10/02/2017Freemuse documents 1,028 violations of artistic freedom across 78 countries in 2016

In a recent mailout by Freemuse, an independent international organisation advocating and defending freedom of expression, we were saddened to learn about some concerning statistics. Entitled "Art Under Threat" the report states that Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria, China and Russia lead the list of countries "systematically violating and failing to secure artistic freedom in 2016". In fact, these six countries account for 59% of the serious violations recorded last year.

This is not about pointing fingers, but rather about creating awareness for an issue that needs to be addressed on a global scale, be it the act of silencing, censoring or prosecuting artists or any other attempt to stifle artistic expression. As poignantly stated by Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov: “When populist and nationalist governments, as well as others in a position of power, forcefully try to secure a single dominant narrative, artists are at increased risk. Artistic expressions do not and should not fit into one frame. A healthy society needs alternative creative voices.”

In total Freemuse registered 1,028 cases of censorship and attacks on artistic freedom across 78 countries in 2016, doubling the number of cases registered in 2015, being 469. In addition Freemuse documented 188 total serious violations – killings, attacks, abductions, imprisonments and threats – and a staggering 840 acts of censorship. The full report on #ArtUnderThreat is available here.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom