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Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

A place for discussion and exchanging ideas about Kurdistan issues here, also a place for sharing article & views and analysis about Kurdistan .

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Jul 09, 2017 2:17 am

"Khanasor is Shengal's most secure region"

The Êzidîs who returned from the refugee camps in Southern Kurdistan to Khanasor described their town as the safest region in Shengal.

The 73rd genocide which was brought upon the Êzidî community in Shengal in 2014, rendered thousands of families homeless, many of whom migrated to Southern Kurdistan and were located in refugee camps. After Shengal and its surrounding settlements were liberated, families started to return to their holy ground every day.

One of the safest places which the people return to is the town of Khanasor which was liberated by Shengal Resistance Units (YBŞ) and Shengal Women’s Units (YJŞ) forces in 2014.

One of those who have returned to Khanasor is the family of Xelil, a family of 23 who stayed in the Kendala camp of Bacid Kendala before.

Hüseyin Xelil spoke about their return and explained that their home is actually in the village Gir Izer, but they stay in Khanasor because their village was raided by the gangs who left nothing standing.

Xelil described what he came to see at his village: "I went to see our home in Gir Izer village, but the scene which ISIS left behind was a full wreckage. They destroyed and broken everything. They turned our house into some kind of pillaged grave without life in it."

Hüseyin Xelil noted that they returned from the Bacidê refugee camp and said: "We decided to come to Khanasor because we saw it is safer than all other villages and places. Here you have safety and guarantee for living. We can expect the institutions and organisations in Khanasor to help us.”

Xelîl called upon the people to turn back, saying: "I call on our people to return to their soil. Those refugee camps are camps of death. Even if death awaits us, it should be here on our holy land. Shengal is the land of our ancestors, the holiest place for our grave is here. We need to return from the camps to our soil. If some families cannot return to their villages, they shall come to Khanasor and Sinûnê which are most secure."

Azad Husen, who also returned from the Bacîdê camp in Southern Kurdistan, said: "We endured in those camps without electricity, and our only protection has been the tents above our head. We couldn't endure it anymore and returned to our soil."

Azad Husen described how they were excluded from everything and had to suffer immense hardship in those camps in relation to most basic needs of life and water, and he stressed that the most important thing remains to return to their own soil and home.

Husen called for the people, saying: "We have returned to our ground and home to take the protection of our homeland into our own hands. Even if you spend a hundred years in those camps, you have to return one day anyway. For that reason our people needs to return to their soil."
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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 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:06 pm

From enslavement to freedom: Story of Êzidî woman Hêza

"I want to write the history of freedom in this fight. And that we free all the enslaved Êzidî girls and women, to see the moments of freedom in their eyes, to embrace them with all my heart, is because all of us have lived through the same pain."

"I am now in Raqqa. On the one side I seek to break the mentality of ISIS, on the other I desire to avenge all those women and girls and put an end to their terror. I want to write the history of freedom in this fight. I want us to rescue all the Êzidî women and girls, to see the moments of freedom sparkling in their eyes, to embrace them with all the warmth of my heart, because we all have gone through the same pain and fate. With a unified struggle we will bring them back to Shengal." These are the words of a young woman, who was enslaved following what is known as the 73rd genocide of the Êzidî community, and after her daring escape she took up an arm and joined the fight for freedom.

The 3rd of August 2014 is a black day in the history of mankind. On that day, ISIS gangs launched a well organized attack on Shengal which saw thereupon, because of the retreat of the peshmergas affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDK) presided by Masoud Barzani, thousands of its defenceless citizens brutally massacred and thousands of its girls and women abducted.

One of those women forcibly kidnapped by ISIS gangs was Hêza.

Hêza, who swallowed poison during her captivity at two occasions defying the coercion and force the gangs exerted on her to make her accept conversion to Islam, was subjected to terrible torture.

But Hêza never gave up on struggling for freedom and eventually managed to escape from the gangs. After her escape, she joined at once the ranks of the YJŞ, the Shengal Women's Units, and entered the armed struggle to take revenge for herself and all the Êzidî girls and women.

Hêza and her fellow Êzidî comrades within the YJŞ headed last week to the front line to take part in the Great Battle to liberate Raqqa.

This moment Hêza is standing in Raqqa, ISIS' self declared capital, and is fighting for freedom.

The press office of the Women's Defence Units (YPJ) released the impressive story of Hêza's pursuit of freedom in the emplacements in Raqqa.

Hêza tells that: “I shoot my bullets into the mentality of ISIS. I avenge the Êzidî women. I want to write the history and story of freedom in this fight.”
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jul 11, 2017 12:26 am

Two Yazidi girls freed in western Mosul

Two Yazidi girls were freed during an operation in western Mosul, the Ministry of Defense’s War Media Cell (WMC) said on Monday according to AlSumaria News.

“Iraq’s 9th Armored Division managed on Monday to free two Yazidi girls during an operation in al-Maidan district of Mosul,” the WMC said in a statement.

The Ministry of Interior announced today that a Yazidi girl was freed in Nineveh.

Early today, Sinjar Women’s Units (SWU) announced the participation of some of its members in the battle for Raqqa in Syria to avenge the Islamic State’s (IS) violence against the Yazidi women.

“The SWU has sent a special unit of its fighters to the Syrian City of Raqqa to take part in the liberation of the city from the IS’ grip,” an official from the all-female militia, Privian Sinjari, told Alsumaria News.

Sinjari stressed that the decision to participate in the Raqqa battle came in revenge of IS violence against the Yazidi women and girls.

“The female Yazidi fighters wants to send a message to the world through their participation in the war against the IS that ‘they are strong women who have the ability to defend herself. The Yazidi woman will not give up despite their suffering”.

http://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/two-y ... mosul-wmc/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:39 am

When Yazidi Leaders Speak

The Yazidis of the Middle East have been persecuted for centuries. But who are they?

Since 2014, a unique ethno-religious community in northern Iraq/Kurdistan known as the Yazidis has been persecuted ruthlessly by the Islamic State (IS). The information within this article is built upon what Yazidi leaders feel in regard to inaccuracies in contemporary publications about their religion, including their most prominent figure, Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir. The media often emphasize the inhuman acts of IS against the Yazidis as theologically derived, but the interviewees clarified what the real culprit is behind their 700-year persecution.

Those interviewed were Yazidi religious leader Khurto Ismail Hajj (commonly referred as Baba Sheikh); Kurdish parliamentarian and the director of Shekhan Lalish Cultural Center, Pir Khidir; and the director of religious affairs in Shekhan, Mr. Hadi.

Religious Misconceptions

Many media outlets describe Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir, one of the most important personas in Yazidism during the 12th century, as a “reformer.” Others, in contrast, overemphasize his significance. For example, Yasmine Hafiz in The Huffington Post calls him the “founder” of Yazidism.

According to Baba Sheikh, Yazidism was derived prior to Sheikh Adi — closer to the beginning of creation. Although Sheikh Adi is not the creator, it does not deduct from his value. Specific qualities omitted from many depictions of Sheikh Adi in publications entail that he communicated directly with God; his name is honorably reiterated in Yazidi invocations today; he performed miracles during his time; his grave is venerated every year at the holiest site of Yazidis in Lalish Temple; and the Yazidis posit that he was the spiritual reincarnation of Tawuus Melak, an angel of God that appeared to Yazidis in the form of a peacock angel.

The preceding traits are often used to describe prophets. But this is contrary to how Yazidis venerate Sheikh Adi. Baba Sheikh mentioned that if there was a prophet in Yazidism, it would be Tawuus Melak, not Sheikh Adi.

This is an interesting disclosure that should be further expounded upon in the future by students of theology. That is whether a religious figure’s significance should be liberally defined according to general tenets of contemporary theology or strictly defined according to precisely how the adherents and leaders of a religion proclaim. Sheikh Adi meets a plethora of criteria qualifying him as a prophet for many religions, but religious leaders such as Baba Sheikh and the majority of Yazidis generally consider him more than a reformer, but not a prophet.

