Iran: Writer re-arrested after temporary release from prison

Revolutionary Guards re-arrested Iranian writer Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee while on her way to visit her hospitalised husband, reported Amnesty International on 25 January 2017. Ebrahimi Iraee had been temporarily released from prison on 3 January 2017 pending a judicial review of her six-year sentence for writing an unpublished fictional story. The writer told Amnesty International […]

Egypt: Writer’s prison sentence suspended pending final verdict

Egypt’s highest court suspended the two-year prison sentence against writer Ahmed Naji who was imprisoned for “violating public decency” by publishing “sexually explicit” writings featured in his novel that also appeared as excerpts in a literary magazine, reported Reuters on 18 December 2016. The court temporarily suspended the writer’s sentence and was set to be […]

Iran: Imprisoned filmmaker granted 72-hour medical leave, back in prison

Freemuse has learned from its sources that filmmaker Hossein Rajabian was granted a 72-hour medical leave earlier in the week to address health problems that have grown worse while in prison. Hossein was taken back to prison after the three days were up. Hossein and his musician brother Mehdi had been on a second hunger […]

Iran: Imprisoned musician’s health deteriorating

Imprisoned Iranian musician and music distributor Mehdi Rajabian communicated via social media on 3 December 2016 that his health condition continues to worsen, despite him being granted a four-day furlough for medical treatment. In his Instagram post from 3 December, Mehdi said: They want me to go back to Prison tomorrow, while I haven’t been […]

Iran: Imprisoned musician granted four-day medical leave

Musician Mehdi Rajabian, after being on hunger strike for 30 days demanding he and his brother receive much needed medical attention, was given a four-day medical furlough on 27 November 2016, according to an Instagram post the musician posted on 28 November 2016. His filmmaker brother Hossein, who also needs medical assistance, remains in prison. […]

Egypt: Writer remains imprisoned after court rejects third appeal

On 26 November 2016, a Cairo misdemeanour court ruled against novelist Ahmed Naji’s third appeal over his two-year prison sentence for “violating public decency” by publishing “sexually explicit” passages in his novel ‘The Use of Life’, which were also published in a literary magazine in 2014, reported Ahram Online. The author was sentenced to prison […]

Iran: Filmmaker begins serving prison sentence

Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi began serving his one-year prison sentence on 23 November 2016 on charges stemming from his 2012 film ‘Neveshtan Rooy-e Shahr’ (‘Writing on the City’) on the history of Iranian graffiti and wall writing and how it has changed due to political and social events, reported AFP. Karimi, who is from a […]

Iran: Artists’ medical condition on hunger strike growing worse

Musician Mehdi Rajabian and his brother, filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, began their second hunger strike on 28 October 2016, since being imprisoned on 5 June 2016, demanding they receive a medical furlough for their increasingly severe medical conditions, which are growing more severe as a result of the hunger strike, reported International Campaign for Human Rights […]

Iran: Artists call for support in letter from prison

“We urge all artists from around the world to show their protest and criticism against all of this [being denied legal rights and medical attention], in a peaceful way, worthy of an artist,” wrote artists Hossein Rajabian and Mehdi Rajabian in a letter from prison. “Stand by our side and [don’t] forget us, because being […]

Iran: Writer arrested and imprisoned after violent home raid

On the morning of 24 October 2016, Iranian authorities broke through the front door of writer and activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee’s home, arrested her and took her to the women’s ward of Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison to begin serving a six-year sentence on charges of “insulting Islamic sanctities” and “spreading proganda” in an unpublished novel […]

Iran: Writer sentenced to six years in prison for unpublished novel

Iranian authorities have sentenced writer and activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee to serve six years in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison on charges of “insulting Islamic sanctities” and “spreading propaganda” in an unpublished novel found in her home in September 2014, reported The Independent on 6 October 2016. Ebrahimi Iraee said authorities called her on 4 October […]

Vietnam: Popular music and censorship

The Vietnamese state operates a thorough system of music censorship, and the few songwriters who dare to directly challenge the authority of the Vietnamese Communist Party or its policies face serious consequences. Focusing on popular musicians, this article charts the history of music censorship in Vietnam from the mid twentieth century through to the current digital era. […]

Iran: Jailed artists go on hunger strike

According to Freemuse sources, musician Mehdi Rajabian and his brother, filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, have gone on hunger strike as of 7 September 2016 to protest against prison authorities not granting Mehdi a promised furlough to seek medical attention for a spreading infection and for separating them by moving Mehdi, while still ill, to the section […]

Egypt: Author’s sentence upheld over “sexually explicit” novel

On 27 August 2016 a Cairo misdemeanor court rejected author Ahmed Naji’s request to suspend his two-year sentence on charges that he “violated public decency” by publishing “sexually explicit” passages in his novel ‘The Use of Life’, reported Ahram Online on 27 August 2016. The author was sentenced to prison in February 2016 in a […]

UN: “Artistic expression is not a crime” – Special Rapporteurs urge the Iranian government to free jailed artists

On 24 June 2016 the two United Nations Special Rapporteurs on cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, and freedom of expression, David Kaye, issued a statement calling on Iranian authorities to free musicians Mehdi Rajabian and Yousef Emadi, and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian. The statement was also endorsed by the Special Rapporteurs on Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, and torture Mr. […]

Iran: Musician and filmmaker imprisoned

According to Freemuse sources, musician Mehdi Rajabian and his brother, filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, were imprisoned for their art on 5 June 2016. They have been convicted to three years imprisonment. Please help us in getting the charges dropped against the two artists and freeing Mehdi and Hossein by taking action and sharing the video below and using the […]

Iran: Two musicians and a filmmaker summoned to prison

A summons order issued on 27 May 2016 by Iranian authorities requires musicians Mehdi Rajabian, Yousef Emadi and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian to turn themselves in to prison by 31 May 2016 to serve out their three-year sentences. The summons orders them to report to the Office of the Prosecutor at Tehran’s Evin Prison. “Art is […]

Myanmar/Burma: Poet sentenced to six months in prison for defamation

Poet Maung Saung Kha was sentenced on 24 May 2016 to six months in prison for defaming former president Thein Sein in a poem he posted on his Facebook page in October 2015, reported PEN International on 25 May 2016. The poet was arrested on 5 November 2015, charged for online defamation under the country’s Telecommunications […]

Iran: Artist Atena Farghadani released from prison

The Iranian artist Atena Farghadani, who was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison last June for her satirical cartoon of members of the Iranian government, was released on 3 May 2016, according to Amnesty International. Her freedom comes following a successful appeal in April 2016 to have her sentence reduced to 18 […]

Angola: Rapper Luaty Beirão sentenced to over five years in prison

On 28 March 2016, the prominent Angolan rapper Luaty Beirão was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison for planning a rebellion against President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, reported several news sources. 34-year-old Luaty Beirão was sentenced to 5.5 years for “rebellion against the president of the republic, criminal association and falsifying documents” by the Luanda […]

USA: Rapper sent back to prison for allegedly threatening attorney in song

Rapper and alleged gang member Sean Chung, who was out on bail for murder conspiracy and gun charges, was sent back to prison on 22 February 2016 for a song he posted on YouTube in November 2015 in which he allegedly threatened a Queens, New York district attorney, reported New York Daily News on 7 […]

Spain: Puppeteers arrested and accused of “glorifying terrorism”

On 6 February 2016, during a satirical children’s puppet show in Madrid, two puppeteers were arrested because their show featured the hanging of an effigy of a judge, the stabbing of a nun with a crucifix and several police beatings, according to the Spanish paper The Local. Puppets in the show held up a sign […]

Egypt: Author imprisoned for ‘violating public modesty’

On 20 February 2016, the Egyptian author Ahmed Naji was sentenced to two years in prison by a Cairo appeals court for having published in a magazine a sexually explicit excerpt of his novel that prosecutors said “violated public modesty”.  Naji (also spelled: Naje) was initially acquitted, but after the case garnered widespread media coverage, […]

Saudi Arabia: Poet’s death sentence changed to imprisonment and lashing

According to PEN International, a Saudi Arabian court changed the sentencing for Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh from a death sentence to an eight-year prison term and 800 lashes on 2 February 2016. In November 2015, Fayadh was sentenced to death for renouncing Islam; however, after his lawyer argued that the poet was denied a fair […]

Nigeria: Award-winning poet imprisoned over defamation charges

The Nigerian poet, journalist and culture activist Nengi Josef Owei Ilagha was arrested on 14 December 2015 in Okirika, Rivers state, in Nigeria. He is held in detention over charges for contempt of court and defamation of character. A High Court sitting in Yenagoa, the state capital of Rivers state, committed Nengi Ilagha to prison […]

Egypt five years after the revolution: Artistic freedom is stifled

In the wake of a security clampdown on free expression since the military takeover of the country in July 2013, rights advocates lament that the space for free artistic expression and creativity has diminished in Egypt as restrictions on art and literary works that address politics, sex and religion, remain firmly in place.  By Shahira […]

Iran: Imprisoned cartoonist forced to take ‘virginity test’

Cartoonist Atena Farghadani, through a note leaked from prison, said she was forced to take a “virginity and pregnancy test” on 12 August 2015 prior to her trial on a charge of “illegitimate sexual relationship short of adultery” for shaking her lawyer’s hand when he visited her in prison, Amnesty International reported. The human rights […]

Saudi Arabia: Poet sentenced to death

According to PEN International, Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to death on 17 November 2015 by a Saudi Arabian court for renouncing Islam. Fayadh, 35, told The Guardian: “I was really shocked but it was expected, though I didn’t do anything that deserves death.” In August 2013, Fayadh was detained and released on bail […]

Iran: Filmmaker sentenced to six-year prison term and 223 lashes

On 13 October 2015, after nearly two years of hearings, the 30-year-old Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi was sentenced to six years in prison and 223 lashes. He was arrested on 14 December 2013 on charges of “insulting the sacred,” “propaganda against the regime,” and “illicit relations.” According to Karimi’s lawyer, Amir Raeesian, most of the charges […]

