“I don’t know exactly, but I have heard this from my family: about 300 years ago, or 400-500 years ago, nobody knows exactly when our ancestors, I mean khans, came from Iraq’s side over here. Afaryan was empty land and nobody lived there at that time. Our ancestors left the area called nowadays Iraqi Kurdistan. They came from a city called Sharazour. Iranian and Iraqi Kurdistan belonged to the same country. That part of Iraq belonged to Iran in that time. There was a Sheikh in Sharazour and also dervishes and Sufis. Their life was difficult in Iraqi Kurdistan and they decided to come to the area nowadays called Iranian Kurdistan. They traveled and found the Afaryan area and they decided to stay there, because there are many springs in that area and some good land for growing wheat. They settled down and started to build the village, and the Khan took all the good land for himself. Some people from other villages in that area moved to the village. In the beginning there were only a few houses and in the end there were 34–35 houses.
The truth is everybody loved Afaryan, but the Khan’s family left the village first. I think they left the village because they had problems. For example, when there was the Khan or part of the Khan’s family in the village none of them did anything by themselves. Neither the men nor the women. Then the Shah declared the land reform, and people didn’t want to work for the Khan any more. The village people no longer respected the Khan’s family any more. And that is why the Khan’s family didn’t want to stay over there any more. If the Khan hadn’t left, the rest of the villagers would never have left Afaryan, either.
And the second reason: the shah left Iran and then came the Islamic Republic. At the same time the civil war started. Afaryan was one of the partisan training centers. During the civil war the both sides were killing each other, and the hardest were in the places where the partisan training centers were. Afaryan was one of these centers. Afaryan suffered a lot of damage, and after that the government founded the military base over there, to take care of the villagers. Because of the military troops, the partisans had to leave the village.
At the military base there were many young soldiers from different cities. There was one young girl age of fifteen or sixteen in the village at that time. She became pregnant by one soldier from the military base. Nobody knew whether the soldier had had an affair with her or raped her. The girl’s parents had a meeting where they decided the girl must be killed, and she was murdered by one of her brothers. The police arrested her brother and he was in the jail for a short time. After that he was free to go. Of course her brother never confessed what he had done. He repeated that the girl had committed suicide.
And that was the main reason why people left Afaryan. People thought that the same thing would happen to their daughters and wives as happened to that poor girl, and they thought that it better to move out of the village. It was necessary for everybody to leave the village. And I think all the problems were caused by the military base. After leaving Afaryan most of the villagers settled in the towns nearby, but politically most active ones had to flee to Europe.”
Quatation from the video Afaryan Memories in the Afaryan exhibition at Galleri Sinne