9/8/20- Stripped of Music
Today's article of the week is much heavier than what I have shared previously, but it is very important to bring awareness to what has been happening in Australia.
Manus Island is home to at least one of Australia's immigration detention centers where both immigrants and refugees are imprisoned. For the musicians in these camps, it is difficult to find any kind of hope as all of their possessions, including instruments, are confiscated upon arrival. On top of that, the detention centers are government violently and prohibit any form of music making. The article features Farhad Bandesh, a Kurdish musician and refugee who has lived in a camp for seven years and still does not know why he is being held there. When Farhad arrived, he had his guitar with him and despite his pleas, the guards ripped it out of his hands. For him, the guitar was part of who he was, and taking it away was dehumanizing.
Another musician in the detention centers, Moz Azimitabar, was able to record and release songs on his phone as a way of defying the oppression he was experiencing in the camps. The mayor of Preston in Melbourne had even written Moz a letter of support for when he asked immigration officials to let him leave the camp and record his songs in a studio, but Moz was turned away. He says, "Music is a tool for preserving my sense of personhood, it is so I don’t forget that I am a human being. Music is the language with which I can communicate with the Australian people in a deep and meaningful way."
It is heartbreaking to read about the countless musicians that have been stripped of their way of life in these camps and denied access to something as universal as music. These stories truly convey the significance art can have in a person's life and how much meaning a guitar or violin can have.