Qatar: UN experts call for release of Qatari poet Mohammed al-Ajami

United Nations human rights experts called for the release of the Qatari poet Mohammed al-Ajami on the second anniversary of his prison sentencing, 20 October 2015. Al-Ajami is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence in Doha for the contents of his poetry. David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Farida Shaheed, the […]

Iran: Two poets sentenced to flogging and lengthy imprisonment

Iranian poets and song-writers Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi have been sentenced to 11.5 and nine years in prison respectively, as well as 99 lashes each.   According to an interview with their lawyer on Radio Farda, both Ekhtesari and Moosavi were convicted of ‘insulting the holy sanctities’, for which they received seven and six […]

Cuba: Repression and resistance – story of ‘The Sixth Prisoner’

Danilo Maldonado, the Cuban graffiti artist commonly known as ‘El Sexto’, is fighting imprisonment with paper. Since December 2014, repression of artists in Cuba has increased significantly. Despite warming relations with the United States. By Pamela Kalkman The drawing below shows a man who, even with a pig’s nose, a cap, and sunglasses, bares an […]

Iran: Imprisoned cartoonist possibly prosecuted over handshake

Amnesty International reported that Atena Farghadani, 29, who was was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison after she depicted Iranian government officials as monkeys and goats in a satirical cartoon, may face a longer sentence amid claims over a handshake: her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi visited her in prison and shook her hand […]

Cuba: Imprisoned artist El Sexto on hunger strike

Freemuse calls for the release of imprisoned Cuban artists The Cuban graffiti artist and activist Danilo Maldonado Machado, best known as El Sexto, who has been arbitrarily imprisoned for eight months in the Valle Grande prison, located west of Havana, has initiated a hunger strike, according to El Nuevo Harald and various other sources. El […]

Russia: Film director sentenced 20 years in prison

A Russian court has sentenced the acclaimed Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov to 20 years in a maximum-security prison on multiple terrorism charges. The 39-year-old director denied all charges against him, saying they were politically motivated, and told the court on 19 August 2015 that a “trial by occupiers cannot be fair by definition”. Heather […]

Morocco: Rapper El Haqed – besieged, alienated and oppressed

Freemuse interview with the Moroccan rapper El Haqed, who was awarded with the 2015 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award for Arts. By Shaima Aly Mouad Belghouat (also spelled: Belrhouate) is better known under his artist name, El Haqed – the now world-famous Moroccan rapper and human rights activist who criticises the widespread poverty […]

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 […]

Iran: Cartoonist convicted several years in prison for her art

Iranian designer and cartoonist Atena Farghadani could face years in prison for having drawn an image depicting members of the Iranian parliament as monkeys and cows. On 19 May 2015, she was convicted to 12 years imprisonment (some sources say 14 years). She has appealed the verdict. Cartoonists around the world have been drawing in […]

Iran: Call for the release of imprisoned writer and film producer

Writer and film producer Mostafa Azizi was arrested on 1 February 2015 and convicted of national security-related offences by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran and sentenced to eight years in prison. PEN International is calling for his immediate and unconditional release. 52-year-old Iranian writer and film producer Mostafa Azizi is feared to […]

Morocco: Rapper speaks out after release from prison

After four months behind bars, the Moroccan rapper Abdul Mou’men Al Shuaibi was released in February 2015. Freemuse spoke with Al Shuaibi about his ordeal and his plans for the future.  Back in 2013, Al Shuaibi had released a rap song, entitled ‘zan9a lkahla 2013 Chorta Fe Lara’ criticising the local police, their alleged violent practices […]

Turkey: Young Kurdish singer imprisoned

Al Jazeera has published a video by a Turkish-Kurdish filmmaker about the Kurdish singer Nûdem Durak. The singer’s future is uncertain, because the Turkish government allegedly has convicted her to 10.5 years imprisonment for “promoting Kurdish propaganda”, according to Al Jazeera. Published on Youtube on 30 April 2015 Maker of the documentary film, Eylem Kaftan, […]

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, […]

Azerbaijan: Six years imprisonment to Sing for Democracy campaigner

Rasul Jafarov, 29, one of Azerbaijan’s best-known human rights activists and government critics, was sentenced on 16 April to six years and six months in prison on charges including tax evasion and abuse of power. He has also been barred from holding any office for three years following his release, reported contact.az. The charges have been […]

Morocco: Rapper Al Shuaibi reportedly released from prison

After six months imprisonment at the Civil Prison in El Araich city, the Moroccan rapper Al Shuaibi was set free on 27 February 2015, reported larache24.com. After his release from prison, Al Shuaibi made a public statement to larache24.com, saying that he will proceed with his “call for justice and rights” in his next songs, […]

Egypt: Composer arrested and singer escaped

On Friday 13 March 2015, two hours after a song called ‘Egypt is Narrow’, (‘Masr ya Dayka’) had been broadcasted on the tv channel Al Sharq, the composer of the song, Ahmed Al Basher, was arrested, and the singer, Ali Al Hendawi, was allegedly being chased by police. The song ‘Egypt is Narrow’ is a […]

