It’s early days under Taliban rule. The leadership has soothed fears with assurances that women will retain freedoms – as specified under Sharia law. Unconvinced, music students have destroyed evidence of their musical activities and many have gone into hiding. The Institute of Music is closed and under armed Taliban guard.
Following below are excerpts from two article describing the situation in Kabul and a report on Queensland Conservatorium’s global leadership in providing support.
After Taliban’s takeover, piano and other musical instruments destroyed in Afghanistan
Written By Apoorva Kaul
The Taliban has taken over. The destruction of musical instruments shown in the images below is attributed to the Taliban.
The Taliban has announced the formation of the government in Afghanistan. The Taliban has named Mullah Hasan Akhund as the acting Prime Minister, while the group’s co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar has been appointed as the Deputy Prime Minister.
The pictures were shared by an account that had the name ‘PanjshirProvin1.’ The account no longer exists on Twitter. The pictures that were posted on the now-deleted account featured drums and piano in damaged condition. The pictures shared by the singer Aryan Khan shows his damaged piano and shattered drums. The images posted on social media have revealed the real picture about how the Taliban will place the same harsh rules that they had imposed when they previously ruled the nation. At that time, music was banned and women were not allowed to work or study. The women were permitted to leave the house only when a male relative accompanied them.
Reportedly, musicians have taken their instruments home as they believe that the Taliban will again ban the music as they did 25 years ago. Zabir, who plays the rubab told The Guardian that they were going to face the same problem. Last month, the Taliban had killed a local singer of Andarab. The singer, Fawad Andarabi’s family told The Associated Press that the Taliban shot him for no reason. Furthermore, they informed that the killing incident happened just days after they had searched his home.
Afghanistan’s all-female orchestra falls silent
Reuters carried an article by Parniyan Zemaryalai and John Geddie, reporting from Kabul on the consequences for the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) of the arrival of the Taliban.
They focus on one of the big achievements, Zohra, the 35-member women’s orchestra, whose members were girls drawn from a Kabul orphanage when they were quite young to become ANIM students and provided not only with an education but with accommodation and sustenance. The orchestra became a symbol of change, performing internationally including in Sydney Opera House.
Guilty both of playing music and being educated women, members of Zohra fled or went into hiding after Taliban victory. Fearful of the real intentions of the Taliban, despite its reassurances that women will have rights and that there would be no vendettas, some broke up instruments, burned documents.
‘Today,’ reports the article, ‘armed Taliban guard the shuttered Afghanistan National Institute of Music where the group once practised, while in some parts of the country the movement has ordered radio stations to stop playing music.
‘”We never expected that Afghanistan will be returning to the stone age,” said ANIM’s founder Ahmad Sarmast, adding that Zohra orchestra represented freedom and female empowerment in Afghanistan and its members served as “cultural diplomats”.
‘Sarmast, who was speaking from Australia, told Reuters the Taliban had barred staff from entering the institute. “The girls of Zohra orchestra, and other orchestras and ensembles of the school, are fearful about their life and they are in hiding,” he said.’
The former leader of Zohra, now in hiding, recalls life at ANIM.
“There wasn’t a single day that was a bad day there, because there was always music, it was full of colour and beautiful voices. But now there is silence. Nothing is happening there.”
The Qld Con leads global concert series in support of Afghan musicians
Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University has launched the first in a series of concerts to be held around the world in support of musicians and artists in Afghanistan.
The global concert series, Love Songs for Afghanistan, will connect and unite people from around the world who are sending messages of solidarity, courage, peace and love to those who face renewed threats from the Taliban.
Dr Alexis Kallio, Queensland Conservatorium Deputy Director (Research) Dr Alexis Anja Kallio created the concert series and has spent her career researching the links between music and political oppression.
“Throughout history, music has been a powerful way for people to express who we are but also what kind of society we want to be a part of,” she said.
“This also makes musicians particularly vulnerable to human rights violations during times of conflict and political upheaval.
“There have already been reports from Afghanistan of musicians burning their instruments, not out of fear of their livelihoods, but their lives.”
Dominic Kingsford is completing a PhD in jazz and classical composition at the Queensland Conservatorium and helped organise the concert series.
“That I can return to my house, sleep in my bed, and feel safe knowing that my art is not under attack or that I am a target is a privilege,” he said.
The Afghan Women’s Orchestra “Zohra” from Kabul
“Acknowledging that privilege means I have to stand up for sovereignty, autonomy, democracy and freedom – as I would hope others would do for me.”
The Queensland Conservatorium hosted the first concert on Tuesday 28 September, in support of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music.
The concert has inspired a global series, with the next Love Songs for Afghanistan event to be hosted by the Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo Norway on October 14 before travelling to cities and music institutions in Ireland, the U.S., Canada, Finland and other countries.
The Brisbane concert brought together students, staff, and alumni, with special guest speaker Dr Rita Anwari, founding Director of Women Empowerment and Leadership in Australia and a former international adviser to the Minister of Women Affairs in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
This sold-out event was livestreamed on YouTube.
LATE NEWS. 100 AMIN people escape
Reported in the New York Times on October 4 Australian time. An excerpt.
More than 100 young artists, teachers and their relatives affiliated with the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, a celebrated school that became a target of the Taliban in part for its efforts to promote the education of girls, fled the country on Sunday, the school’s leaders said.
The musicians, many of whom have been trying to leave for more than a month, boarded a flight from Kabul’s main airport and arrived in Doha, the capital of Qatar, around midday Eastern time, according to Ahmad Naser Sarmast, the head of the school, who is currently in Australia. In the coming days, they plan to resettle in Portugal, where the government has agreed to grant them visas.
“It’s already a big step and a very, very big achievement on the way of rescuing Afghan musicians from the cruelty of the Taliban,” Mr. Sarmast, who opened the school in 2010, said in a statement. “You cannot imagine how happy I am.”