Arterial Network Condemns Attack On Artistes, Human Rights Defenders in Burkina Faso

Gilbert-DiendereArtistes and human rights defenders in Burkina Faso are under threat following the recent coup staged by members of the RSP military force, also known as the Presidential Guard. The coup, which was led by Gen. Gilbert Diendere, Chief-of-Staff to the former President Blaise Compaore, was executed irrespective of the oncoming elections in October.

A statement signed by Secretary-General of Arterial Network Mr. Peter Rorvick, Abazon recording studio, which was popular for the record of the Right to Life song by 11 leading musicians from eight African countries, was burnt down on the first day of the coup by a rocketfire in the capital, Oaugadougou.

The attack on the studio followed police harassment and destruction of properties of Smockey, owner of the Abazon studio, and prominent leader of the Balai Citoyene movement. Smockey and other artists were also threatened and warned to cease their outspoken activism in their music.

However, it is assumed that the threats issued out was in response to the active role played by artistes in the Balai Citoyen movement, an organization that vehemently opposed former President Blaise Compaore’s attempt to manipulate the constitution in order to run for a third term of office.

The ability of artists to reach wide-ranging audiences and address public platforms was perceived as a threat by the government. Therefore, artistes who choose to engage in social and political issues face the risk of harsh censorship or arrest making it difficult for them to be creative in their expressions and prevent their contributions on such issue.

In an interview earlier this year Smockey declared the need for recognition of the role of artistes and human rights defenders in public life as he said, “Be it Blaise or another, I’ll be there to defend the rights of the people.”

However, this cannot be the case due to the action of the government which has deprived artistes the opportunity to reveal their perspective on issues or engage in matters concerning them as citizens.

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