Tags / Yazidis
One of the buildings of Idomeni train station, in Greece, where some refugees have set up temporary homes while waiting to continue their travel to other European countries.
Thousands of refugees in Idomeni set their tents on railway tracks on the border with Macedonia where they have been for more than two months.
Yazidis families cook food on an outdoor fire at the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece..
Refugees sell food and other items at the side of the entrance road to the camp in Idomeni, Greece.
Yazidis are a religious group of about half a million people native to the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh. They share the same language and much of the culture of the Kurds of Turkey and Syria. As adherents of pre-Islamic Gnostic teachings they have been subjected to years of strong repression. In the last two years they have been one of the main targets of ethnic cleansing by ISIS militiamen, along with Christians and Shiites. In early August 2014 thousands of Yazidis fled towards the mountains of Sinjar as ISIS launched an offensive in northern Iraq. ISIS forces massacred over 5000 Yazidi men and kidnapped thousands of women who were sold into slavery in Mosul and Raqqa, Syria. Those who survived the attacks were trapped on the mountains of Sinjar without food, water or medical care, facing starvation, dehydration and the risk of further attacks by ISIS for several weeks. Fortunately PKK and YPG Kurdish forces opened a corridor from the mountains to Rojava ( Northern Syria, led by kurdish forces ) allowing them to flee to safety. Thousands of Yazidis took refuge in Rojava or in Kurdish areas in Turkey. Like the many refugees fleeing war zones, thousands of Yazidis try to escape to safer zones in Europe, where their tragedy continues. Stopped at the gates of Europe, they end up in refugee camps like the notorious Idomeni, between Greece and Macedonia. Here in makeshift tents on the Skopje railway line they are surrounded by waste, toxic fumes and mud. There are still over 1200 Yazidis who have been stuck for over a month waiting for the reopening of the border, closed at the beginning of March by Macedonian authorities with the silent approval of Europe; the same Europe that at the time of Yazidi's flight to the Sinjar mountains was crying for them, and which now closes its eyes to them.
Looking out from inside a tent of a refugee on the Yazidi majority side of the Idomeni camp.
A Yazidi woman washes dishes outdoors. Behind her a large tent where more than 10 people live.
A Yazidi man with his grandson in front of the tent where they have been living for more than one months.
An elder Yazidi woman in the refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece.
A Yazidi girl and her younger brother near the tent where they live in Idomeni, Greece.
A Greek police helicopter flies over the refugee camp on a spring afternoon in Idomeni, Greece.
Yazidi refugees try to fix an outdoor lamp in a dark area of the camp in Idomeni, Greece.
Yazidi families gather around the glowing embers of a campfire for warmth on a cold night in Idomeni, Greece.
Salim, a young Yazidi refugee who has been living alone in the Idomeni camp, in Greece, for more than a month.
A night view of a part of the refugee camp near the Idomeni train station in Greece.
A Yazidi man shaves in the early morning between hanging lines of clothing in a refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece.
Refugees in the camp in Idomeni, Greece, hang clothes to dry on the fence built by Macedonia's authorities along all the border with Greece in order to stop the flow of refugees into the country.
Yazidis fill bottles with drinking water on a very hot day at the refugee camp at Idomeni, Greece.
Yazidi refugees gather in a tent for a meal at the Idomeni camp in Greece.
A long line of refugees waiting for the daily delivery of supplies by NGOs that are active in the refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece.
A Yazidi boy has his hair cut by a barber in the refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece. Behind them, an 84 year old woman sits by the tent where she lives alone in the camp.
A Yazidi man sleeps on a cot inside a tent belonging to Doctors Without Borders. The majority of people in the Idomeni camp are Kurds.
A Yazidi man fixes another refugee's necklace inside the large tent where they have been living for more than a month in the camp in Idomeni, Greece.
A Yazidi man shows the picture of his 4 year-old son who was killed by ISIS militamen in 2014 in Şinjar, in northern Iraq.
A rainy night at the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece where hundreds of Yazidi Kurds have been taking shelter for more than a month.
A banner denouncing the EU-Turkey agreement on refugees hangs outside a meeting tent on a rainy night at the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece.
