Freemuse releases Art Under Threat annual statistics on censorship and attacks on artistic freedom in 2015

Censorship and attacks on artistic freedom on the rise in 2015 Artistic freedom is under extreme pressure in many countries, according to a new report, Art Under Threat, released by Freemuse today. China tops the list of countries that systematically violates and fails to secure artistic freedom with 20 registered serious violations in 2015, followed by Iran with 16, Russia with 15, and three countries tied in fourth place with 10 violations each: Burundi, Syria and Turkey. Says Ole Reitov, Freemuse Executive Director: “Freemuse statistics represent a cautious estimate. Artistic freedom violations continue to be under-reported in many countries due to lack of awareness, registration and reporting capacity. Artistic creativity demands an environment free from fear and insecurity. Although states are the main violators; increasingly, threats from non-state actors are leading to fear and self-censorship. At the UN level there have been positive signs of larger attention being paid to the importance of protecting artistic freedom, but 2015 was in general a dark year for artistic freedom.” Freemuse in 2015 registered a total number of 469 cases of censorship and attacks on artistic freedom. This is nearly a two-fold increase (98%) from 2014 wherein Freemuse registered 237 cases. 2015 saw a 20% increase in registered serious violations – killings, attacks, abductions, imprisonments and threats – and a staggering 224% increase in censorship cases. In general 2015 saw an increase in religiously motivated attacks on artistic freedom in places such as Bangladesh, India, Iran, Mali, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Paris experienced the worst single attack on artistic freedom in 2015 as heavily armed gunmen on 13 November attacked the Bataclan venue during a rock concert killing 89 people and critically injuring 99 others. The attack sent shock waves around the world and had the immediate effect that concerts and artistic events were cancelled. Broken down, Freemuse registered three artists being killed, 15 newly imprisoned, 31 imprisoned in previous years but still serving time, six abductions, 24 cases of physical attacks, 33 cases of threats or persecutions, 42 artists being prosecuted, 23 being detained, and 292 cases of censorship in 2015. The disturbing increase in registered cases can partially be explained by the fact that Freemuse and its collaborating partners have improved their documentation methods and strengthened their networks, as well as the fact that artistic freedom is an issue that is slowly gaining larger attention. To read the full report, see more of the statistics and go further in-depth on particular countries, including China, Cuba, Egypt, Russia, Turkey and more, please visit either one of our online platforms: and The report on The report on The full report as a pdf: A tweet: Facebook post: #ArtUnderThreat

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