Help us in our mission of defending freedom of expression and supporting those who are persecuted and prosecuted for using their voices to creatively advocate for change. Defending freedom of expression for individuals is one of the great fights of our time. Advocacy works, check out the "Our Work" tab to see what we've been able to accomplish. Please consider a donation to The Voice Project to help us do more.

Intimidation often happens in dark corners, we shine a bright light.
— Hunter Heaney, Co-founder

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FREE EXPRESSION • CREATIVE DISSENT

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Success Stories

Atena Farghadani

Atena Farghadani Freed

Atena Farghadani is an Iranian cartoonist who was sentenced in February, 2015 to twelve-and-a-half years in prison over a cartoon of the county’s parliament as animals, drawn in protest of a law which would restrict women’s access to birth control. Farghadani was charged with “insulting members of parliament through paintings” and “spreading propaganda against the system” for her drawing. She also faced charges of indecency for shaking her lawyer’s hand. Atena continued to draw in prison, using napkins and paper cups as canvas despite repeated beatings and verbal abuses from guards. After pressure from The Voice Project along with other artists and international organizations, a May 3, 2016 appeal saw her freed 11 years early. In her first post-release interview, Atena said, “I am grateful to all those whom I don’t know and to whom I owe my freedom."

 

Success Stories

Pema Rigdzin Freed

Since 2008, China has jailed many Tibetan writers, artists and singers for encouraging Tibetan national and cultural identity. Pema Rigdzin (also spelled Rigzin), a producer of Tibetan music and one of the artists featured in The Voice Project’s Free The Tibet 10 campaign, was detained, sentenced, and fined 50,000 Yuan in May 2013 for producing ‘politically sensitive’ DVDs. Two of the most popular songs he produced, “In Memory of Tibet” and “Tears” have been banned. The former monk of the Namtso monastery in Ngaba stopped singing in 2008 and devoted his time to producing films and songs in Chengdu. Authorities threatened to shut down his studio several times before his imprisonment. In October of 2015, after serving 11 months of his two-and-half year sentence for producing banned patriotic songs, Rigdzin was released by Chinese authorities and has since returned to his home in the Ngaba.

 

Success Stories

El Sexto Freed

On December 26, 2014, the street and performance artist Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as “El Sexto,” was arrested in Cuba and charged with contempt while walking two pigs, named Fidel and Raúl, to Havana’s Central Park for a performance titled “Rebelión en la Granja” (Animal Farm). El Sexto was held in Havana’s Valle Grande Prison since that time without formal charges. The Voice Project initiated the "Free El Sexto" campaign, one of the longest running and most vocal advocacy efforts for Danilo's release from arbitrary detention. On October 20, 2015, El Sexto was freed without explanation by Cuban authorities after spending ten months in prison.

 

Success Stories

Tania Bruguera Detention Lifted

Performance artist Tania Bruguera was arrested outside her home in Cuba on December 30th 2014, on her way to Havana’s Revolution Square, where she was to set up a microphone for Cubans to make their voices heard, one minute at a time. Though Tania was released from prison, the charges against her remained and her passport confiscated, while the government worked to construct a case against her, and during this time she was subject to constant surveillance, and harassment, and interrogations. The Voice Project, partnered with Cuban advocacy group #YoTambienExijo led the longest running campaign by an international organization on Tania's behalf, which included letter writing and numerous actions and garnering publicity for the case with major publications. On July 8, 2015, the Cuban government returned Tania’s passport, and on August 21, 2015 Tania arrived safely in New York.

 

Success Stories

El Haqed

El Haqed Freed From Prison

Since 2011, Morocco’s government has arrested and sentenced Mouad Belghouat, known throughout Morocco and Tunisia as the rapper El Haqed (or L7a9ed), three times in trials which have been condemned by numerous international human rights observers as unfair, biased, and in violation of international law. Upon El Haqed’s May of 2014 arrest and imprisonment, The Voice Project initiated its "Free Haqed" campaign and campaigners from all over the world wrote letters on the activist/artist's behalf. El Haqed was released from Ain Borja prison in Casablanca on September 18, 2104.

 

Success Stories

Gebey

Gebey Released

The 27-year-old Tibetan singer disappeared after being arrested on May 24, 2014 by Chinese security forces. This was immediately after a concert where he performed songs off his 2012 album that spoke of the need to preserve Tibetan language and culture. The Voice Project created the "Where is Gebey?" campaign to petition Chinese authorities to disclose his whereabouts and free the singer. In June 2014, Gebey was freed by Chinese authorities on bail and returned to his family.

 

Success Stories

Solidarity Wisconsin

Solidarity Singers Cases Thrown Out

In the summer of 2013, Capitol Police began arresting protesters in large numbers. Some protesters were arrested dozens of times, and hundreds of tickets — mostly civil rather than criminal forfeitures — were written. The Voice Project got involved with an advocacy campaign including a new video (which was checked by Politifact and found to be true) and petition, working in concert with activists on the ground. On January 29, 2015, Wisconsin’s Fourth District Court of Appeals dismissed all of the approximately 400 cases brought against the Solidarity Singers. Six protesters were awarded $44,830 in damages from the state.

 

Success Stories

Pussy Riot Support

Throughout their trial and until their release from imprisonment The Voice Project was there for Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova, Masha Alekhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and their families, providing legal defense fees, safety monitoring and provisioning at the prison camps, and international viral campaign initiatives such as "Where is Nadya?" which were critical to maintaining their safety.

 

Success Stories

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Child Soldiers “Come Home”

From the inception of The Voice Project's Amplify Peace initiative in 2009—FM radio broadcasting of songs and messages out to LRA abductees in central Africa—defections and safe home-returns from the Lord's Resistance Army have dramatically increased to unprecedented levels, with up to 89% of defectors in some years attributing their decisions to come out of the bush to the "Come Home" programs. The strategy has been widely adopted and is now considered a key to ending the 28-year-old conflict.

 

HOW WE SPEND THE MONEY

Fiscal Year 2015

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