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Ash Koosha Shares Statement Opposing "Unjust" Travel Ban

"No one chooses to be exiled and no one chooses to be born in one place or another."

by Alexander Iadarola
Jan 30 2017, 5:25pm

Photo by Ozge Cone

London-based experimentalist Ash Koosha today shared an impassioned statement in response to President Trump's new immigration ban. Koosha won't be able to tour in the US because of the ban, and he calls the executive order signed Friday a threat to global progress.

Koosha relays events from his own experiences as a refugee in the letter, including descriptions of the painful journey from his birthplace of Iran to the UK taken in order to freely pursue making art, losing friends in the aftermath of exile, and having to cancel his first US tour because of "administrative processing" problems with his visa.

He also says that the future of humanity can only be great if it involves contributions from people of all nationalities, and that the executive order will "prove ineffective in its supposed goal of defying terrorism." Read the statement in full below, conveyed via his label Ninja Tune.

I grew up in post-revolution Iran, an environment full of conflict between revolutionary values, global progress and social freedom. This conflict was reflected daily in my own life. I was discouraged from learning music and practicing any creative expression that was at odds with 1979 revolutionary values.

I was jailed for organizing and performing a concert in Iran. Later I was accused of promoting Western values and in turn revealing the extent of Iran's censorship and ban on many forms of contemporary arts. Consequently, I found myself, my family, and friends in exile, both in Europe and the USA. This was a sad drain of creative minds, and youthful energy from a country that desperately needed its younger generation.

We suffered through anxiety, distress, and a crisis of identity while in exile. We even lost friends to death in the aftermath of this transition. We became refugees; not celebrated artists.

In a newfound freedom in the UK, after a battle with these newly imposed dilemmas, I was able to speak out via music, sound, and technology. I released an album that celebrated the future and explored technological ideas that could push our experiences of sound forward. I was able to see beyond my geography and contribute to what it is to be 'human.' Be it music, film, exploring the future of humanity and tackling issues such as Universal Basic Income, climate change, and more.

I was about to travel to the USA last summer for the first time. It was time for me to see a great country that contributed to art and technology for generations and stood for progress, peace, and freedom. Even though I spent a lot of money to start a petition in order gain entry (which was accepted) I still didn't receive my visa on time. So my first tour in the US was canceled due to 'Administrative Processing.' All of my ambitions, contributions, and efforts were reduced to bureaucratic paperwork that left me feeling betrayed and burdened because of my 'place of birth.'

No one chooses to be exiled and no one chooses to be born in one place or another and it is in no one's interest to ban global progress, something that many people from different nationalities are contributing to daily and they are doing it all for the future of humanity. The global progress, unfortunately is being threatened by executive orders of Donald Trump in an unjust entry ban on refugees. A ban that also affects scholars, students, family members, artists and the mere tourists with no intention of settling in the USA.

This executive order will prove ineffective in its supposed goal of defying terrorism. It is the outcome of petty political pandering to the detriment of thousands. Personally, I won't be able to go on my USA tours, share my discoveries in sound and music, or promote the first VR album experience in the biggest market in the world. More importantly, refugees won't find safety, families wont be reunited, academics wont be able to continue their research, and people are stranded in a limbo of unknown future.

Donald Trump came to power claiming that he'll make America great again. But this seems impossible without the contribution from many many people of whom I am only one.

Over the weekend, electronic musicians including Deadmau5, The Black Madonna, and Scuba spoke out against Trump's executive order. Grimes and Sia have also pledged to match donations to organizations fighting the ban.

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