releasing the two pigs […]

Cuba: Performance artist detained twice

On 30 December 2014, several Cuban dissidents – journalists, activists and artists – were arrested, including artist Tania Bruguera who played a key role in organising a free speech event on the day. She was released soon after, and then detained and released again a second time. A note posted on Facebook stated: “Bruguera may not leave […]

China: Writers arrested in new wave of repression, alerts PEN International

PEN International has joined PEN American Center and the Independent Chinese PEN Center in expressing alarm over a new wave of arrests of writers, journalists, publishers and civil society activists in China in recent weeks, apparently for their public support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. PEN International reported that four prominent intellectuals were […]

Turkey: Tv-drama and theatre directors arrested in crackdown

“Scores of media figures” were detained in a police raid on 14 December 2014, reported Hurriyet Daily News. Tv-drama producer Salih Asan, director Engin Koç and scriptwriter Makbule Çam Alemdağ were among the detained. Salih Asan was the producer of a controversial tv-drama called ‘Şefkat Tepe’ (literally translated as ‘Affection Hill’) which depicted the Prophet […]

Russia: Ukrainian film director detained seven months in Moscow

The Ukrainian film director and screenwriter Oleg Sentsov is accused of terrorism and liable to be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. On 11 December 2014 it is seven months since Oleg Sentsov was arrested in Crimea by the Russian secret service FSB. A trial has been set for 11 January 2015. On […]

Belarus: Soccer fans detained for singing song deriding Russian president

A court in the Belarusian capital Minsk has imprisoned eight Ukrainian football fans after they sang an insulting song about Russian president Vladimir Putin. According to police, 41 fans were detained after the Belarus versus Ukraine European Championship qualifier match in the Belarusian city of Borisov on 9 October 2014. Eyewitness accounts in Belarusian papers […]

China: Authorities have arrested numerous artists

Chinese authorities are reported to have arrested at least five artists on the Chinese mainland who have shown support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The Chinese authorities are determined to prevent pro-democracy rallies in Hong Kong from spilling across the border into the mainland, so they have detained at least 10 people, including a […]

USA: Petition to help artist arrested for painting a utility box

In California, USA, a local artist involved in helping build City of Santa Ana’s public art scene was arrested on 2 July 2014 for painting an electrical box. Artist Tony Pedraza faces up to a year in prison for making a piece of art that was done wholeheartedly with pride and love for his community. […]

Japan: ‘Vagina artist’ released after one week in prison

42-year-old sculptor and illustrator Megumi Igarashi has been released after spending a week in jail for distributing digital data that made it possible to recreate her genitals with a 3D printer, a possible violation of the Japanese law banning the distribution of “obscene” material, the Kyodo news agency reported Saturday. Megumi Igarashi who works under the alias […]

Cuba: Graffiti artist El Sexto charged and detained

The Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado, known as ‘El Sexto’ (The Sixth), has been in custody since 4 July 2014, charged with “violation of domicile and injury”. According to Cuban activists, Maldonado will be prosecuted by the Cuban authorities under the pretense of a common crime. As a general rule, people critical of the government are […]

Senegal: Rapper faces six months in prison for criticising authorities

On 19 June 2014, at a ceremony in the suburbs of Dakar on the mobilisation against drugs, Fou Malade, one of the rappers from the Y’en a marre movement (‘Enough’s enough’), said aloud to the Senegalese Minister of Interior and to the Director General of Police what everyone thinks quietly. His remarks led him straight […]

Iran: Three arrested for music video of men and women singing and dancing

Iranian police have arrested three people who appeared in an online video of young men and women singing and dancing in support of the country’s World Cup football team, the official IRNA news agency reported on 23 June 2014. The music video was produced by the London-based Ajam Band and features scenes from outside and […]

Morocco: Rapper in trial that seems to never end

Within just one week, the Moroccan rapper El Haqed has appeared twice at the trial court of Ain Sebaa, Casablanca. After which the trial was postpone once again, this time until Tuesday 17 June 2014. By Dounia Benslimane, reporting from Casablanca Accused of illegal ticket sales, of being influenced by alcohol in public and of […]

China: Artist detained for two weeks and then to be expelled

52-year-old Chinese-born Australian artist Guo Jian was abruptly taken by police from his studio in Songzhuang on 1 June 2014. He will reportedly be “required to depart China” after serving a 15-day period of “administrative detention”. Mr Guo was detained the day after the publication of an interview with him in Financial Times, which featured […]

