In 2014, more than 400,00 Yazidis in Iraq, a non-Muslim religious minority, were targeted by the so called Islamic State of Iraq and Syira (ISIS) in a ruthless campaign of genocide. The aftermath of the systematic killing of men, and kidnapping and enslavement of women and children, has been so severe that it has destroyed the fabric of Yazidi society and has displaced an entire people throughout Iraq and much of the world.
Every June in Rwanga Community Camp near the city of Zakho, Yazidi families acquire raised bed frames on which to lay their mattresses outside in an attempt to stave the summer heat. During the daytime, the kids find the bed frames equally as useful. Rwanga Community Camp Kurdistan Region of Iraq
She makes a wish and ties a knot with the help of her mother. She performs all the rituals inside Lalish, as her sister does. She watches how the women talk and walk and mourn in black, and how they wash themselves in the Zam Zam waters down the stone steps. All these little actions tell her who she is and could have, would have never been. Because she was born into ISIS captivity, just a handful of months after her pregnant mother, sister, and brothers were kidnapped and taken as slaves.
Every day of the week, you can find Yazidi men, women, and children visiting the home of the most holy temple in their faith: Lalish. It is believed to have been the first place Noah’s Ark touched back on dry land, making it the birthplace of new civilisation. While most adults dress in western clothing during their visit, the children are always dressed to impress.
Each year in April, Yazidis gather to celebrate the New Year on Charshama Sor, or ‘Red Wednesday.’ The day celebrates the beginning of the universe and honours the day God sent the peacock angel, Tawus Melek to earth at Lalish. During the celebration, dyed eggs are given as symbols of life and rebirth, renewal and fertility. Some are dyed with henna, and the stain lasts longer than the egg. Qadiya IDP Camp, Kurdistan Region of Iraq
This ancient place, once a fully functioning village of thousands, with homes, shrines, a marketplace, and a row of fortune tellers lined up beneath arches in the souk, comes to life as it once was, for one week each year in autumn. This week, people near and far take the pilgrimage to the holiest shrine of the Yazidi religion: Lalish. Kurdistan Region of Iraq