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Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Mar 27, 2018 12:59 pm

Sinjar's Yazidi forces gear up for threatened Turkish invasion

Yazidi commanders in Sinjar have vowed to defend the mountains against any incursions by the Turkish military, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to hunt down PKK fighters in the area.

They also deny the presence of any PKK fighters on the mountain.

“This is a political matter between the governments but, if Turkish soldiers try to come here to Sinjar to fight face to face, we will not let them enter one metre of Iraqi soil,” commander of the Hashd al-Shaabi security operations in Sinjar town, Abdulabbas Hamza Qassim, told MEE.

    - Abdulabbas Hamza Qassim, commander of Hashd al-Shaabi Security Operations in Sinjar town

    If Erdogan really wants to destroy the PKK he knows exactly where they are, but they are not in the Sinjar mountains and there are none here in the town of Sinjar

“Everyone here - Muslims as well as Yazidis - would fight against any Turkish forces who try to come to Sinjar because we all know how Turkey facilitated the movement of IS fighters coming here.”

He said it was doubtful Turkish infantry would dare enter the area because local Yazidi forces have had the backing of the Iraqi government since Baghdad regained full control over Sinjar from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in October.

“When the Hashd al-Shaabi forces came to Sinjar, they gave Yazidis back their power and Turkey is fully aware of this, and of the power of the Hashd al-Shaabi forces,” Qassim said.

“If Erdogan really wants to destroy the PKK he knows exactly where they are, but they are not in the Sinjar mountains and there are none here in the town of Sinjar.”

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) - deemed a terrorist entity by Turkey, the European Union and the United States for decades of insurgency against the Turkish government - came to Sinjar in 2014 when the area was under a brutal siege by the Islamic State group (IS), and opened a safe corridor to allow thousands trapped on Sinjar mountain to escape to Syria.

PKK forces also participated in the battle to liberate Sinjar in 2015.

“Of course we will fight the Turkish army if they come to Sinjar, just like the YPG fought them in Afrin,” said commander of Iraq's People’s Protection Force (YPG), Said Hassan. Unlike its Kurdish Syrian counterpart, the YPG in Iraq is an almost exclusively Yazidi force.

Little defence against air strikes

Speaking from his windswept headquarters near a sprawling Yazidi camp on top of Sinjar mountain where several thousand Yazidis have lived since being driven from their homes by IS in 2014, he admitted his forces could put up little defence against Turkish air strikes, saying: “We are afraid of only one thing, and that is our ability to protect the civilian families here.”

Last year, two Turkish air strikes on Sinjar mountain, allegedly targeting PKK fighters, killed eight YPG fighters and three civilians.

“We can defend ourselves from ground attacks but not air strikes, and what we really want right now is support, especially moral support, from the Iraqi government because, after those air strikes, the Iraq government was silent,” he said.

“And, since the YPG were incorporated into the Hashd al-Shaabi forces, we have been part of Iraq’s forces.”

On Thursday, the PKK publicly announced its full withdrawal from all areas of Sinjar, following pleas from the Yazidi community and demands from the Iraqi government.

But, Hassan said, PKK fighters had actually already withdrawn late last year, after government forces regained control of Sinjar.

“After the liberation of Sinjar, the YPG forces here gradually gained more power and strength and were able to take over securing the mountain from the PKK and, when the Iraqi government forces came here last year, PKK fighters withdrew because their presence was no longer necessary,” he said.
Iraqi reinforcements

Baghdad sent hundreds of military reinforcements to Sinjar mountain and nearby border regions over the weekend, after the Foreign Ministry said the country rejected the presence of foreign troops or any attempts to conduct military operations in Iraqi territory.

    We have nothing negative to say about the PKK because, when Sinjar was surrounded by IS in 2014 and the [Kurdish] Peshmerga forces ran away and the Iraqi government forces did not come to defend us

    - Sinjar resident

The move has been widely reported as the official armed forces taking control of Sinjar military positions formerly held by PKK units.

Erdogan said on Monday that he hoped the Iraq forces would carry out the operation in Sinjar properly, but vowed that, if the operations were deemed a failure, Turkey would do “what is necessary”.

The threat of further Turkish air strikes on the mountain has struck renewed fears into the Yazidi community, several thousand of whom still live in abject poverty in the mountain camp.

At the end of last week, a handful were seen fleeing from the mountain which they had viewed as a refuge for the last four years.

Some 25,000 Yazidi and 180 Shia Muslim families have returned to Sinjar town and a handful of outlying villages since the area was liberated from IS control, according to the mayor.

“We have nothing negative to say about the PKK because, when Sinjar was surrounded by IS in 2014 and the [Kurdish] Peshmerga forces ran away and the Iraqi government forces did not come to defend us, only the PKK came to help the Yazidi people,” said one Sinjar resident, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“That is how they first entered this area and maybe there are still some of them up in the mountains, but we certainly never see them in the town.”
A history of genocides

“It is very important to differentiate between the PKK and other Sinjar units because, although they share some political ideas, the YPG are only Iraqi Yazidis and Turkey’s issue is with the PKK,” said Qassim.

But Sinjar’s mayor, Ferhad Hiamd, voiced concerns that Turkey’s threats could have a wider goal of strengthening its influence over regionally strategic Sinjar.

“Yazidis have suffered more than 74 documented genocides and 40 of those have been at the hands of the Turks,” he said.

“We fear Turkey is playing this PKK card to make Yazidis leave Sinjar again, and that these threats of military action are part of a larger plan between Turkey and the KRG to rid Sinjar of Yazidis.”

Annual Newroz celebrations last week were cancelled in Sinjar, in a show of solidarity with Afrin, which has a large Yazidi community, and because of the dire situation currently faced by Yazidis returning to their ruined mountain towns and villages with scant facilities and no funds to rebuild.

Ongoing Turkish military presence in Iraq fuels tensions

As part of ongoing operations in Iraq against PKK targets, Turkish warplanes carried out attacks in Iraqi Kurdistan last week, claiming to have killed nine PKK fighters.

But Kurdish member of the Iraqi parliament, Shwan Dawoudi, told MEE that the attacks had killed four civilians, one of whom was a graduate lawyer writing his dissertation on civilian victims of war.

“These air strikes always kill civilians and never members of the PKK, between 300-400 of whom are known to be in a village in the Qandil Mountains,” he said.

“For 22 years, Turkey has had intelligence operatives in Iraq and has been bombing Kurds in Iraq and the government here knows this but is totally silent. It is almost as though Iraq is part of Turkey.”

    These air strikes always kill civilians and never members of the PKK

    - Shwan Dawoudi, Kurdish member of the Iraqi parliament

Although Iraq's Foreign Ministry condemned the attack, Dawoudi criticised the Iraqi government for not following through on any of its promises regarding the withdrawal of Turkish forces long-stationed in Iraq.

“The stand of the Iraqi government on the issue of Turkish forces in Iraq is only empty words for the media. It sent the whole Iraqi army to take control of Kirkuk last year but yet it doesn’t send any forces to throw the Turkish military out of [the town of] Bashiqa,” he said.

“I was in Bashiqa this week and promises [Iraqi Prime Minister] Haidar al-Abadi made before have had no impact whatsoever. The Turkish military base is still there, and there are at least 21 further Turkish military bases across Iraq.”

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/sinja ... 1438429563
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Apr 10, 2018 2:04 pm

Yazidis Still Suffering Years After ISIS Genocide

Thousands of displaced Yazidis in the Sinjar mountains in Northern Iraq are still suffering and afraid, almost four years after Islamic State attacked Yazidi villages.

"The situation of the Yazidis in Iraq is of great concern. It is an ongoing humanitarian catastrophe with still close to 400,000 internally displaced scattered throughout the provinces of northern Iraq," Lisa Miara, founder of Springs of Hope Foundation, told VOA.

Miara said three-and-a-half years after the Yazidi genocide, some villages are still unreachable and no major effort has been made to enable thousands of Yazidis to restore their lives and businesses.

Yazidis, an ethno-religious minority group of about 550,000 people, mostly reside in northern Iraq, in an area also populated by Kurds and Arabs.

In August 2014, the Islamic State attacked the Yazidi-populated Sinjar mountain, killing thousands of men and taking thousands of women and girls as sex slaves. Yazidis consider the attack one of 74 genocides in their history.

The massacre against Yazidis was one of the reasons the U.S.-led military operation, under the authority of President Barack Obama, targeted Islamic State in Iraq in August 2014, the first offensive action by the U.S. in Iraq since it withdrew ground troops in 2011.

"Targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death," Obama said at the time.

Humanitarian aid

Given the large-scale humanitarian demand among displaced Yazidis, a number of local and global organizations are pleading to remain focused on the plight of the Yazidis.

Saad Babir, communication manager at Yazda Organization, told VOA that basic needs such as electricity, water and education are lacking. In addition, more than 70 percent of houses have been destroyed, and many religious temples targeted by IS are in rubble.

Thousands of Yazidi women kidnapped by IS are still missing. After the defeat of IS in Iraq and Syria, Yazidis feel they have been marginalized and efforts to find the girls — missing since 2014 — have receded.

"More than 3,000 women, men and children are still missing. Once IS was gone, no more attention is paid for the victims, no post-IS rehabilitation for the victims, and not just for Yazidis but everyone affected by ISIS," said Babir, using an acronym for the group.

Reconciliation

Babir said the atrocities committed by IS have created mistrust in the region between minorities and their communities in general.

USAID and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) are working jointly on the recovery of minority groups.

"One thing we are doing is working to help restore some of the cultural diversity that has been a hallmark in Iraq," USAID's Mark Green, the United States' top foreign aid official, said at United States Institute of Peace last week.

"In northern Iraq, we have been helping Yazidis and Christian minorities to be able to return home, to feel secure enough to be able to re-establish their communities," Green said.

https://www.voanews.com/a/yazidis-suffe ... 39854.html
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:43 am

Yazidis Still Suffering And Afraid

Thousands of displaced Yazidis in the Sinjar mountains in Northern Iraq are still suffering and afraid, almost four years after Islamic State attacked Yazidi villages.

"The situation of the Yazidis in Iraq is of great concern. It is an ongoing humanitarian catastrophe with still close to 400,000 internally displaced scattered throughout the provinces of northern Iraq," Lisa Miara, founder of Springs of Hope Foundation, told VOA.

Miara said three-and-a-half years after the Yazidi genocide, some villages are still unreachable and no major effort has been made to enable thousands of Yazidis to restore their lives and businesses.

Yazidis, an ethno-religious minority group of about 550,000 people, mostly reside in northern Iraq, in an area also populated by Kurds and Arabs.

