International Campaign for Afghanistan’s Musicians

Cartoon-style graphic of Afghan musicians in a series of rooms playing instruments with the straplines Music is Food for the Soul and Afghan Music is Under Threat. Copyright Pen Mendonca.

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We 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. ❧ Our Aims

For all enquiries, please email

We are NOT involved in any evacuation or resettlement efforts, and cannot help any Afghan leave the country or find asylum elsewhere.

Open Letter to the Sunday Times

Letter to the Sunday Times, 03 October 2021

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.

For press correspondence: Dr Katherine Butler Schofield

Our deepest thanks to everyone who signed this letter.

Signatories as of 02/10/21

Sir Simon Rattle, Conductor

Dame Evelyn Glennie, Percussionist

Howard Goodall CBE, Composer and Broadcaster

Peter Gabriel, on behalf of Real World Records and WOMAD

Julian Lloyd-Webber OBE, Cellist, Conductor, and Broadcaster

Ian Bostridge CBE, Tenor

Tanita Tikaram, Musician

Nitin Sawhney CBE, DMus, Composer, Producer, Chair of PRS Foundation

Katherine Butler Schofield, Senior Lecturer in South Asian Music and History, King’s College London

Stephen Fry, Actor and Comedian

Rory Stewart OBE, Senior Fellow, Jackson Institute, Yale University

Steven Isserlis CBE, Cellist

Anoushka Shankar, Sitarist

Dame Mitsuko Uchida, Pianist and Conductor

Deeyah Khan, Documentary Film Director and Human Rights Activist

Tom Service, Writer, Music Journalist, and Broadcaster

Jonathan Dimbleby, Writer and Broadcaster

The Kanneh-Mason Family

Dame Hilary Boulding, ex-Director Arts Council England and ex-Principal, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

Sir George Benjamin, Conductor and Composer, Henry Purcell Professor, King’s College London

Zehra Zaidi, Lawyer, Policy Strategist and Human Rights Activist

Dr Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey, Director of Music, St Catharine’s College Oxford

Horace Trubridge, General Secretary, Musicians Union

James Murphy, CEO, Royal Philharmonic Society

Sarah Alexander OBE, Chief Executive and Artistic Director, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain

Cathy Graham OBE

Catherine Arlidge MBE, Artistic Director, National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain

Anne Besford, Chief Executive, National Youth Choirs of Great Britain

Suzi Digby, Lady Eatwell OBE, Choral Conductor, Music Educator and Social Entrepreneur

Roisin McDonough, CEO, Arts Council Northern Ireland

Carol Main MBE, Director, Live Music Now Scotland

Professor John Baily, Director, Afghanistan Music Unit, Goldsmith’s University of London

Professor Jonathan Freeman-Attwood CBE, Principal, Royal Academy of Music

Professor Jonathan Vaughan, Interim Principal, Guildhall School of Music & Drama

John Wallace CBE, Trumpeter and Chair, Glasgow Barons

Professor Katharine Ellis FBA, 1684 Professor of Music, University of Cambridge

Professor Eric Clarke FBA, Heather Professor of Music, University of Oxford

Professor Martin Stokes FBA, King Edward Professor of Music, King’s College London

Professor John Sloboda OBE FBA, Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Simon Broughton, Editor-in-Chief, Songlines Magazine

William Dalrymple, Historian, Founder of Jaipur Literature Festival

Gillian Stern, Writer and Editor

Sandy Burnett, Musician and Broadcaster

Bobby Friction, Broadcaster and Journalist

Juliet Stevenson, Actor

Dame Harriet Walter, Actor

Sara Kestelman, Actor

Charles Hazelwood, Conductor

Alice Farnham, Conductor

Professor Nicholas Daniels OBE, Oboist and Conductor

Jonathan Mayer, Musician

Justin Adams, Musician, Founder Festival of the Desert

Daniel Grimwood, Pianist

Justine Waddell, Producer

Mary Loudon, Author and Producer

Ian Jones FRCM, Pianist and Deputy Head of Keyboard, Royal College of Music

Michelle Stanistreet, General Secretary, National Union of Journalists

Jan Royall, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, Principal, Somerville College Oxford

The Rt Revd Lord Harries of Pentregarth, House of Lords

Stella Creasy MP, MP for Walthamstow

Stephen Farry MP, MP for North Down

Claire Hanna MP, MP for South Belfast

Mike Large, COO of Real World Records

Darren Ferguson, CEO, Beyond Skin (Northern Ireland)

Elaine O’Sullivan, Traditional Arts Partnership, South Armagh

Mark Stephenson, Conductor & Producer. Artistic Director of INTERNAVA – music without borders

Tamara Kohler, Director of Contemporary Music for All (CoMA) Festival

Anne Goldsworthy, WOMAD Foundation

Dr Gordon Munro, Director of Music, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Jamie Munn, Chief Executive, Nevis Ensemble

