Protecting the Lives of Music Creators Throughout the World
August 7, 2020. NEW YORK CITY. The member organizations of the National Music Council of the United States, an alliance representing over a million music professionals and supporters across the United States, wish to express both their grief and their continuing deep concern over the murder last month of celebrated Ethiopian singer-songwriter Hachalu Hundessa. Tragically, hundreds more Ethiopians have been killed or injured in the violent protest events that followed the murder. The National Music Council appreciates that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has offered condolences, and assurances that a vigorous investigation is ongoing. Our hope is that this effort will be carried out transparently, providing foreign embassies the opportunity to closely monitor developments.
Through his music, Hundassa was an outspoken critic of the unequal treatment of Ethiopia’s ethnic Oromo minority, of which both he and the Prime Minister were and are members. And like other artists and songwriters before him, including revered Chilean folk singer and composer Victor Jara who was murdered by the Pinochet Junta a half-century ago, there is a distinct possibility that Hundassa was targeted because of his political influence as a music creator. We are optimistic that a thorough, independent investigation will uncover the reasons for this brutal crime, and that constructive suggestions for how bloodshed can be avoided in the future will be acted upon.
Political violence against singers, writers, journalists and other creators is on the rise in general throughout the world. The National Music Council joins the rest of the global community of music creators in condemning and demanding an immediate end to this viciously, anti-democratic trend, and will be petitioning governments to take immediate action in pursuit of that goal on an international basis.
The National Music Council and International Music Council also join the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed (2013) in the following statement: “All persons enjoy the right to freedom of artistic expressions and creativity…as well as the right of artists to dissent, to use political, religious and economic symbols as a counter-discourse to dominant powers, and to express their own belief and world vision.”