Thailand: Imprisonment of student actors stirs criticism

Two theatre actors were sentenced to two and a half years in prison on 24 february 2015 for staging a play in 2013 that was deemed defamatory to the monarchy. Patiwat Saraiyaem, 24, a fourth year student at Khon Kaen University, and Pornthip Munkong, 27, former coordinator of Prakai Fai Theatre Troupe, were found guilty […]

Thailand: Actors prosecuted for political play

On 23 February 2015, two members of a now-defunct theatre group Prakai Fai (‘Sparking Fire’) have been sentenced to two and half years in prison under the draconian Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code. Pornthip Mankong aka Golf, 26, and Patiwat Saraiyaem, 23, performed in a political play called Jao Sao Maa Paa (‘Wolf’s bride’). […]

Cuba: Rapper ‘El Critico’ released from prison

After nearly two years in prison, Cuban rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, best known as ‘El Critico’ from the underground hip-hop duo The Unwanted Children, has been released, along with several other political prisoners across the island. Remon was sent to prison in March 2013 after a violent, allegedly government-organised, mob attacked his home in […]

Japan: Artist imprisoned over ‘obscene’ kayak design

When Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi began to make plaster casts of her genitalia and show them in exhibitions, she accepted some people might be upset. But she could not have imagined she would end up in prison. Megumi Igarashi has spent 10 days in a Tokyo women’s prison. Her crime, the police say, was sending […]

China: Tibetan folk singer sentenced to two and a half years in prison

On 27 November 2014, the Intermediate People’s Court in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, sentenced the well-known folk singer and music producer Pema Rigzin to two and a half years in prison and a fine of 50,000 yuan (US$ 8,130) for composing, releasing, and distributing music with alleged political overtones. Pema Rigzin, 44, was detained on 7 […]

China: Tibetan singer sentenced to four years in prison

The popular Tibetan singer Kalsang Yarphel has been given a four year imprisonment verdict for belting out songs calling on Tibetans to speak their own language and to forge unity among themselves. Kalsang Yarphel, 39, was sentenced by a court in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, where he had been held since being detained […]

Morocco: 17-year-old rapper released after three months imprisonment

Othman Atiq, a 17-year-old Moroccan rapper known as Mr Crazy, was released on 12 November 2014 after completing a three-month sentence for “offending a state institution,” “harming public morality,” and other offenses related to his lyrics.
 Atiq, whose songs and music videos depict the gritty lives of Casablanca’s unemployed youth, is the second performer in […]

Morocco: Rapper El Haqed speaks of freedom and flaws

If the Moroccan authorities meant to silence the dissident Moroccan rapper El Haqed by locking him up in a prison cell on trumped up charges, it didn’t work. The first thing he wanted to do when he stepped out in freedom after four months imprisonment was go to the studio and record more of the […]

Morocco: Dissident rapper Mouad El Haqed released

Having served his third prison sentence since Morocco’s February 20th Movement uprising started, Morocco’s dissident rapper Mouad Belghouat known by his stage name El Haqed has been released from Ain Borja prison in Casablanca on 18 September 2014. By Nadir Bouhmouch, Freemuse Arrested on 18 May 2014, El Haqed was charged by a lower Casablanca […]

Tunisia and Egypt: Music censorship after the Spring

‘The Cultural Spring’ in Tunisia and Egypt: Musicians are pushing the boundaries of artistic expression. By Victor Salama   While some Arab countries saw political changes in 2011 – president Ben Ali was ousted from power after ruling Tunisia for 24 years, Hosni Mubarak was deposed after ruling Egypt for 30 years – many cultural […]

Ukraine: Abducted street artist released briefly, then imprisoned again

The 47-year-old Ukrainian artist Serhiy Zakharov is being persecuted for having displayed caricature installations in the streets of Donetsk which ridiculed local rebel leaders. On 6 August 2014, Serhiy Zakharov was abducted by a group of armed men who appeared at his home. His artwork and computer were also seized. He was taken to the […]

Morocco: Imprisoned rapper El Haqed on two-day hunger strike

On 13-15 August 2014, the Moroccan rapper and member of the 20 February protest movement did a 48-hour hunger protest against “humiliating treatment” in prison, reported Huffington Post. Relatives said that El Haqed (also spelled: Lhaqed. Real name: Mouad Belghouat) undergoes considerable psychological pressure from the staff of the prison. On 1 July 2014, El […]

Morocco: Rapper sentenced to four months in prison

The Moroccan rapper Mouad Belghaoute – also known as Lhaqed or El Haqed – has been sentenced to four months in prison. He is furthermore to pay a fine of 1,350 euros to the two police officers he was accused of attacking. An accusation of selling tickets in the black market was removed. The verdict […]

Nigeria: Arrested anti-president singer freed, says ‘No regret’

