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Campaigns & Actions

Freemuse initiates and organises several campaigns and advocacy initiatives for artists at risk. Freemuse has also provided substantial support to persecuted and prosecuted artists.

 Current Freemuse campaigns

Let Women Sing

Let Women Sing

Female artists

In 2017, Freemuse began its Let Women Sing campaign, shining a spotlight on female artists, who face some very violent and direct censorship restrictions globally.

In collaboration with Roskilde Festival for 2017’s theme of “Cultural Equality”, Freemuse is focusing on women’s and musicians’ rights and access to cultural equality under the banner #LetWomenSing.

Freemuse wishes to create awareness and have a conversation about the inequality female musicians are experiencing in many places around the world, in terms of artistic expression, as well as the discrimination women face as being part of audiences experiencing art.

Freemuse is focusing on the very violent and direct restrictions women musicians face in countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, as well as the censorship female musicians are affected by in countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria, Somalia and Tanzania – especially when it comes to requirements of attire and body movements when they perform and record music videos.

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Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian

Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian

Musician & filmmaker

Freemuse has learned that Iranian brothers and artists, musician Mehdi Rajabian and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, were temporarily released on bail from Tehran’s Evin Prison on 22 June 2017.

On 23 June 2017, Mehdi Rajabian made the following post on his Instagram page:

Our incarceration has almost been suspended at this stage after bail payment and the final application of Article 134 [sentence reduction]. Of course it was you who demanded this to happen and taught us the meaning of freedom. We are very thankful to all the artists and friends who raised their voice for artistic freedom and followed up our case. The next few days will be for serious recuperation but again thank you, thank you, thank you…

The brothers’ case has been sent to the Appeal Chamber of the Revolutionary Court under Article 134 and their lawyer hopes that after the ruling the Rajabians will officially be released, reported BBC on 22 June 2017.

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Tibetan artists

Tibetan artists

Musicians & singers

The government of China is currently holding at least five Tibetan musicians in prison for nothing more than singing and writing songs.

On World Human Rights Day, 10 December 2016, these five artists have collectively spent 5,236 days in prison; that is nearly 14 years and 4 months of collective prison time for practicing their human right to artistic freedom.

We must remind China that art is not a crime and that musicians Lo Lo, Shawo Tashi, Kelsang Yarphel, Gonpo Tenzin and Trinley Tsekar, and all artists, have the human right and freedom to artistically express themselves, including the right to sing about their culture and identity, without fear of punishment.

Since 2013, Freemuse has been campaigning for the release of several imprisoned Tibetan singers. After the release of two Tibetan singers – Chakdor and Pema Trinley – in October 2016, Freemuse continues to campaign for the release of other Tibetan singers that remain imprisoned.

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Grup Yorum

Grup Yorum

Musicians

Seven members of the popular Turkish folk-rock band Grup Yorum were detained on the charges of assault, resisting arrest, insulting the police, and being members of a terrorist group, on 23 November 2016. Freemuse continues to call for their release as they remain behind bars.

Turkish authorities have linked Grup Yorum to the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party (DHKP-C), although the group itself has no formal affiliations and its fan base spans a broad spectrum of Turkish and Kurdish left-wing fans. This has resulted in imprisonments, alleged tortured in custody, house arrests and bans from traveling outside of Turkey over their 40-year history, for their songs and their activism, which is often at odds with the government.

We are calling on Turkey to release members of Grup Yorum imprisoned for their music. Art is not a crime not in Turkey, not anywhere. Please help us by sharing Grup Yorum’s story and music today, and every day until they are released.

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El Dkano (Maikel Castillo Perez)

El Dkano (Maikel Castillo Perez)

Rapper

On 28 January 2015, the rapper El Dkano (real name: Maikel Castillo Perez) was sentenced to a year in prison in Havana. It is generally believed he was targeted for having used music to express his dissenting political opinions.

El Dkano was sentenced under a charge known as ‘peligrosidad predelictiva’ (‘dangerousness that is likely leading to a crime’), which is used to imprison dissidents for long terms. His defense attorney told a reporter from Diario de Cuba that prosecutors wanted the judge to sentence him to five years.

The 31-year-old’s lyrics are known for criticising the Castro regime. He once described his style as that of someone who “doesn’t make concessions with a system full of liars.”

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Previous Freemuse campaigns

Hoang Nhat Thong (Tran Vu Anh Binh)

Hoang Nhat Thong (Tran Vu Anh Binh)

Musician

Vietnam

ARRESTED: Late 2011

RELEASED: 21 May 2017

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Viet Khang (Vo Minh Tri)

Viet Khang (Vo Minh Tri)

Musician & singer

Vietnam

ARRESTED: Twice in late 2011, most recently in December 2011

RELEASED: 13 December 2015

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Abdul Mou’men Al Shuaibi

Abdul Mou’men Al Shuaibi

Rapper

Morocco

ARRESTED: 24 October 2014

RELEASED: 27 February 2015

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Pussy Riot

Pussy Riot

Punk group

Russia

ARRESTED: Two members arrested on 4 March 2012, third member arrested on 15 March 2012

RELEASED: One member released on 10 October 2012, other two members released on 23 December 2013

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El Haqed (Mouad Belghaoute)

El Haqed (Mouad Belghaoute)

Rapper

Morocco

ARRESTED: Once in 2011, again in 2012 and most recently on 18 May 2014

RELEASED: 18 September 2014

Currently living in exile

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Lapiro de Mbanga

Lapiro de Mbanga

Singer

Cameroon

ARRESTED: 9 April 2008

RELEASED: 8 April 2011

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Win Maw

Win Maw

Musician

Myanmar

ARRESTED: 27 November 2007

RELEASED: 13 January 2012

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Ferhat Tunç

Ferhat Tunç

Singer

Turkey

ARRESTED: Several times since 1986, faces continuous court proceedings

RELEASED: No longer in prison

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Arya Aramnejad

Arya Aramnejad

Singer

Iran

ARRESTED: First on 15 February 2010, then again on 8 November 2011

RELEASED: 26 January 2013

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