In its Artist Alert report for March 2013, ARTICLE 19 highlights cases from Australia, China, India and Angola among others.
Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and seeks to more effectively promote and defend freedom to create.
AUSTRALIA: HOMOSEXUAL FILM CENSORED AND SAME-SEX LOVE SCENES CUT FROM AMERICAN TV SHOW
The Australian Classification Board did not allow I Want Your Love to be publicly screened at a local LGBT movie festival. The Board, which regulates the public exhibition of films in the country, released a statement on 2 March, stating that "the film contains detailed and prolonged scenes of actual explicit sexual activity". The Board did not propose an age limit but instead banned the whole file.
The film tells the story of a gay man who has sex with his best friend while partying in Los Angeles. It has been shown at the Toronto LGBT Film Festival and at other international events.
In what is emerging as a pattern, on 13 March, Australian TV network, Channel 10, cut homosexual scenes from the American TV show Glee. When broadcast in the USA, the episode I Do included same-sex love scenes between two actors (Chris Colfer and Darren Criss) and two female actors (Naya Rivera and Diana Agron). These were cut in the Australian version.
Facebook users complained on Glee's fan-page, as another sex scene in the episode, between female actor Lea Michele and actor Cory Monteith, was not cut.
CHINA: GERMAN MUSIC BAND DENIED VISA
On 28 March, Kraftwerk, a globally famous German electronic music group was denied a Chinese visa to perform at the Strawberry Music Festival on 29 April. The Ministry of Culture denied the visa because the German band had participated in a concert ten years ago in Washington DC that promoted freedom for Tibet.
CHINA: TAIWANESE DIRECTOR'S OSCARS SPEECH CENSORED
On 24 February, Ang Lee, winner of the Academy Award Oscar for Best Director for his film Life of Pi, was censored by the Chinese state-run news agency, Xinhua. In his acceptance speech, the director thanked Taiwan, where most of the movie was filmed. References to his homeland of Taiwan were removed from the Chinese broadcasting.
INDIA: MOVIE "DENIGRATING" GANDHI EDITED FOR APPROVAL BY CENSOR BOARD
Papilio Buddha, a film about land struggles by indigenous population in India was denied approval by the Central Board of Film Certification, India's censor body. The film was accused of "denigrating" Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi and Bhimrao Ambedkar, a prominent political leader.
The movie was cleared with adult certification to be screened in public last 14 March, once a scene of Ambedkar giving a controversial speech that was considered "offensive" to Gandhi was removed and certain scenes of nudity were edited.
ANGOLA: POLICE CONFISCATES DVDs WITH RAP MUSIC VIDEOS
On 14 March, Angolan police confiscated DVDs containing music videos by rapper 10 Brigadeiro about the life and work of Angolan political and military leader, Jonas Savimbi. The video on the DVDs was co-produced by the Movimento Revolucion (Revolutionary Movement) group, who held a demonstration at Luanda International Airport on 7 March to demand the return of the seized work.
10 Brigadeiro's work was also censored in 2011, when the Angolan Ministry of Culture forbade the sale of his album, Ditadura da Pedra (Dictatorship of Stone).
USA: COMIC BOOK CENSORED
Persepolis, an autobiographical comic book by Iranian writer Marjane Satrapi, tells the story of a girl growing up in revolutionary Iran. The book was censored in a public school in Chicago on 15 March. The graphic novel was deemed 'too graphic' and removed from the seventh-grade school curriculum.
The book documents Satrapi's childhood in Tehran in black-and-white comic strip images, showing how she witnessed the defeat of the Shah's regime and the victory of the Islamic Revolution. The comic book is currently under review for eleventh graders in Chicago public schools.
Persepolis, the movie based on Satrapi's book, was banned in Iran in 2007 for being "un-Islamic and pro-Western".
VENEZUELA: ACTRESS FORBIDDEN TO STAGE PLAY IN STATE-OWNED VENUE OVER POLITICAL COMMENTS
Venezuelan actress Norkys Batista was not allowed to stage her play Orgasms in a State-run hotel chain on 22 March 2013 because of political opinions she expressed on Twitter supporting opposition candidate in the upcoming presidential elections on 14 April.
The Minister for Tourism, Alejandro Fleming, tweeted on the same day that "artists who have offended the deceased [president] Hugo Chavez are prohibited from staging their plays in [the state-run hotel chain] Venetur."
Other artists have been censored for their political views too, including comedian Luis Chataing. In 2009, the comedian was forbidden to stage his monologue in two regions for making fun of the late Hugo Chavez. In 2009, the governors of the Barinas and Falcon regions forbade his monologue from being staged in any State-owned hotels or theatres in those regions.'
