Tuesday, 14 February 2017

SumTips: Where Art Is Under Attack

Iranian flag and map
Independent organization Freemuse, or Freedom of Musical Expression, recently released “Art Under Threat”, a 46-page report on censorship and attacks on artistic expression in 2016. The results reveal that freedom of expression for artists is a global concern, with 1,028 attacks occurring in 78 countries worldwide. Top offenders include:

6 Serious Violators:
 
1.    Iran: Artists are often charged with and sentenced for “insulting the sacred”, “propaganda against the state” or “spreading depravity”. Iranian courts use the “assembly line” method for prosecuting artists and other citizens, and barbaric methods, such as lashing, to punish convicts. On 5 November 2016, Iranian singer Amir Tataloo was sentenced to five years in prison and 74 lashes after being found guilty of ‘spreading Western immorality’.”

2.    Turkey: “The attempted coup against President Erdo─čan on 15 July 2016 and the following State of Emergency led to a clampdown on oppositional voices in Turkey hitting media, academia and the arts world hard, literally silencing and imprisoning tens of thousands of people.”

3.    Egypt: “Article 65 in Egypt’s 2014 constitution grants citizens the right to express their opinions verbally, in writing, through imagery, or by any other means of expression and publication. Another article guarantees freedom of artistic and literary creativity stating that “the state shall encourage arts and literature, sponsor creative artists and writers and protect their productions, and provide the means necessary for achieving this end”. However, Egypt’s legislation still allows for the jailing of artists and citizens on the charge of ‘contempt of religion’.”

4.    Nigeria: “Artists face a complex system of censorship carried out by a variety of actors, further complicated by multiple censorship boards. In addition to the national censorship boards, states such as Kano in the North and Lagos in the South even have their own censorship boards, with the consequence that artists and cultural producers of these states face double censorship mechanisms.”

5.    China: “In China, legal bodies are not separated from political institutions and opinions considered in opposition with the government and country’s “One China” policy are not allowed. Censorship of arts, media and academia is widespread. “Objectionable” content, including references to controversial Chinese historical details, Chinese politics, details about Chinese leaders, sexually explicit material and, in some instances, material relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues are not allowed.”

6.    Russia: “Nationalism and political allegiance also continue to drive what type of art is allowed on stage and in halls, or what is funded by state coffers. Plays are vetted and cancelled for their political and moral content and artists are blacklisted for their political views on issues such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict.”

Top 10 Countries for ‘Serious Violations’—killings, abductions, attacks, imprisonments, prosecutions, persecutions and threats:

1.    Iran: 30 serious violations
2.    Turkey: 23 serious violations
3.    Egypt: 18 serious violations
4.    Nigeria: 15 serious violations
5.    China: 14 serious violations
6.    Russia: 10 serious violations
7.    Syria: 4 serious violations
8.    Malaysia: 4 serious violations
9.    Tanzania: 4 serious violations
10.   Uzbekistan: 4 serious violations

Top 10 Countries for Acts of Censorship:
1.    Ukraine: 557 censorship violations
2.    Kuwait: 61 censorship violations
3.    China: 20 censorship violations
4.    Egypt: 19 censorship violations
5.    India: 17 censorship violations
6.    Russia: 16 censorship violations
7.    Turkey: 13 censorship violations
8.    United States: 13 censorship violations
9.    Pakistan: 11 censorship violations
10.  Iran: 9 censorship violations

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Image credit of BOLDG/Shutterstock.com.
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