January 2019: China’s internment camps and the forced shut down of Moroccan cultural organisation Racines

1 February 2019








Moroccan court orders shut down of Racines

A court in Casablanca has ordered the dissolution of non-governmental organisation Racines.

Freemuse stands with Racines and its important work in engaging in cultural events and stimulating and initiating dialogues, as well as acting as a beacon for freedom of expression in the country.

Legal proceedings were initiated after the governor of Casablanca-Anfa filed a complaint over Racines’ hosting of the satirical online show 1 dîner, 2 cons (1 dinner, 2 dumbs), which discusses Moroccan news topics. In its judgment handed down on 26 December 2018, the Court of First Instance of Casablanca accepted the request for the dissolution of Racines and the liquidation of its property.

Though severely hindered by these proceedings, Racines is still able to operate. The organisation is appealing the decision.

Musician sentenced to jail in Turkey

Turkish musician Azad Bedran has been sentenced to three years and nine months in jail over a music video.
Photo: Azad Bedran / Instagram


A Turkish court has sentenced musician Azad Bedran to three years and nine months in jail for “criminal elements” in the music video for his song Partizan. The video allegedly “makes propaganda for a terrorist organisation”.

After the hearing, Bedran said his lawyers will appeal the sentence in a higher court.

Poet arrested in Somalia after poetry reading

Poet Abdirahman Abees has been arrested in Somaliland over his poetry readings about "police brutality", "arbitrary detentions" and "poor leadership".
Abdirahman Abee / Human Rights Centre Somaliland


British-Somalilander poet Abdirahman Abees has been arrested after reciting poems about “police brutality, “arbitrary detentions” and “poor leadership”. 

According to Freemuse sources, Abees organised the poetry evening on 11 January with the theme Try and imagine the future of Somaliland and its police force. When introducing several poems, he spoke about the sociopolitics of Somaliland and made suggestions for improvement.

Jailed Egyptian poet Galal El-Behairy starts hunger strike

Poet Galal El-Behairy has been detained on charges of insulting the Egyptian army and Islam over lyrics for a song and latest poetry book.

Galal El-Behairy and four other prisoners are on hunger strike until 11 February, to remind us of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

El-Behairy was sentenced to three years in jail and fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds (about 480 euros) on 31 July 2018 for “publishing false news” and “insulting the army” in his unpublished book of poetry.

In a separate, ongoing civil case, El-Behairy is accused of insulting Islam and the current administration in the song Balaha by Egyptian musician Ramy Essam that uses El-Behairy’s lyrics.

Uyghur pop idol detained in Chinese re-education camp

Celebrated Uyghur singer Zahirshah Ablimit and his parents are reportedly being detained in re-education camps in Xinjiang.
Photo: Zahirshah Ablimit’s album cover


Celebrated Uyghur singer Zahirshah Ablimit is reportedly being held at an internment camp in Xinjiang, China.

In a guest post, researchers Rachel Harris and Aziz Isa Elkun outline Zahirshah’s swift fall from celebrity to internment camp. The singer has reportedly been sent to the No. 5 Re-education Camp near Atush city in southern Xinjiang. His parents have also been detained probably due to their visit in Turkey. Having connections to other Muslim countries, is a common reason for Uyghurs to be detained.

Yemeni hip-hop dance group detained and banned from dancing

Members of Yemeni hip-hop dance group WaxOn Crew were detained by police and made to sign a document saying they would stop dancing in public.
Photo: Wax On Crew / Facebook


Members of Wax On Crew were arrested and made to sign a document saying they would stop dancing in public. 

The group said authorities descended on hip-hop dancers who had gathered on 7 December 2018 for an organised dance event. Police allegedly arrested the young people under the order of Hadramout security director Munir Al-Tamimi. 

Security authorities reportedly said the incident “did not limit public freedoms, but we will not allow any harm to the citizens by extraneous behaviour to society and in public places”

In April 2018, the Hadramout Ministry of Culture issued a memorandum preventing artists from travelling overseas without official permission.


Music Freedom Day

3 March 2019

Music Freedom Day is an annual, global celebration of the human right to musical expression, with artists and organisations uniting to support musicians who simply insist on their right to express themselves. The sad reality is, censorship, persecution, prosecution and imprisonment rob many of these artists of this basic human right.

Music Freedom Day 2019 seeks to highlight and support artists who use their music to represent this year’s theme of women and LGBTI artists.

If you are interested in hosting an event on Music Freedom Day, please contact Freemuse at


International Film Festival Rotterdam
26 January 2019

International Film Festival Rotterdam

On 26 January 2019, Srirak Plipat spoke at the International Film Festival Rotterdam for the IFFR PRO debate Call to Action: Support for Filmmakers at Risk and participated in a closed think tank session. 

With the crackdown on freedom of expression around the world, filmmakers are increasingly facing attacks for their work. The past few years have seen a growing number of filmmakers being threatened, arrested, imprisoned and even killed in an attempt to silence them. In these precarious situations, the international film community could make a difference in supporting these filmmakers, campaigning for their freedom or pressuring authorities for their release. As the response of the film community is now often deeply fragmented, there seems to be a growing need for more coordinated action.



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