Morocco: El Haqed’s hearing postponed

On 5 June 2014, Mouad Belghouate, the Moroccan rapper known as El Haqed or Lhaqed, passed by the trial court of Ain Sebaa in Casablanca, Morocco, for the third time since his arrest on 18 May 2014. Freemuse attended the hearing. By Dounia Benslimane, reporting from Casablanca At the entrance of the building, plain clothes […]

China: Popular Tibetan singer arrested after packed concert

Chinese authorities in Khyungchu County have arrested the popular Tibetan singer Gepey following a packed concert participated by several other singers from various parts of Tibet on May 24, reported Gepey was arrested by Barkham County Public Security Bureau after a concert that was attended by thousands of fans and music enthusiasts. A group […]

Iran: Producer of ‘Happy’ dancing video remains under arrest

Sasan Soleymani, who produced the video of Iranian youth in Tehran dancing to the Pharrell Williams song ‘Happy’, remains in custody in Rejai Shahr Prison, even though all six people who appeared in the video have been released on bail. » See on » And on Related post on Iran: Arrested for dancing in […]

Freemuse condemns arrest of Morocco’s ‘musical reporter’

Freemuse condemns the arbitrary arrest of artist and human rights activist Mouad Belghouat, alias El Haqed (The Indignant) also known as L7a9ed on Sunday 18 May 2014 – for the third time in three years. “Morocco should live up to international conventions guaranteeing free speech,” says Freemuse Director Ole Reitov. El Haqed has earlier been […]

Lebanon: Theatre director claims ‘victory’ after receiving passport back

Lebanese theatre director Lucien Bourjeily said General Security returned his passport which the security apparatus had confiscated for unclear reasons. Lucien Bourjeily announced on his Facebook page that it was a “victory” over what he called an arbitrary confiscation and a curb on his freedom of movement. The director was shortlisted for a Freedom of […]

Iran: Arrested for dancing in ‘Happy’ video

Six young Iranians were arrested for recording Tehran version of Pharrell Williams’s ‘Happy’. They have since been released again. The video was published on on 20 May 2014. Age: 25 Crime: Happiness About a month ago, six Iranian boys and girls (seen in this video) danced to the famous song by Pharrell Williams called […]

Morocco: Rapper El Haqed arrested again

The Moroccan rapper El Haqed – also known as ‘L7a9ed’ – has been arrested again by Moroccan authorities, reported BelmKaddem. Belmkaddem – 19 May 2014: Moroccan Rapper El Haqed – L7a9ed – Arrested again by Moroccan Authorities By repetitively arresting and beating an artist who doesn’t sugar-coat Morocco’s dark side, and uses rap as a […]

China: Renewed crackdown on writers | PEN International

Five prominent dissident writers have been arrested for taking part in events to commemorate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy protests, reported PEN International.     On 4 and 5 May 2014, some of the participants at a memorial on 3 May were taken in for questioning by police. Most […]

Nigeria: Popular musician arrested for song against president

A popular musician in Kano, Ahmed Audi Zarewa, has been reportedly arrested by the State Security Service, SSS, for recording a song to protest against President Goodluck Jonathan. The song was said to have been recorded by Ahmed to protest President Jonathan and his entourage’s singing and dancing rally the very morning that more than […]

Rwanda: Singer arrested

On 11 April 2014, singer Kizito Mihigo, one of Rwanda’s best-known musicians, was arrested by police, accused, along with a former soldier and the director of a Christian radio station, of planning ‘terrorist attacks’ with the aim to overthrow the government. UPDATE » Arterial Network – 28 April 2014: Kizito Mihigo: The trial making Kigali sing […]

Russia: Pussy Riot members detained three times

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who spent nearly two years in prison for protesting against Putin in a church, said they had been detained three times while trying to film a new music video in Sochi just before the Olympic Games were to begin. This is the first music video to be published by the […]

Cuba: Rappers persecuted – beaten, ransacked, arrested

Excerpt of blog-post by John Suarez at “The importance of generating and maintaining attention is critically important for anyone who dissents from the official government line. Rodolfo Ramirez, known by his rapping name as El Primario, member of the hip-hop duo El Primario y Julito, who appears in the above video was so badly […]

Cuba: Punk rocker Gorki reportedly again faces years in prison

On 30 September 2013, Cuban punk rocker Gorki Luis Aguila Carrasco, lead singer of the band Porno para Ricardo, was arrested. On a citation for summary judgement dated 27 January 2014, Gorki has now been called to attend a summary trial on 11 February 2014. Exiled Cuban bloggers and reporters are all convinced that the […]