Kurdish Yezidi refugees in the Sharya camp near Dohuk in Iraqi Kurdistan took part in protest against the continued detention of their community members by ISIS. The protest was part of a campaign launched by the Yezidi Lalesh Cultural Center and other organizations. These protests coincided with the Yezidi New Year, also known as "Holy Wednesday", which is celebrated on the first Wednesday of April. Thousands of colored balloons carrying written heart-felt messages were released during the sit-in. The refugees wrote “My wish is to celebrate the holiday with my mother,” and “Our holiday is your return” among other slogans.
April 08 2015
More than 216 Yezidi Kurds held by ISIS were released on Wednesday, April 8 in the area of Nahrawan, some 25 km to the south of Kirkuk. Freed detainees were transported by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. Video includes interviewees with released hostages who describe the situation during their captivity.
Forensics and legal personnel inspect a mass grave of bodies, allegedly Yazidis killed by ISIS, in the area of Nineveh, Iraq, on February 8, 2015. They are working in coordination with international human rights organizations (such as ICMP and the UN) with the aim of documenting and proving that the radical group, known as ISIS, is guilty of committing genocide.
January 27, 2015
Kurdish fighters from Iraq, Syria and Turkey have joined forces to recapture the town of Sinjar in north eastern Iraq.
Forces of the extremist Islamic group ISIS took control of Sinjar, also known as Shingal, in the summer of 2014, killing and kidnapping hundreds of Kurdish Yezidi civilians, including women, and forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes.
Fighters from the Kurdistan People’s worker Party (PKK) based in Turkey, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Syria, and the Shingal Protection Units and the Peshmerga from Iraq have united to fight to regain the town.
Joint Kurdish forces, with air cover from international coalition forces, have regained several parts of the Sinjar area.
This video shows fighters from different Kurdish militias in the towns of Snuny and Sinjar. It also features Peshmerga forces transporting aid to internally displaced Yezidi Kurds on Mount Sinjar.
The footage also shows PKK and YPG fighters entering Iraq through border crossings that have recently been open, as well as interviews with militia commanders.
Shotlist and Transcript
R-L pan of male fighters
L-R pan of male and female fighters
Various/ traveling of military convoy
Wide of children waving YPG flag
Various of convoy entering Iraqi Kurdistan
Various of fighters in military position
Traveling of convoy on the road
Traveling of convoy passing by checkpoint
Traveling of convoy at night
Various/ traveling of streets
Wide of military trucks
SOUNDBITE (Kurdish, Man) Brusek Raha, PKK fighter
03:25 – 08:18
“My name is Brusek Raha. I went to Kobani, where I fought alongside my Kurdish brothers against for more than a month. I fought inside the city [of Kobani] and surrounding villages.
ISIS attacked the city [Kobani] and its surrounding villages with heavy and internationally banned weapons. They bombed the city with mortar shells. They conducted suicide attacks, blowing themselves among us. Most of them were not from the area. They were foreigners, from Chechenia, Afghanistan and many other countries. They did not speak Arabic. We did not have heavy weapons, but we had a strong will and determination to carry on with the resistance.
They attacked us with suicide bombings. They were plenty of them. For example, when we were in the villages, they attacked by the dozens, carrying out suicide operations. In the city, the attack was more ferocious, using tanks and various heavy weapons, especially at the eastern front. On the other hand, there was great resistance from the side of our forces, which shook the entire world. Female comrade Arin Mirkan, who blew herself up against ISIS, was a real heroine.
Some of them spoke Arabic. We used to hear over the walkie-talkies. They were experienced in using weapons and sniper rifles. Most of them were from Chechnya and other countries of Europe, as well as Russia.
I was injured on the eastern front of Kobani, near the Hajj Rasho Mosque, when I wanted to help my injured comrades following an attack by ISIS. The sniper was watching me from the top of a building. I was not afraid of becoming a martyr and I was able to rescue one of our comrades. I was taken to a field hospital. We fought for our honor, dignity and land, and we shall carry on our fight to bring life back to Kobani and the Kurdish people. Turkey and the Freedom and Justice Party kept saying that Kobani will fall, but their dream did not come true. Kobani did not fall; it was victorious since the beginning.
and I had to return. Now, I will take part in the campaign to liberate Shingal from ISIS.
We will defend the Kurdish Yezidi people who have suffered so much at the hands of ISIS. Their women were enslaved and sold in the markets of Raqqa, Mosul and elsewhere.