The majority of publications on Yazidism also mention that Yazidi traditions are oral as opposed to written. Billy Hallowell of The Blaze states: “Yazidis primarily pass on their traditions orally, which makes pinning down all of the contemporary and historical elements somewhat difficult.”

This is partially true. Baba Sheikh disclosed that one eclectic holy book did exist, but it was stolen. He said Arabs, Turks or Persians stole the book instead of the British, which a few journalists currently claim. Therefore, Yazidism may in fact primarily rely upon oral tradition, but there is a written canon akin to the Bible or Quran. Its location is still a mystery today, though. It is also important to note that Yazidis rely upon two incomplete texts that are currently in existence: the Black Book and the Book of Revelation.

Although the societal myth about Yazidism being a religion of devil worship has been dispelled, there still remain slight misconceptions. For instance, Raya Jalabi in The Guardian postulates that Yazidism “has taken elements from each [monotheistic religion], ranging from baptism (Christianity) to circumcision (Islam) to reverence of fire as a manifestation from God (derived from Zoroastrianism) and yet remains distinctly non-Abrahamic. This derivative quality has often led the Yazidis to be referred to as a sect.”

This is incorrect. Pir Khidir, in his interview, divulged that Yazidis cherish Abraham as a major prophet and that Yazidism’s legitimacy relies upon Abraham within its narrative. In fact, as with Jewish and Islamic traditions, yet dissimilar to Christianity, the battle between King Nimrod and Abraham is mentioned by Sheikh Adi as he stated: “I was present when Adam was living in Paradise, and also when Nimrod threw Abraham in the fire.” In other words, the doctrine of Yazidism is indeed Abrahamic.

Other misconceptions pertaining to the Yazidi religion derive from misinterpreting tribal actions as resulting from Yazidism’s precepts. Justin Huggler of The Telegraph states: “There are darker sides to the Yazidis. They have a tradition of killing any of their members who leave the religion, and 2007 it was reported that Du’a Khalil Aswad, a Yazidi woman, was stoned to death for converting to Islam and marrying a Muslim man.”

Both the murdering of women for marrying outside of the religion or for apostasy in general and the tragic death of Aswad specifically were non-normative events that the Yazidi community publicly shun today and say resulted from solely tribal practices. These tribal practices are similar to Muslim and Christian communities in the Middle East and South Asia, in what has been termed “honor killings.”

Mystery of Persecution?

What makes the Yazidis’ horrific tribulations so much a riddle is the intriguing case that, because it amalgamates so much of various religions, one would comfortably expect solid bridges of tolerance to be cemented. Similar to Islam, Yazidis cleanse their hands and body prior to prayer and pray five times a day. As with Judaism, Yazidis revere the color blue as holy, and they baptize their children as Christians do. Yazidis also refrain from certain edibles such as lettuce, much like Muslims and Jews refrain from pork and Hindus banning beef.

Pir Khidir interestingly revealed that Yazidis even possess the Christian concept of the trinity with God, Tawuus Melak and Sheikh Adi. Furthermore Jesus, Muhammed, Moses, Noah and more monotheistic figures and events are acknowledged in the remaining Yazidi scriptures. Most importantly, some salient principles Yazidism shares with most religious theologies as Baba Sheikh accentuated is to do good deeds selflessly for other humans, regardless of their religion and regardless of public recognition or personal rewards. Pir Khidir insisted:

“We pray for others first, then we pray for ourselves … we respect all humanity.”

Pir Khidir added more suspense to the puzzlement of the persistent persecution of Yazidis. He stated that Yazidis do not have a record of aggressiveness against other religions or cultures. “We always defend ourselves,” he said in highlighting the benign nature of the Yazidi people.

For instance, Yazidi hero Hemoye Shero hid 20,000 Christians in caves during the Armenian genocide in 1915 and, as a consequence, Yazidis were ferociously punished by the Ottomans in a two-month siege of Sinjar Mountain. Baba Sheikh added that the Yazidis have never participated in meting out such brutality that they have suffered for seven centuries such as beheadings, forced conversions, rape and slavery.

Finally, Pir Khidir averred that Muslims, Jews, Christians and others should have no legitimate ideological anxiety from the Yazidis, because conversions are not permitted from or to the Yazidi religion. Thus, there is no ideological hazard from the Yazidis in regard to proselytizing.

Pir Khidir and Hadi mitigated the hypothesis that the Yazidis’ persecution is not actually about ideology — it is all about avarice. Both of them said that when economic tribulations occur or easy financial gain is apparent, the innocuous Yazidis have always been unjustly demonized into the enigmatic evil scapegoat by neighbors. That victimization, according to them, has always been about land but, today, it has transformed into a competition for oil and land. This is not solely from envious neighbors preying upon the weaker Yazidis, but from higher authoritative entities that either directly enable it or simply turn a blind eye.

Hadi personally expressed that the Yazidi community are deeply distrustful and adamantly fearful of their Muslim neighbors, as well as resentful toward Western powers and the Iraq/Kurdistan authorities. In general, Yazidis are in pessimistic disbelief that the Islamic State could rise to overwhelming power so quickly and commit their barbarous acts without someone aiding them. Pir Khidir echoed Hadi’s disbelief, stating that it is incredulous that Western nations could not deter IS, especially after easily removing Saddam Hussein in 2003. Hadi, in similar criticism regarding the lack of intervention in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, emphatically stressed: “If there was a European or US embassy in Sinjar Mountain, if there were two oil pipelines underneath Sinjar, none of this [genocide by IS] would have happened.”

Future of the Yazidis

Baba Sheikh asserted that the future of the Yazidi community has been mercilessly destroyed and, without America’s help, it will remain so. Hadi added that forming an autonomous state for the Yazidis and other religious minorities in northern Iraq/Kurdistan, like Montenegro, is the only viable solution for deterrence of persecution, ethnic cleansing and ending discrimination. He also expressed concern — like Baba Sheikh in his interview with Cale Salih of The New York Times — about the prosperity of the Yazidi religion in regard to the proliferating number of refugees fleeing northern Iraq/Kurdistan to foreign nations and converting to other religions.

Hadi and Pir Khidir also emphasized the detrimental effects of the IS genocide of Yazidis is also psychological. Interfaith programs repairing the distrust and fear between Yazidis and their Muslim neighbors are needed. Additionally, some mosques and schools indoctrinating anti-Yazidi propaganda need to be stymied. Finally, a thorough and official investigation of how IS rose to power and conducted ethnic cleansing, and highlighting and questioning the northern Iraq/Kurdistan government and the international community’s responses is unavoidable, if inter-community relations are to be successfully repaired.

Whatever the future of the Yazidis, they have resiliently endured much over the course of 72 extermination attempts. Whether the animosity by their neighbors stems from economic or theological issues, history demonstrates that groups such as the Yazidis mostly become victims of some ruthless outsider or neighbor. Such communities occasionally survive or suddenly become stronger by becoming exogamous and accepting proselytizing, as the Jewish in Israel.

This is a decision the Yazidis must consider themselves. History also demonstrates that via persecution, such as with the Falun Gong in China, certain religions become more known and sometimes even more popular.

The genocide against the Yazidis will pose the inquiry to all of humanity today if such endogamous and exclusive communities can live on their own accord without being punished and persecuted as an “other” by ignorant and greedy war mongers. Or will international intervention and perhaps even the formulation of autonomous zones be necessary to protect such unique groups?

*[The author would like to thank Awaz Khalil of her assistance as a religious and cultural liaison and translator.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

The views expressed within this article do NOT entirely coincide with the views of a great many others, including myself :ymdevil:

The majority of publications on Yazidism also mention that Yazidi traditions are oral as opposed to written. Billy Hallowell of The Blaze states: “Yazidis primarily pass on their traditions orally, which makes pinning down all of the contemporary and historical elements somewhat difficult.”

Raison d'être

The Yazidism stems from a time so far back that it started even before the written word - a great many ancient cultures have an oral tradition for similar reasons.