In August 2014, the Islamic State attacked the Yazidi-populated Sinjar mountain, killing thousands of men and taking thousands of women and girls as sex slaves. Yazidis consider the attack one of 74 genocides in their history.

The massacre against Yazidis was one of the reasons the U.S.-led military operation, under the authority of President Barack Obama, targeted Islamic State in Iraq in August 2014, the first offensive action by the U.S. in Iraq since it withdrew ground troops in 2011.

"Targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death," Obama said at the time.

Humanitarian aid

Given the large-scale humanitarian demand among displaced Yazidis, a number of local and global organizations are pleading to remain focused on the plight of the Yazidis.

Saad Babir, communication manager at Yazda Organization, told VOA that basic needs such as electricity, water and education are lacking. In addition, more than 70 percent of houses have been destroyed, and many religious temples targeted by IS are in rubble.

Thousands of Yazidi women kidnapped by IS are still missing. After the defeat of IS in Iraq and Syria, Yazidis feel they have been marginalized and efforts to find the girls — missing since 2014 — have receded.

"More than 3,000 women, men and children are still missing. Once IS was gone, no more attention is paid for the victims, no post-IS rehabilitation for the victims, and not just for Yazidis but everyone affected by ISIS," said Babir, using an acronym for the group.

Reconciliation

Babir said the atrocities committed by IS have created mistrust in the region between minorities and their communities in general.

USAID and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) are working jointly on the recovery of minority groups.

"One thing we are doing is working to help restore some of the cultural diversity that has been a hallmark in Iraq," USAID's Mark Green, the United States' top foreign aid official, said at United States Institute of Peace last week.

"In northern Iraq, we have been helping Yazidis and Christian minorities to be able to return home, to feel secure enough to be able to re-establish their communities," Green said.

https://www.voanews.com/a/yazidis-suffe ... 39854.html
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:48 am

Hazim’s Electronic Dreams: Documenting the Yazidi Genocide

They came to destroy. ISIS forces flooded the Sinjar region of Iraq at dawn determined to wipe out Yazidism, an ancient faith with a rich oral tradition. The United Nations’ Human Rights Council has described the events from August 2014 as genocide. Thousands of Yazidi men and boys were killed and some 7,000 women were abducted and enslaved.

Twenty-three-year-old Hazim Avdal documented the genocide of his people as a young man in Iraq. He made waves in U.S. media earlier this year when David Letterman revealed on his Netflix show that George and Amal Clooney has sponsored Avdal to come to the United States as a refugee. He now is working on his undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago.

A self-taught programmer, Avdal created software to help Yazidi women survivors get government assistance. Over a thousand women have used it to date. He also designed a database system to record the medical history and to track the prescription medications of all patients in a camp of nearly 16,000 internally displaced persons. Through his work Avdal eventually crossed paths with Amal Clooney, an international human rights lawyer who campaigns for ISIS to be prosecuted through the International Criminal Court.

Avdal told his story to Sarah Conway.

I never imagined I would be a freshman at the University of Chicago studying computer science after everything that happened in the past few years. Learning has always been a form of survival for me. I graduated high school as the seventh highest scoring student in Iraq in 2013 with a GPA of 100.17 percent. It was a moment where everyone in my small town of 2,000 people celebrated my success as if it was their very own success. I was their son or their brother who had surpassed a perfect score on the national test. It was a town where everyone knew everyone—we were like a big family.

My parents’ generation was certain that mine would finally change the fate of Yazidis in Iraq through education. Under Saddam, the Iraqi government destroyed Yazidi villages near Mount Sinjar, then moved villages to new areas to exert control of these populations. There were few schools, and most Yazidis depended on agriculture and farming year round, so few children were able to study.

But even after the schools were built our safety never really improved. After the US invasion in 2003, everything spiraled out of control in a shift from systematic government oppression to bombings and attacks by al-Qaeda because of our religious identity. During those years, it was hard to know who your enemy was. They would attack us then fade back into society. Life in Iraq really stopped for Yazidis from 2003 to 2014. It was like living in a constant state of terror where you felt afraid all the time. Even today, it feels weird sometimes to sleep here in Chicago and feel safe.

When you flee a genocide your family needs you more than anyone.

All my dreams of university fell apart in 2013 when buses transporting Yazidi students to the University of Mosul were attacked. Two bus drivers died and flyers were distributed warning Yazidi students to not return to school or face death. In one day more than 2,000 Yazidi students dropped out of university. For me, education was everything. I never imagined life without it. I had already played out every scenario of my academic career in detail—I would do this, I would do that as part of a clear plan for my future. But just one day ruined my plan and my life. On my own, I kept on coding and studying programming with the dream that I’d one day be able to go back to school, but the next year ISIS ended everything.

Mount Sinjar west of Mosul is the only thing that Yazidis own in Iraq—just one mountain. It is how we have survived 72 genocides that have been passed on in our oral culture from generation to generation. When Sinjar district was attacked, more than 350,000 Yazidis fled, almost half went to the mountain in dry 100 degree heat without food or water. Those who couldn’t flee were rounded up, and either executed, or taken away to be sold or trafficked. Most of the men were massacred. So many people went missing, or died from dehydration or injuries.

That August over 7,000 Yazidi women and girls were captured and systemically sold. Children were taken from their mothers, and shipped off to be indoctrinated with extremist ideology. ISIS was successful in doing so because children’s minds are impressionable—like a blank sheet of paper. These events: were catastrophic, a total derooting of us from our land as a people.

Abducted women were treated as property. An ISIS fighter would come to a room full of Yazidi girls and buy one or two for $100 and take them away. Mothers were separated from daughters; even seven-year-old girls were not safe. ISIS fighters were monsters.

My family and many others fled, inching further and further north because nowhere felt safe until we crossed a border. Five months later, I found myself living in a refugee camp in southern Turkey when I heard that a nonprofit run by Yazidis called Yazda. They were looking for a volunteer to do IT support back in Iraq. I was intrigued. One of their projects was to help Yazidi women survivors who’d escaped the homes of ISIS members reintegrate into society through financial and social support.

Oftentimes, these women were the only survivor in their family, arriving in an overcrowded camp with no support and no tent. Imagine surviving those experiences with no family to hold you afterwards, or to listen to your stories when you are finally free. At that time, neither nonprofits nor the government were taking care of these women. We were really among the first.

Although all my knowledge of coding and programming was self taught at that point, I knew there were few Yazidis like me who could help these women somehow through technology. When you flee a genocide your family needs you more than anyone. But still, I packed my bag and said goodbye to my mother and retraced my path back to Iraq in January 2015.

We worked with the Iraqi government to give these survivors monthly allowances, but government bureaucracy demanded in-depth applications with personal information and proof of their stories through recorded testimonies. These testimonies would later become the basis for a genocide report to the International Criminal Court. One way I could tangibly help these survivors was to create secure software to house this information and get them government support. I still believe that data and testimonies will bring those who committed this genocide to trial one day.

Before this project, I had a fairly good programming background but it was nowhere near the knowledge needed to make a sophisticated database management system. Getting this system ready was nonstop work, where you wake up at 4 am and close your computer at 11 pm, because you are driven by tangible change being within your reach. Within three weeks I produced the first version of the software and after a few improvements, I was able to give staff the ability to press a button and produce a report instantly for Baghdad.

Testimonies were necessary. I alone did at least 70 interviews with women who had been enslaved and it was not an easy job. I know that a young man isn’t the best person to have done these interviews, but we had no other option, and so in the absence of trained, gender-appropriate interviewers, I was asked to help. I realized in the process that it’s impossible to know the scale of the tragedy that these women endured even when you hear their stories.

When the people who make up your memories are gone, home is gone, too. Unfortunately that is how genocide works, a place and its people become a memory.

Often I would sit with a survivor, and while listening to her, I began to psychologically experience myself what ISIS did to each one of these women. I was living their experiences in a way through my interviews. After every interview, during the whole day, I would think about her, her suffering, her experience, her future. Their stories haunted me.

There are many stories that I will never forget. I remember a mother with three children, the oldest was just three years old. She was told to quiet her children, and when she could not stifle their cries from hunger, ISIS fed her children poison, then buried them. Just imagine, that mother, I don’t know how to describe it.

There was a 7-month-old girl named Tolai. I still think about Tolai. She was sexually abused by ISIS fighters then locked in a closet until she starved to death. These women carried stories so they wouldn’t be forgotten, then it was my turn to carry them, and maybe now it is yours.

All these stories, all these tragedies that happened, it was not easy to listen to them, yet listening gave me the energy to do that work. I knew by listening, I could help these women maybe even in just a small way. I figured that these women who had escaped were in need of everything, especially financial support from the government, so my small sacrifice was just to listen. Listen to survivors and really let them talk, that’s what I learned.

Here in Chicago, I think about how four years have passed and there has been no action to recognize this genocide. The international community has not taken an effective step to bring those who committed these atrocities to trial. Even today there are women who are still missing and there are mass graves with no experts to excavate them. The evidence is there, but the UN and the international community must make a firm step to bring those behind these crimes to trial.

Sometimes I think about my town and our very tight social bonds, our fields, or my friends but then I remember all these tragedies and horrible stories. When the people who make up your memories are gone, home is gone, too. Unfortunately that is how genocide works, a place and its people become a memory.

Now, I’m a student again so I’ve achieved my dream of returning to school after all—though at 23 I’m usually the oldest in all my classes. For me, the city feels safe, which is something I’m not used to yet. While I study I think of ways that I can stop the world from forgetting our stories. After everything, all I want is for the experience that Yazidis went through to never happen to anyone again—no one deserves these tragedies. We need to stop wars, not start them. In the end, saving lives should be everyone’s goal.

http://www.chicagomag.com/city-life/Apr ... -Genocide/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Apr 16, 2018 9:55 am

New Year - Red Wednesday

New Year, or Red Wednesday, is the most significant feast in the Yazidi calendar, and as such there are many ceremonies and traditions to be observed. It is celebrated in April.

Yazidi girls are not allowed to marry during April because the ‘feast should be her ultimate groom.’ The green pastures and colourful anemone wildflowers are central themes of the period. Eggs are boiled and decorated, and on the eve of the celebrations, delicious meals are prepared for the poor and needy.

At dawn, the head of the household hangs windflowers and eggshells mixed with mud over the front door. This practice, accompanied by prayers and supplications, is to ask for peace, mercy and prosperity for the household for the following year.

One of the main meditations during this feast is the creation of the world. Eggs are used to symbolise the earth. Boiling them illustrates the phases of earth’s creation, the eggshells represent nature, and the flowers the month of April.