Our mission as fighter of the Kurdish People Protection Forces, which are part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, is to defend the Kurdish people in the four parts of Kurdistan and all the people in the region who are victim of injustice. We shall push ISIS out of our land and not allow them to return.”
Wide of warplane in the sky
L-R pan of military vehicles and fighters
SOUNDBITE (Kurdish, Woman) Comrade Pervin, a commander in the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ)
08:36 – 12:18
“All of Kurdistan is under attack from this terrorist organisation. Its attacks are especially directed against women and women’s rights. On the other hand, there is a struggle for freedom and justice.
This happened in Shingal, where ISIS assaulted women. It enslaved and sold them in the markets. Our job is to protect women, which is why we are now here, in Shingal. We shall defend Kurdish women as well as all the women in the region from the oppression practiced by ISIS.
We will no longer accept that women be commodity that is sold and bought and raped.
So far, we have sacrificed so many martyrs to accomplish this, as part of our campaign that has been going on for seven months in the Shingal area and the surrounding countryside.
Among our martyrs were Comrade Gian, Comrade Armanj, Comrade Rouny, and a commander in our forces comrade Gian. There have been more than 50 female martyrs. As a result of our comrades’ sacrifices, the city of Shingal has been liberated. The resistance is guided by the ideology of leader [Abdullah] Ocalan and the path of the martyrs. It shal continue despite everything, no matter how strong ISIS is and weak we are.
To obtain liberty for the people, we must take path of resistance and martyrs. Then, we shall surely achieve victory.
Now, everybody knows well who Kurdish women and female fighters are. Here in Shingal we have liberated many towns and made ISIS suffer a lot of losses that they will not forget, especially that were brought upon tem by us, Kurdish women. We shall carry on until the liberation of all our areas from these terrorists.
Currently, fighters from the PKK –Turkey and female fighters from the Kurdistan Women’s Party – Turkey, as well as fighters from Shingal Protection Forces from Iraq, the Kurdish Women, the Kurdish Women’s Protection are taking part in the battles.”
Various of destroyed buildings
SOUNDBITE (Kurdish, Man) Unnamed fighter from the YPG (Syria)
12:33 – 13:10
“ISIS fighters wanted to blow up a rigged vehicle here but we were able to detonate it before it reached us. They are trying hard to reach us, but they cannot because we are resisting them very ferociously. We killed so many of them. We are Kurdish resistance factions from Syria, Turkey and Iraq. We are all here on the frontline, fighting this group courageously. We shall liberate Shingal from these terrorists and resist till the last drop of our blood.”
Various of snipers shooting
Various of destroyed buildings. NAT Sound: Gunshots.
Various of military convoy
Wide of military officials, reporters walking at refugee camp on Mount Sinjar
L-R pan/ wide of Peshmerga landing on Mount Sinjar
Traveling of refugee tents
January 26, 2015
More than 11,000 refugees live in miserable conditions in the Nowruz Camp in the outskirts of the Kurdish-majority city of Derik, also known as Malikia. This camp, set up more than a year ago, is run by the autonomous administration affiliated with the Democratic Union Party, known by the Kurdish acronym PYD.
Most Nowruz camp residents are Yezidi Kurds who fled the Shengal area in Iraq following an onslaught by ISIS. Other refugees are Arabs and Kurds who fled embattled areas in Syria.
This video includes interviews with Kurdish and Arab refugees as well as a camp administrator. Refugees complained of the lack adequate aid and the cold weather.
Various of tents
Various of children filling water from tank
Various of children
Various of tents and cooking utensils
Various of children standing in the mud
Various of refugee woman preparing food
Various of Sheikh Kkodr, camp administrator, talking to refugees
1 SOUNDBITE (Kurdish, Young Boy), Unnamed Camp Resident
There is a lot of rain and we do not have kerosene to light the heaters. The heaters do not work. We demand urgent aid and that the roads inside the camp be covered with asphalt.
2 SOUNDBITE (Kurdish, Man) Unnamed Yezidi Refugee
We faced storms and a harsh cold during this period. We did not have heaters or kerosene. Our tents were leaking. Our situation was very miserable. We want Shingal to be liberated so that this tragedy ends and we would be able to go back home.