Popular Kano political musician, Dauda Kahutu Rarara who was arrested over a song he composed on the visit of President Goodluck Jonathan to Kano State has been released from detention. Dauda Kahutu Rarara had allegedly been arrested and interviewed by the operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) in Kano for his music labelled ‘Mai […]

Vietnam: Two writers released on amnesty, one remains imprisoned

PEN International reported that the two writers and activists Dinh Dang Dinh and Nguyen Huu Cau were released under an amnesty, while poet, essayist and scholar Nguyen Van Ly remains imprisoned. Writer and activist Nguyen Huu Cau and blogger and environmental activist Dinh Dang Dinh were released from prison on 21 March 2014 under an […]

Egypt: Poet Omar Hazek imprisoned

A two-year prison sentence was handed down to Egyptian poet Omar Hazek, who has been held in custody since his arrest in early December 2013 for taking part in a protest. Omar Hazek was held in Hadra prison in Alexandria until 21 February 2014 when he was moved to Burj Al-Arab prison also in Alexandria, […]

Tunisia: A hundred drawings for the freedom of one illustrator

Artists from a dozen countries launched an Internet campaign to free young Tunisian artist Jabeur Mejri, imprisoned since March 2012 for blasphemy in sharing caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed on Facebook. The campaign ‘One Hundred Drawings for Jabeur’ is meant to remind the Tunisian lawmakers that the country’s newly adopted constitution guarantees freedom of conscience […]

Iran: Freemuse and PEN welcomes release of poets on bail

PEN International and Freemuse welcomes the release on bail on 14 January 2013 of poets and lyricists Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi. They had been held in Evin Prison since 7 December 2013, apparently for their critical writings, no formal charges against them are known. No further action is required at this stage although PEN International […]

UN Special Rapporteur requested to discuss Tibet with Chinese government

Freemuse has requested the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights, Ms Farida Shaheed, to discuss the imprisonment of nine Tibetan singers with the Chinese government. The artists Lolo, Shawo Tashi, Pema Tinley, Chakdor and Choksal have been given sentences of between one and six years. The crimes for which they have been […]

Iran: Freemuse and PEN protest arrest of poets

PEN International and Freemuse protest the arrest of poets and lyricists Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi, who have been held in Section 2A of Tehran’s Evin prison since 7 December 2013, apparently for their critical writings. They are feared to be at risk of torture and ill-treatment and there are mounting concerns for their well-being. […]

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 […]

Tunisia: Rapper Weld El 15 has been freed

On 19 December 2013, the Tunisian rapper Weld El 15 was acquitted on appeal of singing songs insulting to the police and has been freed, according to his lawyer and his mother. The case against Weld El 15 (real name: Ala Yaacoubi) goes back to August 2013, when Weld El 15 and fellow rapper Klay […]

Russia: Freedom promised to the two imprisoned Pussy Riot members

The Russian State Duma has passed an amnesty bill submitted by Russian President Vladimir Putin that seems to promise freedom for the two jailed members of the punk protest group Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina. According to the attorney Irina Khrunova, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina may be freed before New Year, as soon as […]

Iran: Musician and music distributors arrested

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps arrested three men involved in the production, distribution, and promotion of Iranian underground music in October 2913, a source with knowledge of the arrest told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Musician Mehdi Rajabian, his brother, and Yousef Emadi, who managed BargMusic, were arrested on 12 October 2013 in […]

Russia: Pussy Riot appeal referred back to Moscow Court

The Supreme Court has referred an appeal by three members of the Pussy Riot punk group against their prison sentences back to a Moscow court. Moscow City Court rejected an appeal against their sentences on 29 May 2013. The defense team then appealed that ruling at the Supreme Court. The imprisoned Pussy Riot members Maria […]

Tunisia: Rapper Weld El 15 appeal hearing

Tunisian rapper Weld El 15 will spend the next four months in prison, unless he wins the appeal filed by his attorney on 9 December 2013. On 5 December, the 25-year-old artist was sentenced for performing songs deemed insulting to police. The Hammamet court ordered him taken straight to his cell. According to Tunisia rap […]

Tunisia: Freemuse condemns imprisonment of rapper Weld El 15

Rapper Weld El 15 (real name: Ala Yaacoubi) was sentenced four months imprisonment after he turned himself in to a court in Hammamet on 5 December 2013. Freemuse condemned the verdict. “Tunisia should live up to international conventions guaranteeing free speech,” said Freemuse Director Ole Reitov. Weld El 15 was sentenced in absentia earlier in […]

China: Tibetan writer sentenced to five years in prison

Topden, a 30-year-old nomad and a writer who writes under the pseudonym Dro Ghang Gah was arrested on 28 October 2013 and sentenced to five years in prison on 30 November 2013, reported the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. Allegedly Topden was imprisoned for “keeping contacts with Dalai clique and for engaging in […]

Russia: Pussy Riot member’s case against prison dismissed

Investigators have dismissed again a request filed by convicted Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova to initiate a case against the administration of the Mordovian colony where she served her sentence for absence of a crime in the officials’ acts, the Investigation Committee reported. On 23 September 2013, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova declared a hunger strike and requested […]