... amalgamates so much of various religions.... Similar to Islam, Yazidis cleanse their hands and body prior to prayer and pray five times a day. As with Judaism, Yazidis revere the color blue as holy, and they baptize their children as Christians do. Yazidis also refrain from certain edibles such as lettuce, much like Muslims and Jews refrain from pork and Hindus banning beef.

Raison d'être

Most other religions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam have their roots in Yazidism :D

For many centuries religious leaders from Judaism, Christianity and Islam have been trying to push their individual beliefs that theirs is the only true religion and that none can enter heaven without worshiping their religion =))

Unlike all other religions Yazidis respect all humanity :ymhug:
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:01 am

The Yazidi men left behind: 'ISIS/ISIL destroyed us'

Yazidi men whose wives and children were abducted by ISIS/ISIL are struggling to cope with the uncertainty of their fates.

Salem Khalaf, a 63-year-old tractor driver, vividly recalls the day in August 2014 when ISIL fighters attacked the Sinjar region.

Upon hearing that the group was drawing near and that security forces had fled, Khalaf and other Yazidi men sent their families away, while they remained in place, taking up small arms to defend their homes.

But they were no match for the fighters with ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS). After just a few days, Khalaf and his remaining neighbours fled to the mountains, taking the route that thousands of other Yazidis had followed. They faced starvation and dehydration along the way.

Khalaf has a proud and strong voice, but when he starts talking about his wife and five children - who were 10, 11, 16, 18 and 23 when he last saw them in August 2014 - he looks at the ground and can barely find words. All were kidnapped by ISIL as they attempted to flee on the family's tractor.

"My daughters used to hug me every day when I came back from work. I often used to bring little presents for all my children - dolls, plastic animals, flowers and make-up - small things to make them happy," Khalaf told Al Jazeera while sitting in his tent in a camp for displaced Iraqis near the city of Duhok. "And my wife was so beautiful and nice. We really made a good team."

A few months ago, Khalaf went back to his home in the village of Hardan, north of Sinjar, to find it completely destroyed. Everything valuable had been taken, except for the gifts he bought for his two boys and three girls. When he saw their personal belongings lying on the floor, Khalaf collapsed.

"At first, I wanted to bring some of their belongings with me, but I couldn't bear the thought of seeing these things every day. It hurts too much," he said.

According to his sister-in-law, Ida, Khalaf's wife and children were last seen in Tal Afar nearly two years ago. Ida was also kidnapped by ISIL, but released months later along with 200 other Yazidis, mostly elderly women and children. Since then, no trace of Khalaf's family has been found.

"I know that ISIL is selling them now as slaves. That is what they do with Yazidi women and girls," he said with a broken voice.

More than 6,400 Yazidis were kidnapped by ISIL when the group attacked Sinjar in August 2014, according to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Most of the men were killed and dumped in mass graves, while the women and children were abducted, repeatedly raped or forced to fight for the group.

Since then, more than 3,000 Yazidis have managed to escape, the KRG says. When the battle for Mosul started late last year, many Yazidi families hoped that their family members soon would be rescued.

"We asked the Iraqi army to cut off the road to Syria in an early stage. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Therefore, ISIL had plenty of time to transfer a lot of kidnapped Yazidis to other places, and because of this, we couldn't rescue as many of them as we were hoping for. Thousands of them are still missing," Hussein al-Qaidi, director of the KRG's Office of Kidnapped Affairs in Duhok, told Al Jazeera.

The Yazidi men left behind say they feel betrayed not only by the military forces, who withdrew in the face of advancing ISIL troops, but also by some of their Arab neighbours, who advised them to surrender. Many Yazidi families took that advice, they said, only to find out later that these neighbours were cooperating with ISIL. Questions of "what if" continue to haunt many of the men.

"When ISIL was advancing, we fled to the mountains. After a few days, we decided to look for water and food in a nearby village, as we were starving. When we were there, some of our Arab neighbours came to us. They promised to protect us," Khiri Abdallah, a 35-year-old schoolteacher, told Al Jazeera. "My wife and children went with them, and I went back to get the others. We trusted them."

Instead, Abdallah's family was handed over to ISIL. He later found out that his wife and children were brought to Syria and sold to an ISIL fighter from Tunisia, who later carried out a suicide attack. "Other ISIL members came to my family, gave them $500 and told my son that his father went to heaven," he added.

Abdallah was recently reunited with his sons Shalal, 14, and six-year-old Hachem, after more than two years. His wife and teenage daughter are still being held in ISIL territory.

In another camp in the Kurdish region of Iraq, 66-year-old Khudeda Msto Haji lives alone. Once a respected man in the town of Khanasor with a family and his own casino and catering business, he now lives alone in a tent, struggling to scrape by each day. Sometimes, he even talks to his children, pretending that they are sitting next to him in the room. :((

As he shows pictures of his wife and children, tears roll down his cheeks. "What did she do to deserve this? Why did they do this to us Yazidis? ISIL destroyed us," he asked.

Haji recently started working as a cook again to provide support for his eldest son, who is studying medicine at university and was not at home when ISIL attacked the area.

Every wedding Haji attends makes him feel even more depressed. "I try to smile and pretend to be OK, but the truth is that it hurts me a lot to see people happy. Happy people remind me of the past. I cannot even imagine that I once was a happy man with a family," he said, noting that he would do anything to rescue his wife and children from ISIL's grip.

"Another Yazidi survivor told me that my daughter was sold to a fighter in Raqqa, [Syria]. I now need $30,000 to pay for the smuggler - money I don't have," he said. "I lost everything when ISIL attacked us."

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/featur ... 25142.html
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:27 pm

On Thusday Jun 12, 2014 3:48 pm

We, at Roj Bash Kurdistan, posted the following news:

The Arabic TV Al Ghadeer said that ISIS move from Mosul to Rabia and Yezidi area in Shingal is in danger.


This means that the world had

7 WEEKS

In which to protect the Yazidis

But the world did


NOTHING

And the world still

DOES NOTHING

    To rescue the Yazidi captives

    Protect the Yazidi land from further attack

    Rebuild Yazidi homes and villages
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:34 am

Two young Yezidi girls rescued in Mosul

DUHOK, Kurdistan Region – Two Yezidi girls were rescued in Mosul on Monday.

“One of them is 10 years of age and is from the village of Kocho, and the other one is 7 years old and is from the village of Ardan,” Amin Khalal from the Kurdistan Regional Government’s office for rescuing Yezidis, told Rudaw.

They are expected to reunite with their families today in the city of Duhok, he added.

On Sunday, Nineveh police announced the rescue of a 6-year old girl in Mosul.

As of early July, figures from the Kurdistan Region show that some 3,050 Yezidis had been rescued from ISIS captivity since August 2014, of whom 1,622 are children.

Some 3,400 are still believed to be under ISIS captivity
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:28 am

Big Issue North Minority report on Yazidis

Thousands of Yazidi people fled Isis terror in northern Iraq to become refugees in Kurdistan. In the Kurdish capital Erbil, an artist from Bolton is leading attempts to help them

Dancing in a thunderstorm as lightning flashes across a dark sky, Yazidi children hold their hands upwards to catch raindrops. As we enter their camp, they splash in puddles and yell with excitement and some shout out the odd word of English.

“Hello! Hello!” hollers a young boy wearing a Barcelona football shirt, as we run for cover to the home of one of the 13 families in this makeshift camp. There are 100 people living in basic huts, in the shadow of the plush seven-star Divan Hotel that towers above this tiny encampment.

We are in Erbil, the capital of Kurdish-controlled land in northern Iraq (aka southern Kurdistan to the Kurds) and these are Yazidi refugees who’ve been living in the city as internally displaced persons (IDPs) since escaping Isis in 2014. These families are from Shingal, aka Sinjar, a town that came to the world’s attention nearly three years ago when Isis invaded suddenly and committed mass murder.

During wanton medieval violence, the Islamists massacred at least 5,000 people. They also abducted hundreds of young Yazidi women who were forced into sexual slavery. Fifty thousand fled up a mountain, where they were forced to stay without food or shelter until they were rescued by Kurdish forces.