After boiling the eggs, each family plays an ancient Yazidi game. Some families prefer to spend the day at home alone, but many celebrate the feast at the sacred monastery of Lalish where various important rituals take place. Worshipers light lamps and wish peace and unity for the entire world.

https://yallairaq.com/en/living/yazidi-new-year/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:05 am

RED WEDNESDAY

The most important day in the Yazidi calendar

Please click on photo to enlarge
923

New Year Holiday Brings Taste Of Lamb And The Home They Fled

Like other spring holidays, Sere Sal, the Yazidi new year, is about fertility and new life. An ancient Kurdish religious minority, the Yazidis color eggs for the holiday in honor of the colors that Tawus Melek, God's chief angel, is said to have spread throughout the new world.

Nawaf Ashur Haskan says his brother always knew which family in their northern Iraqi village was making tashrib for the Yazidi New Year. He would arrive at that house at 11:30 a.m. knowing he would be urged to stay for lunch. Tashrib, a dish of long-simmered lamb, chickpeas and spices poured over flatbread, is served at holidays, weddings and funerals. Nawaf says it's also a great hangover cure.

This year, Nawaf will celebrate Sere Sal (head of the year) April 18 in Washington, D.C., and his brother will have his tashrib in Amsterdam, Holland, far from the large family and neighbors with whom they shared the holiday for most of their lives. Six of their siblings are in Lincoln, Neb., and Germany, and their parents and two other siblings are still in Iraq.

None of his family members still live in the peaceful rural community near Sinjar Mountain, where members of the ancient Yazidi religious minority have resided for thousands of years. Their life there ended in August 2014, when ISIS attacked, killing and abducting thousands. Nawaf's family managed to get to Kurdistan before ISIS closed the roads.

While they left behind all their worldly goods, they took with them their culture, strongly expressed through food. Nawaf brought his cooking skills and passionate interest in food to my Washington, D.C., home, where he lived for nine months.Within a few days, he had taken over the kitchen. His wife, Laila, got out of Iraq six months later and joined him at the stove. Together, they cooked for workdays and for holidays (eids in Arabic), using the unwritten recipes passed down from one generation to the next. The family Facebook page features photos of holiday feasts from around the world. Cooking familiar foods is one way refugees can re-create home, wherever they are.

Yazidi New Year – the second Wednesday after April 14 – commemorates the time when God sent Tawus Melek, his chief angel, to turn the Earth from liquid to solid. The Yazidis, who claim to be the first people created in the Garden of Eden, believe the angel manifested itself as a peacock and spread its brilliant feathers to color the new Earth.

Like other springtime holidays, Sere Sal — also referred to as Charshem (which means Wednesday) — is about fertility and new life. Eggs are colored and their shells decorate Yazidi homes along with the red poppies that bloom this time of year. A special dish of chopped hard-boiled eggs and green onions sautéed in olive oil is always served.

For the second year, Nawaf and Laila will celebrate with a group of Yazidis they met in Centreville, Va. They will play the games they grew up with and eat the same foods – tashrib or another lamb dish, soup with meat-stuffed dumplings, fresh salads, platters piled high with rice and couscous and plates of fruits, nuts and sweets. "But it is more formal," Nawaf says. For one thing, they will sit at a table rather than on the ground, as they would in Iraq. And the festivities will last for a few hours in one home, rather than a full day of moving from place to place visiting, eating, drinking and dancing.

Kolecha, fig-and-nut-filled cookies, are on the feast table at every eid.

Please click on photo to enlarge
924

Nawaf grew up on his grandfather's sheep farm and says by Charshem, there would be about 50 healthy lambs on the farm. "We would choose the fattest one and my father would get up in the early morning hours to slaughter it," Nawaf says. "By 9 a.m., he would start making shawi, a barbecue of the heart, kidneys, liver and other organs, for breakfast." The bones and other meat were slow cooked with onions, garlic and dried limes for lunch.

While the men are cooking and entertaining visitors who come to say eida ta piroziby ("happy eid" in the Yazidi Kurdish dialect), women go to the cemetery with special foods and sweets for those who have died within the last year. "They cry, they chant and then they visit and share food," Nawaf says. "It's like a big picnic."

In suburban Washington, D.C., lamb comes from the market rather than the sheepfold, but the tashrib will taste like home.

Bonny Wolf, a food writer in Washington, D.C., is writing a book about the celebration foods of Middle Eastern minority religions.

Tashrib is the Arabic word for "soak," and this dish is based on bathing Middle Eastern flat bread with a spiced mixture of lamb, onions, garlic, dried limes and chickpeas. "Tashrib is more about the liquid than the meat," says Nawaf Ashur Haskan who, with his wife Laila Saleh, devised this recipe. It is cooked until much of the flavor has gone into the broth and is then piled onto torn pieces of flat bread and eaten with the hands. "Then you lick your fingers," Nawaf says. "That's where all the taste is." Canned chickpeas can be used but Nawaf and Laila prefer to soak dried ones overnight. Laila makes her own bread but there is a good selection at Middle Eastern markets and even some supermarkets. Naan or pita can also be used.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

    2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (or 3 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed)

    4 pounds lamb shoulder with bones, trimmed of fat and cut into chunks

    4 medium onions, quartered

    8 cloves garlic, peeled

    3 teaspoons salt

    2 dried limes,* lightly crushed

    2 teaspoons baharat*, or to taste

    Flat bread, torn into pieces

    Lemon slices

    Rinse the lamb, leaving a little water dripping from pieces and place in a large pot over high heat. Cover an cook about 2 minutes. Stir, cover again and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is well browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, boil 2 quarts of water and when meat is done, add water (should cover meat by about an inch), and chickpeas. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until chickpeas are cooked through, about 30 minutes.

    Add onions, garlic, limes, baharat and more water, if necessary (liquid should just cover meat). Stir, cover, lower heat to medium and cook another 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

    To serve, spread torn bread over large platter and pour lamb mixture on top. Surround with lemon slices.

    *Both baharat, a seven-spice mixture, and dried limes can be found in Middle Eastern markets.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/20 ... -they-fled
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:18 am

Yezidi Religious Tradition

The Yezidi (Yazidi) cosmology and religion is non-dual. They acknowledge an inactive, static and transcendental God, the “Supreme Being,” who created, emanated, or “became” the Seven Great Angels. The first and leader of the Seven Great Angels is Tawsi Melek, the Peacock “King” or Peacock “Angel”.

Leading up to the creation of the cosmos, many Yezidis believe that the Supreme God was originally “over the seas”, a notion reminiscent of the Biblical passage: “And the Spirit of God (as seven Elohim) moved upon the face of the waters.” While playing with a white pearl, state the Yezidis, their Supreme God cast it into this cosmic sea. The pearl was broken and served as the substance from which the Earth and other planets and stars came into being.

The Supreme God then created or manifested a vehicle for completing the creation of the universe. This was the first and greatest angel, Tawsi Melek, the Peacock Angel. Since Tawsi Melek embodied the power and wisdom of the Supreme God he was easily able to know and carry out His bidding. Six more Great Angels were then created to assist Tawsi Melek in his work.

Soon after the Earth was created it began to shake violently. Tawsi Melek was then dispatched to Earth to stop the planet’s quaking, as well as to endow it with life, beauty and abundance. When Tawsi Melek descended to Earth, he assumed the form of a glorious peacock – a bird full of the seven colors. Landing in a place now known as Lalish, Tawsi Melek transferred his peacock colors to the Earth and endowed it with a rich flora and fauna.

Tawsi Melek then traveled to the Garden of Eden to meet Adam. The first human had been created without a soul, so Tawsi Melek blew the breath of life into him. He then turned Adam towards the Sun, symbol of the Supreme Creator, while stating that there was something greater than a human being and it should be worshiped regularly. Tawsi Melek then chanted a prayer for all humanity to daily repeat to the Creator, and he did so in the 72 languages that were going to be eventually spoken by the 72 tribes that were destined to cover the Earth.

Then Eve was created. But according to the Yezidis before copulating the primal couple enrolled in a kind of competition overseen by Tawsi Melek to see if either of either of them could bring forth progeny independent of the other. They both stored their seed in a sealed jar and then after an incubation period opened them. Eve’s jar was opened and found to be full of insects and vermin, while inside Adam’s jar was a beautiful boy-child. This lovely child, known as Shehid bin Jer, “Son of Jar,” grew quickly, married, and had offspring. His descendants are the Yezidis. Thus, the Yezidis regard themselves descendants of Adam but not Eve and the special People of the Peacock Angel.

Shehid bin Jer inherited the divine wisdom that Tawsi Melek had taught his father Adam and then passed it down to his offspring, the earliest Yezidis. It is this wisdom that has become the foundation of the Yezidi religion.

From the Flood to Sheikh Adi

According to the Yezidis, the Garden of Eden era corresponds to a Golden Age of wisdom and prosperity that once covered the planet. After this time of great spiritual light humankind increasingly resorted to self-serving behavior and darkness set in. A series of floods were then released to cleanse the Earth, the most recent of which occurred about 6,000 years ago. The Yezidi trace the crystallization of their religion into its present form back to this period 6,000 years ago.

Following the last flood the Yezidis moved from the homeland in Northern Iraq to India, Afghanistan, and North Africa. Then about 4,000 years ago many of them began to return home. Once back in Northern Iraq the Yezidis help create and participate in the Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian civilizations.

In the 11th century CE the Yezidi culture was reformed by the great Sufi, Sheikh Adi, who oversaw the final modifications that shaped the Yezidi religion down until the present time. Under the unseen guidance of Tawsi Melek, Sheikh Adi composed a scripture, taught hymns and prayers and established the current Yezidi caste system. Sheikh Adi was entombed in Lalish, the ancient spot where the Peacock Angel first landed, making it the spiritual heartland of the Yezidis.

The Yezidi Caste System

The Yezidis always had a caste system since their founding in the Garden of Eden. Their caste system was updated and revised by Sheikh Adi, who established the current strata of classes. At the top of this hierarchy is the Yezidi Prince, the “Mîr,” and his relatives. Together they compose their own Mir Caste. Below the Mir Caste is the Sheikh Caste headed by the Baba Shiekh, the Yezidi “Pope.” Below the Sheikh Caste are the Pir and Murid Castes. The majority of Yezidis are Murids, meaning “commoners.” Then there are the orders of the mystics, the Faqirs, Qewels, and Kocheks, who can be members of any caste.

The Mîr or “Yezidi Prince” is the temporal and religious head of the Yezidis. He is recognized by the Yezidis to be the official representative of Tawsi Melek on Earth and represents his people at all national and international conferences. The role of Mîr is hereditary and currently drawn from one of the Sheikh families, the Çol family.