Russia: Pussy Riot’s Alyokhina appealing to Supreme Court

The defense of a Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina, who was convicted last year of hooliganism for singing a song against President Vladimir Putin, will file a supervisory appeal against her sentence with the Supreme Court, her lawyer said. The appeal from the feminist punk rocker follows a similar application with the same court by […]

Iran: Art and punishment – artist and former prisoner tells her story

Soudabeh Ardavan was held for eight years in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. She found sanity and solace through the forbidden activities of drawing and painting, secretly producing paint from flower petals and tea, using brushes made from toothpicks and human hair. Whenever she was caught, she received severe penalties that ranged from forced isolation to […]

Russia: Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova located

News of jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova finally surfaced after she was incommunicado for 26 days. The husband of the Russian band member said she was being held in a prison hospital in Siberia. According to Verzilov, there is a chance that his wife might spend the remainder of her two-year sentence in the […]

Russia: Pussy Riot’s Tolokonnikova punished with move to Siberian prison

The husband of the imprisoned Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said he had received “100 percent reliable” information that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is being moved to a prison in the Krasnoyarsk region, four time zones and 2,000 miles from Moscow. The specific prison is not yet known, said the husband, Petya Verzilov, but early indications suggest […]

Qatar: Poet’s 15 year prison sentence upheld

Qatar’s Supreme Court last month upheld a 15-year prison sentence handed to poet Mohammed Al-Ajami for reciting a poem in support of the Arab uprisings on Youtube. The was reported by The Art Newspaper on 7 November 2013. Al-Ajami, 37, a married father of four children, was a third-year literature student at Cairo University when […]

Russia: Pussy Riot member’s new prison location held secret

Convicted Pussy Riot band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has not been heard from since she was transferred from one prison to another, her husband Petr Verzilov told international news media on 2 November 2013. Petr Verzilov said his wife was moved from a Mordovia prison to a prison in Chelyabinsk on 24 or 25 October 2013. […]

Kazakhstan: Imprisoned poet Atabek moved to unknown location | PEN

PEN International is deeply concerned by news that the poet and social activist Aron Atabek has been transferred from a high security prison in the city of Arkalyk to another – as yet unknown – prison. His family are very worried. PEN International reported on 29 October 2013 that the imprisoned Kazakh poet Aron Atabek […]

Kazakhstan: Campaign to have poet released from solitary confinement | PEN

Aron Atabek has written a touching letter and poem to German PEN from his solitary confinement in Kazakhstan. Kazakh poet and author Aron Atabek was sentenced to two years in solitary confinement in 2012 for writing a book that criticises President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Since August 2013, PEN centres have been lobbying their governments and respective […]

Tunisia: Rapper sentenced to six months in prison

Tunisian rapper Klay BBJ has been sentenced to six months in prison for insulting the authorities in his songs, reported several news agencies on 26 September 2013. That is 15 months less than the sentence he was first given in August 2013. Klay BBJ (real name: Ahmed Ben Ahmed) lost his appeal case after he […]

Russia: Pussy Riot member subject to death threats and isolation

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who has been convicted to two years in prison over a “punk prayer” protest against Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral in August 2012, has been moved into isolation after she announced to be starting a hunger strike. On 23 September 2013, a letter by the 23-year-old imprisoned Pussy-Riot member announcing her starting […]

Syria: Artist held in arrest more than a month

More than a month after the arrest of the artist Yussef Abdelki, who is an opponent of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the Syrian authorities have released him, reported his wife to AFP. The security services arrested the Christian artist on 18 July 2013 in Tartus along with two members of the banned Communist Labour Party, […]

Tunisia: Rapper sentenced to two years imprisonment, violence in court

On 13 June 2013, the Tunisian rapper Weld El 15 was (again) sentenced to two years in prison for insulting the police in a song. Weld El 15, who had previously been in hiding, turned himself in and was immediately taken into custody. Cries were raised in the court room when the verdict was announced. […]

China: Two Tibetan singers sentenced to two years in prison

Two Tibetan singers, Pema Trinley, 22, and Chakdor, 32, who were detained in 2012 for releasing a music album titled ‘Agony of Unhealed Wounds’ are reported by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy to have been secretly sentenced to two years in prison. The two singers come from a nomadic village called Meuruma. […]

Egypt: Author sentenced to five years in prison for insulting religion

Egyptian author and human rights activist Karam Saber has been sentenced to five years in prison, after a court found his writings to have insulted religion, reported the Egyptian news website Aswat Masriya. The complaint against Karam Saber and his book ‘Ayn Allah’ (‘Where Is God?’) was initially filed in 2011, shortly after the fall […]

Russia: Jailed Pussy Riot member on hunger strike

Freemuse published the following statement regarding Maria Alyokhina’s hunger strike: Freemuse learns with dismay of the launching of a hunger strike by jailed Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina, in protest against the brutal conditions of her detention and the lack of fairly adjudicatation of her conviction. Freemuse sent an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, […]