Saudi Arabia: Palestinian poet jailed for ‘atheism and long hair’

Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh is in a Saudi prison, allegedly for spreading atheism – and having long hair, Mona Kareem reported for Global Voices. Fayadh’s case is making the rounds in media and on social networks, with condemnations coming from Arab writers and artists from across the region. Some of his friends wrote online that […]

Zimbabwe: Banned playwright and visual artist isolated

Playwright Cont Mhlanga and artist Owen Maseko have been harassed, arrested and detained for criticising the government – but while they have been made personae non gratae in Zimbabwe’s art circles, they have not stopped doing what they love. The two artists were portrayed by Inter Press Service, reporting from Bulawayo on 27 December 2013. […]

Iran: Two songwriters and poets arrested

On 7 December 2013 the two Iranian lyricists and poets Dr. Mehdi Moosavi and Fateme Ekhtesari were arrested by the Security Department of Iran Revolutionary Guards. It is generally believed that they were arrested maybe because of their lyrics which have been performed by a famous Iranian singer in exile, Shahin Najafi. Many of their […]

Israel: Palestinean drummer arrested and dumped in wasteland

Drummer Samer Jaradat was arrested by Israeli police at a checkpoint on the road between Nazareth and Jericho. Police claimed that his papers weren’t in order. “From all what we know, there was nothing wrong with his papers,” told Steinar Larsen, the director of Trondheim Soloists whom Samer Jaradat was touring with. A quintet from […]

Iran: Popular rapper arrested by Morality Police

Iran’s Morality Police have arrested popular rapper Amir Tataloo. Colonel Massoud Zahedian, Chief of the Morality Police, told ISNA that his unit is actively identifying and confronting Iranian underground musicians who produce their work inside Iran and distribute it on television satellite channels abroad. Zahedian added that following the arrest, Amir Tataloo (real name: Amir […]

Mauritania: Two rappers detained and interrogated

Security forces detained rapper and singer Leïla Moulay (also spelled: Laila Moulaye) on 13 November 2013, one day after rapper Hamzo Bryn was taken into custody. The detention came in response to their 28 September 2013 online release of a video titled ‘It started from Nouakchott’ by Hamzo’s group Soco Izi, which provoked a wave […]

Iran: Over 200 rock fans arrested at concert

On 16 August 2013 Iranian authorities arrested over 200 fans at a heavy metal concert with the band Dawn of Rage. Police raided the concert without any explanation despite organisers having received a permit from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance sanctioning the event. The concert took place in Shahrak Gharb, an affluent neighborhood […]

Azerbaijan: Harlem Shake video-maker arrested in Baku, protests in London

One month since Ilkin Rustemzade was arrested for filming a Harlem Shake video in Baku, human rights groups marked the day by staging an ‘Azerbaijan Harlem Shake’ protest in London while calling for the release of political prisoners in Azerbaijan. This video was published on on 16 June 2013. Three days earlier, the Azerbaijani […]

India: Theatre activists arrested

Theatre activists Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali were arrested on 2 April 2013 on various charges, including criminal conspiracy and for alleged links to Maoists and Naxalites. They are being held in Mumbai, India, and according to Amnesty International they are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali are members of […]

Tunisia: Rapper and video team charged for hate speech, two arrested

Mohamed Belgueyed, the owner of a video camera, and actress Sabrine Klibi were taken into custody on 10 March 2013 for their connection to the new music video ‘Cops are Dogs’ by Tunisian rapper Weld El 15. The video was uploaded to YouTube on 3 March 2013: The rapper, Weld El 15, (real name: Ala […]

Azerbaijan: Rapper arrested, allegedly for song criticising police

“We strongly condemn the detention and harassment of popular Azerbaijani rapper Said Aliyev, also known as Dado, and consider this action as unlawful interference with his right to freedom of expression,” wrote The Art for Democracy campaign in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, on 4 March 2013. On 27 February 2013, Said Aliyev was called […]

Iran: Five members of an underground band arrested

Iranian police have arrested five members of an underground band suspected of producing music for Farsi-speaking, dissident satellite channels based in the US, and working with dissident Iranian singers abroad, reported PRI’s The World, and a semiofficial Fars news agency. A prominent Iranian songwriter was reportedly among five musicians arrested in a police raid in […]

