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Monday, August 11, 2014

With the Yezidis

In 2000, I visited Armenia, and had my first (and only encounter so far) with the Yezidi people. The Yezidis worshipped an ancient Mesopotamian religion, with complicated concepts of good and evil, and of angels and demons, as a result of which they were often misunderstood and accused of being devil worshipers. Despite being desperately poor, they invited me for tea and treated me with great hospitality. 

Today, with the ISIS terrorists in sudden conquest of large stretches of Northern Iraq, their ethnic relatives have come under the threat of genocide. Hundreds have been killed and thousands are trapped on a barren mountain. Unless international community take immediate action, this ancient people and culture will be decimated.

Have a look at this link for the pictures I took of the Yezidis in Armenia:

 
 
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Crosses & Mountains: Mt Agarats & Etchmiadzin
  Click map to see detailed route 31 August Yerevan, Mt Aragats & Etchmiadzin Having Tea with Hospitable Yezidis Set off early in a 4 wheel drive for Mt Ar...
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Having Tea with Hospitable Yezidis
Set off early in a 4 wheel drive for Mt Aragats, the tallest mountain of Armenia. Of course, an Armenian would argue that Mt Ararat in Turkey is their tallest mountain and national symbol, but since the Armenian Genocide of 1915, Mt Ararat has been lost forever.  The clear blue skies and cooler weather made this expedition a most pleasant one... but what was most unexpected was the encounter with a group of Kurdish-Yezidi shepherds.  The Yezidis were a group of Kurds who have an often misunderstood religion - they believe that good and evil were one, and God and Saturn were mere different sides of the same coin – and this exposed them to accusations of bing devil worshippers.  In any case, they were among the most hospitable people I have ever encountered in my travels.  Upon introducing ourselves, we were invited into their tents and served with bread, tea and yogurt.  Pathetically poor they may be, they entertained us with great hospitality, and I had a wonderful time taking photos of these proud mountain people so often discriminated and misunderstood by their much more numerous neighbours.  An Armenian friend later said that the Yezidis are great to visitors but thieves outside their camps... stereotyping even among the educated and pleasant people. 
 
Amberd Castle
Amberd Castle
Kurdish emcampment on Mt Aragats
We got off our vehicle to have a closer vew.
Welcome!
 
Friendly locals
 
 Cattle owned by the Kurds
Invited into the tent
Home visit
 
Lake on Mt Aragats
 
Pile of stones: ancient customs ?
Mountain roads
Treacherous roads...