Legend states that when Tawsi Melek was sent to Earth he proceeded to create a man from the spirit world or void, which in Kurdish translates as ‘çol’. This man and his eventual descendants then assumed the title of Mîr. Initially they were given as their palatial seat the village of Baadra in the Sheikhan region of the Yezidis, but they currently reside in the Sheikhan town of Eyn Sifni.

The Baba Sheikh

Like the Mîr, the Baba Shiekh also hails from the Shiekh Caste and currently resides in the town of Eyn Sifni. Technically, the Baba Sheikh, meaning “Father” Sheikh, is the spiritual head of the Yezidis and the Mîr is the temporal head of the tribe, however in practice the Baba Shiekh remains subordinate to the Mîr in both temporal and spiritual matters. The Baba Sheikh is traditionally present at all important religious meetings and ceremonies of the Yezidis, especially those conducted at Lalish. Once a year the Baba Sheikh visits all the Yezidi villages to give his blessings and conduct ceremonies. During these visits he also resolves disputes among the villagers.

The Sheikh Caste

The Sheikh caste is the highest and most honored of the three castes below Mir. As mentioned, the highest offices within the Yezidis are drawn from it. Sheikh is an Arabic word that denotes a ruler, elder of a tribe, or a revered holy man. The Sheikh Caste was founded by Sheikh Adi and originally drew its membership from the families descended from six of the Seven Great Angels (excluding Tawsi Melek) who had taken physical incarnation when Sheikh Adi was in body.

Membership in both the Sheikh Caste and the Pir Caste has become hereditary and often comes with special abilities. Each Sheikh and Pir family, for example, possesses some healing ability. Some families can cure snake bite, others madness, others fever, headache, arthritis, etc. A family’s spiritual power can be transferred to a sick person through the saliva of one of its members, or via soil from the family shrine.

The Pir Caste

The members of the Pir Caste are descended from Peer Alae, a holy man who had lived during the time of Sheikh Adi and was blessed with miraculous powers. Pirs are also said to be descended from the 40 or 42 disciples of Sheikh Adi. A Pir, which is a Kurdish word meaning “elder,” is an important mentor and official at all important Yezidi functions and meetings, both temporal and religious. Both Pirs and Sheikhs assist with marriages, circumcisions, funerals, and they take on the role of family advisor. Yezidi families of all three castes are required to adopt one Sheikh and one Pir as their guides for life.

The Murid Caste

The Murid Caste consists of the majority of Yezidis. The Murid Caste is the caste of “commoners” who generally do not serve the function of priest.

The Mystics

The Faqirs

The Faqirs are recognized to be the highest of Yezidi mystics. The name Faqir, meaning “Poor One,” is another name, for a Sufi. It is similar to the term “Dervish.” The Faqirs are directly descended from Sheikh Adi, himself a Faqir, and all those ascetic and enlightened Sufis that assisted him during his life. The Faqirs are the experts on the Tawsi Melek and teach his legends and teachings. They often carry a flask of sacred water to bless people, and it is said that they can even initiate a seeker into spiritual life through transference of spiritual power. They wear the sacred goat vest (the goat is a sacred animal among the Yezidi) as well as other distinguishing accouterments, such as the traditional coarse black shirt and black turban of a Sufi Faqir. In whatever community they reside within they assume the role of chief priests and wisdom keepers. Often they are supported by other villagers through alms and tithing.

The Qewels

The Qewels are the bards and sacred singers. They bring forth religious knowledge, sacred hymns, songs and stories at special Yezidi gatherings and ceremonies, and they do so to the accompaniment of flutes, tambourines and other sacred instruments. Their roles are hereditary, and their wisdom is normally passed from father to son. They reside principally in the Beshiqe-Behzani region of northen Iraq.

The Kocheks

The Kocheks, or “seers,” are servants of the Sanctuary of Lalish. Because they are blessed with spiritual gifts, such as clairvoyance, they can psychically diagnose illness and they even know the fate of a soul after leaving the body of the deceased. There are only a few Kocheks left, and they mostly reside in the Sinjar Mountains of northern Iraq. The female counterpart of Kocheks are known as Faqras. They are recognized as holy women with supernatural power. Kocheks and Faqras can come from any of the three main castes.
Yezidi Holidays and Festivals

Yezidi religious year includes four holy festivals:

    The New Year - Sere Sal - Red Wednesday
    The Feast of Sacrifice
    The Feast of Seven Days, Sept 23-30
    The first Friday of December feast following three days of fasting.

The Yezidi New Year

The Yezidi New Year, known as Sere Sal, meaning “Head of the Year”, is celebrated on a particular Wednesday of April, known as Red Wednesday. This day commemorates the Wednesday that Tawsi Melek first came to Earth millions of years ago in order to calm the planet’s quaking and spread his peacock colors throughout the world. Part of the New Year celebration is the coloring of eggs, which collectively represent Tawsi Melek’s rainbow colors that he blessed the world with and displays in his form of the Peacock Angel. The eggs are principally colored red, blue, green and yellow. Women also place blood-red flowers and shells of the colored eggs above the doors of the Yezidis so that Tawsi Melek can recognize their abodes.

New Year day begins with a banquet to honor the dead. At dawn, all Yezidi women go to the nearby cemeteries with pots of food while men remain behind in the villages. The graves quickly become transformed into tables for many plates of food, colored eggs, red flowers and framed photos of the deceased. While going from tombstone to tombstone the women eulogize each of the deceased with mournful singing and wailing. Afterwards tablecloths are spread on the ground between the graves and the women proceed to feast upon the offered food. Meanwhile, back in the villages, the men congratulate each other at the beginning of the New Year.

Parade of the Sanjaks

One of the most important events of the Yezidi New Year is the Parade of the Sanjaks or Parade of the Peacock. Bronze lamps surmounted with peacocks are paraded through many of the Yezidi villages. The Sanjaks were given to the Yezidis by Tawsi Melek and are the most precious sacred objects among the Yezidis. Originally there were seven Sanjaks, one for each of the Seven Sacred Angels, but five were taken in 1892 by the Turkish Moslems. Of the two remaining Sanjaks, the largest and most sacred one is the Sheikhani Sanjak, the Sanjak directly associated with Tawsi Melek. The two Sanjaks are taken in procession to the Yezidi villages by the Qewels, who then remain in each village for one night while giving discourses to the inhabitants on Yezidi spirituality.

The Sheikhani Sanjak

Fast of the Sacrifice

Around mid-February is a forty day fast which is observed only by Yezidi holy men in Lalish. At the completion of this fast is the Feast of Sacrifice, which commemorates when Abraham attempted to sacrifice his son Ishmail but then replaced a sheep for his son. On this day Yezidi also sacrifice a sheep, whose blood is believed to wash away their sins. The Baba Shiekh and other religious leaders sacrifice a sheep in Lalish. After making a pilgrimage to Mt. Arafat, the Lalish group sacrifices their sheep and then light sacred fires all over the valley. At night they perform the Evening Dance, wherein the head of the Faqirs leads the Yezidi priests in a sacred procession.

The Autumn Festival and Feast of the Seven Days

Observed during the beginning of October, the Feast of Seven Days, known as the Jema’iyye and referred to as ziyaret, “the pilgrimage”, is a sacred time when all Yezidis attempt to make the pilgrimage to Lalish in order to to unite as one people at their holiest shrine. Prevailing belief has it that there is an upper or heavenly Lalish where the Seven Great Angels gather at this time to shower there blessings on those assembled at the lower or worldly Lalish. Throughout the week-long event friendships are rekindled and important meetings take place among the Yezidi leaders, with both the Mir and Baba Sheikh in attendance.

The two most important events of the Feast of Seven Days are the Evening Dance and the Sacrifice of the Bull. The Evening Dance is performed by religious dignitaries every evening just after sunset in the court of the Sanctuary. Fourteen, or twice seven, men dressed in white, the color of purity, step to the music of Qewels. They proceed in procession around a sacred torch that represents both the Sun and the Supreme God.. They are led in this walk by the head of the Faqirs, who is dressed in a black fur cape and conical hat – sacred articles allegedly once worn by Sheikh Adi himself.

The Sacrifice of the Bull takes place on the 5th day of the week-long event. It signals the arrival of Fall and carries with it the Yezidis’ prayers for rain during the coming winter and a bountiful Spring. After guards fire a special gun salute, a small bull bursts forth from the main gates of the Sanctuary. The bull is chased by men of the Qaidy tribe up a hill to the Sanctuary of Shiekh Shem. Here the bull is caught and slaughtered. Afterwards, the meat is cooked and distributed among all the pilgrims present at Lalish.

During the week there are also continual baptisms of children and holy objects in the water of the White Spring. The silk cloths that represent the seven angels and normally cover their tombs in the Sanctuary are also re-baptized for the coming year. The final rite is the baptism of the “Throne of Shiekh Adi.” This is a wooden object resembling a funeral cot and covered with red silk. It is also baptized in the White Spring.

The Three Day Fast of December

The Three Day Fast of December is one all Yezidis are expected to observe. Fasting occurs from dawn until sunset, and the nights are given to feasting, merry making and some prayer.

La ilaha ila lah, Al shamis nur alah, Al huq habib alah

“We say this prayer when we first get up in the morning facing the Sun and when we put our head down to sleep.” – A Yezidi

Yezidis have five prayers they repeat daily: Nivêja berîspêdê (the Dawn Prayer), Nivêja rojhilatinê (the Sunrise Prayer), Nivêja nîvro (the Noon Prayer), Nivêja êvarî (the Afternoon Prayer), Nivêja rojavabûnê (the Sunset Prayer). However, most Yezidis only observe only two of these, the sunrise and sunset prayers. The Yezidi worshiper knows to turn his or her face toward the Sun during his or her worship, just as Tawsi Melek taught Adam, but if they observe the noon prayer they face Lalish. Prayers should be accompanied by certain gestures, and they must not be performed in the presence of outsiders. Wednesday, when Tawsi Melek first came to Earth, is the holy day when most prayers are observed, but Sunday, the day that the Peacock Angel was created, is also special. Saturday is the weekly day of rest and rejuvenation.

Death and Reincarnation

Death Rituals.

After death the body is washed, and clay or water from Lalish is placed in the mouth of the deceased. The body is buried immediately thereafter, the head pointing east and the face turned toward the north star. The procession to the cemetery is accompanied by singing, and for a man, possibly a dance performed by his mother or wife.

The Yezidis believe that at death they are brought into the presence of Sheikh Adi on the Sirat bridge for interrogation. The three questions are then posed to them covering their past sexual lives, including whether they married or had sexual relations with a non-Yezidi or someone of another cast. If their answers are acceptable, then Sheikh Adi acts as their intercessor with the Most High in order to move them into Paradise.

