The plight of the Yezidi people – unlamented and a continuing genocide

The Yezidi are Kurmanji speakers who have lived for centuries as farmers and cattle breeders, scattered in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and territories of the former Soviet Union. They became a subject people when the areas were Islamized in the 7th century, but, quite remarkably, some resisted religious conversion and preserved their ancient faith traditions. The Yezidi today live predominantly in present day northern Iraq. Their number worldwide is estimated to be in the region of 800,000 to 1,000,000.

The troops of the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” conquered the Sinjar area of northern Iraq in 2014 and turned brutally on the minorities of the region, especially towards the non-Muslim Yezidi minority, whom they considered permissible to treat as conquered infidel chattel. Huge numbers of men and the aged, including women, were summarily executed as burdensome. But many thousands of women and children were abducted as war booty and held as sex slaves, separated pitilessly from each other, categorized in accordance to appearance and auctioned. The ancient Yezidi community were virtually eradicated, and the ISIS terrorists sought to break their will. Their future is unclear, but it will certainly never be the same again.

Thousands of women, young girls and children were held in captivity and subjected to serial rape at will, passed on from rapist to rapist. These captured women are treated as sex slaves, war booty (tortured, raped, eventually murdered) , sold as supposed brides, some driven to suicide and others ultimately converted. In the recent fighting in the ISIS stronghold of Baghouz, Syria, the British SAS made the horrifying discovery of bodies of many Yezidi sex slaves, heads severed, in bin bags left in dustbins by fleeing ISIS terrorists. In addition to destroying the infrastructure and dwellings of Yezidi communities, ISIS terrorists destroyed an entire people, which the UN has deemed genocide. Yet the world has ignored mostly their plight. Why?

The Yezidi people have suffered many genocidal attempts to erase them in the past 800 years by Islamic groups and states and millions have been killed. Numerous fatwas have “legitimized” their killing, looting, abduction and enforced religious conversion since Yezidi religious practices are regarded as illegitimate by Islam. These are the same arguments used by ISIS terrorists justify the Yezidi genocide.

Since the attack by Islamic State (ISIS) at the beginning of August 2014 up to 10,000 Yezidis have been killed, thousands of families have been held hostage in their villages and, if they did not convert to Islam, murdered. As many as 7,000 women and children have been abducted, raped and sold on Arab slave markets or killed. It is important to note that the persecution of the Yezidis is continuing today and they are potentially in the gravest danger of further mass killings in the unstable Sinjar region, which is of strategic importance to the countries which surround it.

Conditions in the dismal tented refugee camps are frequently appalling, contributing to their further demise. These camps are guarded, and Yezidis require permission to re-enter which restricts even meetings with family members or friends and they are usually strictly supervised by their alleged protectors.

The security and welfare of deeply traumatized Yezidis, who survived the genocide, have been entrusted to various armed groups who stood by and watched the onset of their genocidal slaughter unfold, failing to intervene. In this context, it is especially relevant to recognize that the strategic value of the Yezidi lands is an object of covetous interest of various parties, including anti ISIS groups supported by the West. Risk from Turkish bombing and undiscovered IEDs can also contribute to a rising death toll.

In recent years, increasing numbers of Yezidi have fled to Germany from Syria, Iraq and the former Soviet Union. Since the ISIS invasion in 2014 about 40,000 Yezidi from Iraq have fled to Germany. There are now some 120,000 Yezidi in Germany and about 40,000 in other European countries―and the trend is upward. Around 12,000 Yazidi are now living in the USA, 5000 in Canada and 2000 in Australia. Yet Britain has not given them priority for Asylum. Why?

Despite the fall of ISIS, there are still over 3000 women and girls, sold into slavery, who are missing. The Yezidis are living in tented camps, which the UN ambassador expressed shock to discover. Why?

The Yezidi have been, and are still being, systematically persecuted and ethnically cleansed.