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USA: Sony Pictures cancels film premiere after intimidation and threats

22 December 2014

Sony Pictures has cancelled the premiere of a US$44 million comedy film about the fictional assassination of North Korea’s leader, ‘The Interview’. The cancellation comes after the hacking of Sony’s computer system and threats of terror. In June 2014, North Korea called the movie an act of war and promised …

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China: Writers arrested in new wave of repression, alerts PEN International

16 December 2014

PEN International has joined PEN American Center and the Independent Chinese PEN Center in expressing alarm over a new wave of arrests of writers, journalists, publishers and civil society activists in China in recent weeks, apparently for their public support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. PEN International reported …

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Japan: Artist imprisoned over ‘obscene’ kayak design

15 December 2014

                    When Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi began to make plaster casts of her genitalia and show them in exhibitions, she accepted some people might be upset. But she could not have imagined she would end up in prison. Megumi Igarashi has …

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Afghanistan: Theatre performance attacked by suicide bomber

13 December 2014

On 11 December 2014 a 17-year-old suicide bomber blew himself up inside a school auditorium in Kabul where a theatre play condemning suicide bombing, ‘Heartbeat: Silence After the Explosion’, was being presented by students of Kabul University’s Cinema and Theatre Department of Fine Art Faculty Several persons were killed by …

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China: Tibetan folk singer sentenced to two and a half years in prison

8 December 2014

On 27 November 2014, the Intermediate People’s Court in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, sentenced the well-known folk singer and music producer Pema Rigzin to two and a half years in prison and a fine of 50,000 yuan (US$ 8,130) for composing, releasing, and distributing music with alleged political overtones. Pema Rigzin, …

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China: Tibetan singer sentenced to four years in prison

2 December 2014

The popular Tibetan singer Kalsang Yarphel has been given a four year imprisonment verdict for belting out songs calling on Tibetans to speak their own language and to forge unity among themselves. Kalsang Yarphel, 39, was sentenced by a court in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, where he had …

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PEN International: Day of the Imprisoned Writer

6 November 2014

15 November 2014 marks the 33rd anniversary of the Day of the Imprisoned Writer. PEN International launched the first Day of the Imprisoned Writer in 1981, with the aim of focusing much-needed global attention on imprisoned, murdered or otherwise harassed writers. Since then, the Day of the Imprisoned Writer has …

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Pakistan: Women musicians speak out about ‘the gender challenge’

28 October 2014

In Pakistan today, women often find themselves unable to pursue music careers because of conservative family attitudes, political insecurity, and gender inequality. But certainly not all women, learned Sabrina Toppa, when she set out to investigate how the country’s ‘gender challenge’ affects musicians. Young, independent women are making a difference …

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China: President delivers directions to artists

20 October 2014

On 15 October 2014, the Chinese president Xi Jinping delivered a speech about the importance of arts to some of China’s leading creative figures. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua quoted President Xi Jinping as having said that “Academic and artistic democracy should also be promoted to allow for full …

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