Forbidden Songs is the theme of this year’s Oslo World Music Festival. To set the stage, Liv Tørres, Executive Director at the Nobel Peace Centre, will talk with Freemuse co-founder and Executive Director, Ole Reitov, at Oslo’s Sentralen on 2 November.
Later the same day, Ole Reitov will moderate a seminar entitled “Forbidden Songs” at the Nobel Peace Centre. Featuring: Emel Mathlouthi – known for her protest songs which became anthems for the Tunisian Revolution; Norwegian singer, Moddi, who recently released the album ‘Unsongs’ – a collection of songs that have been banned, censored or silenced; Mashrou ìLeila – probably the biggest band from the Arabic world right now; Deeyah Khan – filmmaker and activist; and Stephen Budd – well known music industry executive.
The annual festival features several concerts and talks with artists who have faced censorship – including Freemuse Award Winner Mahsa Vahdat.
The Vietnamese state operates a thorough system of music censorship. The few songwriters who dare to directly challenge the authority of the Vietnamese Communist Party, or its policies, face serious consequences. Read the Freemuse INSIGHT article on the history of music censorship in Vietnam, from the mid-twentieth century through to the current digital era, written by ethnomusicologist Dr Barley Norton.
Morocco often hosts musical festivals and other cultural events attracting international artists and praise from the international community. But there is a flip side to Morocco’s support of cultural life: artists that overstep the vaguely defined “red lines” of harming the monarchy, Islam, sex and sexuality, or “territorial integrity” (Morocco’s claim of sovereignty over Western Sahara) face persecution, prosecution and sometimes imprisonment.
Morocco should replace unclear and vague provisions in the Penal Code and decriminalise the so-called “red line” offenses, according to a new joint stakeholder submission to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process by Freemuse and Racines.
In Tunisia, the country’s 2014 constitution guarantees the right to artistic freedom. Despite such guarantees, artistic freedom is not fully upheld and protected. Artists, often rappers, are exposed to threats, assaults, prosecution and imprisonment by Tunisian authorities, terrorist groups and other non-state actors, according to a Freemuse submission to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review. The report makes six recommendations, including replacing vague provisions in the Penal Code used to arbitrarily imprison artists.
China: Two Tibetan singers released after four years in prison
Tibetan singers Chakdor and Pema Trinley were released from prison on 3 October 2016 after serving out their four-year sentences in a prison in China’s southwestern Sichuan province. Freemuse has campaigned for the musicians and welcomes their release, but calls on the Chinese government to immediately release all Tibetan musicians currently imprisoned for their artistic expressions.
Tanzania charges artists for allegedly insulting president
Tanzanian musician Mwana Cotide (real name: Fulgency Mapunda) and music producer Mussa Sekabwe have been charged with the intent to “offend the President” for uploading a video as well as distributing the song ‘Dikteta Uchwara’ (Petty Dictator). Since President Mugufuli took office in October 2015 and the Cybercrimes Act was enacted in May 2015, fourteen people have been arrested and charged for insulting the president on social media.
Like many other Kurdish artists, Freemuse Award winner Ferhat Tunç is neither able to perform in his home country during the current state of emergency, nor are his songs being played by any media. But Ferhat Tunç will not be silenced. In a new video, ‘They shot us’, he comments on the attacks on a peaceful demonstration in Ankara last year.