Freemuse has released its annual report on violations of freedom of expression for musicians globally in 2014. The 2014 report registered 237 attacks, threats, prosecutions, detentions, imprisonments and censorship against artistic freedom. The statistic includes cases from 32 countries with Russia, China and Turkey at the top of the list. China tops the list of states violating artistic freedom with 38 cases, followed by Russia (22), Turkey (16) and Iran (15).
Three artists were killed in 2014, and more than 80 artists were imprisoned or detained. According to Freemuse, “Artists around the world are increasingly facing attacks on their rights to freedom of expression.” The report was published a few days after the violent attack in Copenhagen on a meeting to discuss limitations for artistic freedom.
“Artists echo and comment social, cultural and political frictions of many societies. Some artists give voice to peoples’ frustrations and aspirations and are therefore targeted or even silenced,” said Ole Reitov, Executive Director, Freemuse. “Governments around the world must guarantee that artists can express themselves without fear of reprisal.”
Freemuse said, “Although the statistics paint a grim picture they cannot fully measure the effects of attacks and threats such as the December 2014 suicide bombing inside a school auditorium in Kabul during the performance of, ‘Heartbeat: Silence After the Explosion’ featuring young drama and music students. The statistics only register ‘one attack’, but fails to describe the side-effects of an attack — the numbers of people in the audience, who were injured, ‘simply chocked’ or continue to have symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and the effects of artistic self-censorship that often follows.”
The statistics reflect stories collated and published by Freemuse on artsfreedom.org during the past year and include attacks on authors, musicians, film makers, visual artists, etc. but do not reflect attacks and killings of cartoonists and journalists as these are considered media workers and cases are monitored by other organisations.
Only recorded and verified censorship cases and attacks on specific individuals, events, art venues, shops and artworks are included. Governmental pre-censorship practices, self-censorship by artist based on fear of persecution and general bans of art forms such as music in jihadist controlled areas are prevalent and serious, but cannot be statistically measured and are not reflected in the statistics.