Village Life in Iraqi Kurdistan

Village life has always been at the heart of the Kurds’ sense of identity, a way of life often threatened by violent events. In these film clips, villagers reminisce about the lives they once led.

Rural Kurdistan: Backbone of the Resistance

Kurdish villagers provided the peshmerga with shelter, food and logistical support and were essential for the survival of the resistance in Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s regime wiped out 4,500 villages and killed up to 182,000 Kurds in retaliation.

Attack on the Balisan Valley

The Balisan valley was attacked with poison gas on 16 April 1987. Villagers had built air raid shelters in the mountains but had no defence against chemicals. This attack was the first time in world history that a government used poison gas against its civilian population.

Kurdish Collaborators

The ‘Jash’ (literally, ‘donkey foals’) were Kurdish paramilitary forces who collaborated with the Iraqi government. They were viewed as traitors but sometimes tried to help their Kurdish compatriots.


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