Lalesh Cultural and Social Center: Solving Yazidi Issues
Under Saddam Hussein, the Kurds suffered terribly as the regime attempted to marginalize them nationally and block them from sight. The Yazidi Kurds, in particular, were subject to transmigration and forced displacement in an effort to erase their national identity and to eradicate and distort the facts of their religion. The heroic March uprising 1991 was a historic turning point for the Kurds in their struggle to win their national rights.
The Lalesh cultural and social center was established by a number of Yazidi intellectuals on 12/5/1993 as a first social and cultural foundation. Set up with the support of Kurdish parties, the Center’s slogan was: “Lalesh: a spring pouring into the stream of Kurdish culture”. The visit of the President of the Kurdistan Region, Masud Barzani, and the Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, in 1996 marked their moral support for the center and helped it open 38 branches in places with Yazidi populations both within Iraq and beyond in Germany and other countries. The Lalesh center has made numerous achievement in different cultural and social fields, participating in Yazidi-related elections and building relationships with civil defense organizations.
The Lalesh cultural and social center has been there in every place Yazidi call home, and has achieved much in the field of democracy and spreading a message of tolerance and coexistence. It has worked hard from the beginning to apply the principles of equality and social justice for young people and women in particular, bringing the status of the individual under Yazidi law in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Lalesh Center has also played an effective role in teaching Yazidi language material in schools, and worked on facilitating many Yazidirelated issues, including allowing Yazidi students to transfer from Mosul University to other universities in the region.
The Center has become a conduit for reporting Yazidi suffering and demands to the governmental institutions which can provide the services they need to their districts, build special halls for meetings and so on. It has also facilitated the visits of Yazidis from outside the country to Kurdistan to visit the holly temple of Lalesh. The German center has become a meeting place for intellectuals and Kurdish activists, as well as a repository for religious texts and a place to visit for people interested in the Yazidi religion.
In terms of culture and media, the Lalesh Center publishes Lalesh magazine with the direct support of Nechirvan Barzani, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region. A further 7 periodicals are published by branches of the Center, along with three magazines and a series of books (22 to date ) about the history and heritage of the Kurds and the principles of the Yazidi. The Center entered the electronic era in 2005 when it set up the Lalesh media network. It has also collected and recorded over 3,000 hours of Yazidi rituals, so researchers will have access to information about their traditions. The Lalesh Center also has branches in Erbil, Sulaimaniya and Shingal. Sheik Shamo is the head of the Center.
Sheikh Shamo, head of the Lalesh Cultural and Social Center in Duhok.