There are people who still do not know what Anfal means. How could they know? They don’t know the story

Ismet Mohammed Mahmoud, Kulajo

History is not just about winners and losers. It is about people. Their experiences, told and remembered in the form of personal stories passed through generations, are the oral heritage of a nation’s triumphs and tragedies. And yet with most of the world’s historical resources, normal people – the flesh, blood and minds of a nation – are ignored in favour of the dusty, secondary opinions found in unread library books.

The KMP is taking a different approach. It aims to record Kurdish history in sound and living colour, definitively documenting the unique voices of Kurdistan for future generations.

Who are the Kurds and why have they faced oppression and violent attacks? In this introduction we learn why the Kurdistan Memory Programme is documenting modern Kurdish history, and bringing a neglected past to life with film and interactive multimedia.

Who are the Kurds and why have they faced oppression and violent attacks? In this introduction we learn why the Kurdistan Memory Programme is documenting modern Kurdish history, and bringing a neglected past to life with film and interactive multimedia.

From personal stories, including those who survived terrible persecution under the era of Saddam and those suffering the cruelties of ISIS today, emerge universal human truths and emotions. These stories reveal a dramatic and heroic story of nationhood that is only now being recognised internationally.

National tragedy has changed life in Kurdistan irrevocably, defining the history of the region. The KMP is preserving this heritage by producing a world class multimedia record, so that young and older Kurds can more deeply understand how their lives have been shaped by the events of the past.

The next generation do not know about it. I talk to them, but it is not like a film. If I tell them it may not stick, this way is more permanent

Najiba Ahmad Hakeem, Kanitu Village

The KMP is producing a world class multimedia record of modern Kurdish history to help new generations understand how the events of the past shape their future.

The KMP collects stories from people who have witnessed key events in modern Kurdish history to establish an accessible filmed record, in both Sorani Kurdish and English, that will be freely available to all online.

The Kurds have been deeply influential in shaping the political contours of the Middle East, yet have so often been ignored. That’s why the KMP is creating a permanent digital multimedia record of their testimonies that will be a new benchmark for international heritage projects.

Collecting testimony for The Kurdistan Memory Programme demands a high level of professionalism and sensitivity.

Collecting testimony for The Kurdistan Memory Programme demands a high level of professionalism and sensitivity.

This work is important. During Saddam Hussein’s persecution of the Kurds, which culminated in the Anfal military campaign of 1988, up to 182,000 people died and more than 4,000 villages were cleared and destroyed. Yet much of this history has not been told to the outside world, and it is only now that the genocidal scope of Saddam’s Anfal and its impact on Kurdish lives is becoming clear.

It is vital that this massive attack on the Kurds and others like it are documented, verified and more widely acknowledged. Anfal is a defining influence on the modern Kurdish identity and a key event in the political history of the Middle East. This important truth, so often ignored, needs to be recognised by the global community as well as young people both inside and outside of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Interviewees share painful memories to let the world know the truth of what happened to them and ensure this history isn’t lost.

The KMP brings together an experienced international team of media professionals and researchers from Iraqi Kurdistan, the UK, Europe and the USA.

Our film teams travel throughout Kurdistan to record the accounts of survivors of executions, gas attacks, deportation, flight and imprisonment. These video testimonies form the basis of a remarkable collection – a living tribute to Kurdish struggle and survival that has unparalleled exhibition and research potential.

Over the past years, the KMP has created the world’s largest bilingual film resource on Anfal and Kurdish history; employed researchers throughout Kurdistan and the diaspora; conducted over 1,000 interviews; edited and produced over 400 video testimonies; and accumulated a unique video archive containing over 30 years of Kurdish historical footage.

By doing this, the KMP seeks to illuminate the collective memory of Kurdistan with flair and accuracy, so that it might inspire and enlighten fellow nations and encourage a vital debate on the future of the Kurdish people.

Documenting trauma is a painful process for all concerned but an essential step in ensuring that history is not allowed to repeat itself in Kurdistan

Gwynne Roberts, International Director, The KMP

The KMP is recording Kurdish history in sound and living colour, creating a new benchmark for international heritage projects.

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