Freemuse: Artists’ voices embarrassingly missing at major conference


17 June 2009


Artists’ voices embarrassingly missing at major conference

500 freedom of expression activists met in Norway in early June 2009 — but the artists’ voices were missing

More than 500 journalists, writers, activists and artists from over 103 countries converged for a week in Oslo, Norway’s capital, in the beginning of June for the Global Forum on Freedom of Expression.

Musicians were playing at the opening ceremony, but musicians’ and other artists’ voices were embarrassingly absent at the dozens of seminars held in the Norwegian capital. Embarrassingly not for the artists, but for the organisers. Dominated by journalists, media organisations and political activists, the forum did not include any sessions dealing with the specific problems of artists’ freedom of expression.

“Unfortunately freedom of expression issues are still basically focusing on journalists and media as is the global financial support for freedom of expression organisations,” said Marie Korpe, Freemuse Executive Director, who attended the forum.

Freemuse took part in many of the global forum’s sessions, and held meetings with political and media activists as well as sister organisations such as Pen International and Index on Censorship.

“Lobbying is an essential part of the work of Freemuse. We need constantly to voice the special problems that musicians, composers and other artists face in regards to censorship and freedom of expression,” Marie Korpe said.

The opening ceremony included strong testimonies from human rights activists. and a welcome speech by Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre.

The Norwegian minister in his speech said: “Please keep on reporting, writing, witnessing, commenting with your pens, computers, microphones, tapes and cameras.”.

A strong advocate for freedom expression, Jonas Gahr Støre took a courageous position defending freedom of expression at the UN Durban Review Conference on racism in April 2009 — he defended human rights in the face of the Iranian president’s attempts to spread fear and intolerance at the event, when other country representatives had walked out

Coinciding with the week-long international gathering of freedom of expression Jonas Gahr Støre donated to ARTICLE 19 royalties amounting to NOK 1,000,000 (approx 110.000 Euro) from a book he published in 2008.
Støre’s book, ‘Gjøre en Forskjell’ (Making a Difference), was published in November 2008 and outlines his views on international politics, human rights and the world.

Watch video from opening of the Global Forum on Freedom of Expression

Watch video from opening – June 2009:

‘Global Forum Summary Video’

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