3 SOUNDBITE (Kurdish, Woman) Badia Khudr, Yezidi Refugee from Shingal, Iraq
We fled Shingal when ISIS arrived. We walked for several days, feeling hungry and thirsty, until we reached Mount Sinjar. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units moved us from the mountain to Rojava [Syrian part of Kurdistan]. We pray for them because they saved us from death. ISIS kidnapped many of our women and young men. Now, at the camp, we are suffering from the harsh cold. Our children are cold and falling sick. Our tents are flooded with water. ISIS kidnapped many of my relatives. There are no toilets, gas, kerosene or milk for children. Rojava has weak capacities, but we are thankful for the help they are providing.
At the camp, there are Arab refugees from Syria and Iraq. There are also Muslims and Yezidis. We all have good relations with each other. We visit, help and lend each other what we need. We hope that ISIS would be gone so that we return to our homes.
4 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Ahmad Saadoun, Refugee from Aleppo
Q: What is your situation?
Our situation? We are doing fine.
We fled because of the war. We have been in Noroz camp for about eight months. We are receiving aid, but they are not enough. Heating is not good. These heaters do not provide enough warmth.
5 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Sheikh Khodr, an administrator of the camp
“The terrorist onslaught by ISIS inflicted the people of Sinjar, especially the Yezidis. We did not see any humanitarian aid. The Iraqi government should carry out its duties. The state, government and parliament should fulfil their duties. It should be a state with functioning institutions.
December 24, 2014
Yazidis from the area of Sounoun return to their homes after being trapped on Mount Sinjar since the beginning of August 2014. The Peshmerga has liberated much of the area, home to around 140,000 Yazidis, and are patrolling the area to protect the civilians.
Khodida Elias - Yazidi man
A Peshmerga fighter
Ahmad Fares - Yazidi man
Salem Kheder - Yazidi man
December 21 2014
Khansaa Shamdeen Ali is a is a young Syrian Kurdish surgical nurse who became a refugee in Iraqi Kurdistan. Hearing of the desperate plight of Iraqi Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar under siege by Islamic State forces she volunteered to provide medical help to the Yazidis. Khansaa was transported to the mountain by military helicopter where she remained for three months tending to the medical needs of the hundreds of people unable to leave the area and Peshmerga fighters who were defending the mountain..
During this time she built a strong bond with the Yazidis and the Peshmergas. Khansaa says she does not want anything in return for work and she is just happy to have been able to help.
Khnassa assures that she does not want anything in return of her favors and she is just happy to serve the refugees.
Interviewer: All the medications are available with you?
Khansaa: yes of course, Dr. Nizar is doing the best he can to provide all the medications.
My name is Khansaa Shamdeen Ali, from Syrian Kurdistan, Derek area in Al-Hasakeh province. I have been here for three months, I treat the Yazidis and the Peshmerga fighters. Sometimes i get 400 patients per day, I have a very good relationship with them, and with the Yazidis.
I am also a refugee, my family is residing in Dar Shokran. When i heard about the situation, i immediately came to the health directory of Dohuk and spoke with Dr. Nizar, and I asked him to allow me to help the Yazidi refugees, so he said that they support me and they are willing to help me with whatever I need, I told them that I want nothing but to help people. Dr. Nizar helped me with everything, I stayed in Khaneqi for a month and after that i came here to the mountain, i have been in the mountain for three months now. I volunteered here to serve my country and help the Kurds. We receive all types of medications, even the medication required for surgical procedures.
Yesterday we received 12-13 people who were injured on the front and we treated them.
Interviewer: Do you do surgeries here?
Khansaa: yes we do, then we transfer them to Dohuk.
Yes Of course i have a degree, without my degree i cannot serve them. I have a degree from the health institution, Surgery section.
Once there was a strong conflict between ISIS and the Peshmerga fighters, and ISIS came close to the mountain, and there were many injuries, some of them were abdominal and shoulder injuries, i treated them and they stayed here with me for four days then were transferred to Dohuk and now they are fine.
This is the weapon of Fadel al-Mirani, He gave it to me as a present because I served the Yazidis. They said that they are very proud of me to be here in this situation, in the cold and the starvation and in a place where there i no bathrooms or toilets. I count myself as one of the Peshmerga, so he gave me this present because i served the Yazidis.
Some of the births that happened here, they gave two of the girls my name, and i personally named two boys, and i gave three girls my sister's name and two girls, I gave them my niece's name.
