HELP SAVE AFGHAN MUSICIANS
HELP SAVE AFGHAN MUSICIANS
Today [27th] we have a family of 4, another family of 7 and an individual, 12 in total on planes waiting to take off today inside Kabul Airport. Despite the recent attacks we are still working very hard to get Afghans out.
Sound Central, a grassroots organization founded in Afghanistan 2010, has today called on governments around the world to grant visas for Afghan musicians in the wake of the increasingly dire situation in Afghanistan.
The situation is equally concerning for young independent artists. The Kabul music scene of 2009-2014, despite being small, fostered numerous local bands across genres such as hip hop, rock and metal. These bands have performed in local venues, as well at the Sound Central festival, the first music festival to be held in Afghanistan. Using social media to promote their music has made them readily identifiable, with a number of musicians having already received death threats.
While tolerance has so far been promised, musicians across Afghanistan desperately fear that their lives are at risk. Already, threat letters have been received, instruments destroyed, and music-related institutions forcibly closed down.
“In Afghanistan, music is dying. We can’t play anymore. We have had to stop what we’ve always loved to do. But I believe that in a war between art and ignorance, art should be the winner,” said Metal Sam, a musician based in Kabul, who has used a pseudonym to protect their identity.
Several recent events provide a worrying insight of what may be to come. In Badarshan, armed men entered wedding parties, stopped the music, burned instruments, and prohibited musicians from performing again. Meanwhile in Kabul, the Afghan National Institute of Music (ANIM) – long targeted by extremists – has been shut down and has already suffered depredations. Students and teachers are fearful of reprisals for themselves and their families for being associated with the school.
The situation is equally concerning for young independent artists; local bands across genres such as hip hop, rock and metal. These bands have performed in local venues, as well at the Sound Central festival.
Our part so far
Between 2014 and 2019, Sound Central assisted 13 Afghan artists to successfully gain asylum. Since the change of power and rule in Afghanistan this month, the Sound Central team has reunited to help the musicians and festival employees who took a personal risk to deliver music and arts to the community.
As of this morning [25th] we have confirmation that 6 Afghans reached the safety of Poland. With the help of a WFP flight we got a Sound Central staffer and his 4 family members out of Kabul. We also got another 1 individual on the same flight. For now we are withholding their names to protect them.
Sound Central has collected real time data on who is still in Afghanistan; between 70 to 300 Afghan musicians and festival employees in need of assistance.