Jo Cobley, CEO of Young Roots

William Norris, Interim Chief Executive, Scottish Ensemble

Joanna Tomlinson, Principal Conductor, National Youth Choir of Great Britain

Tom Redmond, Joint Principal and Director of Music, Chetham’s School of Music

Paul Hoskins, Director of Music, The Purcell School for Young Musicians

Alastair Tighe, Head Master, Wells Cathedral School

Heather Hanbury, MA Msc, Head Mistress, Lady Eleanor Holles

Sarah Fletcher, High Mistress, St Paul’s Girls’ School

John Lubbock, Artistic Director, Orchestra of St John’s

James Weeks, Composer; Artistic Director, EXAUDI

Jonathan Willcocks, Composer and Conductor

Professor Mark Tatlow, Conductor and Pianist

Ben Parry, Composer and Conductor

Elinor Cooper, Conductor

Gavin Carr, Conductor and Chorus Master

Thomas Kemp, Conductor, Violinist and Artistic Director

Yusuf Ahmed, Musician

Verity Susman, Musician

Christine Martin, Scottish Musician and Publisher

Bridget Walsh, Artist and Band Leader

Pete Yelding, Cellist and Sitarist, PhD Student at Bath Spa University

Chardine Taylor-Stobe, Vice Chair, Equalities Committee, Musicians Union

Ruth Ainly, Head Teacher, Reads School

Simon Ruscoe-Price, Head Master, Abbotsholme

george Budd, Principal, Moreton Hall School

Helen Mountford QC

Clare Bailey MLA, Green Party Leader, Northern Ireland Assembly

Naomi Long MLA, Alliance Party, Northern Ireland Assembly

Andrew Muir MLA, Alliance Party, Northern Ireland Assembly

Paula Bradshaw MLA, Alliance Party, Northern Ireland Assembly

Stewart Dickson MLA, Alliance Party, Northern Ireland Assembly

Kellie Armstrong MLA, Alliance Party, Northern Ireland Assembly

Chris Lyttle MLA, Alliance Party, Northern Ireland Assembly

John Blair MLA, Alliance Party, Northern Ireland Assembly

Ruta Vitkauskaite, Director, CoMA, Glasgow

Scottish-Asian Creative Arts Network

Steven Rajam, Creative Director, Overcoat Media

Peter Cousins, Chairman, Orchestra of St John’s

Sami Cohen, Trustee, Orchestra of St John’s

Nicholas Zekulin, General Manager, Hebrides Ensemble

Mark Stringer, ​​Member of the Senior Executive Team & Director of Music, Wells Cathedral School

Christopher Hann ARAM, Artistic Director, Berkshire County Youth Choirs

Sarah Tenant-Flowers, Choral Director and Trustee of Sing for Pleasure

Caroline Coetzee, Opera Director

Domink Byrne, Head of Impact, Fundsurfer

William Harvey, Professor Emeritus, Afghanistan National Institute of music

Simon Morrish, Trustees of Chordis Caerllion Youth Orchestra

Cormac Newark, Head of Research, Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Nate Holder, International Chair of Music Education, Royal Northern College of Music

Mirwaiss Sidiqi, Director, Aga Khan Music Initiative in Afghanistan

Professor Emeritus John Deathridge, King’s College London

Professor Emeritus Stephen Darlington, University of Oxford

Professor Graham F Welch, Chair of Music Education, University College London, and Chair of the Society for Education, Music and Psychology

Professor Michael Ellison, Head of the Department of Music, University of Bristol

Professor Emerita Laurie Stras, University of Southampton

Professor John Pickard, University of Bristol

Professor Rachel Harris, SOAS University of London

Professor Amanda Bayley, Bath Spa University

Professor Pauline Fairclough, University of Bristol

Professor Laura Tunbridge, University of Oxford

Norman N Gillies, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Shrabani Basu, Author

Professor Sunny Singh, London Metropolitan University

Monisha Rajesh, Author

Philip Pullman, Author

Paul Clammer, Author, Lonely Planet Afghanistan

Kate Morrison, Author

Oliver Craske, Author

Jessie Childs, Author

Bee Rowlatt, Journalist and Writer

Alex von Tunzelmann, Historian

Rebecca Rideal, Historian and Founder, Histfest

Hallie Rubenhold, Author and Historian

Dr Fern Riddell, Historian

Dr Lindsay Fitzharris, Historian

Kate Williams, Historian and Broadcaster

Will Dawes, Director of Chapel Music, Somerville College, Oxford

Miranda Ashe, Director of Music, Lady Eleanor Holles

Kate Clanchy MBE FRSL, Writer

Stephanie Calman, Author

Fabio Geda, Author

Mathew Lyons, Historian

Emily Brand, Historian and Author

Ursula Benz, Violinist and Medical Doctor

Karl Jenkins, Audio Engineer, British Library

Aliki-Anastasia Arkomani, Reference Specialist, British Library

Dr Hannah M Robbins, Assistant Professor of Music, University of Nottingham

Dr Suzanne Aspden, Associate Professor of Music, University of Oxford

Dr Henry Parkes, Associate Professor of Music, University of Nottingham

Dr Samantha Sebastian Dieckmann, Associate Professor of Music, University of Oxford

