Tagged oppression

Wu Fei Blends Chinese and American Folk Music, Struggles With Oppressive Chinese Government

JAN 9, 2014 – Wu Fei, who specializes in traditional Chinese music, blends Chinese and American folk music with her two band mates of Wu Force, Abigail Washburn and Kai Welch. She plays the traditional Chinese instrument guzheng (similar to a zither), Abigail plays the banjo, and Kai plays keyboards and trumpet. Wu Fei resided in the US for years attending Mills College, and in a NashvilleScene interview she talks about her Chinese government back home and how they oppress musicians and will not let them play whatever they want. The Chinese government even criticized Wu Fei for taking part in a Chinese-European culture exchange. Read more about this fascinating musician and her band Wu Force on NashvilleScene.com here.  (photo credit: wufeimusic.com)

Ai Weiwei strongly criticizes China’s government in new “Dumbass” video

MAY 23, 2013 – Chinese musical-activist Ai Weiwei has released his new music video to his activist song "Dumbass" and strongly criticizes the Chinese government. In the video, Ai is jailed, hooded and is abused by the Chinese state power for speaking out politically similar to when he was jailed for 81 days for speaking out politically back in 2011. Naturally, China has blocked the video. The video is filled with heavy metal screeching guitars and obscenity screaming against the oppression in China that censors and punishes free speech. In a statement Ai Weiwei said, “People who are detained suffer traumas, and those who detain us know this very well. This is why we are secretly detained, blindfolded, cuffed, not allowed to meet with lawyers and relatives. I had been thinking about how to recover from the trauma. And I came up with the idea of using music to convey a sentiment that is tremendously secret, and private, to the public." Watch the video below.

Young, Progressive Russians Deciding to Stay in Russia Instead of Fleeing

July 31, 2012 – Young, progressive Russians, who used to flee to other countries to get away from the brutal oppression of free speech and dissent by the government, are now deciding to stay and try and change things at home. Most notably is the women punk musician-activist band Pussy Riot that is challenging free speech restrictions by doing "actions". 3 members of the band were arrested in February of 2012 and are now on trial for singing an anti-Putin song at the cathedral of the powerful Russian Orthodox Church. They face charges of "hooliganism" and face up to 7 years in prison. Even their spouses are being attacked, such as the husband of one of the women arrested, Pyotr Verzilov, who had a Canadian passport when he was attending school in Toronto years ago and the Russian government flashed an image of his passport on TV and called it evidence that he and his wife are trying to "tear Russia apart". Read more on WashPo here, and also there is a good article about the trial on NBCNews.com here.

They are all part of a movement called "Voina", a group consisting of artists, musicians and others that stage provocative actions deliberately meant to test the boundaries of their freedoms and liberties, and challenge the government's authority. They call this "polical protest art"; and at least 20 criminal investigations have been launched against the group and its members. The government of Russia says the Art group VOINA, "is a left-wing radical anarchist collective whose central goal is to carry out PR actions directed against the authorities…" Check out the org's website and read about the many political prisoners in Russia consisting of journalists, artists and even regular activists trying to bring about progressive change in Russia on their website: http://en.free-voina.org/.

The trial has divided old Russia against the youth, and even spilled over to America as protesters held a rally in front of the Russian embassy here in Washington, DC on July 28, 2012 to protest what they see as government overreach and oppression of free speech. NME.com reports that many musicians have spoken out against the detention and prosecution of the women, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Franz Ferdinand. Check back because JTMP will be posting on this issue regularly, and will also have a video out soon. (photo credits: CC\Wiki)

Musician Max Ehrlich Suppressed then Killed by Nazis

MAY 25, 2012 – Max Ehrlich was a cabaret star in Germany through the 1930s, and was stopped and censored by the rigthwing Nazi brownshirts, and fled Germany. He returned, but then left again after the "Kristallnacht". He fled to Holland, but like many of the people in the arts, he was imprisoned by the Nazis in Westerbork concentration camp. While he was imprisoned there he formed the "Camp Westerbork Theatre Group", which brought some life to an otherwise horrible existence for camp prisoners. Unfortunately in 1944 he was sent Auschwitz and died there. Listen to a recording of him below in a video from jonjamg on YouTube. You can check out Max Ehrlich's legacy on the Max Ehrlich Association, and read more about this extraordinary individual at Wikpedia. (Photo credit: The Max Ehrlich Association)

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