Lalesh Cul­tural and So­cial Center: Solv­ing Yazidi Is­sues

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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