Refugees in Portugal, young Afghan musicians break Taliban-imposed silence
“Here we can save our music”, Ramiz, a young Afghan musician, is welcomed in the north of Portugal along with many of his colleagues from the National School of Music, who fled their country in 2021 after the Taliban seized power Were.
“Our hope is to one day be able to return to Afghanistan and show that our music is not dead,” the 19-year-old told AFP. studded with pearls.
Ramiz is one of 58 students aged 13 to 21 at the National Institute of Music (ANIM) of Afghanistan, based in the Portuguese cities of Braga and Guimarães.
Along with their peers, several teachers and part of their families, they were among 273 refugees who arrived by plane in Lisbon on December 13, 2021, after leaving Afghanistan for fear of retribution from the Taliban, who banned non-religious music Had given.
“When the Taliban arrived at the gates of Kabul, it was clear that we had to leave,” recalls Ahmed Sarmast, director of Anime, who did everything he could to evacuate students and staff in an emergency.
“Afghans are denied all access to music: the right to listen to music, the right to learn music, the right to play music”, laments this 61-year-old man, who lost part of his hearing in a Taliban attack in 2014.
– An act of resistance –
“Today, Afghanistan is a nation shrouded in silence”, the victim of “a cultural and musical genocide”, adds this expert on Afghan music who has taken it upon himself to protect his country’s musical heritage and revive the school in Portugal. have made it their mission to Established in 2010.
While waiting to find a place where he can be reborn, his students are welcomed into Braga’s Conservatory of Music, where they continue to play music, as if they are performing an act of resistance.
“Every show at our school is a way of protesting what is happening in Afghanistan,” observes “Dr. Sarmast,” as his students call him, who in early March performed the famous Japanese-American violin concerto. Had performed in a concert with Maestro Midori. go for
“It’s great to be here because we are all together”, testifies 19-year-old percussionist Shogufa, who has shared a three-room apartment with another student in the conservatory’s neighborhood since the beginning of the year.
Thousands of kilometers from Kabul, Shogufa tries to take advantage of the freedom this new life in Portugal has brought. In her spare time, this Beethoven fan enjoys composing music, cooking, going out for burgers or working out with her classmates at the neighborhood gym.
– “Continue our studies” –
While women are not allowed to study in Afghanistan, in Portugal “we are lucky to go to school every day” to “continue our studies”, underlines the dark-haired young woman, still images of musical instruments Her music school in Kabul has been destroyed and burned by the Taliban.
Rameez, a rubab player, is also grateful to be able to pursue his passion, but his eyes darken when he talks about his family.
“I talk to my mom every day! She needs to hear my voice every night before she goes to sleep,” testifies the young man whose father and two brothers are also musicians.
He hopes to be able to join them in Portugal soon as their life in Afghanistan has become “too dangerous”.
Shogufa also says she is “very worried” for her parents and her six brothers and sisters who live in a small village and whose daily life is reduced to “living at home … without plans for the future”. Boils.
However, “being a refugee abroad is very difficult”, having arrived in Braga after spending more than seven months in a former military hospital in Lisbon, which continues after living under a sign of uncertainty.
She says, “My big dream is to go back to Afghanistan one day. I’m sure things will work out … and the Taliban won’t be in power forever.”