Norway: First ever ‘safe haven city’ for musicians

27 February 2013


On Thursday 14 February 2013, the Norwegian Musicians’ Union presented their new project SafeMUSE – and the first ever ‘safe haven city’ within the field of music: Harstad.


Imagine that the police would come to the door of the artist and musicians after the concert in Oslo yesterday…

A number of musicians, artists and composers are experiencing this. Freedom of speech is not to be taken for granted — also not for musicians. The Pussy Riot case was an eye-opener for many. The current situation in Mali likewise. Persecution, imprisonment, torture and murder of musicians — because they are musicians and performing their music — is the reality for far too many. In 2011 the international organisation Freemuse documented more than 100 violations. Musicians and artists around the world are arrested, tortured, attacked and even killed due to their artistic activities.

40 safe cities for authors
Since the introduction of the idea of safe havens or cities of refuge for persecuted writers in the 1990s, this has become a worldwide scheme of 40 cities organised in the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN).

To date there has been no parallel scheme for safe music havens. In 2011, the Norwegian Musicians’ Union (MFO), in close cooperation with Freemuse, the World Forum on Music and Censorship, and professional organisations in the Nordic countries, took the first steps towards establishing a safe music haven scheme, because they felt there is a need for increasing awareness of these issues, to promote initiatives that strengthen the freedom of artistic expression and democracy building, and organise support for persecuted musicians world-wide.

MFO has now put a Safe Music Havens Initiative in place as a parallel to the safehaven-cities for authors. The first city has been identified, Harstad, which is ready to welcome a persecuted musician to a life where music creation and performance can be made in a secure environment where there is freedom of speech – in line with the UN Declaration of Human Rights. And thereby, in the bigger picture, contribute to increasing freedom of speech and democracy in exposed areas of the globe.

Harstad is a city of 23,000 citizens, situated 300 kilometres north of the polar circle.

SafeMUSE, the Safe Music Havens Initiative, has the ambition to establish an international scheme of safe music havens for persecuted artists, musicians and composers, initially in the Nordic countries.

“Music in itself is the expression of freedom.”
– Angelique Kidjo


 Deeyah – Artist and human rights activist, Fuuse
 Knut Reiersrud – Artist
 Ole Reitov – Programme manager, Freemuse, The World Forum on Music and Censorship
 Edvard Valberg – Artist, Honningbarna

 Jan Lothe Eriksen – Project manager, SafeMUSE / Norwegian Musicians’ Union

by:Larm is “Scandinavias new conference and networking arena for tech & change oriented people where technology and music interact”.

Seminar session details

Time: Thursday 14 February 2013 at 12:00 noon to13:00
Place: ‘Safety Pin’, Clarion Royal Christiania Hotel, Oslo
NB: The session is for conference delegates only

by:Larm home page:
SafeMUSE – Music in itself is the expression of freedom

More information

 About SafeMUSE — on MFO’s home page:
‘MFO’s Safe Music Havens Initiative’

 About Harstad — on Wikipedia, the open encyclopedia:

 About Troms County Council — on the council’s official homepage:

Video of the seminar
Here is a one hour video recording of the seminar in Norway:

– about freedom of expression for musicians, and about the new ‘Safe City’ initiative SafeMuse


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Listen to: Kulturnytt 2013-02-13 18:07

Media coverage
Sveriges Radio, Kulturnytt – 13 February 2013:

‘Musiker f

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