With an uncertain future, Yazidi refugees who made it to Erbil live in a part of the Kurdish capital called Dream World, although conditions in this camp are in stark contrast to the surrounding wealth.

We are welcomed from the downpour into a family’s home. We leave our shoes at the entrance and sit on rugs on the floor. “This is beautiful – what a privilege this is,” says Tracy Fenton, a 49-year-old artist from Bolton. She is hosting our visit to the Yazidi camp with her colleague Deborah Morgan-Jones. The English women work at the University of Kurdistan, which has been supporting these Yazidi families since last autumn.

We are offered tea and biscuits and a young Yazidi girl called Samira, aged 12, does her best to translate my questions. I ask what her grandmother likes about living in Erbil.

“In Sinjar, everything is broken after Daesh [Arab name for Isis] came. It is not good, it is very bad,” is the reply. “Kurdistan, Hewler [Erbil] and the Peshmerga [Kurdish fighters] have been very good to us.”

Fenton, who studies creative education at Salford University, came to Iraqi Kurdistan in January. She says that while the Yazidis are content living in Erbil, they all wish to return to Sinjar, although political instability means this is currently not possible.

“A few weeks ago I was doing a project with them and said ‘Draw something that makes you happy’ and every single one of them drew the houses they left behind,” she says.

The majority of Yazidis consider themselves ethnically Kurdish but are religiously distinct from Iraq’s predominantly Sunni Kurdish population. Yazidism is an ancient faith that integrates some Islamic beliefs with elements of Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persian religion, and Mithraism, a religion originating in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Estimates put the global number of Yazidis at about 700,000, with the vast majority concentrated in northern Iraq, in and around Sinjar. For their beliefs, the Yazidis have been persecuted for centuries and are considered heretical devil worshippers by Isis, which wanted to wipe them out in 2014.

It is difficult to imagine what these Yazidi families have suffered. As we speak, one young girl draws her hand across her throat when she utters the word “Daesh”.

Fenton says that to be invited into a Yazidi home is extraordinary because they can be extremely insular – particularly these families that choose to be separate from other Yazidi IDPs who are housed in larger, official camps elsewhere in Kurdish territory.

“These are very interconnected families and they are Sinjar Yazidis, who are very fundamental. If we were to try and make a parallel with UK society then these would be Travellers, perhaps Romany Gypsies. They want to be together – but on their own and away from other IDPs,” Fenton explains.

We’d met her earlier at the University of Kurdistan in Erbil, along with Professor Jamal Rasul, a former refugee and minister of planning with the Kurdistan regional government. He is now principal at the educational institution.

Rasul says there are currently more than two million refugees and IDPs living in Iraqi Kurdistan. They include hundreds of thousands of Syrians, and also Iraqis who’ve recently fled the battle for Mosul.

A refugee himself once in Iran, Rasul says: “Today Kurdistan is a safe area. People from all over Iraq have come here. I know how hard it is to be a refugee. The rest of the world has a moral responsibility to keep Kurdistan on its feet. We are looking after more than two million people.”

Due to the recent mass influx of people into the region, the University of Kurdistan now has lecturers and students who are IDPs and refugees. For the Kurds, it means that the demography of their territory is changing rapidly, with 30 per cent of populations now Arab in major Kurdish cities such as Erbil, Duhok
and Sulaymaniyah. “Acceptance is now having to be practised by Kurds,” Rasul says.

Last September the university was asked to help the small Yazidi community. Morgan-Jones, who has researched post-traumatic stress disorder among refugee communities, was approached by the thinktank Middle Eastern Research Forum.

“No was not an option so I took it to the vice-chancellor and he thought it was fantastic – so we set up a recruitment programme for students,” she says. The university’s call for help led to 47 students volunteering and they now visit the camp, in groups, three times a week to assist with teaching.

Fenton came on board in January this year after writing to the university. She’s a therapeutic artist who worked with refugees in Bolton and her work with the Yazidis is part of her research for a masters degree.

She says: “In December, I just had a real pull on my heart that I need to come here, so I emailed the vice-chancellor and told him who I was and what I wanted to do. I asked if he could find a place for me to work with his students, and within three days I literally had a job. So I flew over just after Christmas.”

Artist in residence at the university, Fenton works with staff and students, helping people to deal with any trauma they’re suffering. Many students impacted by war are extremely fragile.

She’s also working therapeutically with the Yazidis, some of whom witnessed carnage in Shinjar. At Salford University, she examined the loss of occupational identity faced by refugees and a main focus of her work in Erbil is helping Yazidi women who have lost everything.

“Becoming an IDP isn’t just about losing your home. It’s about losing your actual identity. You lose your role as a mum, as counsellor, as a taxi driver. You lose everything that you maintained and created in your community,” Fenton says.

She adopts a therapeutic approach as opposed to therapy. “It’s a softer approach, it’s hands on, loving people back to life. These people are flatlining. I call it loving people back to life through creativity.”

As part of the project, she’s been helping the women to make clothes to sell – a livelihood project to help them become social entrepreneurs and get an income. It’s about tapping into their skills and giving them confidence. The men can pick up casual work.

“It’s not like back in England when they can stay home and live off benefits. Here, if they don’t work they don’t get anything,” Fenton says.

Another aim at the outset was to get young children into primary school and the university has been helped by a local school called Sabat, which offered to take 40 of them.

For now, these people have some stability but the future of this community – and tens of thousands more Yazidi IDPs – remains unclear. Sinjar, largely destroyed by Isis, remains politically unstable as various factions vie for control and it is unknown what might happen when Isis is eventually cleared from the Iraqi city of Mosul, where the terror group is battling Iraqi forces. But the University of Kurdistan is determined to continue to help the Yazidis for as long as they stay in
Erbil.

“This is a vocation, not a profession. It’s got to come from the heart,” Fenton says. “You get a lot of people who want to do this, with the right intentions, but they often fall away. The kids, you just love them. You cannot not love them. The way that everyone’s come together has been amazing. It’s just wonderful to see it growing so beautifully.”

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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:15 pm

Following genocide, Shengal reinvents itself anew

The people of Shengal, dozens of its organisations and associations have reinvented themselves anew after the fatal genocide of the 3rd August 2014

Following the 73rd genocide on the 3rd of August 2014 in which thousands of Êzidîs were massacred and thousands of girls and women taken as slaves, the Êzidî community has formed its very own military forces, councils, educational organisations, academies and political parties to protect their community from being subjected to any new massacre.

Let's take a look at the associations and organisations, which have been founded in Shengal following the genocide.

SHENGAL DEFENSE UNITS (YBŞ)

After the people managed to escape to the Mount Shengal, which was always a safe haven the Êzidî community fled to during each and every previous genocide they faced, it opened also this time its stiff arms for its people.

Nine riders defended the most strategic spots and hindered the ISIS gangs to even set a foot on the mountain. Hearing this, armed and unarmed Êzidîs hooked up with the troopers to fulfil once more their historic duty, plunging themselves into the emplacements and the path of resistance. Those very same ones who teamed up with the life-saving troopers, decided that time had come for them to establish their own defence force, comprising of young Êzidî men and women.

In September 2014, not even one month after the brutal genocide, they finally declared the formation of the Shengal Defence Units (YBŞ). The Êzidî youth, whose hopes with outside forces had been totally severed, flocked one by one to the ranks of the YBŞ. When the YBŞ was founded, it stressed that they are the reaction to the genocide and that they will stop with their bodies as shield the fate of being subjected to ever recurring genocides.

What is the reason behind the formation of the YBŞ?

Even though thousands of armed soldiers had been on the spot, within a couple of hours the Êzidî community had been abandoned and left to fend for themselves as the entire population of Shengal had been thrown at the ISIS gangs' feet. The Êzidî community, which served for years in the armies of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) presided by Masoud Barzani and of the Iraqi state, found themselves all of a sudden totally alone with no one being ready to protect them and standing for Shengal's honour.