CUBA: BLOGGER SENTENCED TO 5 YEARS IN PRISON
Ángel Santiesteban Prats, Cuban writer and blogger was sentenced to five years in prison last 22 February and arrested on 1 March over what seem to be political-motivated charges. The writer was accused of assault and trespassing in a long and flawed trial.
Santiesteban writes in his own blog The Children Nobody Wanted [Los hijos que nadie quiso] about lack of civil liberties in Cuba under the Castro brothers. In response to one of his blogposts about State propaganda back in 2011 he was severely beaten in the street and he and his blog were declared "enemy of the revolution" in the State media.
RUSSIA: PUSSY RIOT PLAY RAIDED BY OFFICIALS
On 3 March, Russian immigration officials, Cossacks and several police officers attempted to stop a three-day play about the Pussy Riot trial in Moscow. The play marked the first anniversary of the punk-band's pre-trial hearings. Immigration officials demanded checks of the visa and documentation of the Swiss director, Milo Rau.
Rau reported that a group of infuriated Cossacks entered the theatre stating they were "offended" by the play. He also said that the Russian officials appeared not to have a plan to prosecute him but "it looked like they were just trying to stop the play".
You can read more about Pussy Riot online.
FRANCE: FACEBOOK REMOVES PICTURE FROM MUSEUM
On 7 March, an image of a painting depicting a semi-nude woman, which was being used to promote an art exhibition at the Jeu de Paume museum in Paris, was removed by Facebook. Facebook claimed that the photograph violated its guidelines against nudity. The social network site also blocked the museum's fan-page for 24 hours in punishment.
The picture was taken by Laure Albin Guillot (1879-1962) and was part of the exhibition. The museum was warned that its account might be permanently deactivated if the museum again breaches Facebook's terms and conditions.
AZERBAIJAN: RAPPER ARRESTED
On 27 February, Azerbaijani rapper Said Aliyev, also known as 'Dado', was summoned for an alleged traffic offense and then arrested for 10 days for supposedly 'resisting the police'. His detention is believed to be a reprimand for one of his songs, Avtosh (Reckless Driver) in which Aliyev criticises the traffic police for bribery and for violating traffic rules.
While in detention, the artist asked his brother to remove the music video for Avtosh from YouTube after police officers threatened Aliyev that they would be opening a criminal investigation against him.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
EGYPT: AUTHORITIES ATTEMPT TO CENSOR FILM ABOUT JEWISH COMMUNITY IN EGYPT
Jews of Egypt, a documentary about life within the Jewish community in Egypt was almost banned because the Egyptian Ministry of Culture failed to issue a permit to screen the film. Haitham al-Khamissi, the film's producer, said that the state security also requested to view his film before its opening, which was due to take place on 27 March.
The film depicts Egyptian society's changing attitudes towards the Jewish community from the first half of the 20thcentury, focusing especially on the period after 1956 and the Suez Wars, when Jews were expelled or fled the country.
TUNISIA: ARTISTS SENTENCED OVER RAP MUSIC VIDEO
Two people were arrested and sentenced in Tunisia for being involved in the production of a music video named Cops are Dogs by Tunisian rapper, Weld El 15. Authorities deemed the video as "offensive to police officers" and "inciting hatred and violence".
Director Mohamed Belgueyed and female actor, Sabrine Klibi have been sentenced for "contributing to civil disobedience". Rapper Weld El 15 is wanted by police and was sentenced in absentia to two years imprisonment.
IRAN: MOVIE CREW PROHIBITED FROM LEAVING THE COUNTRY
On 27 February, the Iranian authorities confiscated the passports and imposed a travel ban on co-director Maryam Moghaddam and actress Kamboziya Partovi for their participation in the film, Closed Curtains. The film was directed by Jafar Panahi, an Iranian director who is under house-arrest and has a 20-year filmmaking ban for disseminating "anti-government" propaganda.
Moghaddam and Partovi had been invited to promote the film in the Berlin Movie Festival in February but were forbidden to leave the country. Their trial was due to take place on 14 March but was later postponed.
IRAN: AUTHORITIES THREATEN AMERICAN FILMMAKER WITH LAWSUIT
The Iranian authorities are planning to file a lawsuit over Argo for "unrealistic portrayal of the country". The American film tells the story of the escape of six American embassy staffers with the assistance of a CIA agent during the 1979 hostage crisis.
On 11 March, lawyers and the Iranian Ministry of Culture held a meeting in Tehran, "The Hoax of Hollywood", to discuss the legal aspects of the grievance. They released a statement saying the film violates international "cultural norms" and that "giving an award to an anti-Iran movie is a propaganda attack against our nation and entire humanity". This is a reference to the Best Picture Oscar awarded in February 2013 to Argo, directed by Ben Affleck. The movie is not allowed to be shown in Iranian cinemas.