The Other Side of the Mountains
I was strolling in a pomegranate orchard in Byara in Iraqi Kurdistan when I met Uncle Muhammad. He invited me to his home for tea and dinner and began telling his life story.
Uncle Muhammad is an old Kurdish refugee born in Iran. In 1979, he and his wife crossed the mountains from their home village, Hawraman-Takht, to Iraq to flee from political persecution after he joined a Kurdish rebellion group. Later, they were sent to a detention camp under the Al-Anfal campaign that aimed to eliminate the Kurds in Iraq. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, Muhammad decided to spend the rest of his life in Byara, the closest place to his home, just a stone’s throw away on the other side of the mountains. Both villages are part of Hawraman, an ancient Kurdish region, where villagers used to cross mountains to visit each other until the Iraq-Iran borders were drawn and the area was split into different countries.
“I wish I could go back home one day,” Muhammad told me before leaving. “But I can’t because I will get arrested. As a separatist. All I can do is look at the mountain behind my house here. On the other side, that’s where my home is.”
Life of Uncle Muhammad has inspired me to make this photo story, the second of a two-part series from my personal project about Kurdistan. The photos were made on my journeys in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. Each image was taken from its actual context, place, and time and interwoven as a new story to convey my reflection on the fate millions of Kurds have undergone.
Read Part 1 “Kurdistan: Field Notes”, for a photo documentary about Kurdistan, explained through keywords.