Turkey: Authorities’ persecution of Kurdish artists continues

The first hearing of the court case against four members of Grup Yorum along with nine others who are charged with ‘membership of and propaganda for a terrorist organisation’, DHKP-C, was held at İstanbul No. 15 High Criminal Court. In a defense statement Ayfer Rüzgar said that the accusations simply can be seen as an […]

China: Banned songs by detained Tibetan singers translated to English

Information about the current situation for persecuted artists in Tibet is scarce, and in particular on the English-speaking part of the Internet where it is almost non-existing. An exiled Tibetan runs a website which aims to change that. “After the conference in Oslo I felt inspired to translate more music videos from Tibet into English, […]

Singer Jowan Safadi arrested in Jordan for blasphemy

This is song is allegedly one of the reasons that Jowan Safadi was arrested.   Jowan Safadi was arrested in Amman on charges of ‘insulting religion’ after his concert on 27 November 2012. A campaign was launched on Twitter under the hashtag #FreeJowanSafadi and also on his Facebook-page – where Jowan Safadi himself then posted […]

Israel: Theatre director Zakaria Zubeidi released on bail

Zakaria Zubeidi, theatre director and one of the founders of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, Palestine, was released on 1 October 2012. He has been detained in a prison in Jericho since 13 May 2012, most of the time without charges. Zubeidi was detained during a wave of raids and arrests in his home city […]

Uganda: Theatre producer face a two-year prison sentence

British theatre producer David Cecil, 34, was granted bail after a couple of days in a prison near the capital Kampala, but his passport was confiscated, and he is due back in court on 18 October. He could face a two-year prison sentence if convicted. David Cecil is charged with “disobedience to lawful orders” from […]

Turkey: Grup Yorum members allegedly tortured in custody

A singer and a violinist with the left-wing band Grup Yorum claim they were tortured in police custody after they were detained during an unauthorized demonstration in İstanbul’s Yenibosna neighborhood. Grup Yorum vocalist Sema Altın and violinist Ezgi Dilan were taken into custody after they had participated in protests in front of the Council of […]

Syria: Documentary filmmaker disappeared in airport

Orwa Nyrabia, an independent documentary filmmaker and co-founder of the Damascus-based international documentary festival ‘DOX BOX’, was arrested by the Syrian military as part of a crackdown on pro-democracy artists and intellectuals. Orwa Nyrabia disappeared on 23 August 2012 before boarding an airplane to Cairo. His wife, Diana El-Jeiroudi, was informed that he never boarded […]

India: Renowned cartoonist arrested and charged with sedition

Aseem Trivedi, a renowned Indian political cartoonist, best known for launching the campaign Cartoons Against Corruption, and founding member of Save Your Voice — a movement against internet censorship in India — was arrested on 9 September 2012 and charged with sedition. Although the Bombay High Court has since granted him bail, Trivedi is

Zimbabwe: Board of Censors ban a theatre play

On 3 September 2012, Radio COP reported that Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have petitioned the High Court seeking to overturn a ban of the theatre play ‘No Voice No Choice’. The play ‘No Voice No Choice’ – a production by two community theatre groups, Edzai Isu Theatre Arts Project and Zvido Zvevanhu Arts […]

Iran: Unlicensed film centre closed, two persons arrested

The Tehran police closed and sealed an unlicensed film centre and arrested two people, reported Small Media. According to the authorities, this centre was where “obscene films were copied, distributed and played”. Following the raid, the police announced that they had identified nine more artists affiliated with the centre and found 20,000 illegal films on […]

Iran: Two Azeri poets detained incommunicado by security forces

Human rights organisations express concern for the welfare of Azerbaijani poets and writers Farid Huseyn and Shahriyar Hajizade, who have been held without charge in Iran since 2 May 2012. Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry is reported to have sent five notes to Iran’s Foreign Ministry demanding clarification of the situation with the two missing men. PEN International’s […]

Israel: Two on hunger strike for The Freedom Theatre

In an Israeli military court hearing on 5 July 2012, the Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre, Nabil Al-Raee, was accused of possessing guns, and helping a wanted person (Zakaria Zubeidi) as well as three other wanted (but unnamed) persons. In response to the accusations Nabil declared that he is starting a hunger strike from […]

Russia: Rock‘n’roll support for Pussy Riot

As the case against the Russian feminist punk protest band Pussy Riot gains international attention, musicians and artists from all corners of the world have joined the long line of human rights activists’ protests against the continued persecution of three of the band members. In mid-July 2012, Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of the world-famous American rock band […]

