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Wagga Wagga is now home to Australia’s first Yazidi burial site after the Council recently approved the community’s proposal for a section.
When the Yazidi community first came to Wagga two years ago, one of their main concerns was having a place where they could be buried together – a custom which is part of their tradition.
Belinda Crain, CEO of Wagga Multicultural Council, has been the driving force behind the proposal, representing the community at Wagga City Council.
“After discussing with the community about what their needs were, the Council allocated some land and we all went out to the actual site to ensure the land that was allocated was appropriate for the community and their needs,” Ms Crain said.
The Council approved a site for 120 plots and a prayer room to be built at a later stage at Wagga Wagga monumental cemetery.
“They are relieved .. for them knowing it has been approved has given them some peace of mind,” Ms Crain said.
“There’s another three settlements of Yezidis across Australia and we are the first in the country to have the Yazidi section. If any of the Yazidis from the other three settlements were to pass, they would most likely come to Wagga to be buried.”
Ms Crain said the burial site is extremely important for the community.
“It was the first issue they had raised and it was essential for them to actually know that they would have a place where they could be buried together.”
The Yazidi people are also hoping to build a prayer room, however, it must be constructed at their own expense.
“There is land that can be used. It’s on the agenda but that would be about the community working together to achieve that goal.”
Ms Crain said there have been no issues or disputes from the Wagga community at large over the burial site. "The cemetery where the burial plots have been sectioned for, has all other denominations that have their own areas as well, so it's not something new."
Wagga Multicultural Council is working on a separate, environmental project which involves the area's multicultural community. Wagga Multicultural Council has leased some land from the local council in North Wagga.
“We recently leased 13 acres of land in North Wagga where different sections of the community are encouraged to take a section or plot to plant or work the land, families from diverse communities can plant some of their favourite produce.”
Belinda Crain said it’s up to the communities what they grow on the land.
Friday, August 3rd, 2018 marked the fourth anniversary of the genocide perpetrated by the so-called Islamic State (IS) against the Yezidi minority in Iraq and Syria. Over 3000 Yezidi civilians were murdered and 6000 taken captive by IS in Sinjar (Shingal) in 2014.
Since last year 2017, Armidale has become an official refugee settlement location, and since February this year, 22 Yazidi families who survived the genocide have settled in Armidale.
The local Yezidi community organised a gathering in remembrance of those who have been lost in the genocide.
We spoke to Waleed Khalid Taalo who arrived in Armidale not long ago and asked him about this day and what it means to him. Nine members of Mr Taalo's family are still missing.
The Yezidi community celebrated its first New Year in Australian in town of Wagga Wagga, where 45 families have been resettled in the last several months.The New Year falls on Wednesday in the month of April and is also known as Charshema Sor (Red Wednesday). This commemorates the day the Peacock Angel/Tausi Malek came to earth for the first time millions of years ago. These coloured eggs are the symbolic representation of Tausi Maleks rainbow colours. SBS Kurdish Program travelled to Wagga Wagga and spoke to members of the Yezidi community regarding the New Year.