fear of music
Violence broke out in Mozambique's capital Maputo on Oct. 28 between security forces and demonstrators protesting the results of nationwide local elections. Confrontations were also reported in the cities of Nampula and Nacala. Police are accused of using disproportionate force, including tear-gas and live bullets, and at least three people have been reported dead, including a 10-year old boy. There have also been reports of injuries and detentions.
Hong Kong District Court judge Ernest Lin Kam-hung handed down a judgment Aug. 31 sentencing Tommy Yuen Man-on, a former Cantopop boy-band member, to 26 months imprisonment. Yuen was convicted of "acts with seditious intention" among other charges. Lin found that Yuen made seditious statements on Facebook and Instagram in 2021, including posts about the death of a marine police officer, injuries suffered by then Chief Executive Carrie Lam after a fall, and cases of officer misconduct. Lin asserted that Yuen had been insulting Hong Kong's government and implicitly advocating for Hong Kong independence.
The Hong Kong Department of Justice applied to the Special Administrative Region's High Court on June 5 for an injunction to prohibit any performance or online dissemination of the song "Glory to Hong Kong," anthem of the 2019 protest movement. The government asserts that the song contains secessionist lyrics and constitutes an insult to the Chinese national anthem, "March of the Volunteers." The action seeks to remove 32 YouTube videos, asserting that they breach multiple laws in Hong Kong and China, including the National Security Law, the Crimes Ordinance and the National Anthem Ordinance.
The New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran on April 6 urged the international community to demand the release of Toomaj Salehi, a popular rapper who has become a prominent voice of Iran's protest movement. Salehi was arrested in October, and charged with "corruption on Earth," which carries the death penalty, as well as "propaganda against the state," "collaboration with hostile governments," and other offenses punishable by up to 10 years in prison. No date has been set for the trial. Toomaj has been segregated from all other inmates in Dastgerd Prison, a maximum-security facility run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Sixteen UN-appointed human rights experts called on Iranian authorities Nov. 11 not to indict people on charges punishable by death for participating in peaceful demonstrations. "We urge Iranian authorities to stop using the death penalty as a tool to squash protests and reiterate our call to immediately release all protesters who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty for the sole reason of exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of opinion and expression," the experts said in a statement. (UN News) Since then at least five people have been sentenced to death on the charge of moharebeh ("enmity against God") in connection with the anti-government protests that have been raging for two months. A popular Kurdish rap artist, Saman Yasin, is among those facing execution. Days before the UN statement, 227 members of Iran's 290-member parliament approved a resolution demanding that the judiciary "deal decisively" with "rioters"—taken to mean imposing the death penalty. (BBC News, Iran International, Reuters, Arab News)
Faced with a growing insurgency from regional guerilla cells integrated into the resistance network known as the People's Defense Force (PDF), Burma's junta has been training its own paramilitary corps made up of conservative Buddhists, Burman ethno-nationalists, and other regime supporters—named the Pyu Saw Htee, after a legendary king (also rendered Pyusawhti) of the ancient Bagan Dynasty (also rendered Pagan). Its strongest base of support is in the Ma Ba Tha (Patriotic Association of Myanmar), which has long been accused of fomenting attacks on Muslims and ethnic minorities. (Irrawady, Progressive Voice Myanmar, Mizzima)
Drone strikes and unexplained explosions on the Russian-annexed Criman Peninsula have prompted the Moscow-controlled administration to urge citizens to hunt for possible saboteurs. This comes amid widening repression on civil society, especially targeting the Crimean Tatar people. On Sept. 15, a local court jailed at least four people involved in a Tatar wedding in Bakhchysarai for performing a Ukrainian patriotic song, "Red Kalyna." Each accused performer was held for several days.
Inmates at Burma's Insein Prison launched a protest on July 25 in response to the announcement by the ruling junta that four political prisoners who had been held in the Yangon facility were executed. Several people who took part in the uprising were physically assaulted by prison authorities, and some 15 were removed to isolation cells separate from the general population, according to a source within the facility. Among the executed were two of Burma's leading dissidents—Ko Jimmy, 52, a veteran of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, and Phyo Zayar Thaw, 41, a hip-hop star and former MP with the National League for Democracy (NLD). The two longtime activists were sentenced to death in January for allegedly plotting to carry out attacks on regime targets. Amnesty International said it believes the charges against them were politically motivated.