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MU Signs Letter in Support of Campaign to Protect Afghanistan’s Musicians

The MU was one of over 200 signatories to an open letter – published in the Sunday Times on Sunday 3 October – calling on the UK Government to explicitly prioritise musicians under the Afghanistan Citizens Resettlement Scheme.

Published: 05 October 2021 | 12:20 PM
The neck of a traditional instrument often used in Afghan music, known as a Rubab
“We call on the Government to offer urgent humanitarian visas to Afghan musicians so the UK can play its part.” Photo credit: Shutterstock

The letter, which was put together by the Campaign to Protect Afghanistan’s Musicians has been signed by over 200 names from across the music industry and beyond. It calls on the UK government to recognise that musicians are targeted by the Taliban as members of a particular social group; and to explicitly prioritise musicians under the Afghanistan Citizens Resettlement Scheme.

The has previously expressed deep concern for the situation in Afghanistan, and we are continuing to liaise with relevant organisations to offer support, solidarity and explore potential ways that we can help. MU members also submitted an emergency motion on musicians in Afghanistan at the STUC Black Workers Conference this weekend, which was passed unanimously.

Musicians embody a vision of Afghanistan’s future in which freedom of expression and ethnic harmony can flourish

The text of the letter is as follows:

In the past six weeks the Taliban have carried out assassinations of traditional musicians; brutally beaten performers; banned music on radio stations and in public places; and destroyed instruments in institutions such as the national broadcaster, RTA. Afghan musicians are now in hiding, moving from house to house, terrified for their lives. They are at imminent and extreme risk.

All of these musicians embody a vision of Afghanistan’s future in which freedom of expression and ethnic harmony can flourish. We believe that the public, and our own musical and creative arts community, would overwhelmingly support the resettlement of these unique and highly skilled musicians in the UK, offering them homes and opportunities to perform.

As a global champion of freedom of expression, the United Kingdom has given sanctuary to many refugee musicians over the years, who in turn have enriched our musical life. In light of this, we call on the government to offer urgent humanitarian visas to Afghan musicians so the UK can play its part in ensuring they — and their invaluable cultural heritage — are not lost for ever.

See the Campaign to Protect Afghanistan’s Musicians’ Website for further details and the full list of signatories.

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