Until today, the fire in the cinema of Amudê is an open wound in the collective commemoration of the Kurdish people of Rojava in the north of Syria: At the 13th of November 1960, an Egyptian movie called "The Midnight Ghost" was shown as part of "week of solidarity" with the Algerian struggle for independence from France. Syrian officials forced people to collect money for their "Algerian brothers" and in Amudê the regime ordered all pupils from basic schools to visit the cinema and watch the movie. The movie was shown several times and at each time the cinema was overcrowded: It had 200 seats, but it was said that when fire started around 400 children were inside. Finally, the cinematograph burst into flames as it went hot after so many movie screening. The flames immediately flashed over to the roof, which was built from wood, straw and mud. The entire cinema stood in flames within a short time as also the walls were covered with cloth. When the cinema started to burn, most children fell into panic and tried to reach the exits. There were only two narrow doors, which opened to the inside...at least 186 children between 8 and 14 years died.
One Arabic citizen of Amudê, who came along the fire by chance, managed to rescue between 20 and 30 children from the fire, before he also died in the flames. Today, the monument which was erected years after the catastrophe, also tells his story. The monument was sent over from Algeria as part of their solidarity with the people of Amudê.
The fact that the fire happened in an overcrowded hall and that the tragedy later on has never been investigated by the Syrian regime makes people still believe, that the lives of their children were valueless. Kurdish culture and language have been discriminated for decades in Syria; political activities were suppressed violently by the state.
But the war in Syria has changed all. Today, more than 50 year later, Amudê is part of the Cizire County, one of three autonomous regions, which were founded 2014 during the revolution of Rojava. The people of Rojava fight for freedom, self-determination and true democracy, in the middle of a world of either dictatorial or medieval political structures, supported and hard-pressed by western so-called allies, who are not at all interested in human rights, but following their own interests.
In these times, there are –of course- different needs from that cinema, but still there is a great longing. See pictures, movies, stories, feelings, dreams and learn together with without censorship.