Letters From Kurdistan

The Kurdish struggle for freedom from the Caliphate, as told by those who endured it

Letters From Kurdistan Since 2013, the Kurds have been systematically terrorised by IS, as the caliphate pushed deeper into their ancestral homeland. Letters from Kurdistan brings together three uniquely tragic perspectives on the war ravaging the Middle East. A lonely sniper is haunted by the violence he has inflicted doing what he must to defend his people; three teenage Yazidi girls remain defiant despite suffering unimaginable cruelties at the hands of their captors; and a majority female militia defy expectations by holding out against the caliphate’s siege of Kobani. A harrowingly intimate insight into the mental as well as physical toll wrought by a most violent and brutal conflict.

“After I've shot them I check their bodies.” Haron is a YPG sniper, fighting to defend his ancestral homeland against IS. After he shoots a target, he must locate the body and verify its identity. “Sometimes they turn out to be children… If I hadn't shot them, they would've killed me… they haunt me in my nightmares.” Traumatised by the thought of his victims, Haron must continue to fight for the benefit of future generations. “My dreams are over. But I want a better life for generations to come.”

Younger generation of Kurds have already been deeply affected by the conflict with IS. Ilham, Cemila and Perwin were among thousands of girls abducted and enslaved by IS. For seventeen-year-old Ilham, death would have been preferable to her treatment by the militants. “Suicide would have been a blessing.” Yet despite rape and forced conversion to Islam, her faith and sense of identity helped her defy her captors. “My heart is connected to my own faith. What they did was useless.”

As a commander of a group of Kurdish fighters, Meryem defies IS and traditional expectations of her gender. Despite the unimaginable hardship she has had to endure, she feels that the war offers hope for the future.“This fight has changed history. A lot of women have been in battle. In this fight the women demonstrated that they are equal to men.”

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