Unforgettable are the moments when Barzani claimed in a statement some days before the genocide Shengal to be his honour, but throwing that honour in one single night under the bus without giving even one note alone and without looking for a second behind. For this simple reason the founding of the YBŞ was a must. So that the youths of the holy Ezidkhan is able to defend its people and homeland on their own and to not get stuck into the trap of betrayal once more, the decision to found the YBŞ was taken.

SHENGAL WOMEN'S UNITS (YJŞ)

Those who were killed and abducted the most during the genocide were once again the Êzidî women. Alone to not fall into the hands of the barbaric ISIS gangs and to remain faithful to their ancient religion of the peacock angel Tawusê Melek, hundreds of women jumped from the high cliffs of the Mount Shengal with a straight face. The other Êzidî women were taken hostage and sold in markets in this 21st century, which boasts with having improved on humanity and democracy.

Because the systems the Êzidî women were living in rendered them without will and confidence, the arrival of the seven troopers among whom were also female combatants fighting fearlessly against the ISIS gangs in their emplacements, filled their hearts with enormous hope. When shortly afterwards fighters of the Women's Defence Units (YPJ) charged the ISIS gangs relentlessly to save the people and open the life saving Corridor of Humanity, the Êzidî women began to convince themselves that also they can like these brave women take position in the emplacements of the resistance. Borne out of all this, Êzidî women decided in 2015 to establish the Women's Defense Unit of Shengal (YPJ-Shengal). Shortly after that the name got changed to Shengal Women's Units (YJŞ). The YJŞ said in its first statement that they have decided to forge this military formation primarily in order to avenge the Êzidî women taken slaves and sold in markets.

Until now the YBŞ and YJŞ have liberated the city of Shengal, the town Khanasor, the villages of Dohula, Boruk, Digur, Bare, Kerse, Çilmêran, Behreva, Medîban, Kolik, Xeyalê, Sikêniyê, Cîdalê, the entire Mount Shengal and the way connecting Shengal with Raqqa. Even though there might be now a couple of different units present in some areas and villages, those villages and towns however have all been liberated from ISIS gangs with the blood and sweat of the YBŞ-YJŞ. A border of 39 kilometres separated the emplacements of the YBŞ-YJŞ from those of the ISIS gangs. Until the arrival of the Iraqi Hashd al-Shaabi unit to these areas, the People's Defense Forces (HPG) and the YBŞ had already fought shoulder to shoulder for 11 months against the ISIS gangs in Shengal.

SHENGAL CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

The Êzidî community decided on the 14th January 2015 for the first time in their history to administer themselves without being dependent on anyone else anymore. The main objective of the Assembly is to organize, protect and educate the people. When these aims were issued in the press, Barzani was the first one to voice his discontent. He openly stated: "The PKK wants to establish cantons in Shengal." But this was on the contrary a decision given by the people of Shengal themselves. The people saw after the genocide that if they do not administer themselves in such a decisive time, facing genocides will always be their fate. To prevent new massacres against their community, they established the Shengal Constituent Assembly. This Assembly does exist for two years now and representatives of all organisations and associations are part of it. The Assembly consists of 14 committees and has altogether 34 members. In July 2016 the Council of Khanasor was also declared. Following the flood of returnees to their villages, the Êzidî Democratic Society Coordination made the decision to have every village form its own council. On the 11th March 2017 the village Borik founded its council, and on the 30th of March the Council of Serdeşt at the Shengal mountain, comprising 63 members, was introduced.

DEMOCRATIC AUTONOMOUS ASSEMBLY

On the 14th January 2017, the anniversary of the Shengal Constituent Assembly's foundation, efforts towards the realization of Shengal's autonomy were launched. As many civilians started to return to all villages in Shengal with thousands of Êzidîs still remaining in Mount Shengal, the reinforcement of the council became a must. On the 30th of May the Constituent Assembly held its 2nd congress, in which among other things the name of the council was changed to Shengal Democratic Autonomous Assembly. Members of this assembly are representatives of all existing villages, comprising of altogether 101 persons. In addition to that, the system of the Co-presidency was also introduced, something unprecedented in the history of Shengal.

Following the assembly's proclamation, the Shengal Executive Board was elected as well. All organisations and associations of Shengal are part of the Shengal Democratic Autonomous Assembly.

FREE ÊZIDÎ WOMEN'S MOVEMENT (TAJÊ)

The biggest victims of the 73rd genocide were once again women and girls, who were humiliated and sold as slaves at markets. Êzidî women who were determined to build up their own strong will and administer from now on themselves, decided to institute the Free Êzidî Women's Movement (TAJÊ), whose primary role and mission is to organize and educate Êzidî women. The council of the TAJÊ consists of 31 members.

ACADEMY

After the brutal genocide academies and education per se became an eminent necessity particularly for the Êzidî community. For that reason the Academy of Martyr Egid Efrîn was established in January 2016. This academy provides many lessons and courses periodically, mainly on the subjects of the core of the Êzidî belief, the Êzidî religion, Êzidî culture, self administration and becoming bearer of one's own will. Also leading figures of the community take part in these lessons, which extend over a period of one month. Another academy is the Independent Academy of Martyr Binevş Edessa, founded by the Free Êzidî Women's Movement (TAJÊ). On top of that, also military training in the frame of self defence is offered.

EDUCATION IN SHENGAL

As there is nothing left anymore upholding the names of the regional government and the Iraqi system in Shengal, the Êzidî youths have opened in pitched tents provisional schools for the children of Shengal according to their limited possibilities. Classes are being given under such conditions for three years now. And for the first time ever Shengal's children enjoy lessons in their mother tongue. In every village and every area schools have been set up and children are educated. All in all ten schools have been built up so far, consisting of 40 classes. The educational level goes up until the sixth grade. While last year 400 pupils enrolled in classes, this year the number of the students has grown up to 600. Altogether 33 teachers are in charge of the schools. Language, Mathematics, Social Studies, Sport, Art, Biology and Music lessons are available. This year also Arabic and English lessons have been added.

SOCIAL SERVICES (MUNICIPALITY)

The Social Service Office was introduced following the genocide. Its priorities are to place its service at the Êzidî community's disposal and meet the community's needs. It is indiscriminately at the service of all the entire people of Shengal. With five water tanks, one tractor and one garbage truck, it tries hard to secure service for 55 to 60 thousand people. 47 volunteers are working unfailingly for this office.

ÊZÎDÎ FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY PARTY (PADÊ)

The Êzidî Freedom and Democracy Party was founded in 2016, joined by the Movement of Free Êzidîs. Its chairman is Sheikh Qehtan Eli. The main aim of the PADÊ is to organize the people, enlighten and educate them. The PADÊ will take part in Iraq's general elections and represent Shengal's Êzidî community. There are three main offices of the PADÊ in Shengal's villages. The party has been acknowledged officially by the Iraqi state and issued its licence.

ÊZİDXAN ASAYİSH

As the population in Shengal's centre and villages is ever growing again and also because the YBŞ and YJŞ units are mostly active on the frontlines, the unanimous decision was given in June 2016 to introduce an own separate police force, the Asayish, for the protection and maintaining of the internal security. With this purpose the police force of Ezidxan was established. Hundreds of its policemen and women are protecting and keeping safe the villages and central areas against any attacks from outside.

ÊZİDXAN SPECIAL UNITS (YTE)

To provide the YBŞ and YJŞ with professional training, the Êzidxan Special Units (YTE) was founded in 2016. It is a special task force taking care of more dangerous situations, which has already rescued dozens of Êzidî women from the clutches of the ISIS gangs in special operations so far.
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:36 am

Yazidi survivor: 'I was raped every day for six months'

In 2014, so-called Islamic State fighters targeted the Yazidis, an ethnic Kurdish group in northern Iraq, killing the men and capturing the women and children.

Ekhlas, who was 14 at the time, tried to escape up Mount Sinjar but was not fast enough.

She was captured and held as a sex slave for six months.