Russia: Freemuse calls for free and fair trial for Pussy Riot

Freemuse sends appeals to President Vladimir Putin, Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church, the public and district prosecutor and the district court, calling for a fair and free trial for the three band members of Pussy Riot In an appeal letter sent to Russian authorities on 27 July 2012, Freemuse reminds the public prosecutor and the […]

Russia: Pussy Riot band members to remain in detention until 2013

At a closed hearing on 20 July 2012, the Khomovnichesky District Court extended until 12 January 2013  the detention of three members of the female punk band Pussy Riot who are prosecuted for having performed an anti-Putin song in a Moscow church. The decision prompted immediate condemnation from their lawyers, opposition figures, human rights activists and supporters from all over the world. […]

Angola: Rapper arrested for drug smuggling: ‘I was framed’

Luaty Beirão, a popular Angolan rapper known by the artist name Ikonoklasta, has been beaten up, arrested, his house broken into, his girlfriend kidnapped, and his family has been terrorised with anonymous death threats. On 11 June 2012, he was arrested again – this time at Portela Airport in the Portugese capital Lisboa after customs […]

Kazakhstan: Theatre director released after three weeks in prison

Theatre director and activist Bolat Atabayev was released from detention on 3 July 2012 in Almaty, and charges against him were dropped. Bolat Atabayev had been detained on 15 June 2012 and charged with “inciting social hatred” in connection with protests by striking oil workers in the western city of Zhanaozen, where at least 16 […]

Cameroon: Writer’s detention extended by six months

International PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee reports to have seen documentation showing that the jailed Cameroonian writer Enoh Meyomesse will continue to be detained at Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé until the 30 December 2012, despite facing no charges.  This means that the writer will have spent 13 months in prison – including one month spent […]

Singapore: Row over ‘draconian’ vandalism law

After being arrested for posting stickers in public spaces, 27-year-old street artist Samantha Lo – the so-called ‘Sticker Lady’ – has inspired a massive online campaign. She could be facing three years in prison if convicted. British newspaper The Guardian describes Singapore as a city obsessed with order and where ‘vandals’ can be flogged. If […]

Israel: Theatre director arrested by the Israeli army

At approximately 3:15 in the morning of 6 June 2012, the Israeli army entered the home of Nabil Al-Raee, Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre, and arrested him. The soldiers refused to tell Al-Raee’s wife where they’d be taking him and why.   Jonathan Stanczak, who will be on stage at the World Conference on Artistic […]

Saudi Arabia: Poet feared to be at risk of torture in detention

Habib Ali al-Maatiq is a published poet, journalist and photographer who supervised the news website Al-Fajr Cultural Network, known for its critical coverage of political unrest in the country’s heavily restricted Eastern Province. He was arrested by security forces on 22 February 2012 at his workplace in the city of Jubail, eastern Saudi Arabia, for […]

Egypt: Belly dancing equated to prostitution, tv broadcaster arrested

On 17 May 2012, the owner of a satellite tv station, Baleegh Hamdi, was arrested in his appartment by Giza Security Forces on charges of encouraging prostitution and “incitement to immorality” by broadcasting a show on belly dancers. Baleegh Hamdi’s channel, Al Taat, broadcasts videos of belly dancers throughout the day giving performances to live […]

China: Tibetan singer arrested and taken to unknown location

Fear for the safety of Tibetan singer Lo Lo who was arrested on 19 April 2012 and whose whereabouts and fate since then are unclear. According to the information received, the 29-year-old singer Lo Lo was arrested in Yushul region of eastern Tibet on 19 April 2012 and taken to an unknown location by local […]

Belarus: Trial of pro-opposition singer-songwriter

Pro-opposition singers Igor Simbiryov and Dzmitryy Bartosik were arrested during an open-air performance near Minsk on 6 May 2012, the Belarusian news agency Belapan reported on 7 May 2012. According to opposition activist Yuryy Hanchar, policemen brought the musicians and some spectators to a police station in the town of Zhdanovichy in Minsk Region. “After […]

Azerbaijan: Two musicians detained

Two musicians and the leader of a youth organisation were detained after protests in the capital Baku on 17 March 2012. They are currently being held in Sabael District Police Office, and there is concern that they have been subjected to torture. “Fresh doubts have been raised about the suitability of Azerbaijan to host May’s Eurovision […]



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: