The AFC International Legal Action Program helps to promote and support the right of artistic freedom in courts of law as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. AFC only intervenes in countries outside the United States and Western Europe where there is an indication of clear abuse of power that includes a violation of individual rights under accepted international standards by authorities. The program consists of two mechanisms:

1. AFC's Emergency Legal Defense Fund provides financial grants to artists that are unfairly detained or persecuted for producing or distributing their music, films, or visual art by authoritarian governments. Grants are awarded directly to qualified persecuted artists or their families with the expressed purpose of obtaining legal representation to defend their rights in a court of law. AFC accepts applications in any language through its online application on www.Movements.org or via email. Criteria for awards include but are not limited to:
a. Demonstrable financial need.
b. Ability of the artist or his/her family to retain qualified legal counsel.
c. AFC's ability to effectively monitor and evaluate the legal proceedings.
d. Availability of funding.

2. AFC's Legal Action Program, in partnership with Lawyers without Borders, endeavors to intervene in individual seminal court cases to contest the legality of national laws and regulations that violate internationally accepted standards in protecting artistic freedom.

UPDATES AND CASES TO FOLLOW
Iran Musicians and Filmmaker Sentenced
Three Iranian artists; Mahdi Rajabian, Yousef Emadi, and Hossein Rajabian were summoned by Iranian authorities to turn themselves in and serve their time in prison. The group, consisting of two musicians and one filmmaker were charged with insulting Islamic sanctities, illicit financial gain through audiovisual activities, and propaganda against the regime. International organizations such as Iran Human Rights, Amnesty Norway, and well as the U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human RIghts have come out in support of the artists and called for their release. The artists were originally arrested in October 2013, where authorities kept them in solitary confinement for two months before releasing them. At the time of the arrest, Mehdi Rajabian, a musician as well as a producer and distributor, had been working on a concept album of Iran's history through music. Mehdi's album History of Iran Narrated by Setar combined histories spoken by the artist with traditional Persian instrumentation and ambient noise. Hossein Rajabian, a filmmaker and Mehdi's brother, has directed a number of short documentary films which have been screened at international festivals. Hossein's first full-length film The Upside-Down Triangle had just been completed at the time of the arrest. Iranian authorities confiscated all hard drives and materials related to both Mehdi's album and Hossein's film. In protest, Hossein released The Upside-Down Triangle online with English subtitles. Yousef Emadi, along with the Rajabian brothers, founded the underground music distributor BargMusic in 2009. BargMusic applied on multiple occasions to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance for a permit to operate. All organizations wishing to perform, produce, or distribute music for any commercial purpose in Iran are required to have such a license, which the Islamic Republic's government censors then use to keep control over what art is allowed to be heard by the public. As its requests for permits were repeatedly denied, BargMusic continued to operate openly in an underground manner up to its founders' arrests in 2013. In May 2015 when the original court sentence came down it was determined each artist must pay; a fine of 200 million toman ($66,650) and serve a six year prison sentence. This decision was appealed and the resulting decision, which came out in February 2016 reduces the fine to 20 million toman ($6,000) and jail time to three years. Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian, and Yousef Emadi are currently imprisoned in Evin Prison, Tehran's high-security facility for political prisoners and other prisoners of conscience. They are scheduled to remain there until June 2019. Sources: http://freemuse.org/archives/12208 http://iranhr.net/en/articles/2542/ http://voiceproject.org/takeaction/iran-music-is-not-a-crime/
Mashhad Cleric Calls for Ban on Live Music