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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:45 pm

Intimate photos emerge of Daesh judge in Iraq with captive Yazidi women

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Recently, social media published photos of one of the Daesh fighters in Iraq with one of the Yazidi female prisoners who was captured by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi militias.

According to social accounts of Iraqi journalists, the security forces came across one of the cell phones likely belonging to a militia member, and they found photos where the Daesh judge of the ‘State of the Tigris’ called Mullah Sajid Ahmed Ali Shargi, with a number of Yazidi women in intimate positions.

On June 11 this year, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense announced that a Daesh militia prison had been found in which Yazidi women were being held on the coast right of Mosul.

The ministry said in a statement: “The Iraqi army found an ISIS (Daesh) militia prison where a number of Yazidi women were kept, before they were defeated in the 17 Tamoz district Mosul.”

It is noteworthy that according to a statistic issued by the security committee formed to follow up the kidnapped Yazidis last February, the number of the captives reached 3,200 — half of them being young girls and women.

According to the report, the militia transfers the abducted women and children from one district to another, pointing out at the same time that a number of the kidnapped women were killed or killed themselves. Some them were killed during military actions and others committed suicide after being captivated.

Although Mosul was liberated, only a few Yazidis were rescued, according to human rights reports, indicating the presence of many Yazidis in the city of Raqqa and Deir Al-Zour in Syria, in addition to the remaining cities of Iraq such as Tal Afar and Hawija. — Al Arabiya English

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/5136 ... Mena/Daesh
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:06 pm

Slaves of Isis: the long walk of the Yazidi women

When ISIS rounded up Yazidi women and girls in Iraq to use as slaves, the captives drew on their collective memory of past oppressions – and a powerful will to survive. By Cathy Otten

The day before Isis came was a holiday in Sinjar district, northern Iraq. Yazidis gathered to celebrate the end of a fasting period. It was 2 August 2014. Harvested wheat fields stood short and stubbly under the shadowless sun. People slaughtered sheep and gathered with their relatives to celebrate the holiday, handing out sweets and exchanging news and gossip. In the past, they would have invited their Muslim neighbours to join the celebrations, but more recently a distance had grown between them, leading the villagers to keep mostly to their own.

The atmosphere was restless and the temperature peaked above 40C (104F). The top of Mount Sinjar, just north of the town of Sinjar itself, appeared to be shimmering in the heat, and the people living below mostly avoided travelling until after the sun had set, when the streets were filled with neighbours trading fearful rumours, and men patrolling with guns.

At dusk, unfamiliar vehicles started to appear. The lights of the cars could be seen moving in the desert beyond the outlying villages. A sense of foreboding grew as darkness fell. The Yazidi men took their guns and set out to check the horizon beyond the wheat fields, peering toward the villages.

On their return, they gathered in Sinjar town centre in small, tense groups. Convoys of cars, kicking up dust in the distance, had appeared two months before, just before the city of Mosul – the capital of Nineveh province, of which Sinjar is a part – fell to Islamic State (Isis). Mosul is 120km (75 miles) east of Sinjar, and its capture was quickly followed by the fall of other towns. Four divisions of the Iraqi army collapsed, including the third division, which was based around Sinjar and included many Yazidis. The area was almost completely defenceless.

When they seized Mosul, Isis freed the Sunni Muslims from the city’s Badoush prison and executed 600 Shia prisoners. The group plundered weapons and equipment from Iraqi army bases. Soldiers scattered their uniforms, and half a million civilians fled north and east. Within a week, a third of Iraq was under Isis control. Sinjar district, with a population of around 300,000, was surrounded. Only a thin strip of contested road remained, linking them to the relative safety of the Iraqi Kurdistan in the north – but the journey was dangerous.

The Kurdistan region in northern Iraq is semi-autonomous, and guarded by the peshmerga, who now had to defend the four Kurdish provinces against Isis. “Peshmerga” means “those who face death”, and the word is heavy with the historical import of the Kurdish struggle against oppression. In the south-east of the region, on the Iranian border, part of the peshmerga clashed with Isis, but near Sinjar, an uneasy stillness hung in the air like a tension headache that comes before a storm.

Leila is from a family of Yazidi farmers and shepherds. She is small with a pale, girlish face, even though she is 25, and gives off a kind, practical air. She has two younger sisters and three older brothers. As a child she worked on the family farm with her brothers, and after a spate of sheep thefts on their ranch, they decided to move closer to Kojo, a village below Mount Sinjar.

Leila’s brothers had joined the peshmerga after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. On 2 August 2014, their colleagues in nearby Siba Sheikheder came under attack from Isis and called for help. Siba Sheikheder, south of Sinjar, is the closest Yazidi town to the Syrian border, a collection of a few hundred squat buildings. By mid-morning on 3 August 2014, the peshmerga stationed in Kojo had fled. In the confusion, Leila’s family and around 100 others decided to run, but most people stayed, unsure what was going to happen to them.

Leila’s younger sister was living in Siba Sheikheder with her new husband, and phoned home to her parents that morning: “We’re running – Isis is coming,” she said. Leila and her family drove north to Sinjar, leaving her uncle at home to guard the house. Arriving in Sinjar, they realised the town was already under attack and its people were fleeing. Gathering together in a patch of scrubland outside Sinjar, they phoned her uncle. He told them the area was surrounded and Isis would not let anyone leave.

Image

They were trapped. Shortly after the phone call, a group of Isis fighters approached them and told them to hand over money, guns, gold and phones. Leila remembers that the leader had a red face and beard and was called “emir” (“prince”) by the others. Fighters drove her family to one of the central government offices in Sinjar, where ID cards used to be issued. What seemed like thousands of women and girls had been gathered inside the building’s offices, with men crammed together on the second floor. At around 9pm, Isis guards brought lanterns inside and began inspecting the faces of the women and girls. The women huddled together for protection, and as the men drew near to Leila, she was so scared that she fainted. This saved her from being taken away that night. Five of her female cousins were not so lucky.

The Yazidi women in Sinjar didn’t realise it yet, but the Isis fighters were carrying out a pre-planned mass abduction for the purpose of institutionalised rape. Initially they were looking for unmarried women and girls over eight.

When Sinjar district was attacked by Isis, more than 100,000 people fled to take refuge on Mount Sinjar. Those who couldn’t flee were rounded up. Many of the men were massacred. Thousands of Yazidis were either executed and thrown into pits, or died of dehydration, injuries or exhaustion on the mountain. So many people were missing that the enslavement of women didn’t immediately come to international attention.

According to Iraqi MP Vian Dakhil, herself a Yazidi from Sinjar, an estimated 6,383 Yazidis – mostly women and children – were enslaved and transported to Isis prisons, military training camps, and the homes of fighters across eastern Syria and western Iraq, where they were raped, beaten, sold, and locked away. By mid-2016, 2,590 women and children had escaped or been smuggled out of the caliphate and 3,793 remained in captivity.

The Yazidis are a majority-Kurdish-speaking religious group living mostly in northern Iraq. They number less than one million worldwide. The Yazidis, throughout their history, have been persecuted as infidels by Muslim rulers who demanded that they convert. Rather than formal ceremonies, their religious practice involves visiting sacred places. Yazidis participate in baptism and feasts, sing hymns and recite stories. Some of the stories are about historical and mythical battles fought in protection of the religion. Others, told over the centuries by generations of women, detail methods of resistance to the same threats that Yazidi women face today.

The Yazidis had already been made vulnerable by forced displacement under Saddam Hussein, economic meltdown under UN sanctions, the breakdown of the state and security after the US-led invasion of 2003, and the political failures that followed. In Iraq there are now around 500,000 Yazidis, primarily from the Sinjar region in Nineveh province in the country’s north. The Yazidis of Syria and Turkey have mostly all fled to neighbouring countries or to Europe. In Germany, their numbers are estimated at 25,000.