Dr Justin Williams, Associate Professor of Music, University of Bristol

Dr Radha Kapuria, Department of History, University of Sheffield

Dr Daniel Elphick Department of Music, Royal Holloway University of London

Dr Thomas Hodgson, Lecturer in Music, University of Oxford

Dr Teresa Degenhardt, Queen’s University Belfast

Dr Amy Blier-Carruthers, King’s College London and Royal Academy of Music

Dr Matthew Machin-Autenrieth, Lecturer in Music, University of Aberdeen

Dr Richard David Williams, Lecturer in Music and South Asian Studies, SOAS University of London

Dr Toby Young, Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Dr Emily Doolittle, Research Fellow and Lecturer in Composition, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Dr Giles Masters, Research Fellow in Music, University of Nottingham

Dr Frances Wilkins, Senior Lecturer in Music, University of Aberdeen

Dr Amy Fuller, Senior Lecturer in History, NTU

Dr Caroline Dodds Pennock, Senior Lecturer in International History, University of Sheffield

Dr Georgie Pope, SOAS University of London

Markus Schlaffke, Bauhaus University Weimar

Caroline Grint, Music Teacher, Queen Elizabeth’s school, Barnet

Kathryn Parry, Musician and Violin Teacher

Joville Barker, Percussionist

Rebecca Romani, Writer and Documentary Film Maker

Sophie Hay, Historian

Reza Bayad, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

April Wu, University of Oxford

Kit Ashton, Doctoral Candidate in Music, Goldsmith’s University of London

Elizabeth Cullinane, Doctoral Candidate in Music, Universisty of Oxford

Jim Hickson, Music Journalist and Ethnomusicologist

Mallika Bhagwat, Doctoral Candidate in Music, King’s College London

Harry Matthews, Doctoral Candidate in Music

Budhaditya Bhattacharya, Musician and Doctoral Candidate in Music, University of Durham

Jesse Barrett, Musician

Maya Kashif, Musician

Graihagh Cordwell, Doctoral Candidate in Music, University of Oxford

Ankna A, Doctoral Candidate in Music, Royal Holloway University of London

Arka Chakraborty, Doctoral Candidate in Music, SOAS University of London

Merel Dubois-van Slageren, Doctoral Candidate in Music, King’s College London

Kanav Gupta, Doctoral Candidate in Music, King’s College London

Joshua Balance, Doctoral Candidate in Music, University of Oxford

Lara Poe, Composer and Doctoral Candidate in Music, King’s College London

Michele Smith, Bursar, Oxford Union

Fielding Hope, Café OTO, Counterflows

Chris Gunness, Director, Myanmar Accountability Project

Kerry Anderson, Operations Manager, Beyond Skin

Kira Topalian, Beyond Skin

Esma Perkins, Music Therapist

Kathryn Kashif, Therapeutic Counsellor

Antonio Spiller, Violinist

Noam Zur, Conductor

Daniel Blech, Orchestral Musician

Andreus Spiller, Musician

Maria Elina Mayorga, Choral Conductor

Gabriel Spiller, Independent Musician

Christine Patterson, Teacher

Jasdeep Singh Degun, Musician

Julio Dubini, Musician

Thomas Kanitz, Cellist and Conductor

Gabriel Pinette, Musician

Lucas Rubion Lillo, Saxophone Teacher, Universidad Nacional de San Juan

Jan Roquas Alsina, Violinist, National Sympohny Orhcestra Argenitina

Ana Dumocertier, Storyteller

Shukria Rezaei

Pablo Glikman

Ariel GHregorio Gonzalez Bautista

Pablo Spiller

Alejandro Schaikis

Amada Dal

Angeline Adams

Chandan Mahal

David Chu

Dr Paul Harron

Ellie Slorach

Freya Parry

Gillian Holdings

Lucia Nixon

Maria del Mar Umbert Kimura

Maurice Macartney

Melanie Delaroche Curtil

Pippa Barnwell

Susannah Herbert

Jamie Floyde

Fionna Smyth

Roberto Rutkauskan

Raquel Diox

Margarita Pfanzelt

Mario Benzecry



Additional Signatories

To sign, please email

Dawn Wylie

Annabel Stevens, Musician

Fergal O’Brien, Traditional Arts Partnership, South Armagh

Amada Benavides

Ethan Thiele, musician

Neville Atkinson, musician (Punishment of Luxury)

Additional Signatories:

To sign please email:

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