Europe
Lyubimov

Russian crackdown on Ukrainian… composers

Moscow police broke up a concert by pianist Aleksey Lyubimov and singer Yana Ivanilova at the city’s Rassvet Cultural Center. The official reason for the raid was an anonymous bomb threat on the venue. But concert organizers noted that the program included songs by the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov, which had apparently been chosen as an implicit anti-war statement. Lyubimov continued to play the song he was in the middle of even as uniformed police took over the stage and hovered over him menacingly. Police then ordered the premises cleared, but applause from the audience drowned out the officers’ words. After the theater was evacuated, police brought in dogs and had it searched for two hours. No explosives were found. (Photo via Facebook)

Europe
Pussy_Riot

Russia designates Pussy Riot members ‘foreign agents’

In the latest escalation of its crackdown on opposition, Russia designated a disparate group of activists, satirists, and others as “foreign agents.” A statement released by the Ministry of Justice listed the high-profile figures as designated “foreign agents,” a controversial term with Cold War-era implications of espionage that carries burdensome reporting responsibilities and exposes designees to hefty fines. Among those named were Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Veronika Nikulshina of the activist group Pussy Riot. (Photo: Wikipedia)

The Caribbean
Osorbo

Imprisoned Cuban rapper on hunger strike

Supporters of imprisoned Cuban rap artist Maykel Castillo, better known by his stage name “El Osorbo,” warn that his life is in danger one week into a hunger strike, and that he has been removed to a “punishment cell” where he is being held incommunicado. Castillo is a leader of the San Isidro Movement, a collective of Cuban dissident artists and intellectuals, and co-author of the viral song “Patria y Vida,” which became an anthem of the protest wave across the island in July. He has been repeatedly arrested since 2015, including for protesting the controversial Decree 349, which places restrictions on artistic expression. He has been held at the maximum-security Pinar del Río prison since his May arrest for the vague crimes of “resistance” and “contempt.” He launched his total hunger and thirst strike in protest of his own detention and the crackdown on freedom of expression in Cuba. (Image: FreeMuse)

Afghanistan
Andarabi

Afghan folksinger executed by Taliban

The Taliban killed an Afghan folk musician  days after stating that they would ban music from being played in public places. Fawad Andarabi was shot dead by Taliban fighters who arrived at his farm in Andarab district, Baghlan province. The district is near the Panjshir Valley that harbors a resistance force rejecting Taliban rule. Four days earlier, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told the New York Times: “Music is forbidden in Islam, but we’re hoping that we can persuade people not to do such things, instead of pressuring them.” Andarabi played the ghichak, a bowed lute, and sang traditional songs about his birthplace and people. Former Interior Minister Masoud Andarabi (presumably no relation but from the same district) tweeted that the musician had recently sung that “our beautiful valley, land of our forefathers” would not submit to Taliban rule. (Photo via Digital Music News)

East Asia
anthony wong

Hong Kong: crackdown on dissident Cantopop

Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICACcharged pro-democracy activist Au Nok-hin and Cantopop singer Wong Yiu-ming, AKA Anthony Wong, with “corrupt conduct” for allegedly breaching election laws by having Wong perform two songs at a rally for Au in his 2018 run for the Legislative Council. The ICAC cited provisions of the Elections Corrupt & Illegal Conduct Ordinance, which define as corrupt conduct  meeting “all or part of the cost of providing food, drink or entertainment for another person for the purpose of inducing a third party to vote or not vote for a particular candidate at an election.” Hong Kong’s Department of Justice withdrew the charges against the pair two days after Wong was arrested, but they were placed under a “bind-over order.” Under terms of the order, they each put up a $2,000 bond and will face no criminal charges if they maintain “good behavior” for a period of 24 months. “Hongkongers keep singing, Hongkongers keep going,” Wong told reporters as he left the courtroom. (Image: IFC via Twitter)

Africa
Juba protest

South Sudan: protests after singer’s death

Juba, capital of South Sudan, saw street protests after popular singer Trisha “Cee” Cosmaswas killed when the bici-taxi she was riding in was struck by a truck. At least a score were arrested in the demonstrations, and the local Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO) charged that peaceful protesters were swept up by police. A demonstration called by youth group Anataban decried both lawless motorists on the capital’s streets and a lack of emergency services. Tanker-trucks delivering water to districts where residents have no indoor plumbing have been involved in several such incidents. Speaking before his arrest, one activist told local Radio Tamazuj, “The same government that gives foreigners driving licenses, without a street driving test, has failed to provide health services, and many people have died because of water truck accidents.” (Photo: Radio Tamazuj)

