Music Freedom Day 2024


On World Music Freedom Day 3rd of March 2024, Freemuse remembers musicians around the world who are facing execution and who are in prison for having expressed their views in their music.

This year we are highlighting the cases of three musicians, in Cuba, Nigeria and Iran. Also featured in the Freemuse Music Freedom Day action in 2023, they remain in prison and in need of the continued support and solidarity of other musicians and artists around the world.

CUBA: Maykel Osorbo

On 18 May 2021, Maykel Osorbo, an award-winning rapper, was arrested for criticising the Cuban government after his song ‘Patria y Vida’ (Homeland and Life) went viral, and for which he received two Grammys. Subsequently, Osorbo was sentenced to nine years in prison on 24 June 2022 for government resistance, amongst other charges. Since 2023, Osorbo has reportedly been threatened and harassed by other prison inmates and the authorities have failed to intervene, increasing concerns for his safety in prison.

Watch the video of ‘Patria y Vida’ here: 

The imprisonment of Maykel Osorbo and other artists in Cuba serves as a stark warning against expressing criticism or dissent toward the government. As a prominent rapper, his high public profile and the widespread reach of his music make his imprisonment and ill-treatment a potent threat to others against speaking out.

NIGERIA: Yahaya Sharif-Aminu

Yahaya Sharif-Aminu is a Sufi musician who was served a death sentence on 10 August 2020 by the Kano Upper Shariah Court in Northern Nigeria for an improvised song posted on social media, accompanied by a speech considered blasphemous. For the past three and a half years, his lawyers and human rights activists have been campaigning for the conviction to be overturned. In April 2023, the European Parliament called for the unconditional release of the singer, the dropping of all charges, respect for religious freedom and the repealing of blasphemy laws.

The death sentence against Yahaya Sharif-Aminu is a critical violation of the right to life, as guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Applying this conviction solely on the premise of song lyrics and social media comments poses an additional repudiation of the freedom of expression and artistic freedoms that must be preserved.

IRAN: Toomaj Salehi

Toomaj was first detained on 30 October 2022 for taking part in the ‘women, life, freedom’ protests that occurred throughout Iran against the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini who had been arrested for not wearing a headscarf. He posted videos of himself at the protests on social media along with raps criticising Iran’s religious leaders. He was sentenced to six years and three months in prison in July 2023 for “corruption on earth”. In November 2023, after being released on bail,  freedom was short-lived, and he was re-detained on additional charges of “spreading lies” and “violations of public opinion”. He remains in detention.

Watch video of Toomaj Salehi performing ‘Mousehole’: 


Toomaj Salehi used his platform and music as critical social commentary after the death of Mahsa Amini. The suppression of his freedom of expression serves to stifle the ability of musicians and others to communicate dissent and call for  social and cultural changes within Iran.



Freedom of expression, which encompasses artistic freedom, is a fundamental right protected by international law, as is the right to be part of peaceful actions towards change. Musicians and audiences alike should be free to enjoy and take part in music, and all forms of creative expression, without fear of repercussion. Members of the music community from across genres and working in all aspects of its production stand up in support of others under attack.

Join Music Freedom Day on March 3rd:

  • Support Musicians and Show Solidarity: Attend music events, follow on social media, stream music, etc. Supporting musicians provides them with the necessary platforms and resources to continue exercising music freedom. Additionally, attend protests and events organised to support musicians’ rights.
  • Encourage Awareness: Share information about musicians under threat of censorship with your network.
  • Start Conversations: Engage with your community - online and offline - to increase interest in making the protection of musicians a priority.
  • Advocate for Policy Change: Write to policymakers, sign petitions, and participate in existing campaigns that seek to protect musicians.
  • Learn more about artistic freedom:


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WHEN & where

3 Mar at 12.00 –11.59 CEST