Musicians Artists at Risk Resettlement Scheme

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Musicians Artists at Risk Resettlement Scheme.

NOTE:This scheme was orginally set up in response to Afghan Crisis. Due to newly arrived musicians from other countries reaching out to us we are also supporting people from many countries wishing to avail of support through music. A guitar club has recently been set up in partnership with Rock n Roll Workshop.

Afghanistan Page (with links to past, present future information)

Expression of intererest form (Arts Organisations Hosting a Placement)

Register of interest form (Hosting Person/s Accommodation)

UK Campaign to Protect Afghan Musicians Website

International Campaign for Afghanistan's Musicians

Donate HERE to assist immediate needs, security, logistics and legal costs.

The musicians/artists of Afghanistan and their extraordinarily rich musical heritage face an unprecedented time of crisis right now. The Taliban are ideologically opposed to all music, and to all those who perform and teach music, visual arts & dance. On 26th August 2021 they announced their intention to ban music again, as they did in 1996–2001, and to prevent musicians from pursuing their professions.

Campaign to Protect Afghan musicians are a group of academics, musicians, lawyers, and human rights professionals who believe passionately that “music is food for the soul” and that in accordance with Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the musicians and listeners of Afghanistan should be free to draw upon this precious spiritual and cultural resource without fear.
Individuals/Organizations in the Arts, Community and Business sectors are coordinating efforts as part of the Campaign to develop a bespoke Musicians Artists at Risk Resettlement Scheme (MARRS) in Northern Ireland.
Much consultation has been ongoing with individuals/organizations involved in Refugee and Migrant support, especially those assisting in the Syrian resettlement scheme.

MARRS has two very distinct differences to previous resettlement schemes
• When Musicians/Artists arrive in Northern Ireland from Afghanistan they will be immediately housed in communities with people offering up rooms in their homes. We have an overwhelming amount of offers cross community which has been very welcomed.  This will be a temporary measure but from day one will assist better integration and local support.
• All musicians will have a placement in the arts sector. Internships, apprenticeships, part of a project etc.  With Arts Council Northern Ireland lead, ongoing discussions are ongoing about opportunities and exploring the resources needed. The Afghan musicians/artists are highly skilled with some as master musicians carrying a deep music tradition which could be lost should anything happen to them. Introducing new creative traditions and skills into Northern Ireland would enrich communities as it always has and strengthen our cultural capital and add value to our creative industries.

We are asking the NI Executive

  • To formally endorse MARRS in an all-party agreement. All political parties have been supportive since conversations began with the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. This has been noted by the local and international community and received much praise.
  • The NI Executive’s commitment to resettle citizens under the Afghan relocations and assistance policy (ARAP) and the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme (ACRS) is welcome. We note that a TEO strategic planning group is working to determine final numbers to be resettled and to make preparations to support arrivals as soon as possible.  Under this option, the NI Executive would request the UK Government to include these 30 musicians and artists within the ACRS. In effect, the 30 Afghans would be assigned to NI for resettlement.
  • To engage in conversations with Arts Council NI representing arts sector to explore realistic financial support for host organisations
  • To assist in conversations regarding coordinated evacuation logistics

Campaign To Protect Afghan Musicians

The aim of the Campaign is to support and to secure humanitarian protection for all of Afghanistan’s endangered musicians, from master rabab players to the latest pop stars, with a particular focus on hereditary and professional musicians, especially master musicians, music teachers, exposed women and girls, and those at additional risk because of their high media profile.
On Wednesday 29th September 2021 we launched the Campaign to Protect Afghanistan’s Musicians. Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan on 15th August 2021, Afghanistan’s musicians have faced imminent and extreme threat. On 26th August the Taliban announced that music will be banned again, as it was last time they were in power (1996–2001), and musicians have been instructed to change professions. Hopes have been expressed that the Taliban might have modified their approach from the violent opposition to music of their last regime. But the summary execution of traditional musician Fawad Andarabi, and the destruction of musical instruments at the RTA studios, which both happened around 27th August, suggest the direction of travel will not be benign. These headline events have been accompanied by the closing of music schools and departments, a silencing of music on radio and television, and widespread threats and harassment. Musicians/Artists houses and studios have been visited and ransacked, and musicians have responded with mass self-censorship, burying and destroying their own beloved instruments and going into hiding, in fear for their lives. There is anxious uncertainty about the extent of the restrictions — live musicians are definitely forbidden, though recorded music in some places seems a bit of a grey zone. But listeners have also already been subjected to harsh punishments and beatings.

We argue that under the 1951 Refugee Convention, Afghanistan’s musicians right now clearly constitute members of a particular social group who are under wholesale and immediate threat simply on account of being musicians. Yet, so far, our governments have not prioritised them for humanitarian protection.
This deprioritisation, we believe, is due to a misunderstanding of the nature of the Taliban’s opposition to music. The Taliban do not discriminate: it doesn’t matter whether a musician is playing Western or traditional styles, or whether their lyrics are political or there are no lyrics at all.  Whether musicians must leave their beloved homeland for their survival, or whether they choose to stay, we are here to campaign for the protection of all of Afghanistan’s musicians, and the preservation of the unique musical traditions they have carried on for centuries.

Northern Ireland Contact:



17 August 2021 – Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Afghanistan: UN expert warns of “cultural disaster”, urges visas for the vulnerable

26 August 2021 - NPR
Afghanistan's Music School Falls Silent, Its Future Is Uncertain Under The Taliban

26 August 2021 -  The Telegraph
Taliban to forbid music in public because it is ‘un-Islamic’

29 August 2021 – Business Insider
The Taliban killed a popular Afghan folk singer just days after the group said it hoped to ban music from being played in public in Afghanistan. 

31 August 2021 - Reuters
Taliban authorities in Kandahar, the birthplace of the movement, issued a formal order against radio stations playing music and female announcers

2 September 2021 - Newsweek
The Taliban has been breaking instruments and ordering customers to leave karaoke parlors

28 December 2020 - Forbes
Taliban Music Ban May Befall Afghans After U.S. Troop Withdrawal

Beyond Skin
Young Women in Afghanistan & Northern Ireland ‘Choose To Challenge’ Through Music

26 May 2016
Afghanistan: Kandahar authorities ban broadcast of songs by women

27 August 2012
Afghanistan: 17 civilians killed, allegedly for listening to music