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To defend targeted artists around the world, ARTICLE 19 has launched the "Artist Alert" - a regular briefing to highlight abuses and curtailment of artistic expression. Painters, poets, singers, photographers, dramatists, authors, filmmakers, musicians and other artists are targeted because of their art, ARTICLE 19 says.

"They are silenced and censored through imprisonment, harassment, intimidation, and in the worse cases, killed. The perpetrators are governments and state agents, but also non-state actors ... in the name of purity, morality, religion or for a variety of other reasons."

Accompanying the announcement are examples of suppression of artistic freedom. In Mexico, Sergio Witz of Campeche was charged with insulting a national symbol after publishing his poem "The Motherland is Shit". The Supreme Court upheld a fine and demanded a public apology, but Witz declared that "freedom of expression should not have any limits."

In Somalia, extremist groups have thrown grenades into packed cinemas, causing many deaths, particularly of children. Militia from the Union of Islamic Courts reportedly attacked a dance troupe doing a traditional folklore dance, causing two deaths.

For more information, write oliver (@)

(13 August 2008)

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