India: Artists protest against state-sponsored censorship

A protest march demanded that the Bombay High court immediately release of members of the cultural troupe Kabir Kala Manch. Published on YouTube.com on 8 May 2013. On 2 May 2013, artists, writers, journalists, filmmakers, students, cultural activists and actors from theatre groups marched in protest from Sriram Centre to Maharashtra Sadan in Mumbai demanding […]

Algeria: Singer imprisoned for song which mocks police

29-year-old Algerian raï singer Cheb Fayçal appeared in court before the Attorney General in Oran on 2 May 2013 where he was sentenced to six months in prison. He is prosecuted for having performed a song that poked fun at the police and mentions the name of its top official, Abdelghani Hamel. Cheb Faiçal (real […]

Russia: Request for parole from Pussy Riot member rejected in court

A court in the Russian region of Mordovia has denied a request for parole from 23-year-old Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, mother of a five-year-old and one of two jailed members of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot, reported Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty with quotes from Interfax, AFP, and Russia Today Judge Lidiya Yakovleva said in […]

Uzbekistan: Writer released after over 14 years in prison

The award-winning Uzbek writer Mamadali Makhmudov has finally been released after over 14 years in prison, reported PEN International on 23 April 2013. In the late evening of 19 April 2013, Mamadali Makhmudov walked out of prison and met his five grand-children for the first time. His wife told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that her […]

Turkey: Pianist Fazil Say sentenced for Twitter posts

World-renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say was given a 10 month suspended jail sentence for blasphemy by the 19th Criminal Court in Istanbul on April 15 2013 after retweeting an ancient poem on Twitter. Fazil Say, 42, was found guilty of violating Article 216 (3) of the Turkish Criminal Code, which prohibits  the ‘denigration of the […]

Tunisia: Artists imprisoned because of rap video

Actress Sabrine Klibi and cameraman Mohamed Hedi Belgueyed were sentenced to six months in prison for their participation in the music video ‘Cops are Dogs’, reported Tunisia Live. At the Court of First Instance of Ben Arous, a southern suburb of Tunis, the artists were charged according to five articles of the Tunisian Penal Code […]

Morocco: Rapper El Haked is finally free

After being arrested twice and serving a one year jail term for his critical lyrics ‘Kilab ed-Dowla’ (‘Dogs of the State’), Mouad Belghouat, whose alias is El Haked (also spelled: Haqed), is finally free, reported Jadaliyya on 2 April 2013. El Haked’s trial attracted huge crowds and brought international and national scrutiny on the supposed […]

Uzbekistan: Writer faces another prison term

Uzbekistani writer Mamadali Makhmudov will not be released from prison on completion of his 14-year jail term, reported Amnesty International. On 5 March 2013, Makhmudov was told that a new criminal case had been filed against him for allegedly violating prison rules. Makhmudov is one of the longest serving writers in prison, having been held […]

Vietnam: Fears for the health of imprisoned writer

 RAPID ACTION NETWORK • 28 March 2013  PEN International is seriously concerned for the health of writer and activist Nguyen Huu Cau, who is seriously ill and denied adequate medical care in the prison camp where he is serving a life-time sentence for his critical writings. PEN International protests his imprisonment, and demands his immediate […]

Cameroon: PEN calls for renewed support to 
imprisoned writer

PEN American Center announced that Cameroonian poet and writer Enoh Meyomesse has been named an Honorary Member of PEN and launched a dynamic interactive timeline to draw attention to his case. On 27 December 2012, Meyomesse was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of stealing and illegally selling gold. No witnesses or evidence […]

Turkmenistan: Two popular singers released from prison

The two popular singers Maksat Kakabaev and Murad Ovezov were released from prison as part of an amnesty celebrating the National Flag Day in Turkmenistan, reported Freedom Now: “Maksat Kakabaev (also known as MARO) and Murad Ovezov are popular singers who were wrongfully detained in Turkmenistan on fabricated charges. Mr. Kakabaev and Mr. Ovezov were […]

Qatar: Poet’s life sentence reduced

On 25 February 2013, poet Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami’s life sentence for a critical poem was reduced to 15 years. A final ruling by the Supreme Court is expected within 30 days, reported PEN International. The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International considers Al-Ajami to be convicted in violation of his right to freedom […]

Cuba: Writer sentenced to five years in prison

Writer and blogger Ángel Santiesteban Prats has been sentenced to five years in prison for alleged trespassing and assault on the basis of an apparently flawed trial, wrote The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International on 22 February 2013. Ángel Santiesteban Prats is an award-winning writer and author of the blog ‘The Children Who […]

PEN International: 157 writers are serving long prison terms

The PEN International Writers in Prison Committee Caselist for July to December 2012 details over 870 cases of attacks on individuals who are writers, journalists, poets, publishers and editors and who have been detained or otherwise persecuted for their peaceful political activities, or for the practice of their profession. Country by country over 82 pages, […]

