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China Most Dangerous Country For Artists In 2014

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 18 2015 (IPS) - China is the most dangerous place on Earth for artists, according to a report from an international arts advocacy group.

At least 237 attacks on artistic freedom were recorded worldwide in 2014, including three murders and 80 imprisonments. Other cases included censorship, abductions and attacks.

The list, compiled by advocacy group Freemuse, found 38 such attacks against artists in China. Russia, Turkey and Iran were the next biggest offenders, with 22, 16 and 15 attacks on artists respectively.

Artists were killed in Iran, Thailand and Pakistan, while almost all of China’s cases included the imprisonment of artists.

“Some artists give voice to peoples’ frustrations and aspirations and are therefore targeted or even silenced,” said Ole Reitov, Executive Director of Freemuse, in a statement announcing the results.

“Governments around the world must guarantee that artists can express themselves without fear of reprisal.”

Freemuse figures state the USA and United Kingdom each recorded eight attacks on artists, while there were also 11 in Egypt, 10 in Pakistan, and seven each in India and Cuba.

The figures are collated from only verified cases and attacks on venues, stores, artworks and events, relating to authors, musicians, film makers and visual artists.

Censorship figures do not include pre-censorship imposed government or other authority, or self-censorship by artists fearing persecution, which could make the true figures for censorship much higher than the 90 officially recorded in 2014.

Freemuse said the statistics “do not reflect attacks and killings of cartoonists and journalists as these are considered media workers and cases are monitored by other organisations.”

The 2014 figures were an increase on those recorded by the organization in 2013. In that year, 199 attacks on artists were found by Freemuse, including 19 killings, eight abductions, 28 prosecutions, and 73 cases of censorship.

Freemuse voiced concern over the censorship of art and artists for political and religious reasons, singling out the banning of women artists from solo performances in Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the worldwide censorship of art with LGBT-related themes.

The report claims “millions are affected” by censorship, with galleries and museums reacting to such censorship in choosing exhibitions that would not spark the criticism of minority, religious or other interest groups.

For more information, see www.freemuse.org

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