October 27, 2014
Hundreds of Yazidis attended the funeral of Kheri Murad Sheikh Khedr, who was killed on the evening of Wednesday 22nd of October in Sukeniya, an area in the Sinjar Mountains. Sheikh Khedr was killed by a mortar in clashes between ISIS and Yazidis on the Sinjar Mountain. Hundreds of mourners gathered in the Lalesh Temple where they wrapped Sheikh Khedr’s coffin in a Kurdish flag and carried it to the temple’s graveyard to be buried. Khedr is the first person that is not affiliated to the temple to be buried in its grounds. The funeral was led by high profile government and religious figures and attended by a large number of Yazidis. The flute and the tambourine that are being played at the graveside are part of a Yazidi religious ritual performed at funerals.
Full 20 minutes of Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar available: www.transterramedia.com/media/49075
(00:00-00:40) Yazidi (woman, Kurdish): “To the person who has served the Yazidis religion faithfully and to who has defended the innocent, your bravery will always remain with us.”
(00:39-00:50) The man wearing a black suit, standing in the middle, is Saeed Shenkali a Kurdish Party Official. The man wearing white on the left is Baba Jawich, the head cleric of the Lalesh Temple
(03:29-03:31) The man kneeling on the grave, (man, Kurdish): “This is a hero, a martyr, who died in the Sukeniya area in Sinjar. He sacrificed his life to serve his people and he fought the ISIS terrorists. He remained in his position and did not retreat and so generations will tell tales of his glory.”
October 21, 2014
Yazidi refugee Saido was able to save his family from certain death at the hands of ISIS by fleeing Sinjar and taking them to Khaneq refugee camp in Dohuk, Iraqi Kurdistan. However it was here in supposed safety that tragedy struck. When Saido and his wife left his brother’s tent, where they had been spending the evening, they saw their own tent on fire. By the time they got close enough there was nothing they could do but watch as their children burned to death. His three children Sima, Saman, Sebar, aged 4, 7, and 2 respectively, perished in the accidental tent fire caused by a burning candle. The bereaved father is left with just two children, one of whom is partially paralyzed and suffers from epilepsy.
Zahra, mother (Woman, Kurdish):
(00:56) "Sima was as old as this one [she points at a child] and Saman was as old as this one. This child is 10 months older than Sebar. I wish I died instead of them." (01:20)
Seido Shenkali, father (Man, Arabic):
(02:45) Our children were sleeping here [the same position in the other tent] with my mother and father sitting next to them. Then my wife suggested that we all go to my neighbor's tent, so we went and we left them sleeping in the tent right in front of where we were. After a while, my wife told me that we should return to the tent because it was windy and raining and the children were sleeping. So I left my neighbor's tent and walked out to find the children's tent on fire and I started screaming. I had three children, Saman, Sima, and Sebar, when we went to save them they were dead." (03:59)
(04:04) "I ask for any person who is able to help me, to do so. I do not have anything anymore. My children died, all I have left is this child who is sick and epileptic. I ask for all the officials to see my situation. I only have this boy and this girl. The boy is sick, his medications are very expensive, and i cannot get them from any governmental institution." (04:42)
(04:46) "I tried to save them from ISIS, it is all because of them. I tried to save them and brought them here, but they burned to death." (04:42)
Khedr Shenkali, uncle, (Man, Arabic):
(05:21) "There was a lit candle, and their parents were in the other tent, the tent burnt and they died." (05:38)
This collection of pictures shows the Kurdish Peshmerga forces' readiness to combat ISIS forces. The capture of Mosul by ISIS was a political game-changer in Iraq. Initially, ISIS’ strategy seemed to consist of taking control of Iraq's Sunni regions and scourge and oppress the Shia population. Kurds optimistically believed that this was solely a conflict between ISIS and the Shias and so adopted a defensive strategy across their region. However, due to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s anti-Sunni policies and the dissatisfaction of the Iraqi Army, ISIS quickly expanded its control, taking over vast territories in northern Iraq and the Kurdistan area. ISIS took over the Kurdish Yazidi town of Shangal, forcing the Peshmerga to retreat. Yazidis escaped to the nearby mount Sinjar, which they consider a holy site, but were surrounded by ISIS militants. It was at this point that the Syrian People's Defense Forces (YPG) militias and the Peshmerga launched an effective attack against that was aided by US airstrikes. These forces managed to drive the militants back, securing a safe passage for tens of thousands of Yazidis.
