The study, by the Copenhagen-based group, found that in 2015 there were 469 accounts of attack on artistic expression, nearly double that in 2014. This can be broken down to 292 cases of censorship, 23 artist being detained, 42 prosecuted, 24 attacked physically, and perhaps most dark of all, 3 killed.

China had 20 cases of censoring artists, whilst Iran had 16 and Russia had 15. The figures have been taken from a variety of sources, including news, reporters and Freemuse's partners groups.

Top 10 Countries Registered Serious Violations of Artistic Freedom in 2015 Killings, Abductions, Attacks, Threats and Imprisonment Image via Freemuse Top 10 Countries
Registered Serious Violations of Artistic Freedom in 2015 Killings, Abductions, Attacks, Threats and Imprisonment
Image via Freemuse

Freemuse conclude from their report a “disturbing increase” in the number of attacks on artistic expressions. When reading the report, it is vital to remember that the free-flow of news information which acts as supporting evidence for all mentioned cases, can not be found for countries such as North Korea, where media is controlled by the state.

Magnus Ag, Freemuse’s senior programme officer, commented: The fact that North Korea is among the most censored and controlled countries in the world is not reflected in our statistics...[means] it is extremely difficult for any human rights organization to document and verify information about violations within this repressive regime.”

The study named November's Paris attacks, where 89 were killed, as the single biggest attack on artistic freedom.

“Without speculating about the motive of the attackers, we see the horrendous attack on the Bataclan as an attack on a music venue wh ere audiences were enjoying the right to participate in cultural life.” Which lead to many ''[refraining] from visiting museums, attending concerts and theatres in the months following the attacks.”

The attacks on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters have not been included, as Ag said cases which involved ''journalists, non-fiction writers, bloggers and cartoonists working in the news media” are researched by organizations including Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and PEN International.

The Freemuse reports includes the reaffirmation of the right to creative and artistic expression by 53 member states during a  session of the United Nations Human Rights Council September 18.

Read the full report, Art Under Threat, at Freemuse here.

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