Fair Trade Music Project Speaks Out for Silenced Songwriters
Discuss the alarming trend of the recent imprisonment of songwriters throughout the world
Following the success of the World Creators Summit held in Washington, DC, June 4 -5, the Music Creators North America (spearheading the Fair Trade Music Project) took another step toward defending the rights of creators.
In comments this week Eddie Schwartz of the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC) and Rick Carnes of the Songwriters Guild of America (SGA) discussed the alarming trend of the recent imprisonment of songwriters throughout the world.
"Freedom of expression is the life blood of all creators. There is a disturbing trend in many parts of the world to snuff out political opposition by denying songwriters the ability to express themselves through their songs. This is why the Fair Trade Music Project adopted protection of free speech as one of its five principles. Without basic freedom of expression it's not just music that suffers... people suffer as well," said Carnes.
The group's fifth guiding principle reads, "Music creators must be free to speak, write and communicate without fear of censorship, retaliation or repression in a manner consistent with basic human rights and constitutional principles."
Carnes' statement refers to the announcement last week that two Tibetan songwriters (Pema Trinlay and Chakdor) were sentenced to prison terms for releasing an album (The Pain of an Unhealed Wound) which contains songs praising the Dalai Lama and Tibetans against Chinese occupation. Other recent imprisonments include:
* Prominent Iranian songwriter, Roozbeh Bemani, arrested in Tehran last week for illegal production and distribution of underground music
* Russian band members of Pussy Riot over their protest of Russian leader Vladimir Putin and church-state affiliations
Poet Zhu Yufu of China, given a long-term prison sentence for his poem "It's Time"
* Hoang Nhat Thong and Viet Khang, imprisoned in Viet Nam for writing songs deemed to be anti-government propaganda
"The silencing of these songwriters is proof that music has the power to move cultures forward. The importance of what we do is made clear by the risk these songwriters take in speaking their mind. The consequences they suffer strengthen our resolve to continue to work with other international songwriting groups to fight for the rights of creators everywhere," said Schwartz.
If you would like to help, please visit the following sites:
Freedom For Viet Khang
Pussy Riot - Write-a-thon
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