Heavenly Brothers and Sisters

During life each Yezidi undergoes a ritual wherein they become bonded to a “brother” or “sister” from a family different from the one they are born into. The sibling relationship thus established is to assist the Yezidi in the next world. According to tradition, your heavenly brother or sister will be waiting to assist your soul when you depart from this world.

Heaven and Hell

There are different theories regarding Heaven and Hell among the Yezidis. Some believe that Tawsi Melek created both Heaven and Hell and that a truly evil person is a candidate for the underworld, while other Yezidis believe that Tawsi Melek cried for seven-thousand years and extinguished the fires of Hell, thereby eliminating it. From this latter perspective all souls will either reincarnate in to a human form or ascend to Heaven for an eternity.

Reincarnation

The Yezidis believe that they will continue to reincarnate until they achieve a certain level of soul purity. At that time they will be eligible to enter a heaven realm and exist there for an eternity. There is also the unusual belief that if a Yezidi soul becomes very impure through the performance of evil actions while on Earth it is liable to reincarnate into the body of a person associated with a different religion, such as Islam. The greatest punishment is to be evicted from the Yezidi religion.

Christianity and Yezidism

Christians and Yezidis have been friends for centuries. During the Turkish-Armenian war the Yezidis saved many Christians who fled the Turkish Moslems and took them into their own homes to hide them from certain death. Some Yezidis even purchased the freedom and safety of Christians from the Turks for a certain number of gold pieces. Their generosity and compassion was later returned by the Christians when, during a period of persecution beginning with the reign of Sadam Hussien, Christian organizations helped the Yezidis flee to Europe and America and became settled in new communities in those foreign lands.

The peacock has always been a popular and fortunate symbol among Christians. During the early days of Christianity it was used interchangeably with the symbol of the phoenix, both of which were the symbols of resurrection and the arisen Christ. To Christians, the peacock’s “eyes” were also symbols of omniscience and represented the all-seeing God. The Catholic Church made the peacock its first official symbol, claiming that the eyes on the peacock’s feathers denoted the “all-seeing church.” Later, during the Middle Ages, many of the greatest European painters portrayed Jesus in the midst of peacocks and also attached peacock feathers to their depictions of the heavenly angels.

The Yezidis recognize Jesus to be one of the great prophets sent to Earth by Tawsi Melek. Today, they even repeat his name in some of their prayers. Yezidis also claim that one of their own, a woodcutter named Yosef Nagar, lived in Jerusalem when Jesus was a boy and taught the future prophet certain healing practices and the art of herbalism.

Within the canon of Yezidi legends one can find stories about how Tawsi Melek was a guide and helper to Jesus. In this regard, it is believed by the Yezidi that God sent Tawsi Melek to move the stone that blocked Jesus’ tomb and was the angel that stayed nearby after it was opened.

Sheike Adi was also a lover of Jesus. One of Adi’s important influences was the Sufi al-Hasan al-Basri who proclaimed “There is no mahdi but ‘Isa (Jesus)”.

http://www.yeziditruth.org/yezidi_religious_tradition
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:14 pm

Yazidis who suffered under Isis face forced conversion to Islam
Amid fresh persecution in Afrin
By Patrick Cockburn

The Yazidis, who were recently the target of massacre, rape and sex slavery by Isis, are now facing forcible conversion to Islam under the threat of death from Turkish-backed forces which captured the Kurdish enclave of Afrin on 18 March. Islamist rebel fighters, who are allied to Turkey and have occupied Yazidi villages in the area, have destroyed the temples and places of worship the Kurdish-speaking non-Islamic sect according to local people.

Shekh Qamber, a 63-year-old Syrian Kurdish Yazidi farmer who fled his town of Qastel Jindo in Afrin, described in an exclusive interview with The Independent what happened to Yazidis who refused to leave their homes. He said that some were forcibly brought to a mosque by Islamists to be converted, while others, including a 70-year-old man he knew, were being lured there by offers of food and medical attention.

Even the place names of Yazidi villages are being changed. Mr Qamber recounted a conversation he had with an Islamist militant who had arrested and questioned him near the town of Azaz when he was trying to escape. He was asked by his interrogator where he was from and he replied that he was from Qastel Jindo. The Islamist, whose groups often describe themselves as belonging to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), said: “it’s no more Qastel Jindo. It’s al-Quds now. We will give it the name of Palestine’s capital. These areas were occupied by the infidels and now it is [going] back to their original owners and original names ... We came here to regain our lands and behead you.”

Mr Qamber recalls that he replied to this threat to kill him by a saying that what would happen would be by god’s will. His interrogator responded: “Shut up! You are infidel. Do you really know or believe in god?” Mr Qamber said that believed in one god and soon after he was released because, he believes, he was old and sick. He eventually found his way to the main Kurdish enclave in northeast Syria which is protected by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) backed by US airpower and 2,000 US troops.

There are frequent reports that many of the Sunni Arab fighters in the FSA, who are under the command of the Turkish military, are former members of Isis and al-Qaeda. In their own videos, they describe the existing Kurdish population as infidels, using slogans and phrases normally associated with al-Qaeda.

Mr Qamder says that the majority of the people in villages around Qastel Jindo, which fell early during the Turkish invasion that began on 20 January, are Yazidis. He says that some villagers fled, but others risked staying because they did not want to lose their houses and lands. These who remained were later “taken to the mosque and given lessons in Islamic prayer”.

In addition, there were “there were temples and Yazidi worship houses, but all have been blown up and destroyed by the militants after they entered the village”. The Yazidi religion is a mixture of beliefs drawn from Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Mr Qamber said he had spoken to people from the Yazidi villages of Burj Abdalo, Basufane, Faqira, and Tirende and they all said “the militants are teaching the Yazidis the Islamic prayer”.

Mr Qander puts part of the blame for what is happening on his own people who returned to their homes after the initial advance of Turkish army and its Arab auxiliaries. He says that they ought to have known better, going by the terrible fate of the Yazidis in Sinjar [Shingal in Kurdish] in northern Iraq in August 2014 when it was overrun by Isis. He asks: “Why don’t they learn from the experiences of Shingal where the Yazidi women were taken as sex slaves and our dignity and honour taken?”

Asked about the present concerns of the Yazidis, many of whom are in refugee camps in northern Syria and Iraq, Mr Qamber said that after the defeat of Isis as a territorial entity they “expected that the Turks will attack us, either directly as they did before in Turkey in the 1970s, or indirectly using their allied Islamist Jihadi groups, like Daesh [Isis] or other groups like the so-called Free Syrian Army”.

Only a limited amount information has been coming out about conditions in Afrin since it was finally captured by the Turkish army and its Arab allies on 18 March. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in its latest report on the Afrin crisis on 16 April says that 137,000 individuals have been displaced from Afrin, while 150,000 remain there, of whom 50,000 are in Afrin City and 100,000 in the countryside. It says that the movement of people is heavily restricted and many who want to return to their homes are not being allowed to pass through checkpoints, which, though it does not identify who is in charge of them, must mean the Turkish military or their Arab auxiliaries inside Afrin, since they are the only authority there.

Reports by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), widely seen as neutral or pro-opposition, citing multiple sources in Afrin confirm Mr Qamber’s account of sectarian and ethnic cleansing by the Turkish army and its Arab allies. It says that it has reliable information that ‘the resettlement of the displaced people of Eastern Ghouta in the Afrin area is still continuing.’ It says that Abdul Nasser Shamir, the military commander of Faylaq al-Rahman, one of the most important armed groups previously fighting the Syrian government in Eastern Ghouta, has been settled along with his top commanders in a town in Afrin.

Other displaced people from Eastern Ghouta are being moved into houses from which their Kurdish inhabitants have fled and are not being allowed to return according to SOHR. It says that refugees from Eastern Ghouta object to what is happening , saying they do not want to settle in Afrin, “where the Turkish forces provide them with houses owned by people displaced from Afrin”.

The Eastern Ghouta refugees say they resent being the instrument of “an organised demographic change” at the behest of Turkey which would, in effect, replace Kurds with Arabs in Afrin. They say they reject this plan, just as they reject any demographic change orchestrated by the Syrian government and Russia in their own home region of Eastern Ghouta, where shelling killed about 1,800 civilians and injured some 6,000. The SOHR notes that the ethnic cleansing by Turkey of Afrin is being carried out “amid a media blackout” and and is being ignored internationally.

The Yazidi Kurds fear that the slaughter and enslavement they endured at the hands of Isis in Sinjar in 2014 might happen again. Mr Qamber is living safely with his wife Adula Mahmoud Safar to the east of Qamishli, the de facto capital of Rojava as the Kurds call their territory in north east Syria. But he is pessimistic about the future, expecting Turkey to invade the rest of Rojava.

He says that many Turkish officials say that “if the Kurds live in a tent in Africa, that tent should be destroyed”. He adds that because the Turks and their Arab allies see the Yazidis as both infidels and Kurds, they are the doubly jeopardised and will be the biggest losers in any future war waged by Turkey against the Kurds.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/worl ... 10696.html
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Apr 21, 2018 4:13 pm

Shengalis (Yazidis) to run in the election with PADÊ

As the parliamentary elections set to be held on May 12 draw close in Iraq, excitement grows in Shengal. The Êzidî Democracy and Freedom Party (PADÊ) is running in the elections for the first time with two candidates, saying, “Vote for your will”

The elections to be held on May 12 in Iraq and Southern Kurdistan are of historical importance for the people of Shengal. Shengalis say they are participating in elections with their own will for the first time. The Êzidî Democracy and Freedom Party (PADÊ) is running for the parliament with two candidates in the 169th list.

The Êzidî people have faced 74 genocidal attacks throughout history. These great massacres are called “firman”s, and the latest firman of August 3, 2014 against Shengal by ISIS gangs has been recognized as a genocide attempt. Thousands were killed in these attacks, and thousands more were abducted. Women and girls were sold as sex slaves in slave markets. Tens of thousands of people were forced out of their homes.

The region has long suffered from discriminatory policies as well. After the Saddam regime fell in 2003, the economic and political development projects did not knock on Shengal’s door. Despite their legal right to do so, they were never able to determine their own candidates with their own will. Parties founded with the Êzidî name in their title sought not to serve the people but their own interests. Previous candidates were determined by village chiefs and clan leaders. The people were not included in the discussions. This continued until the genocidal attacks by ISIS. But those who turned their backs on the people and fled at first sight of trouble still did attempt to say they represent the people.

After the resistance that started with the struggle of the guerilla and the self defense units that were formed in Shengal defeated ISIS gangs and cleared the city, a new era began for the people of Shengal.

