The government of China is currently holding at least five Tibetan musicians in prison for nothing more than singing and writing songs. In the run up to World Human Rights Day on 10 December 2016, we must remind China that art is not a crime and that musicians Lo Lo, Shawo Tashi, Kelsang Yarphel, Gonpo Tenzin and Trinley Tsekar, and all artists, have the human right and freedom to artistically express themselves, including the right to sing about their culture and identity, without fear of punishment.

“Imprisoning these artists is a grave violation of their human right to artistic freedom. We call on the Chinese government to release these musicians immediately, as well as any other artists it continues to hold arbitrarily on vague charges,” Ole Reitov, Freemuse Executive Director, said.

The Chinese government continues to use the vague charge of “seditiously splitting the state” to arbitrarily arrest and imprison anyone they see as a threat, including a majority of these artists who are serving sentences of up to nine years for singing and writing songs or participating in peaceful protests in support of the Dalai Lama or Tibetan independence. Sadly, some of these artists are also reported to suffer from severe health problems stemming from mistreatment in Chinese custody.

Freemuse begins its “Art is not a crime – not in Tibet, not anywhere” campaign today, highlighting each musician and their case on each day of the week, through to World Human Rights Day on Saturday 10 December 2016.

“We hope our ‘Art is not a crime’ campaign will further pressure the Chinese government to respect the rule of law and international human rights, creating a safe environment for Tibetan artists to express themselves freely without fear of persecution, and to work transparently with international bodies when investigating cases of human rights violations, such as the ones that are happening to these musicians,” Reitov said.

Freemuse calls on the Chinese government to:

  • Immediately release the imprisoned musicians, as well as other artists
  • Abolish the arbitrary charge of “seditiously splitting the state”
  • Respect the rule of law and international human rights
  • Provide transparency in cases of imprisoned artists

Art is not a crime, how can I (or my organization) help?

  1. Visit our website at each day from 5-10 December 2016, where we will feature a new story about an imprisoned Tibetan musician.
  2. At the end of each story there will be social media hashtags you can use to help us raise awareness and call for the artists’ release.
  3. Follow us on TwitterInstagram and Facebook every day to share the musicians’ music and stories in the lead-up to Human Rights Day.