Europe
Hasél

Spain: protests follow arrest of Catalan rapper

The arrest of Catalan rapper Pablo Hasél on charges of glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy has sparked angry protests in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and other Spanish cities. Facing charges in relation to his tweets and song lyrics, Hasél barricaded himself alongside supporters inside Catalonia’s University of Lleida. His supporters sprayed fire-extinguishers at troops when the building was raided by the Catalan police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra. As he was led away, supporters shouted, “They will never silence us; death to the fascist state!” Hasél was turned over to Spanish authorities to begin serving a nine-month term. Angry protests immediately broke out, with several demonstrators arrested that night. Protests have continued throughout the week. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Iran
ahwaz women

Iran: sweeps target Ahwazi women activists

Rights advocates in Iran’s Khuzestan province, homeland of the marginalized Ahwazi Arab people, report another wave of sweeps and incommunicado detention of local activists. Among those detained in raids by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are Zeinab Sawari, a teacher and prominent Ahwazi advocate for women’s and children’s rights, who had recently been involved in fundraising for victims of the severe flooding that devastated the region this year. Also detained by IRGC agents were Maryam Ameri and Fatema Tamimi, whose homes were searched and ransacked, with computers and extensive archival material confiscated. Maryam and Fatema had worked on Ahwazi cultural programs together, cataloguing traditional folk songs and producing short documentaries about Ahwazi music, lore and history. Azhar Alboghbiesh, a young activist volunteer for the project, was likewise arrested in a raid on her home, in which agents reportedly fired in the air to intimidate her family. All remain in detention at undisclosed locations. (Photo of Azhar Alboghbiesh and Maryam Ameri via Dur Untash Studies Center)

The Caribbean
san isidro movement

Havana: dissident hunger-strikers arrested

Cuban police agents raided the headquarters of the dissident San Isidro Movement (MSI) in Old Havana and arrested the 14 activists who were inside the building, several of whom had been on hunger strike for the past week. Simultaneously, authorities cut off access to Facebook and Instagram across the island, in an apparent attempt to prevent images and reports of the raid from being disseminated. A tweet from MSI stated: “Agents of the dictatorship broke into our headquarters, savagely beat our compañeros, took them away and we do not know their whereabouts. We fear for their physical integrity.” Cuban authorities said the raid was carried out over a violation of pandemic restrictions. (Image via CiberCuba)

Africa
uganda protest

Electoral violence rocks Uganda

At least 16 people have been killed in protests in Uganada since the arrest of two leading opposition candidates in upcoming presidential elections. One of the detained candidates, the popular musician-turned-politician Bobi Wine, was accused of breaking COVID-19 restrictions at campaign rallies. Both he and fellow candidate Patrick Amuriat Oboi were detained while on their way to attend rallies. Four candidates, including two former military generals, have suspended their campaigns following the arrests. The military has been deployed to put down the protests in Kampala and other cities. Protesters are tearing down and burning campaign billboards of incumbent President Yoweri Museveni who has been in power since 1986, before the majority of Ugandans were born. (Photo: Badru Katumba)

Africa
Hachalu

Ethiopia: slaying of musician sparks Oromo uprising

The military has been deployed in the Ethiopian capital amid a general uprising by the Oromo people that broke out after the assassination of a popular singer. Hachalu Hundessa, shot while driving on the outskrits of Addis Ababa, was an icon of the Oromo protest movement that has been mounting since 2015. His songs have been hailed as the “soundtrack of the Oromo revolution,” and he was named “Oromo Person of the Year” by cultural advocates in 2017. Two have been arrested in the killing, but rebellion continues to spread across Central Ethiopia. At least 80 have been killed and many detained. Oromo leader Jawar Mohammed is among those arrested. (Photo: DAGI Pisctures via BBC News)

Central Asia

US companies profit from Uighur forced labor?

A top US sportswear company announced that it has dropped a Chinese supplier over concerns that its products were made by forced labor in detention camps in Xinjiang. Reports have mounted that the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Uighurs believed to be held in a fast-expanding system of detention camps are being put to forced labor for Chinese commercial interests. An Associated Press investigation tracked recent shipments from one such detention-camp factory, run by privately-owned Hetian Taida Apparel, to Badger Sportswear of North Carolina. After long denying that the camps exist, Chinese authorities now say they are "vocational training centers" aimed at reducing "extremism." (Photo via Bitter Winter)