International artists support imprisoned Iranian singer

In a letter to the Iranian authorities, world renowned artists join Freemuse in a protest against the imprisonment of their Iranian colleague Arya Aramnejad. The artists’ appeal letter [PDF] Singer Lapiro de Mbanga, who successfully ran a case against Cameroon in The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention because of his wrongful imprisonment, is […]

Cameroon: Seven-year prison sentence confirmed for writer

On 8 January 2013 it was announced that writer Enoh Meyomesse is to be honoured with an Oxfam Novib / PEN Freedom of Expression Award. More than a year after his arrest, he was sentenced to seven years in prison on 27 December 2012. The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International believes Meyomesse’s detention, […]

China: Campaign for imprisoned writer and poet

An international campaign has been launched by PEN International in partnership with the Dublin-based human rights group Front Line Defenders to call for the release of poet and writer Liu Xiaobo — and that of all those currently detained in the P.R. China in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and […]

Qatar: Poet Al-Ajami sentenced to life in prison

A Qatari court’s life sentence for the poet Muhammad Ibn al-Dheeb Al-Ajami after a grossly unfair trial on 29 November 2012 “flagrantly violates the right to free expression”, Human Rights Watch said on 4 December 2012. AMY GOODMAN, journalist, Democracy Now: “So, if someone read Mohammad’s poem today in Qatar out loud, they too would […]

Russia: No regrets for Pussy Riot despite bad treatment during court case

Index on Censorship had the exclusive opportunity to interview Pussy Riot member Ekatrina Samutsevich who was freed by a Moscow court on 10 October 2012. The interview took place during the same week as Samutsevich’s friends and fellow band mates Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were sent to prison camps in remote Russian regions. Samutsevich […]

Vietnam: Two musicians sentenced to four and six years in prison

A Vietnamese court convicted two renowned musicians to four and six years imprisonment for anti-state propaganda and links to a banned political group, one of their lawyers said on 30 October 2012. Viet Khang, 34, (real name: Vo Minh Tri) was given a four-year prison term while Hoang Nhat Thong, 37, (real name: Tran Vu […]

Censored and imprisoned artists speak out

PRESS RELEASE – sent to Danish press (in Danish language) on 23 October 2012 The “brain” behind the Russian Pussy Riot campaign and experts from a wide range of freedom of expression organisations arrive these days to Oslo to meet with persecuted and censored artists from around the world. Because on Thursday opens the first […]

Russia: Pussy Riot member freed, two others to remain in prison

On 10 October 2012, a Moscow appeals court freed one of the jailed Pussy Riot members, 30-year-old Ekaterina Samutsevich, but upheld the two-year prison sentence for the two others who are to serve remainder of their sentences in penal colony. All three women were convicted in August of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for an […]

Exiled Burmese artist: “Self-censorship is second nature”

Interviews with two Burmese artists: Chaw Ei Thein, who now lives in exile in the United States, on the situation in Burma in 2012, and Htein Lin, who describes how he maintained his artistic work while in prison. Chaw Ei Thein was briefly imprisoned after having made ​​a political performance piece in the streets of […]

Pussy Riot found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison

On 17 August 2012, the three members of the punk collective Pussy Riot received guilty verdicts and were each sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. According to the judge, they had “deeply insulted the faith of believers with their disrespectful criminal act and that the punk protest was blasphemous against the orthodox church.” When the heavy […]

Morocco: Rapper El Haked’s sentence upheld in court of appeal

On 27 July 2012, the Casablanca court of appeal upheld the one year prison sentence given to rapper El Haked in May. The court confirmed that his police-critical song circulating on Youtube together with a ridiculing photo-montage was ‘detrimental to public servants’.  24-year-old rapper Mouad Belghouate, known as El Haked

Turkey: Singer Ferhat Tunç sentenced to two years in prison

A court in the eastern province of Malatya sentenced Kurdish singer and composer Ferhat Tunç to two years in prison on terrorism related charges due to his invocation during a speech in 2011 where he mentioned names of three deceased Turkish leftists, reported BIA News Center on 27 June 2012. During the May 1st celebrations […]

Russia: Punk group Pussy Riot to remain in prison

On 20 June 2012, a Tagansky district court ruled to keep the three detained band members of Pussy Riot in prison until 24 July 2012 while the police probe continues. Since February 2012, three band members of the all-female punk rock band from Moscow have been in the Butyrskaya prison, while two other members are […]

Filmmakers in prison

FILMMAKERS IN PRISON is an initiative of the German Film Academy, which is committed to politically persecuted filmmakers. Below is a link to a mini movie which contains excerpts from the following movies: • ‘The Baader Meinhof Complex’ by Uli Edel • ‘The Experiment’ by Oliver Hirschbiegel • ‘Picco’ by Philip Koch • ‘Salvador – […]

One year prison sentence for Morrocan rapper who criticised police

The sentencing of a rapper on 11 May 2012 to one year in prison for “insulting the police” shows the gap between the strong free-expression language in Morocco’s 2011 constitution and the continuing intolerance for those who criticise state institutions, Human Rights Watch stated. Statement and report from Rabat by Human Rights Watch The sentence […]

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 […]

 

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