Freemuse Newsletter no 4 / 2016

News and knowledge about musical freedom of expression.



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Seven years after the Taleban ousting:

Music life in Pakistan’s Swat Valley is dwindling

A new report on the effects of war and repression of musicians, performers and the public of Swat, Pakistan, published today, reveals how artistic life and the cultural industry is still suffering immensely after the Taliban were ousted more than seven years ago. To this day public concerts have almost ceased in Swat.

Prolonged unstable conditions have resulted in the dwindling of professional musicians’ families – once a major feature of cultural life in the region. The number of families has fallen drastically, from 80 in the 1980s to 25 today. Due to fear of terrorists, shopping complex owners no longer allow the trade of CDs. Close to 200 CD shops have closed in Swat, only a dozen remain open.

The report is written by Muhammad Rome and supported by Freemuse. It is published simultaneously by Freemuse and Pakhtunkhwa Cultural Foundation (PCF). The Peshawar-based organisation has also produced five videos with interviews with artists, organisers and shop owners. These are now available to the public.

Download the report (PDF)

Watch the videos

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Pakistan: Famed Sufi singer killed by gunmen

Freemuse calls for counter narratives to religious extremism

On 22 June 2016, one of Pakistan’s most famous singers Amjad Sabri was killed by two gunmen. A spokesperson for a local Taliban group in the country said they targeted the singer because they consider his music to be blasphemous.

“We call on Pakistan to bring to justice those who are responsible for the killing and those who are continuing their hate speech against artistic freedom. These atrocities will not cease until Pakistan actively begins to engage in counter-narratives to the religious extremism in the school systems as well as in the media,” said Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov.

Read more

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Artistic expression is not a crime

UN Special Rapporteurs urge Iranian government to free imprisoned artists

On 24 June 2016 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, and Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, issued a statement calling on Iranian authorities to free musicians Mehdi Rajabian and Yousef Emadi, and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian.

“Artistic expression is simply not a crime,” Ms Bennoune said. “These three artists were sentenced for exercising their right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity, which in turn results in unjustifiable restrictions on the right of all persons in Iran to have access to and enjoy the arts.”

The statement was endorsed by the Special Rapporteur on Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, and the Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez.

Freemuse co-initiated an international campaign in January 2016 for the three artists when they were due to appear in an appellate court to contest the charges against them and is still campaigning for their release.

Read more

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Freemuse receives new grant from Sida

For more than 10 years, Sida, The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, has been the main funder of Freemuse. In June, Freemuse and Sida entered into a new contract worth 10 million SEK – approximately one million euro. The agreement runs till the end of 2018 and ensures the core work of Freemuse.

“It is of outmost importance that Freemuse can continue to document violations on artistic freedom, support artists at risk  and advocate for artists’ rights to freedom of expression. Without the support from Sida this would not be possible and we are most grateful for their confidence in our work,” says Ole Reitov, Freemuse Executive Director.

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Freemuse office closed in July

The Freemuse office is closed for summer holiday from 9 to 31 July 2016.

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LATEST NEWS

on freemuse.org

UN: “Artistic expression is not a crime” – Special Rapporteurs urge the Iranian government to free jailed artists
24 JUNE 2016

Pakistan: Famed Sufi singer killed in drive-by shooting
23 JUNE 2016

Turkey: Music fans attacked at Radiohead store event
22 JUNE 2016

Russia: Music video censored for having same-sex kiss
22 JUNE 2016

Nigeria: Singer’s songs banned by DJ association after on-stage slap
22 JUNE 2016

Senegal: Singer arrested and detained for indecency
22 JUNE 2016

South Sudan: Minister bans foreign music on radio station
17 JUNE 2016

Ghana: Music union calls for regulation on obscene lyrics
17 JUNE 2016

Gambia: Music banned during Ramadan
14 JUNE 2016

Georgia: Conservative religious group disrupts rock festival
9 JUNE 2016

Egypt: Heavy metal concert cancelled, three arrested
8 JUNE 2016

Iran: Eight producers arrested for “obscene” music videos
8 JUNE 2016

Iran: Two musicians and a filmmaker imprisoned
7 JUNE 2016

More news from 2016
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Open, print or download the 2015 statistics report ‘Art Under Threat’ (PDF, 4.5MB, 46 pages)

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Open, print or download the report ‘Study on the effects of war and repression of musicians, performers and the public of Swat, Pakistan’ (PDF, 2.1MB, 30 pages)

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