New political, social and economic organizations were formed in the city and a democratic self-rule was declared. PADÊ was founded during this resistance and reconstruction, and has great sympathy in Shengal. PADÊ receives popular support due to their service to the people, and the party will have two candidates in the 169th list with the motto, “Vote for your will”. The candidates are Simêr Derwêş Xelef El-Şêx and Xwedêda Mirad Reşo Pîso. The PADÊ candidates were among the people during the August 3 firman. PADÊ is always close with the people and takes interest in their issues, that is why they garner great sympathy and support. With just weeks left until the elections, the people of Shengal are preparing to be represented in the Parliament.
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:09 pm

Yazidis facing forced conversion to Islam after capture of Afrin

Yazidis, a Kurdish religious minority who were in 2014 the target of massacre by ISIS, now face forcible conversion to Islam under the threat of death from Turkish-backed forces which captured the Kurdish enclave of Afrin on 18 March, Patrick Cockburn says, writing for the Independent.

For the Yazidi Kurds the fear of the slaughter and enslavement they suffered at the hands of ISIS in Sinjar in 2014 is all too fresh. They are pessimistic about the future, expecting Turkey to invade the rest of Rojava, the Independent article shares.

Turkey's ongoing Operation Olive Branch, which began on Jan. 20 and is supported by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), saw the capture of Afrin on Mar. 18. Turkey plans to push further in the region.

Cockburn shares the experience of a local Yazidi he calls Mr Qamber in Afrin, where even the names of Yazidi villages are reportedly being changed.

Some Yazidis are being brought to a mosque by Islamists to be converted, while others are being lured there by offers of food and medical attention, the Independent article says.

One Yazidi who lived near the town of Azaz, when he was trying to escape, was asked by his interrogator where he was from and he replied that he was from Qastel Jindo.

‘’The Islamist, whose groups often describe themselves as belonging to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), said: “it’s no more Qastel Jindo. It’s al-Quds now. We will give it the name of Palestine’s capital. These areas were occupied by the infidels and now it is [going] back to their original owners and original names ... We came here to regain our lands and behead you,” Cockburn writes.

Reports indicate that many of the Sunni Arab fighters in the FSA, who are under the command of the Turkish military, are former members of Isis and al-Qaeda, Cockburn says.

The FSA, in their videos, describe the existing Kurdish population as infidels, using slogans and phrases normally associated with al-Qaeda.

Many Yazidis are scattered in refugee camps in northern Syria and Iraq.

‘’Mr Qamber said that after the defeat of Isis as a territorial entity they “expected that the Turks will attack us, either directly as they did before in Turkey in the 1970s, or indirectly using their allied Islamist Jihadi groups, like Daesh [Isis] or other groups like the so-called Free Syrian Army,’’ Cockburn writes while citing the latest UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report on the Afrin crisis published on 16 April which says that ‘’137,000 individuals have been displaced from Afrin, while 150,000 remain there, of whom 50,000 are in Afrin City and 100,000 in the countryside.’’

The Yazidis have suffered centuries of religious persecution. In 2014, more than 3,000 members of this Kurdish religious minority group were executed out of a total of 10,000 killed in matter of days in Iraq while young women were turned into sex slaves, sparking international outrage and aid campaigns.

Yazidis who suffered under Isis face forced conversion to Islam amid fresh persecution in Afrin

The Yazidis, who were recently the target of massacre, rape and sex slavery by Isis, are now facing forcible conversion to Islam under the threat of death from Turkish-backed forces which captured the Kurdish enclave of Afrin on 18 March. Islamist rebel fighters, who are allied to Turkey and have occupied Yazidi villages in the area, have destroyed the temples and places of worship the Kurdish-speaking non-Islamic sect according to local people.

https://ahvalnews.com/yazidis/yazidis-f ... n-analysis
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:22 pm

The Yazidis who never came down the mountain

Nestling near the summit of Sinjar Mountain in northwestern Iraq, hundreds of blue and white tents line several kilometres of battered road snaking through a windswept valley.

This is where, in 2014, some 50,000 members of the Yazidi religious minority fled a massacre by so-called Islamic State. Trapped on the mountain with no food or water, their plight grabbed international headlines.

Four years later, more than 2,000 families, some 10,000 people, still live on the mountain in a camp with scant facilities. Unable to return to their flattened homes or too terrified of further persecution to leave – or both – they feel increasingly forgotten.

Since liberation in late 2015, up to 25,000 Yazidi families have returned to towns and villages once ruled by IS, according to Sinjar’s mayor, Ferhad Hiamd. But that’s not an option for many mountain camp residents who hail from places like Sinjar’s old town – largely reduced to rubble by IS demolitions, street battles, and airstrikes.

One of those who can’t go back is Mahmoud Khalif Bayan, who sits on the floor of his sparsely furnished tent, demoralised by the fact he can only get a day or two of casual labour a month and is unable to provide for his family.

“My home is completely destroyed and, as no one has yet returned to our village and there are no services, it remains impossible for us to return,” he says. “If we had anywhere else to go, we would leave, because this is no way to live.”

For the Yazidis, Sinjar Mountain is sacred. It has provided refuge in past wars. But their difficult life here is under renewed threat. In late March Turkey announced an impending military offensive in Sinjar, claiming that members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which it considers a terrorist group, are still sheltering there.

While this looming military threat has made the situation in the camp even more precarious, grinding poverty and a near-total lack of job opportunities on the remote mountain mean any assistance is quickly used up, and needs remain acute.

Residents say what they really need is help that will last over the long term and enable them to rebuild their lives.

‘We live by God’s mercy’

Bayan’s youngest child, three year-old Chuer, was born in the camp. Her brother Benge, who was just six months old when the family fled, can remember no other home. They live four people to a small tent.

“It’s terrible here because we have no services, no electricity, no proper school, and no healthcare if the children get sick,” Bayan’s wife Shereen explains. The nearest clinic is a half-hour drive, but few residents have cars or can afford transport.

In a nearby tent, Hetty Hero, who looks a decade older than her 40 years, explains how every aspect of life at the camp, located 1,463 metres above sea level and often subject to extremes of weather, is difficult.

“Winter is terrible because rainwater leaks into the tents and it’s very, very cold, and, in the summer, the tents are unbearably hot because we have no fan and no electricity to run one.

“We sleep outside in the summer because it’s cooler, but the snakes and scorpions here are a big risk for the children,” she says. “We have very little food, no doctor, no money, and no work opportunities, and, really, we live by God’s mercy.”

Aid has arrived intermittently since the liberation of Sinjar in late 2015, Shereen says, including occasional donations of clothes and food boxes and, once, 500,000 Iraqi dinars ($420) for every family.

Out of the spotlight

Although the Yazidis continue to attract some media attention, particularly stories of young women forced into sexual slavery, officials from several international NGOs, none of whom agreed to be mentioned by name, noted that donations had dropped off since Iraq declared victory over IS in December 2017. The officials say they are struggling to raise funds for projects in Sinjar.

Small solar panels donated by one NGO back in 2014 have long since ceased to work. Every few nights, government power reaches the handful of brick dwellings for around two hours. Those from nearby tents top up their mobile phones in half-hour charging stints. Another NGO had provided generators and fuel to run the pumps for water-wells, but it withdrew from Sinjar a year ago and the pumps now stand mostly useless.

Sinjar resident Marwan al-Sheikh helps with logistics at the camp, which is run by a local Yazidi brigade of the People’s Protection Forces, or YPG, which worked directly with the PKK from 2014 until 2017, sharing control of the mountain until Iraqi forces took over the area late last year, according to local YPG commander Said Hassan.

Iraq has since incorporated the YPG into its Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces), a collection of mostly Shia fighting forces allied with the Iraqi army during the battles against IS and now officially under state control.

Al-Sheikh says camp organisers collect money from the families to buy fuel for generators from Sinjar town, but many residents don’t have the 4,000-dinar ($3.30) fee.

UNICEF spokeswoman Laila Ali says the UN has provided assistance to residents of the mountain camp since 2015 via a local partner, most recently supplying kerosene heaters and warm clothing.

It is unclear what aid, if any, other aid groups are providing – several, including the World Health Organisation, failed to respond to IRIN’s request for comment.

Whatever aid does arrive offers only fleeting respite. And the camp continues to grow despite the tough living conditions and few basic resources available to residents. Some Sinjar residents who returned to the region from other parts of Iraq to find their homes destroyed or villages deserted have come back up the mountain.

Hassan, a Yazidi, says the mountain has always been seen as a safe haven, even during IS occupation of the region, and that the camp now houses 2,100 families, more than double what it did when most of the Yazidis first fled Sinjar in 2014.

“At first we just had tarpaulins, but organisations in [the Syrian Kurdish area of] Rojava, and the Iraqi government, later sent tents,” he says. “We welcome any Yazidis here, giving them a tent so they can set up a life.”

Under threat

Since Turkey’s threat to intervene in Sinjar, the Iraqi government has sent forces to the area and the PKK announced its complete withdrawal.

In his makeshift general store in a roadside shack, camp resident Khalid Khodaida explains how people on the mountain are now terrified and can’t sleep at night because they fear airstrikes.

“Even though they have no money and almost nothing, some people have already fled,” he says. “The Yazidi people have suffered enough and all we want for our future is peace and safety.”

Turkish warplanes already carried out airstrikes in Sinjar last year, killing eight YPG members and two civilians, including a shepherd’s 10-year-old son.

A spokesman for one of the main international providers of humanitarian aid in Iraq, speaking on condition of anonymity, voiced major concerns about access to the camp and secondary displacement if Turkey follows through on threats to launch military operations in the region.

ISIS repeatedly tried to conquer the mountain until it lost control of Sinjar town in late 2015. It was kept at bay by the mountain’s height and by military positions manned by the YPG, all-female Yazidi units, and the PKK.

Despite the hardships, Hassan, the YPG commander, is quietly optimistic and glad the camp has at least allowed them to stay in their homeland and preserve their threatened culture: “This camp has enabled us to maintain our Yazidi demographic here, and many people stay because it’s near their former homes, so [that] when Sinjar is eventually rebuilt it will be easier for them to return.”

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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed May 02, 2018 4:37 am

Iraq's Yazidis resume pilgrimages to sacred temple

Please click on photo to enlarge:
928

Iraqi Yazidis are healing from the pain and hardship they suffered at the hands of the Islamic State, which swept their areas, killing men and forcing women into sexual slavery for over 3½ years.

In a sign of the return to normal life, the Yazidi New Year was celebrated in a Yazidi temple April 8 for the first time since the liberation from IS.

The celebration involves many Yazidi traditions and customs that characterize their heritage and history. They ceremonially cut firewood and press olives to extract oil to light the lanterns of the temple in Lalish for the entire year.

The distinctive domed temple sits at the foot of a mountainous area northwest of Mosul in Ninevah province, in a dense forest of olive and other trees. Cutting the local wood and pressing the olives are part of a sacred Yazidi religious duty.

