Press release: Music Freedom Day 2011

1 March 2011


 Songs smuggled out from Burma, Dj returns to Kabul, singer in court room in Cameroon. Choir sings about the Arab revolution… and secret guests in New York. Music Freedom Day is being celebrated in more than 20 countries.

The plight of imprisoned musicians Win Maw, from Burma, and Lapiro de Mbanga, of Cameroon, perfectly illustrates why Music Freedom Day, 3 March, is so necessary and why it will be marked from Mumbai to New York this year.

Songs smuggled out from Burma
Win Maw was originally imprisoned from 1997-2003 for writing songs in support of Aung San Suu Kyi. He is currently being held once more under severe conditions for his role in the pro-democracy demonstrations of September 2007 that led to a major crackdown in Burma and the imprisonment of intellectuals, writers and monks.Freemuse is making available three new songs by Win Maw, smuggled out from Burma, for Music Freedom activities. In ‘Go to Sleep’ he calls for continued struggle and criticizes those who “just talk”.

Lapiro in court on Music Freedom Day
Lapiro de Mbanga will spend Music Freedom Day in court in Cameroon. His song “Constipated Constitution” made him unpopular with the Cameroonian regime, as a result he has served almost three years in prison. Ever the fighter, Lapiro is taking the manager of a local banana company to court for alleged false charges that led to his current imprisonment, so, although currently a prisoner, on 3 March he will take the prosecution’s side in a court in his home city of Mbanga.A representative of Freemuse will observe the trial in Cameroon. The very same day cultural activists and musicians in Cameroon will meet and discuss issues of music censorship in the country at the Centre Culturel François Villon de Yaoundé

DJ returns to Kabul and secret musicians are online in New York
Six years after Afghan DJ, Shakeb Isaar had to flee Kabul after death threats he is returning to Afghanistan and presents a programme about banned music at Radio Arman.
In another corner of the world, New York, ‘Impossible Music Sessions’ is celebrating Music Freedom Day by inviting two secret guests to talk about music censorship in their home country. Their identities will only be revealed during the session as they are members of an underground group banned in their home country.
They will be joined on phone by Deeyah, co-producer of the Freemuse CD “Listen to the Banned,” who as an artist experienced death threats.

Complaints choir in Amman and music against genocide in Cairo
The recent political developments in the Middle East have influenced the planning of several Music Freedom Day activities. A concert in Cairo organised by the exiled Sudanese musician Abazar Hamid will put focus on the genocide in his home country. In Amman, Jordan, a ‘People’s Choir’ conducted by the founder of the Cairo Complaints Choir, Salam Yousry, will salute the ongoing Arabian revolutions. Music Freedom Day in Egypt and Lebanon will also commemorate the Egyptian musician Ahmed Basiony, who died tragically during the initial days of the uprising in Cairo.

Zimbabwe musicians speak out… and order state broadcaster to stop playing their music
Close to 2000 music composers in Zimbabwe have resolved to protest against non-payment of royalties, by ordering the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, ZBC, to stop playing their music for six hours during Music Freedom Day. In the evening Zimbabwean musicians will celebrate Music Freedom Day with a concert at the Book Café in Harare led by a fantastic array of Zimbabwean artists, who support the message of freedom of musical expression.

Concerts, film screenings and discussions in Europe
In Europe the annual day celebrating freedom of musical expression will be marked in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Norway by broadcasters and cultural organisers. Events include concerts at ufaFabrik, Berlin with a focus on Cambodia, a film screening and discussion at Amsterdam’s Tropentheater focusing on Afghanistan, several concerts at Konstepidemin in Gothenburg, an exhibition in the city library of Aalborg, Denmark.
A commemoration of the Turkish singer Ahmet Kaya in Copenhagen and a discussion on music censorship in China at University of Liverpool

Broadcast events in a dozen countries
Several European and North American broadcasters are making special programmes on Music Freedom Day with Hibrido Radio in Italy starting celebrations already on Wednesday 2 March.
NRK and SR, the national broadcasters of Norway and Sweden are featuring special reports from Cairo. Canadian Broadcasting, CBC, is featuring reports from West Africa,
in Birmingham goes live with 24 hours continuous broadcast focusing on music censorship and radio stations in USA, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Holland and Spain are presenting special programmes about Music Freedom Day.

From Mumbai to North America
Music Freedom Day starts with a concert at Mumbai’s Blue Frog Club, continues in Kabul, the Middle East, Europe and ends with a session in New York and special broadcasting programmes in Canada.

Read the full list of activities at and new articles about music censorship in countries such as Syria, Burma and Uzbekistan at

Media contact: +45 29 44 42 80 (cell) +45 23 23 27 65 (cell) / +45 33 32 10 27 (office)

Music Freedom Day, 3 March – is the annual event where musicians, music clubs, cultural institutions, broadcasters and media join Freemuse in the celebration of freedom of musical expressionFor more info visit

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