“Not all violence is hot. There’s cold violence, too, which takes its time and finally gets its way,” Teju Cole wrote in a 2015 essay about Palestine. Around the world, a broader kind of cold violence continues. It’s the violence of indignity, of forgetting, of carelessness and of not listening. It’s there in the way politicians talk about refugees, and in the way the stateless are sometimes written about and photographed by the western media. It’s there in the fear of outsiders. It’s there in the way humans dismiss other humans as less worthy of protection or care. When cold violence and hot violence merge, we get mass killings inflicted on the most vulnerable.

Yazidis have suffered massacres and oppression for generations. But there was something different about the Isis attack that took place in the late summer of 2014. This time the media took notice.

Many of the stories about the abduction and enslavement of Yazidi women and children described them as “sex slaves” and featured graphic, sometimes lurid, accounts by newly escaped survivors. The female fighters of Kurdish militias helping to free Yazidis from Mount Sinjar became fodder for often novelty coverage. The Yazidis became the embodiment of embattled, exotic minorities set against the evil of Isis. This narrative has stereotyped Yazidi women as passive victims of mass rape at the hands of perpetrators presented as the epitome of pure evil.

It was only much later in my reporting on how some Yazidi women managed to escape and return that I became aware of how important stories of captivity and resistance were to dealing with trauma, both historically and in relation to Isis. Yazidism is a closed religion and identity, one that is passed down through generations by stories and music. These practices have been extended to dealing with the traumas of their treatment at the hands of Isis.

Many of the women and children captured in Sinjar had seen or heard their male relatives being killed by the armed Isis fighters who now surrounded them. In jails across Iraq and Syria, where the women were held, they felt a sense of “abject terror on hearing footsteps in the corridor outside and keys opening the locks”, said a report by the UN commission on Syria that designated the Isis crimes against the Yazidis as genocide. “The first 12 hours of capture were filled with sharply mounting terror. The selection of any girl was accompanied by screaming as she was forcibly pulled from the room, with her mother and any other women who tried to keep hold of her being brutally beaten by fighters. [Yazidi] women and girls began to scratch and bloody themselves in an attempt to make themselves unattractive to potential buyers.”

At first, the women and girls were taken to prearranged locations in Iraq where they were handed out to the Isis fighters who took part in the attack on Sinjar. To avoid being raped, some of the girls killed themselves by slitting their wrists or throats, or hanging themselves, or throwing themselves from buildings.

Amid the panic in the Sinjar ID office, Leila decided to pose as a mother to her small niece and nephew after she saw the other women being taken away, and correctly assumed that being unmarried was dangerous. The following day, the Yazidi men on the second floor disappeared.

Leila was transported 50km east to a school-turned-prison in Tel Afar, where the women were crowded into classrooms functioning as cells, guarded by fighters who continued to pick out beautiful girls to serve as slaves. Each time they were moved, their names and ages were noted down on a list.

In the coming weeks, some Yazidis managed to escape by walking through the night across muddy fields, keeping to the valleys to avoid Isis checkpoints and reach the peshmerga. It was in those first few days that the Yazidis could most feasibly have been rescued. The captives were held together and some still had mobile phones hidden under their clothes to call relatives back in Kurdistan and tell them exactly where they were. But with little by way of rapid international or governmental support materialising, a sense of abandonment soon grew among the families waiting for their loved ones.

“Within days of what happened to the Yazidis on the mountain, the phone calls went from ‘help us survive’ to ‘they’ve kidnapped these women and can you help us to rescue them,’” said Tom Malinowski, then the US assistant secretary for democracy, human rights and labour, when interviewed in February 2016 during a visit to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region. “Hostage rescues are one of the most dangerous things to do, but when they [the women] were still being held in large groups this was discussed, but tragically they were then dispersed … It is still very much on our minds and something we know has to be considered.”

To date there have been no known, large-scale rescue missions to free the Yazidi captives in Iraq and Syria, by either the US, Iraqi or Kurdistan regional governments. X(

According to Isis, it has no choice but to attack and kill disbelieving men. Flowing from this, it justifies the enslaving of their women as an act of protection, a way of replacing the men who previously looked after them. This idea is crucial to the role of slavery in Isis’s conception of how a caliphate should function.

Implicit in the goal of eliminating the Yazidi community is the idea that society would be better without them, which is common to all genocides, said former UN investigator Sareta Ashraph. The enslavement, for Isis, is meant to eventually bring the women to Islam, and is part of their ideology of conquest. “[It is] among the greatest forms of the honour of Islam and its sharia [Islamic law], as it is a clear affirmation showing the supremacy of the people of sharia, and the greatness of their affairs, and the dominance of their state, and the power of their might,” according to an Isis pamphlet on slavery.

Isis describes its own use of enslavement through a mix of clumsy metaphors about sex, war and power. Dividing up the captive women and children among the Isis mujahideen [holy warriors] and “sanctioning their genitals” is described as a sign of “realisation and dominance by the sword”.

Katherine E Brown, a lecturer in Islamic studies at the University of Birmingham, explained that Isis mainly justifies its use of slavery through selective interpretations of the hadith, the reported accounts of the life and sayings of Muhammad and his companions: “They justify it on the basis that it is a reward for carrying out services for the community – slaves are presented as compensation for fighters. However, they chose particular ways of seeing these hadith, and selectively choose them so as to ignore, for example, the requirement not to kill your prisoners by focusing on the requirement to make sure they ‘don’t escape’ by being ‘secured at the neck’ until negotiations have taken place.”

The promise of sexual slavery is used as a sweetener when recruiting disaffected young men to Isis. At the same time, media stories about sex and violence involving non-Muslim women being enslaved by Muslim men feed stereotypes about Muslim men that create divisions that Isis can then exploit.

“Slavery serves to increase the Isis community because Yazidi women will give birth and the children will be brought up among its fighters,” writes the author of the Isis pamphlet.

The same document calls on fighters to treat their slaves well, citing words from the Qur’an calling for them to be good to “those whom your right hand possess” – a euphemism for a female captive – and cites Islamic texts with instructions not to hit the slave’s face, and to emancipate the slave who becomes a believer, for which the master will be rewarded by God.

But, as with other strictures, there is a gap between Isis proclamations and an abusive, often violent reality. Isis used gang rape as punishment for women and girls who tried to escape to further degrade and control them physically and psychologically. Despite this, many of the women continued to fight back against their captors, risking punishment and death in pursuit of freedom.

After the women were captured, they didn’t immediately become slaves to the fighters, but were held for a period while their details were recorded. The process was systematised. Women were then sold in markets, either electronically over a mobile phone messenger app where their photos and slave numbers were exchanged, or in market halls and prisons at prearranged times.

Away from the main markets, women and girls, supplied by fighters or Isis members who acted as middlemen, were sold by local brokers in smaller numbers. At the beginning, they were given mainly to Iraqi fighters who took part in the battle for Sinjar. Subsequently, the remaining captives were taken to Syria, and sold there, often to fighters who had arrived from around the world.

In late 2014, a group of young, bearded men sat on long sofas lining the walls of a living room somewhere in the caliphate, wearing ammunition-packed vests. They joked with one another. “Today is distribution day, God willing,” said one of the men, as he flashed a grin at his companions. “You can sell your slave, or give her as a gift … You can do whatever you want with your share,” said another fighter in view of the cameraman who was recording the exchange. The men didn’t seem to notice and continued discussing buying women for “three banknotes or a pistol”.

By the summer of 2013, Raqqa, 370km west of Mosul in northern Syria, became Isis’s de facto capital, and supporters from all over the world flocked there to join the group. It was also the destination for other women from Sinjar.

“When we got to the farm [near Raqqa], we saw four or five buses full of Isis members with long hair and beards,” said Zahra, a farmer’s daughter from Kojo. “They were like animals. On the first day they came among us and started picking girls for themselves. Two or three of them would catch the girls, blindfold them and take them by force into a car. The girls were crying and shouting but they didn’t care.”

From the second floor of the building, the girls could see the Euphrates river, but they were hidden from view by the surrounding trees and fences.