Researcher Ahmed Shingaly, who participated in the ceremony, told Al-Monitor, “This is their ancestral homeland. The temple was built to bring together Yazidis from around the world to practice their religious rites. It is not about the edifice alone but about the land that was planted with olive trees, which are never cut. The new generation is invested in growing and taking care of more olive trees.”

However, Shingaly felt a deep sadness from some of the worshipers despite the large turnout. He said, “Thousands of Yazidis, mainly children and women, are still unaccounted for,” in reference to the more than 3,200 women and children that are still held captive by IS, which deems them infidels.

The temple of Lalish is the only temple to which Yazidis from around the world make pilgrimage. Shankali said, “Visitors have to take off their shoes and walk around the temple in sincere contemplation so that their prayers are heard and answered.”

Yazidi writer Akram Darwish, who also attended the ceremony, gave Al-Monitor a detailed account of the annual ritual. He said, “Once summer is over, olives are ripe and ready to be picked from the trees in the large valley near the temple. The olives are then stored inside large storehouses in the temple, as has been the custom for many years.”

Darwish went on, “With the beginning of spring, the olives are taken out of storage and are pressed during a celebration of thousands of Yazidis, who consider it a religious duty. The extracted oil is used to light 500 lanterns in the temple every day before sunset.”

He said that the Yazidis also gather wood and cut down trees for three days. "But they make sure not to cut down saplings or green trees or harm the forest.”

Yazidis are expected to make at least one pilgrimage to the Lalish temple in their lifetimes. Yazidis who live in the area visit it all year round.

Saman Daoud, a Yazidi journalist based in Germany, told Al-Monitor, “There is an urgent need, more than ever before, for this annual religious celebration and the participation of Yazidis from around the world. I was there for this year’s celebration along with hundreds who came from Europe, Australia and the United States to visit the temple.”

Daoud’s statements echo a report by the British Daily Telegraph on June 2, 2017, that said number of visitors to the temple had reached 1,000 people every Friday.

Daoud spoke about another Yazidi tradition, saying, “Pilgrims wrap a piece of cloth on the temple column, praying to God to answer their prayers.” They leave thousands of pieces of worn-out cloth wrapped in place.

As Yazidis resume their normal lives after the great tragedies they have suffered at the hands of IS and some of the residents of nearby villages who collaborated with the organization, some of the worshipers renewed calls for a secure future through international protection and declare the massacres of their people ethnic cleansing at The Hague.

Muslim religious institutions such as the Sunni Endowment are reassuring Yazidis that they recognize the tragedies and crimes they have suffered. Eskandar Watout, a member of the parliamentary security committee, told Al-Monitor, “This has now become a part of the past. Today, the security forces are capable of fully protecting minorities, including Yazidis. IS has been defeated and will never return to Iraq.”

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/origina ... z5EJdocSvH
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu May 10, 2018 1:16 am

Turkey's Afrin operation stokes Yazidi fears and fuels displacement

'Now we are refugees once again - and only God knows what we will be tomorrow.'

Khaled is a Yazidi who was still living in his village when we interviewed him only a few days before the Turkish army and their Free Syrian Army associates invaded in March.

"The Yazidis living in the north of the Afrin district are leaving their homes one by one," he told The New Arab, with an anxious voice at his home in Ain Dera.

"Many shrines have been destroyed. Women have been abducted. If the Turkish army and the Islamists arrive all the way here, we don't know where we will be able to go." The New Arab was not able to confirm his claim of women being abducted.

Khaled was sheltering a Yazidi family from Qastal Jindo, a village in Afrin already captured from the Kurdish YPG militia by the Turkish army.

Ankara sees the YPG as the Syrian extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - an outlawed militant group which has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state for nearly 35 years. Turkish officials view Kurdish control of northern Syrian areas bordering Turkey as a major threat to the country's national security.

Turkey, which has taken in nearly four million Syrian refugees, has trained and equipped fighters of the Free Syrian Army - mostly Sunni Syrian Arabs - and has used them to spearhead their operation to take over Afrin, a canton of northern Syria formerly controlled by the Kurdish YPG militia.

But reports are widespread that militiamen are abusing their newfound positions of power in the area. "In April, eleven Yazidis were kidnapped at the same time and their relatives were asked for large sums of money in exchange for their release," says Murad Ismael, executive director of Yazda, a locally focused non-profit organisation.

Another villager spoke to us, but did not want his name published for fear of reprisals.

"They destroyed the Yazidi shrines immediately upon arriving," he said. "We had fled Sheikh Maqsoud, the Kurdish quarter of Aleppo, because of the in-fighting, and found safety in our original village of Qastal Jindo. Now we are refugees once again - and only God knows what we will be tomorrow."

Read more: Armenia recognises genocide of Yazidis in Iraq

Despite an almost total blackout in the canton now under the control of the Turkish army, evidence has emerged suggesting minorities are being discriminated against for their religious beliefs by zealous Islamist militiamen allied to the Turkish army.

Afrin, Kobane and Jazira had all been controlled by the Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed PKK

The fears Afrin residents shared with us before the completion of the Olive Branch offensive may have been justified.

"The number of Yazidis in Afrin was around 50,000 before the war. It fell to 35,000 as a consequence of the war. As the Turkish offensive started, the drop continued and reached approximately 25,000," said Mahmoud Kalash, chairman of the Committee of Yazidi Intellectuals in Afrin.

It is believed that number has since fallen further in the formerly Kurdish-held canton. Several Yazidis have reportedly converted to Islam to avoid retaliation from Islamist fighters.

"The Turkish government set up a local council to administer Afrin. One Yazidi representative was appointed within this council, but no one seems to know who that person might be," says Saad Babir, media director at Yazda.

In Ain Deraa, which had been a mixed Yazidi and Sunni-Kurdish town, residents had already seen their main sacred prayer site destroyed by an airstrike in January. This temple, a UNESCO site, was targeted despite there being no military activity near the site that we could detect when we visited.

"We used to go to this ancient site to pray and do our religious activities," said Babir.

The Turkish army has denied shelling any cultural site, saying they only aimed at military targets.

Beyond Afrin: How far will Turkey's operations against Kurds go?

Despite this, Saad Babir said at least eight holy Yazidi shrines had been destroyed in Afrin since the start of the Turkish operation. That number was corroborated by other activists on the ground, and by Yazda.

Resettlement

There is an ongoing population swap in the district. Families coming from refugee camps in Turkey are arriving while Kurdish residents are leaving. Some Islamist fighters have seized several houses, often choosing the most comfortable for themselves.

Rebel fighters evacuated from Ghouta and other previously rebel-held territories have been invited to settle in Afrin, though some have reportedly refused to take part in what they see as ethnic cleansing campaign.

The process of resettling Sunni Arab rebels from other areas of Syria coincides with a trend of preventing local residents from returning to their homes after the fighting. Residents here tell The New Arab that Kurdish and Yazidi civilians have been prevented from returning to their homes and forced to remain in the enclave of Tel Rifaat, the last territory in the area still controlled by the Kurdish-led administration of the Northern Syrian Federation - also referred to as Rojava.

Diseases are spreading in Tel Rifaat, due to the horrendous humanitarian situation for the displaced coming from Afrin and surrounding villages. Furthermore, Yazda reports that the Syrian regime has prevented some Kurds and Yazidis from reaching the Kurdish neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsoud, where they could have found shelter and a better humanitarian situation, according to Saad Babir.

"This situation will be the continuation of the Shingal massacre by other means and under almost total media blackout," added another local who asked to remain anonymous.

International silence

"If the international community remains silent and does nothing to protect our minority, there will be even more annihilation against us. Our religion is a religion of tolerance; we did not attack anyone and did not take homes nor land from anyone," stressed Mahmoud Kalash.

The ongoing Syrian civil conflict includes major powers such as Russia and the United States, as well as regional powers including Iran and Turkey. Because of this complex chess game, holding those now controlling Afrin to account seems almost impossible.

Despite evidence of the involvement of former al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front fighters within the ranks of the rebels allied with the Turkish army, major international powers appear unwilling or unable to put significant pressure on the Turkish government to isolate those fighters.

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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon May 14, 2018 12:55 am

'Slow, painful death' of Yazidi woman's body and soul
while enslaved by the Islamic State

By Alia Malek

"The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State" by Nadia Murad with Jenna Krajeski (Tim Duggan Books, 306 pages, in stores)

The Islamic State's attempt to exterminate the Yazidi people of Iraq did not involve only murder. When the militants swept through the north of the country after taking Mosul in the summer of 2014, they executed the religious minority group's men and elderly women. The children and the other women they took captive. They then brainwashed and conscripted the young boys and turned the women and girls into sexual slaves. The latter was justified by edicts based on religious interpretations rejected by nearly all Muslims.

In "The Last Girl," Nadia Murad tells the story of her captivity along with other members of her Yazidi village of Kocho. It is an intimate account of what she calls a "slow, painful death — of the body and the soul." As an insider, she is able to present a full portrait of her people as more than just victims. She writes with understandable anger but also with love, flashes of humor and dignity. In telling her story, Murad also offers glimpses of what has been wrought over recent decades in Iraq.

Disputed lands

The Kurdish-speaking Yazidis live in northern Iraq, largely in underprivileged villages around Mount Sinjar. Most of their Kurdish and Arab neighbors view them with disdain, and they have long been persecuted for their religious beliefs. (Their monotheistic religion has elements in common with many other Middle Eastern faiths, including Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism.)

The Yazidis inhabit disputed lands that Arabs and Kurds battle over, and they have often been caught between those competing nationalist ambitions. Murad writes that Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and Masoud Barzani's Kurdish Democratic Party pressured Yazidis to embrace identities as Arabs and Kurds, respectively, in their bids to assert claims to the land. (Both Arab and Kurdish nationalism imagine a basis for belonging in a most limited sense; their insistence on ethnic homogeneity, in a land where there is none, is doomed to leave out many.)

Internationally and in the region, very little attention was paid to the Yazidis — until the Islamic State came for them. Then they quickly became the subject of much reporting. The interest in the Yazidis, like stories about Middle Eastern Christians, perplexed many who had watched for decades as Iraqis experienced unrelenting horrors that traumatized much larger populations, with little global outcry. Resentment even arose over what seemed like an outsize focus on the suffering of minorities when, in absolute numbers, Muslims make up by far the most victims of the Islamic State, al-Qaida, Shiite militias and others committing violence in the name of Islam.

