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Arctic city receives Freemuse Award
Harstad – a Norwegian city situated 300 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle – is the Freemuse Award Winner 2014. Last year dedicated politicians unaminously declared Harstad the “world’s first safe city for musicians.” The city will soon host a Freemuse nominee musician and his family currently living in exile.
Norwegian sister organisation SafeMUSE recently invited several Nordic cities and organisations to Oslo to discuss how to develop short term residencies for musicians at risk. Several visual arts organisations attended the meeting and now plan to offer short term residencies for artists at risk. Freemuse will join a new meeting with art organisations scheduled for December 2014 to develop these ideas further.
Freemuse Award winner 2011, singer Ramy Essam from Egypt, has been offered a two years “safe city” residency in Malmö, Sweden. Essam is touring USA later this month and is involved in several recording projects.
In 2014 Freemuse has submitted five Universal Periodic Reviews to the UN focussing on censorship and repression of musical and artistic expressions. The latest reports address problems in Belarus and USA. Ramy Essam joined Freemuse and Egyptian partner AFTE in Geneva in October for a presentation of the UPR submission on Egypt. In a summary prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights a special chapter on cultural rights quoted the report and recommendations submitted by Freemuse and AFTE.
Freemuse partners CIHRS and AFTE were amongst seven leading Egyptian human rights organisations deciding to cancel their side-events and conferences at the UN headquarters in Geneva last week when Egypt was being examined by the Human Rights Council during the UPR, Universal Periodic Review. The Egyptian organisations stated that their participation “might result in reprisal or possible persecution”.
Mr David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, has invited Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov to join an expert consultation in London in December to address challenges for the right to freedom of opinion and expression worldwide.
The Freemuse Executive Committee has co-opted Frank Geary, human rights expert, and formerly Deputy Director of Pen International and Samm Farai Monro, one of Zimbabwe’s pioneering artists, activists and organisers, better known asComrade Fatso. Freemuse co-founder, Klaus Slavensky will terminate his position next summer, having been engaged in Freemuse since its very beginning.
Freemuse welcomes new and much awaited staff thanks to generous support from SIDA and The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Shaima Aly is our new Programme Officer. Based in Cairo she will cover North Africa and the Middle East from 15 November. Shaima has been working extensively in the region for several years with human rights and democratisation issues and helped setting up charters of our sister organisation Arterial Network in Sudan and Ethiopia. She has a university background in education, awareness methodologies and human rights.
In January Magnus Ag will join the Copenhagen secretariat as Senior Programme Officer. He comes from a position as Assistant Advocacy Director at CPJ, Committee to Protect Journalists, in New York. Magnus Ag has a university background in political science and media studies.
Rikke Ertmann has recently joined the secretariat as administrative officer. She has formerly worked as financial manager with Sony BMG Entertainment.
Music Freedom Day 2014 was once again a fantastic event with participating musicians, radio broadcasters and human rights activists in nearly 20 different countries highlighting the importance of artists’ rights to freedom of expression. NOW is the time to begin planning for Music Freedom Day 3 March 2015. Join the event