A women’s peace choir will be performing in Oxford later this month as part of their UK tour.

The AMAR ‘Ashty’ Yazidi women’s peace choir, currently based in Khanke refugee camp near Dohuk in the Kurdistan Region of Northern Iraq, is made up of eight singers who have been living in this tented camp since 2014 following the ISIS attacks on the Yazidis on Mount Sinjar.

The AMAR Foundation has been providing music lessons and offering support to the choir for the past five years.

The choir at the University of London in ErbilThe choir at the University of London in Erbil (Image: The AMAR choir)

Until now, the choir has performed at various corporate events and educational establishments such as Stirling Schools and the University of London in Erbil, both in the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad.

The choir’s upcoming tour is aiming to ensure that the Yazidi community’s struggles are not forgotten.

The coir will be profroming in Oxford on June 26. They will be at Weston Library at 3.30 pm, St Michael’s Summertown at 5pm, and Sommerville college at 6.45pm.

To date, roughly 195,000 Yazidis remain in camps in the Kurdistan Region as their return to their home, Sinjar, is still fraught with danger and most of their infrastructure and housing remains in ruins.

Wrongly believed by ISIS to be devil worshippers, the Yazidi faith is in fact an ancient religion, focused on the temple at Lalish, and deeply rooted in mysteries of creation, the dynamic between light and darkness, and the importance of community and its continuity.

Baroness Emma Nicholson, chairman of AMAR, said: "Music is proven to be a wonderful source of mental and physical health for everyone.

"For the Yazidis, it’s even more important as their life, history and culture is encapsulated in their music.

"Through the choir, we are supporting the women’s mental health and morale and aim to show that music makes a big difference to refugees’ lives.

"We can also protect and enhance the Yazidi culture that is so vulnerable to migration, desolation, and attack and ensure they are not forgotten."

The choir at Stirling SchoolsThe choir at Stirling Schools (Image: The AMAR choir)

The women of the choir aim to share the Yazidi culture to the world through their songs.

Often expressing great joy, these songs commonly speak about their love for nature, the land, and the rain.

Some, however, describe the various genocides the Yazidis have suffered over centuries and the resilience of their people.

During the performances, the women will play the Dafs, a traditional Yazidi drum.

They may be accompanied by the Tanbur or sing purely a cappella while wearing their traditional costumes.

The AMAR Foundation recorded a complete cycle of the Yazidi religious music in 2019, with the help of the British Council, where it is now stored in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.