Of course, it's important to pay close attention to what happens to minorities in all nations: They are the canaries in the coal mine, a gauge of tolerance, inclusiveness and equality in any society. But many observers close to the region are wary of giving a platform to stories of minority persecution in the Middle East out of fear that such tales can demonize Islam by pinning any shortcomings of majority-Muslim societies on the religion itself. Regrettably, these stories are frequently shared for just such purposes, and those who disseminate them lack a sincere concern for the victims. This is true of both Western Islamophobes and Middle Eastern sectarians.

Real people

Murad herself fell victim to the politicization of her plight. Iraqi Kurdish fighters known as peshmerga tricked her into telling her story on video and then released it to the news media without her consent; their goal was to embarrass their political rivals who are fellow Kurds. "I was quickly learning that my story, which I still thought of as a personal tragedy, could be someone else's political tool, particularly in a place like Iraq," Murad writes. "I would have to be careful what I said, because words mean different things to different people, and your story can easily become a weapon to be turned on you."

No doubt controlling her story was part of her motivation to tell it in this book. She takes the time to introduce Kocho and its people before the arrival of the Islamic State. We meet her resilient mother, who greets each new adversity with a joke, and her brother, who is in love with a girl above his station. Before the Islamic State's crimes turned Murad into a human rights activist, she dreamed of opening a beauty salon where she'd style village brides on their wedding days.

So when the Islamic State strikes, we know these are real people — and we know that the stakes are high and the devastation is visceral. During her three months in captivity, Murad was sold and bought, repeatedly raped and beaten. Her depiction of these horrors is unflinching. After her escape, she emigrated to Germany and sought justice for Yazidi victims, aided by human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who has written a foreword for the book.

As part of her mission, Murad seeks to de-weaponize the shame that keeps many victims silent (the same kind of shame that enables men all over the world — from Hollywood executives to politicians, comedians, powerful editors and others — to assault women daily and with impunity).

Targets of ire

Her anger at those who destroyed her people's lives permeates the book — and targets not only the Islamic State. She fumes at the peshmerga fighters who had promised to protect the Yazidis but withdrew from their posts (just as the Iraqi army did in Mosul), abandoning the Yazidis to their fate.

Much of her ire is aimed at Arab Sunnis in northern Iraq, whom she deems either explicit or implicit supporters of the Islamic State. She offers evidence of specific men who committed specific acts and who should be held accountable, if they haven't already been killed in the airstrikes against the militants. But she also implicates the vast majority of Arab Sunnis who lived under the Islamic State for doing nothing. She believes that even if they couldn't have stopped the fighters, they could have protested their actions.

Murad does not, however, credit the many people who did protest and were killed for raising their voices. She notes that some dissented but indicts the rest because they didn't flee the Islamic State. For her, remaining in their homes meant they had no problem with the militants or their crimes. She repeatedly asks: Why else would they stay? What she doesn't ask, however, is: Where could they go? Fleeing to Kurdistan was dangerous for Arab Sunnis because their ethnicity and sect meant they were viewed as potential threats, since Islamic State fighters claim to be Sunni and many are Arab. (As Murad notes, Kurds and Turkmen are also in their ranks.)

Murad's presumptions are challenged when a poor Arab Sunni family in Mosul who did not flee takes her in, hides her and devises a plan to get her out of Islamic State territory — at great risk to themselves. What does it mean, then, if both the targets of her wrath and her saviors are Arab Sunnis? Murad's answer is that such people were merely the exception to a rule that she isn't ready to reject, even if it means she too easily gives in to scapegoating and collective guilt.

Murad's anger raises the question (one we confront in other atrocities in the Middle East and elsewhere): How should we judge the bystanders to evil? The question becomes all the more difficult in the case of people who are living under a brutal regime like the Islamic State and are themselves under the constant threat of violence. How fair is it to attribute their failure to act to their religion or ethnicity?

The pursuit of justice and the equally important goal of peace must include vigilance against the temptation to assign collective guilt. Sectarian scapegoating has long been the reason many Iraqis suffered unspeakable ordeals at the hands of their compatriots.

Nonetheless, Murad gives us a window on the atrocities that destroyed her family and nearly wiped out her vulnerable community. This is a courageous memoir that serves as an important step toward holding to account those who committed horrific crimes.

Malek is a journalist and the author of "The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria" and "A Country Called Amreeka: U.S. History Retold Through Arab American Lives."
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue May 22, 2018 12:26 am

My life as an IS slave: 'They were monsters'

Seeing a bearded man on the streets of her Australian coastal town is enough to grip Delal* with a paralysing certainty that her former captors have come, as promised, to wipe her and her kind off the face of the earth.

“They told us they would follow us wherever we go,” the Yazidi refugee tells SBS News. “There are a lot of bearded people in Australia and when I see them I’m fearful. It reminds me of them.”

Delal is one of hundreds of Yazidis now rebuilding their lives in Australia after IS brutally destroyed the world she knew when it targeted the ethnic minority over their religious beliefs in 2014.

The 31-year-old mother of four is one of an estimated 7,000 Yazidis kidnapped by the self-proclaimed Islamic State - to be sold between fighters, abused or raped - as it swept across the community’s heartland of Sinjar in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“They weren’t human beings,” she says. “They were monsters.”

Delal is also the first Yazidi held as an IS slave now resettled in Australia to speak publicly about her trauma.

Her testimony includes horrific accounts of the murder of children - some including acts of extreme sexual violence - and her torment at seeing her own young sons sent away to unwillingly train as the next generation of militants.

“Before Daesh [IS], our life was good,” she says. “I was a hairdresser. My brothers ... they had a welding business. My husband was a barber.”
Families torn apart

More than 40 of her direct relatives - including her husband - now remain unaccounted for, she says. Some haven’t been seen since the initial attack on Sinjar, in which almost half of the estimated 3,100 Yazidis killed were shot, beheaded or burned alive.

Others were never heard from again after IS separated men from women, and children from their parents, as part of what the United Nations recognises as a genocide.

“They handcuffed the men, blindfolded them, and they put them all in a line,” Delal says. “Up until now I don’t know what has happened to them.”

Genocide scholar and Yazidi rights activist Nikki Marczak, who has spent time with Delal, told SBS News the atrocities inflicted on the Yazidis were part of a very deliberate campaign by IS to wipe out a group it regarded as “devil-worshippers”.

“The violence unleashed against the community in 2014 was planned in advance and systematic, designed to dehumanise women, break apart families and traumatise the whole Yazidi population.”

Delal says her family was initially held together for nine months, when they were forcibly converted to Islam. About 300 men and 400 children were then taken away, with the remaining 600 women separated into two groups of women and girls.
Yazidi refugee and former IS slave Delal is rebuilding her life in an Australian coastal town.

Yazidi refugee and former IS slave Delal is rebuilding her life in an Australian coastal town.

“They were hitting us with their rifles, kicking us, they would pull the women’s ears, hitting women. They were breaking arms. They would force them into the cars. They were all separated.”

“We will never forget it, what has happened to us. It won’t disappear from the front of our eyes.”

Rape and torture

The brutal gang rape of a young girl by five IS fighters was just one of the atrocities Delal says she witnessed after families were split up. The young girl died from her injuries, she says.

“In their hands … you are dead,” she says. “You have no hope. I thought I wouldn’t come out alive.”

Unlike many, Delal says she was kept together with her three young children because they were unwell. She was also pregnant with her husband’s child and gave birth to her daughter while held for two months in an IS prison in Raqqa.

She was then sent to one of the notorious slave markets set up by IS militants, where Yazidi and Christian women were traded between fighters.

“Me and my children were sold for $45 [USD],” she tells SBS News, after the bidding kicked off at $37. Other women were sold for $30, others $19, she adds.

“If no one would buy for the prices they were calling, they would say ‘just come and take these Yazidi women for your slaves’. And one of them was calling out, ‘I need a gas cylinder, you can take a Yazidi woman for a gas cylinder.’”

Me and my children were sold for $45.

She says an Egyptian man was the first of three foreign IS fighters who bought her. The second, a Saudi, was the most brutal. Injuries sustained during her frequent assaults have required hospital treatment in Australia.

One of the militants threatened to sell-off her daughter, who was 10 at the time and still bears the scar from when he burned her with a hot iron. But the worst damage done to Delal and her children wasn’t physical.

Delal claims the family was forced to watch the sadistic torture and murder of a 16-month-old Yazidi girl, who had been taken away from her mother.

“After they did that, I cried a lot, and they told me ‘if you continue crying, we’ll do the same thing to your son’,” she says.

Boys trained as soldiers

Her two sons, then aged five and seven, also spent six months in an IS camp training as child soldiers. Delal says many children who found a way back to their families after such experiences were “lost”.

“Their mental situation is all mixed up,” she says. “When they took them away from their parents, they were very young. And during their captivity with them they teach them about how to use a gun, they teach them a bad version of Islam.”

Delal’s family was able to pay $35,000 via a broker - $7,000 per person - for her and her four children to escape their captives.

Being in Australia has given her children a sense of security that has helped them begin to move beyond their trauma - especially her youngest son.

“In Australia he’s forgotten a lot of it and slowly he’s coming back to us,” she says. “Here they take good care of us and they are being treated at the moment.”

My son has forgotten a lot of it and slowly he’s coming back to us.

Delal says she hopes to reunite in Australia with family, including four of her five sisters who have recently escaped IS and are living in refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan. Her 13-year-old sister is still being held by a fighter. Her children still cry out for their father.

“I give them hope that he will be released and there are many people like him that are captured,” she says.

Hope for prosecution

Last year, the United Nations Security Council resolved to create an independent investigative team to collect, preserve and store evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide by IS.

Daphne Haneman, director of the Yazidi rights group Yazda Australia, said little headway had been made.

“Nothing much is happening yet, and we may be waiting two years,” she said. “That’s pretty tragic.”
Peter Dutton

Peter Dutton says Australia is here to help victims of IS.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told SBS News that Australia was working to assist resettled Yazidis deal with their trauma, help find and reunite them with loved ones still held captive, and to provide a pathway for justice should their tormentors be caught.

“If there is a way in which the federal police can be involved in taking witness statements or gathering of evidence here in Australia to facilitate a prosecution or an investigation then the police will do that,” Mr Dutton said.

Pursuing prosecutions “sends a very clear message that the civilised world won't tolerate the treatment of women and, in particular, young girls in this way and we need to make sure that Australia is part of that effort,” he said.

Susan Hutchinson from the Australian-based “Prosecute don’t Perpetuate” campaign - which is calling for the prosecution of abuses by IS - said Mr Dutton’s remarks regarding investigations were encouraging “but now we need to see the action to back them up”.

“We need to see funding allocations, staff tasking, stakeholder engagement, multi-agency coordination, workshops to identify practical barriers and departmental commitments to overcome them,” Ms Hutchinson said.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/my-life-as- ... e-monsters
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