Yazidis of Anatolia
When I first met uncle Samir, an older member of the Yazidi community in Batman, South East Turkey in 2013, he was praying towards the sun next to Tigris River. We were in a remote village that felt like it was abandoned.. Samir was the only person outside on that warm October day but he was wearing a suit, as if he was on his way to a wedding or a special event. Later on, we would learn from his son Fikret that he has been doing this ritual everyday, getting prepared elobaretly and going by the river.
However, the prayers of Samir had a special purpose those days. I was in the region to cover a story about the possible effects of controversial Ilısu dam Project on communities in the region. Once the dam is conpleted, it would leave many houses in the region under water and displace thousands of people, including the village of Samir. Although this displayment was very sad for all, it was especially traumatic for the Yazidi community, whose villages have already been abandoned long time ago.
The Yazidis are members of an ancient religion whose population were in thousands in Anatolia, yet still not excessively known by many people. One can only be born as a Yazidi, that is why it is an ethnic religion. Yazidis speak Kurdish as their first language.
Yazidi religion has many things in common with other religions in the region. However, since sun and moon are considered sacred, it is thought that Yazidi religion can be connected with Zorastianism.
Although there is not exact information about their population, it is estimated that there are almost 700.000 Yazidis in the world. They live mostly in Iraq and also in Armenia, Syria, Russia and Germany. The Yazidi population in Turkey, Anatolia which was stated to be more than 10 thousand in the past in some resources, decreased to 377 in 2007 and today it is thought to be less than 200 people in total. However, after the çivil war in Syria, Turkey has received quite many Yazidis from Syria as refugees.
The reason why Yazidis in Anatolia are so few today is related to migration to Germany in recent past. According to Yazidi belief, God created the world and seven angels took over that role for the continuation of the order. Yazidis believe that Angle Tavus, who is one of those angels and is symbolised by peacock, represents the divine will of the God. However, this belief was interpreted in the region wrongfully, resulting in the belief that Yazidis worship evil, which made them undergo enormous pressures in the society. One of the biggest reasons for Yazidi migration is related with that pressure, in addition to the unrest in the region.
Today after seven years since we have spent time in Yazidi villages, unfortunetely the village of Samir has been evacuated because of the rising water levels after the dam. Uncle Samir has passed away before seeing that...
The Yazidis are members of an ancient religion whose population were in thousands in Anatolia, yet still not excessively known by many people. One can only be born as a Yazidi, that is why it is an ethnic religion.