Turkey and Iran violating artistic freedoms

An attack to a sculpture in Izmir, western city of Turkey in 2016

Freemuse, an independent international organisation, say they have registered 1,028 attacks on artist’s rights across 78 countries in 2016.

The number of violations, according to the organisation’s findings, increased by 119% in 2016 compared to the previous year. Freemuse documented 188 serious violations of artistic freedoms and 840 acts of censorship. Iran and Turkey are among the worst ten countries in the list.

The organisation also reported the killing of two musicians, Amjad Sabri in Pakistan and Pascal Treasury Nshimirimana in Burundi, and the execution of a 15-year-old teenager by ISIS in Iraq for listening to Western music.

The report shows Iran as one of the worst offenders for serious violations on artistic freedom of expression with 30 registered cases, including a serious assault of an artist, the imprisonment of 19 artists, prosecution of six others and the torturing of four artists in 2016.

Iran freedom of arts
Statistics by Freemuse

Following Iran, were Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria, China, Russia, Malaysia, Syria, Tanzania and Uzbekistan as the worst violators committing serious violations on artistic freedom, which combined accounted for 126 of the 188 serious violations in 2016, or 67% of total serious violations.

The report also says, several artists were directly affected by the mass arrests after the coup attempt in Turkey last year. The clampdown brought about by the decree laws sent Turkey from fourth on the list in 2015 when it was tied with Syria and Burundi, to second in 2016.

Turkey freedom of arts
Statistics by Freemuse

The Guardian has reported that since Recep Tayyip Erdogan became president in August 2014, he has sued over 1,800 people for insulting him. In 2016, the report mentions that Erdogan went as far as filing a complaint beyond Turkey’s borders against German comedian Jan Böhmermann for his poem mocking the President.