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“Khirat”: Media About The Yezidi Community

Khirat” is an online media platform, which presents the life, culture and traditions of Yezidis living in Armenia and around the world, as well as the rights of national minorities. 

The name of the media outlet “Khirat” is a Yezidi word, meaning a joint effort for high ideas. 

The site has a history of three years and is the only digital media presenting the daily life and problems of national minorities. 

Work with the Yezidi community and the contacts with the residents have shown that Yezidis need programs about themselves and in their language. We realized that this is essentially a gap and we thought of creating a media platform that will talk about national minorities, their problems, culture and rights. 

Our platform has several problems to solve, but its main goal is to break the stereotypes about the Yezidi community, which are often reproduced in the Armenian media. 

Unfortunately, the image of the Yezidis in the Armenian media is often covered in a negative light or gives rise to such perceptions. For example, “Yezidis in Armenia are known as natural shepherds,” “Livestock is the national business of the Yezidis” and other similar media materials presenting Yezidis create the impression that the only occupation and interest of Yezidis is cattle breeding. 

The publications also emphasize the lack of interest in education and so on. 

The content on the site is presented in different formats: news, podcast, culture and human rights. Along with problems, we also talk about holidays, traditions, feats and history of the Yezidi community. Of course, they are embodied through the images of famous and successful Yezidis. 

At the same time, “Khirat Media” prepares informative videos and programs on human rights, in particular, the international law of national minorities. 

Reports on culture, history, and religion have contributed to the growing importance of identity among the Yezidi minority as well as to the awareness of national minorities among the national majority. 

It is important that we, Yezidis, know ourselves and our culture in order to be able to correctly diagnose our problems. 

The issue of the rights of national minorities is one of the main items on our agenda, we follow how Armenia implements its obligations under international law. 

The platform has never been state funded and works with the support of the European Foundation for Democracy (EED). 

In general, Armenia, with its ratified international documents, as well as domestic legislation, has an obligation to create and disseminate media content in the language of national minorities. 

Currently, the Public Radio of Armenia broadcasts daily in the languages of national minorities, in particular Assyrian – 15 minutes, Kurdish – 30 minutes, Yezidi – 30 minutes, Greek – 15 minutes. Yezidi radio programs on the public radio are broadcast online on the AM frequency, the prevalence and availability of which are very low, and the materials are usually translations of official news and mostly do not address community issues. 

With the recent amendments to the Law on Audiovisual Media, the state has undertaken to provide airtime for the broadcasting of the life and culture of the national minorities of the Republic of Armenia, including programs in their languages. 

The newly created news platform of Public Television has recently started broadcasting Yezidi news, which again is only a translation of the official news. Unfortunately, this process was not inclusive and participatory, for example, we or other organizations like us were not informed about it in time. 

The site editorial staff has four employees: an editor, journalist, cameraman and SMM employee. I am engaged in both editing and at the same time creating content in the Yezidi language. 

When the website was newly created, our readership was mostly in the Yezidi community, because the Yezidi content was predominant. Later there were more publications in Armenian, and the audience changed, today the representatives of the national majority read and watch us more. 

Of course, we also have followers in other Yezidi communities outside Armenia, in Germany, Iraq, Russia, America and elsewhere. 

The role of our media is important to make the problems of the community recognizable, because as you know, the Yezidi people, due to their national peculiarities, are more involved and do not speak much about the problems. The issue of education is especially sensitive among those problems. 

Now we are going to launch a media campaign on the topic of education, talk about Yezidi students and their successes on our platform, trying to promote education in the community and give answers to many questions. I think the positive examples of Yezidis who have succeeded in education will be inspiring. 

Muraz Shamoyan
Editor-in-Chief of Khirat Media 

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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