Despite these efforts, ISIS continued to threaten more Kurdish territories, taking control over Makhmour and putting Iraqi Kurdistan's capital Erbil at risk. The PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) and US Air Force launched another attack, forcing ISIS to retreat from many Kurdish areas, including Makhmour. It became obvious that ISIS was not only targeting the Iraqi Shias but also posed a large threat to Iraqi and Syrian Kurds. Therefore a new tactical coalition between these parties became vital. Iraqi Kurdistan became seriously involved in a war which, two months earlier, was not likely. In some respects it has benefitted Kurds, allowing them to extend the borders of their autonomous region and claim control over the disputed city of Kirkuk. On the other hand, ISIS' quest to impose an Islamic state could spell great danger for the Kurds and the region as a whole.
September 29, 2014
Sinjar Mountains, Iraq
Twenty-nine-year-old Safin managed to sneak into the Sinjar mountain in late September in hopes of finding his childhood friend Ali. The two friends have not had any contact since they both fled from ISIS at the beginning of August, 2014. Thousands of Yazidi families where displaced when ISIS attacked their hometowns in Sinjar.
Safin has not been able to locate his friend Ali, but he has been reunited with many of his people. Over 1,500 Yazidi families are still hiding in the mountains since fleeing the ISIS attacks.
Safin had heard many tragic stories about Yazidis dying on the mountains from starvation and thirst. Now he was seeing it with his own eyes and documenting it through his lens. He found dozens of bodies. and was able to identify some of them though ID cards and photos.
In this video he shows how people were still struggling to provide food and water. Some children collect cattle dung for fires.
Safin met fighters from the “Sinjar Protection Brigade“, a Yazidi militia which escorted refugees into Syria then returned with weapons, provided by Syrian Kurdish fighters, to defend the remaining Yazidi families stranded on Sinjar mountains.
The Sinjar mountains are still surrounded by ISIS forces. The Sinjar Protection Brigade has fought off continued attacks by ISIS, the most recent on October 21st.
During the days of terror on Mount Sinjar, about 200 women were kidnapped by the militias of the Islamic State to be converted to Islam and sold in the occupied cities of Mosul and Tal Afar. This barbarism is not new to the chronicles of war.
The Islamic State's attack on Mount Sinjar led to the exodus of about 500,000 people, mostly from the Christian, Yazidi and Shabak minorities. These refugees, currently under the protection of the Kurdish militias, are living in the streets, under bridges or in abandoned places in Erbil and surrounding villages. Many of those who manage to escape the conflict have suffered losses in their family that effect them not only economically, but mentally and emotionally. Depression and anxiety in addition to insecurity are a constant challenge.
The UNHCR anticipated there to be over 900,000 internally displaced people in Iraq by the end of 2014. With the rise of ISIS, that number has been more than tripled, with 2.9 million displaced according to International Displacement Monitoring Center. The situation of internally displaced women, not only in Iraq but in conflict zones around the world, is especially precarious as the breakdown in social structures is a risk factor for gender-based violence. In their planning document for 2014, the UNHCR says it is ramping up its efforts to protect refugee and internally displaced women. However, agencies like the UNHCR as well as local associations can only care for and provide aid to so many displaced people, leaving others to fend for themselves.
The condition of the women and children displaced in Iraq is tragic: not only from a material point of view, but also from a psychological and ethical perspective. While talking with them, the elderly were crying because they don't see a future for their land, culture or traditions and were continuously asking, "What did we do wrong to deserve to be killed?" The women were mostly passive, trapped between emotions, tears, the inability to react, “deafened by pain and suffering.” They seemed to understand that as time passes by, the hope of returning to a normal and fair life fades away.
September 6, 2014
A Yazidi tailor has established a sewing workshop for traditional handmade clothes for Yazidi women. In their escape from marauding ISIS fighters, many women tore their clothes. Since the traditional Yazidi dress is not available in shops or the market, the workshop was established to enable women to preserve their cultural identity. The outfit has a special traditional and religious value, representing peace and purity.