Mashhad's Friday Imam has weighed into the debate about live music in Iran. In recent months, some religious groups and clerics have called for concerts to be banned, especially in Iran's holiest cities. Friday Imam Ahmad Almolhoda said on April 14 that he opposes "concerts in the city of Mashhad, and not music itself.' In a statement published on his official website, Almolhoda said the fact that Mashhad was home to 15 official music teaching centers and tolerated several other 'illegal centers teaching music' proved that the city had 'no problem with music itself.' But he said concerts should not be allowed to continue. 'I am not the one who decides,' he admitted in the statement. 'This is the task of the representative of the Supreme Leader, who in this case has conceded this task to the head of public culture council of the city, i.e. the governor.'The comments are the latest in a string of criticism of and protests against live music in Iran. In February, the supreme leader's representative in Fars Province, Asadollah Imani, called for greater restrictions on music in Shiraz. And in early March, a group of protesters lashed out against a concert by Alireza Ghorbani scheduled to take place at Azad Golbahar University in Mashhad. The group objected to 'religiously unlawful'concerts, which they said had been promoted by 'tyrants' devoid of any religious values. On January 2, a concert by the band Lian was canceled in Bushehr, southwestern Iran, following protests by a group calling itself Hezbollah Umah. The group's concert in Shiraz was also canceled. Another performance, by pop singer Sirvan Khosaravi, was also prevented from going ahead in Bushehr. Speaking more broadly about the arts, Alamolhoda called for religiously-motivated artists to take a stand. 'There are many motivated religious people active in all art fields,' Alamolhoda told Khorasan Razavi Province Art Seminary officials in a meeting. 'But they are a minority compared to the dominant non-religious trend active in the House of Cinema, which includes scriptwriters, actors and directors'. He accused those involved in 'non-religious' art production of keeping Mashhad's arts facilities to themselves and not allowing all musicians and artists access to them. The religiously-minded minority must persist, he said, and 'defend its social status to create resistance against the other dominant trend.' If they work hard to do this, he said, 'I promise them that the future will belong to them.' 'Following the Revolution,' he said, 'the quality of all arts improved significantly. Films produced about our holy defense during the war with Iraq are far better than flamboyant, expensive films made in Turkey.' Read the original article in Persian

Nigerian Musician Kidnapped
In Nigeria a popular musician, Ado Dahiru Daukaka, was abducted after a few days after releasing a song that discussed the corruption in the government. He was taken by armed men and spent five days in captivity before the kidnappers released him in the forest where he was later found. However, less than 24 hours after being found Ado Daukaka was taken by the police, in what they say was only an invitation for him to be questioned. The questioning was in response to a complaint lodged against the musician from a local politician who claims Ado said libous statements about him. Ado was released from police custody after posting bail, and must return for further questioning. Source: http://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/nnorth-east/206288-adamawa-singer-daukaka-arrested-release-abductors.html https://thewhistler.ng/story/they-warned-me-to-stop-or-lose-my-life-singer-cries-out

Pakistan Shooting
Amjad Sabri, one of Pakistan's most famous singers died in the town of Karachi on June 22, 2016 after two men on a motorbike shot into his car just a kilometer after he left his home. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing. Sabri was headed to a TV studio to for an iftar transmission during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Sabri was a leading and respected Qawwali singer, a Sufi spiritual music. Amjad Sabri comes from a family of Qawwali singers; his father Ghulam Sabri and uncle Maqbool Sabri lead the scene in the 1950's in both India and Pakistan. The Karachi region in Pakistan, the most populated region in the country has been plagued by militant violence and targeted killings. As recently as May and April of 2016 two activities were killed. Source: http://www.dawn.com/news/1266514

Pakistan Shooting
Amjad Sabri, one of Pakistan's most famous singers died in the town of Karachi on June 22, 2016 after two men on a motorbike shot into his car just a kilometer after he left his home. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing. Sabri was headed to a TV studio to for an iftar transmission during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Sabri was a leading and respected Qawwali singer, a Sufi spiritual music. Amjad Sabri comes from a family of Qawwali singers; his father Ghulam Sabri and uncle Maqbool Sabri lead the scene in the 1950's in both India and Pakistan. The Karachi region in Pakistan, the most populated region in the country has been plagued by militant violence and targeted killings. As recently as May and April of 2016 two activities were killed. Source: http://www.dawn.com/news/1266514

Thailand Banned Films
The Thailand International Film Destination Festival, scheduled to start July 13 recently created controversy when it made this past weekend to ban four films. Organizers did not give specific reasons for why those particular films were banned but observers say that the films contained sexual or violent scenes and portrayed Thailand in a negative light. Twilight Over Burma, one of the banned films, depicts the story of an Austrian woman that married an ethnic Shan prince after the 1962 military coup in Myanmar. Akkanut Wantansombut, an independent scholar, said that the organizers of the festival had privately mentioned to him that the film would, 'Affect the relationship between Thailand and Myanmar.' Pattaya, was banned for featuring a sex scene filmed inside an ancient monastic hall. Happy House in Paradise, also banned from the festival, has a alcoholic priest as a character and is set in Phuket. The festival is organized by the country's tourism department and film office, and is used as a way to attract foreign filmmakers to shoot scenes in Thailand and promote tourism. Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/thai-film-festival-draws-flak-for-dropping-four-movies