When the Music Stopped for Waleed, a Blind Ezidi Boy

By Amy L. Beam, Ed.D:

Waleed Khaled Murad, age 4, was born blind.

Waleed Khaled Murad, age 4, was born blind

Four-year-old Waleed was born blind.  When the Islamic State gangs attacked Shingal, Iraq, on August 3, 2014, his family fled on foot to Mount Shingal along with 70,000 other Ezidis.   They were stranded on the mountain for eight days until the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) opened an escape route for them to Syria on August 12.

Music makes him happy

Music makes Walid happy

Waleed moving to the music 

Waleed moving to the music

With your help he will have a future as a musician

With your help he will have a future as a musician

The family had no food and only one small bottle of water for three days.  They rationed it out by the capful, using most of it to keep Waleed alive in the intense summer heat.   The U.S. military, after several days, dropped water from the helicopters, but the water bottles split open upon impact.

On the third day Waleed’s uncle went in search of water.  After three hours he found a natural spring source.

With barely enough food and water to survive, Waleed was deeply traumatized.  Without electricity, their phone soon lost its charge.  Being without his music was as traumatizing as being without water.   His parents feared for his life.  Over 200 Ezidi children did die from dehydration.

Waleed was born without eyeballs.  At four, he is learning to understand speech, although he does not speak even one word himself.  His communications are entirely through touch and sound.  Music is the only thing that calms him.

Without his parents’ phone playing music, he becomes frustrated and unmanageable, clawing and yelling in anger.  His parents still have scratch marks on their necks from that terrible week trapped on Mount Shingal with a dead phone battery.  His t-shirt accurately describes him as “Angry Bird”.   (Wouldn’t you be angry, too, if you were totally blind and the music stopped?)

After eight days, the family walked 50 km to the Syrian border through scorching heat.  From there they were driven to Zakho on the northern border of Kurdistan, Iraq, and guided over the mountain by the PKK.  After being fed and sheltered by the Kurdish community of Roboski, Turkey, they were transferred by bus to Batman, the second largest city in North Kurdistan (eastern Turkey).

Under the direction of Fikret Taşkin, BDP party member, Batman has refurbished 94 houses in nine Batman villages in the country-side.  In the early 1990s these former Ezidi villages were forcibly evacuated by the Turkish government.  They have been empty for over 20 years.

These villages and number of restored houses (in parentheses) are Çinera (6), Fikira (12), Şemze (20), Şahsime (6), Koruğe (7), Henoduna (26), Duşahe (7), Binivane (8), and Hicre (1).  Five hundred Ezidis are housed in these villages.   In total, Batman Kurdish BDP party and Kurdish volunteers are caring for 1888 Ezidis as of Nov 1, 2014.  The Turkish government continues to refuse to provide any assistance when asked in weekly meetings.  Assistance is promised, but never given.

In each deserted Batman village there is one family living that oversees the empty houses.  These village managers contacted the current house owners, now mostly living in Europe, for permission to use their houses rent-free for the Ezidi refugees.  In exchange, Kurdish volunteers repaired the electricity, installed new windows, and painted the houses inside and outside entirely with donations.

Now 250 families are living in these houses in nine villages approximately 30 km from Batman city.  Their housing must be considered temporary, because the absentee owners may return and wish to live in their houses or sell them.  The Ezidis refugees are guests.

At least three times a week free food is delivered to them.  In Batman city the BDP Kurdish party operates a donations tent and a warehouse.  Cars and trucks pull up in front to drop off donated food, blankets, and clothes.

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Woman drops off bags of donated sweaters to Abdullah Mehmetoglu

Amy Beam is shown BDP donations tent for Ezidis and Kobane Kurds

Amy Beam is shown BDP donations tent for Ezidis and Kobane Kurds

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Waleed with his parents and siblings. They need your help.

Waleed's great uncle Khalaf Sedo Rasho and writer, Amy L. Beam

Waleed’s great uncle Khalaf Sedo Rasho and writer, Amy L. Beam

18 people from three families live and sleep in this room

18 people from three families live and sleep in this room

Fikira village has a dozen houses, 30 minutes from Batman city

Fikira village has a dozen houses, 30 minutes from Batman city

Waleed’s family of six, along with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins live in one house in Batman Fikira village.

Next door, 18 relatives from three families are living in one 30-foot long, concrete, basement room, previously used for storage.  This includes the brother and sister of Waleed’s grandfather, Ali Sedo Rasho, who fled from Shingal in 2009 and now lives in Germany.

Ali Sedo Rasho is the president of the Ezidi Academy, an NGO. He is a renowned Ezidi scholar and historian of the 74 massacres against the Ezidis.   In September, he learned that his house in Shingal, worth $100,000 US dollars, and his brother Khalaf’s house were both demolished by the Islamic State.  They have nothing to return to.

Turkey has denied Ali Sedo’s request for a visa to Turkey to help his family and his blind grandson.

Although Kurdish donations are providing the Ezidis with housing and food, the Turkish government has denied any medical or social services to Waleed.  Waleed needs special education with a heavy emphasis on music.  He also needs medical specialists and social services.  His family wishes to get asylum and a new start in a country which can provide specialized services for Waleed.

Anyone who can offer donations, help, or suggestions should contact Waleed’s grandfather, Ali Sedo Rasho, in Germany at alirasho@yahoo.de . He speaks Kurdish, German, and English.

More Information about Ezidi Refugees:

Amy Beam has visited 12 Ezidi refugee camps in Turkey since Sept. 3.  For her other reporting about the Ezidis read the following links and check back for more.

Dr. Amy L. Beam promotes tourism in eastern Turkey (North Kurdistan) and writes in support of Kurdish and Ezidi human rights.  Read her stories at KurdistanTribune.com.  She is writing a book, “Love and Betrayal in Kurdistan.”   Follow her on Twitter @amybeam or contact her at amybeam@yahoo.com or 240-696-1905 (U.S.) or 0090 537 502 6683 (Turkey).

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