SOUNDBITE1: Hadeya, Seamstress (woman, Kurdish)
(00:38 - 02:11) “These are the traditional outfits of Yazidi women. We are sewing them here because they are not available in the market. The design of these clothes is very unique because they have a ring called a “took” and it is a symbol for the Yazidi outfit. We will always wear this type of clothing, especially the elderly who wear white outfits, which represents purity and clarity. This is how we view our religion, as pure. I am very pleased to be doing this job because it helps us maintain our culture. We provide these clothes for free, because the person who launched this project (Ali Ezideen), did it so he can provide this service for people without for anything in return. We, as seamstresses, do not get paid. We are volunteers. We work on approximately 32 pieces per day and we meet with 20-40 women everyday. We are 6-7 volunteers in this project. We established this workshop because most of the clothes of the Yazidi women got torn while they were fleeing Sinjar to escape the ISIS terror, and this outfit is not available in the market.”
SOUNDBITE 2: Vati, Seamstress (woman, Kurdish)
(03:27-08:48) “We are volunteer seamstresses. I am very happy to contribute in this work because it serves the Yazidi religion and its followers. Also it helps maintain our cultural heritage since it represents the purity of our religion, I ask everyone to help us protect our religion.”
SOUNDBITE 3: Fayez, Yazidi volunteer (man, Arabic)
(03:27-08:48) “When they were in the mountain, it was very hard. There were no bathroom, or places to sleep, or even food, so the outfits got ruined because of sleeping on the floor and they were all torn. So Ali Ezdeen thought that Yazidi women must be really tired after this hard trip and their clothes are ruined, so he purchased an amount of fabric that we can turn into Yazidi outfits. Then they will be distributed among the women. I supervise the work of the seamstresses and Ali is responsible for the whole project. Here we have two seamstresses, one designer, and three people to take the measurements and the sizes. We go and take the sizes of the old women in the camps and the people who came from Sinjar and are staying in the unfinished buildings, then tailor these outfits and distribute them.”
Interviewer: What are the ages and categories that you tailor for?
“Only for the elderly, the younger generation can wear any type of clothes, but the old women cannot. It is a tradition, and it is very hard to find.”
Interviewer: What is the significance of these outfits for the Yazidi woman?
“First of all, the color: the old Yazidi women only wear white, it is a tradition that the elderly in the Yazidi religion should wear white. It is a symbol for the religion.”
Interviewer: What is the difference between this outfit and any other outfit you can find in the market?
“The difference is you cannot find these outfits in the market, they have to be tailored upon request and they cannot be found in ay shop. The Yazidis are a minority, and their outfits are not widely produced. They do not come from Europe like every other outfit. They are very rare.”
Interviewer: Is it considered a good thing to wear this kind of outfits?
“Yes to wear this is a good thing, and they do not wear anything but those outfits. It is mentioned in our book that the blue color is forbidden for the elderly.”
Interviewer: But you are wearing blue
“Yes but as I said, it is only forbidden for the elderly.”
Interviewer: How many pieces do you tailor per day?
Interviewer: Is it for men and women?
“No only for women.” Interviewer: What do you ask from people?
“I ask for help from anyone who can to help this religion, because it has suffered a lot throughout the years. I wish everyone can do charity work and help other such as Ali Ezdeen. This person donated everything he has for the Yazidi refugees.”
Interviewer: Do you consider this work as a service for your religion?
“Yes of course, we feel like we are helping ourselves by doing this kind of work, it is different from when someone gives you money or a place to stay. We feel like we are helping ourselves by working in this workshop.”
SOUNDBITE 4: Yazidi woman standing in front of the tent with a child (woman, Kurdish)
(10:36-11:13) Interviewer: Why are you wearing white?
“It is our custom and our culture.”
Interviewer: How so?
“It is the culture of the Yazidis”
Interviewer: Do you always wear this outfit?
SOUNDBITE 5: Yazidi woman (woman, Kurdish)
“I am very content with our outfits, it is our cultural heritage, and while we were coming through the mountain, most of our clothes got torn, but still I will always wear the white outfit.”
Up to to 16.000 Yazidi refugees have found shelter in Turkey after fleeing the Islamic state onslaught in and around Sinjar in mid-August, 2014. Many have been accommodated in camps set up by Turkey's governmental relief agency. Turkey says it will soon be ready to open three new refugee camps in northern Iraq for Yazidis and Turkmen fleeing violence in Iraq. The government says it has already spent more than 3.5 billion dollars looking after Syrian refugees and is asking the international community to shoulder some of the burden when it comes to refugees from Syria and Iraq.