An international effort to protect all of Afghanistan's musicians in a time of crisis, along with their extraordinarily rich musical traditions, from the traditional rabab to the latest pop music.
On August 15, 2021, Afghanistan and her people fell once again into the hands of the Taliban. As a result, Afghan musicians now face imminent and extreme threat as music of any kind is banned and its makers are silenced.
We are an international group of academics, musicians, music educators and human rights professionals and our goals are simple: to promote awareness and advocacy as well as provide assistance to Afghanistan's musicians. We aim to protect the people and preserve their songs.
Most people are not aware that musicians in Afghanistan are now at risk as few on the outside understand the nature of the Taliban's opposition to music. The Taliban ideologically defy music as morally corrupting. They regard and treat all musicians as a "degenerate" group; whether playing Western or traditional styles, whether lyrics are political or there are no lyrics at all. To understand this history and unfolding plight as well as read artists' personal accounts, please visit our News/Stories page.
Our efforts began in the UK with the Campaign to Protect Afghanistan's Musicians: a "call upon the world’s governments to recognise that all of Afghanistan’s musicians are targeted by the Taliban as members of a particular social group; and to explicitly name musicians as a priority for humanitarian visas under their Afghan resettlement schemes." An open letter and petition was circulated through the Sunday Times. You can sign our petition online by clicking here.
We aim to see all governments protect Afghanistan's musicians as “members of a particular social group” as outlined under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. In addition, we hope to see Afghanistan's musicians receive priority status for their humanitarian visa schemes, such as the UK’s Afghanistan Citizens Resettlement Scheme or the US Humanitarian Parole visa.
As part of our goals, we hope to assist Afghan musicians as they strive to survive, whether in hiding in Afghanistan or as they flee, resettle, and build life anew in a foreign country. This part of our mission includes seeking resources for ground support in Afghanistan and evacuation, travel, and resettlement opportunities should they have the chance to leave. Much of our forward focus is to help these musicians connect with work or educational opportunities in other countries. If you would like to partner in these efforts or provide funding, please visit our How to Help page.
Many thanks to Dr. Katherine Butler Schofield for contributing to this text.