Dina El Wedidi, one of Egypt’s leading new artists will be performing in Oslo, Norway. Moroccan fusion rocker Réda Zine leads his band Voodoo Sound Club in a concert in Bologna, Italy, while some of Zimbabwe’s most outspoken artists enter the stage in Harare, and exiled musicians from Sudan perform in Cairo – all joining hands to mark the annual Music Freedom Day on 3 March.
Initiated by Freemuse, the World Forum on Music and Censorship, events take place in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America to focus on freedom of expression for musicians and show solidarity with colleagues, who are imprisoned, persecuted or even killed.
All events are locally organised and particular focus in 2014 will be on the situation in Sudan and Tibet. In some countries the event will start already on 1 March.
“Broadcasters in many countries join the event,” said Ole Reitov, director and one of the founders of Freemuse.
As an example, the legendary Serbian resistance broadcaster Radio B92 will put focus on the situation for musicians in Sudan, while Les Rutes del Sol, the Basque radio in Barcelona, Spain, joins the annual event for the seventh time – playing music of banned artists from, among others, Egypt, Palestine and Tibet.
Persecuted and murdered
Music continues to be one of the most censored art forms affecting not only the artists but even citizens all over the world. The 2013 ARTSWATCH report noted that “in too many cases, regulations are implemented without consistency by non-transparent mechanisms with no possibility of appeal. Cinema and music are at particular risk here.”
Globally almost 20 musicians were killed – in countries such as Mexico, North Korea and Greece – in 2013. China keep almost a dozen Tibetan musicians in prison for playing music resisting the Chinese cultural dominance of Tibet.
“The situation in Mali continues to be severe and affects music life in a serious way. Threats and attacks on music are once again increasing in Pakistan, and women are still banned from performing in public in Iran and Saudi Arabia,” said Ole Reitov. He emphasised that it is extremely important that other artists show solidarity – and at the same time continue to perform with their great music.
Music Freedom Day provides artists, broadcasters and cultural organisations a platform to discuss mechanisms of censorship. At www.freemuse.org artists speak about censorship and self censorship.
“Religious topics and issues of homosexuality are still very tricky to address in many countries. In one of our video interviews, one of Africa’s legendary rappers, Didier Awadi from Senegal, speaks openly about how he refrains from addressing religious issues, while exiled Palestinean rapper Khaled Harara talks about the political abuse of religion as a power tool.