The Khanasore Music School

The persecution of the Yazidi people

The origin of this minority religion dates back to 2000 BC.

Currently, there are no exact population numbers, but it is estimated that there are about 500,000 Yazidi people in Iraq, in addition to another 200,000 distributed throughout the rest of the world, according to the Yazidi Human Rights Organisation-International. Historically, the Yazidis lived mainly in communities in present-day Iraq, Turkey and Syria, and they also had a significant presence in Armenia and Georgia.

In August 2014, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) launched an offensive against Sinjar, in Iraq. The occupation lasted more than four years and has left a trail of destruction, with 5,000 men and boys killed and more than 7,000 girls and women kidnapped and used as sex slaves (UN data).

After years of aggression and violence, the Yazidi people have returned home carrying the burden of terrible damage that is hard to overcome. The trauma of years of violence and brutality has affected all their lives, and returning to normalcy is a complex challenge.

The Mirzo Music Foundation works to support victims of war, sexual slavery and Islamic fundamentalism who currently live in refugee camps or have returned to their homes and are trying to rebuild their lives.

Facing up to terror through art

The Khanasore School of Music was founded after Gani Mirzo’s visit to Shingal, where he witnessed the suffering of the Yazidi people. The genocide carried out by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) has traumatised the people who now live in the area.

Thanks to Mirzo’s experience in refugee camps and his musical background, a music centre was created to provide a space for children to relax and be happy, a place where they can return to normal and imagine a brighter future.

The school aims to act as therapy for a people who have to re-adapt to their home after years of violence.

An active school

The school is run by musician Fahad Harbo, with support from another teacher, Sunde (SUNDUS), and three other support staff. The school initially intended to open its doors to 40 students, but the interest was so great that the entire project was rethought in order to offer a place to everyone who wanted one. The centre currently has 120 students who take classes in music theory and musical instruments (saz, drum, ud, violin, percussion piano, etc.), while also offering fun for children and musical games.

The Khanasore School is currently the only free music school in the Middle East.