Bahaa Elias | The Lives of Olive Trees

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Country of origin: Iraq
Project location: Iraq
Program: Photography and Social Justice
Year: 2018

In August 2014, ISIL militia attacked northern parts of Iraq where several ethnic minorities, like the Yazidi community, have lived for centuries. With nothing more than the clothes on their backs, hundreds of thousands fled their homes leaving everything behind. Before this attack, as a Yazidi living in Iraq, I witnessed discrimination and oppression daily––experiences which have ultimately made our community stronger and made me who I am today. My project is a community photo album, a portrait of daily life in the aftermath of a humanitarian crisis that captures the Yazidi spirit of resilience as we rebuild our home together with great hope for the future.


Bahaa grew up in Bashiqa, close to Mosul, Iraq, where he began his work in 2006 as a community organizer running a small community web forum and shooting short films on religious tolerance.