“We were just like sheep, when the shepherd goes toward them and the sheep disperse; that’s how we were, running away from them,” said Zahra. She fled when the men came, but she was blocked by a fence at the edge of the farm. On the first day the men took 20-40 girls. Food was delivered from a local restaurant for those who remained, but they were too scared to eat. They covered their faces with ash to try and look unattractive in the hope that they wouldn’t be picked.

After two days, Zahra and her sister were taken to an underground Isis prison in Raqqa. Hundreds of women were crammed into three rooms in what was just one of several similar structures that were used for holding women in Raqqa. The girls arrived at night and weren’t allowed to see the outside of the building – a tactic similar to that used by the Syrian government in its jails, said Sareta Ashraph.

Inside the prison, the women had to share a few filthy, overflowing toilets, forcing them to stand in raw sewage. Their bodies were crawling with sand flies. The only light came from two solar-powered lamps hanging from the ceiling, one prisoner recalled. Each morning the guards would give them a small piece of bread and cheese to share between two, and in the evening some rice and soup.

Some women sat on bags or clothes to try and avoid touching the filthy ground. Children cried constantly with hunger. The women waited under the constant fear of rape or death. “They were always beating us and we had diarrhea because of the fear,” said a woman I shall call Khulka, who is 30 years old and comes from the town of Tel Qasab. She had arrived at the prison with her four children, inside a refrigerator truck normally used for ice-cream. “We didn’t have a shower for one month and we always had lice in our hair. After two months they took us outside, but we couldn’t stand because we hadn’t seen the sun for so long,” she said.

While in the jail, Khulka tattooed herself with the names of her husband and father, so that her body could be recognised and returned to them if she was killed. She mixed breast milk from a lactating woman with ash, and used a needle she had smuggled into the jail. With the same needle and some thread, she began embroidering her underwear with the names and numbers listed in her phone in case Isis found it and took it away. Khulka had been to school, and unlike many of the women there, she knew how to read and write. She also sewed other women’s clothes with their loved ones’ names and numbers so that they would not be forgotten.

Historically, Yazidis associated formal education with repressive state authorities, the suppression of their language, and the threat of religious conversion. In the years before 2014, literacy rates had been improving in Sinjar, but many women and girls worked in the fields to support their families while their brothers went to school. Illiteracy made it harder for women to escape after they were taken into captivity, because they couldn’t read the signs on unfamiliar buildings in Isis-held towns and cities.

Khulka was taken to a side room in the prison with her children and photographed by the Isis guards who gave her the slave number 16, which was then printed above her photo. There were around 500 women in the jail, she recalls, and all of them had to pose with their children and were given slave numbers. Before the picture was taken, she cut her daughter’s hair to make her look like a boy and stop them being separated. If the guards recognised her daughter as a young girl, there was more chance she’d be taken. The other imprisoned women envied Khulka’s grey hair, thinking it might save her from being seized. They tried to imitate it using ash.

“Some of these women and girls resisted forced conversion, protected themselves against violence, or at least tried to, and protected their children. How they resisted really shows incredible intelligence, courage and strength,” said human rights lawyer and gender justice advocate Sherizaan Minwalla.

Yazidi women who fled what is now Turkey during the first world war and the chaos that followed passed down stories that are repeated among Sinjaris today. Among them are accounts of how they did as Khulka was now doing: covering their daughters’ faces with ash and cutting their hair.

In the same prison, Zahra and her sisters were put together into small rooms. They heard screaming and crying as Isis guards came in the middle of the night to drag away the girls. The guards came for Zahra’s middle sister first. When Zahra pleaded with them not to take them separately, one of the guards whipped her with a cable.

After her sister was taken from the cell, the door opened again. This time Zahra was grabbed by two large men and shoved into a car. “I won’t go until you give me my sister!” she cried out. The men drove her to a house in Raqqa belonging to an Isis member who kept her as his slave, then sold her on after four months to another Isis fighter. He found her disobedient and sold her on straight away to a fighter of only 18, who lived at a compound for Libyan fighters near Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria.

Many Yazidi girls were by being held in the same compound of 100 to 200 caravans where the Libyan fighters lived. The women and girls were chained, beaten, raped and passed around like animals between the men. At the edge of the compound, a barbed-wire fence prevented them from escaping. The stories of privation and torture suffered by Yezidi women in this compound are some of the worst in a long catalogue of abuses.

After a little more than a month at the farm, Leila and three other girls from Kojo were taken back to Iraq and kept in a military base near the Iraq–Syria border, more than 200km south of Sinjar in Anbar province. The military base was in Al-Qa’im, a border crossing between Iraq and Syria, but by that time, under the caliphate, it was merely a pitstop between Isis-held stretches of desert. It was also a common crossing point for slaves passing between markets in Isis towns and cities. Leila was sold to a man called Muhammad, who looked familiar to her. Then she remembered who he was: his family were like godparents to her family.

When Leila recognised Muhammad, she was relieved: she thought he would rescue her, and maybe sell her back to her family. Instead, he sold her on. Three days later, Leila was taken to a military base near Ramadi and sold to an Isis military commander. Later, after she had escaped and was in Baghdad, someone asked her what she would do if she saw Muhammad again. “I would burn him alive,” she said.

The Isis commander who bought Leila in Ramadi was a notorious sadist known as Shakir Wahib, who had been terribly wounded in fighting, and was now trafficking women for sex and organising gang rapes. When one woman arrived in early 2016, having held on to a mobile phone, Leila managed to call her brother in Kurdistan and told him he needed to send someone to rescue her before the woman was moved on, and her phone with her. For two days, calls went back and forth between Leila and a smuggler called Abdullah, who eventually helped her to escape. Abdullah used to work in Aleppo and had a wide network of business contacts in Syria and Iraq. He had become a smuggler after 50 members of his family were kidnapped by Isis.

Most of the smugglers working to rescue Yazidi women are Yazidi businessmen. Some of the women are bought back from the Isis fighters holding them, or from the slave markets or online auctions. The cost of smuggling is reflective of the danger involved. It’s not clear how much of the cash ends up with Isis, and how much goes to middlemen or the smugglers.

This black market thrives because families are left with no other options. The war against Isis continues to win back territory from the militants, but Yazidis told me that they would prefer the focus to be on saving their captive women and children, rather than winning back terrain.

Image

After reaching Baghdad, Leila and her niece travelled north by plane to the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah, and then by road to the camps where many Yazidis from Sinjar had taken refuge, and where their families were waiting. When Leila arrived, she collapsed sobbing into the arms of her female relatives. She was in such a state of shock that, for the first few weeks, she had trouble understanding what her family were saying when they tried to talk to her.

“Sometimes I watch the TV and I see the news of the army taking more land and villages, but it’s not this that we are worried about – it is our people who are still imprisoned,” Leila said. “We know most of them are in Raqqa, so why are [the army] not going to save them there?”

The failures have been broad and deep. Earlier this month, Iraqi forces, backed by coalition air cover, declared victory over Isis in Mosul. But for many, the price of that victory was high: civilians were killed by Isis as they tried to flee, as well as being bombarded by Iraqi forces and the coalition. In March 2017 a US airstrike on a house where families were sheltering in western Mosul killed more than 100 civilians.

Attention has now moved from Iraq to the presence of Isis in Syria, and the battle for Raqqa. As Iraq’s politicians and their military patrons prepare to congratulate themselves, the Yazidi community looks on from displacement camps, rented homes or forced asylum overseas. Almost two years after it was cleared of Isis by Kurdish forces, Sinjar town remains in ruins. A new wave of fighting for Sinjar district is under way, with Turkey eyeing a violent incursion after bombing the area in April. The idea that this represents “liberation” is seen by Yazidis as a bad joke. The UN and others have tried to recognise and document the genocide, but justice looks a long way off. Meanwhile, the battle for survival of the women and girls who were taken by Isis continues long after their return.

Sinjar was recaptured from Isis by Kurdish forces, led by the peshmerga, in November 2015. Since then the peshmerga and other Kurdish armed groups have been in a hostile standoff with each other, with rival groups providing arms, training and patronage to local Yazidis. Brightly coloured flags of the various groups flutter above their respective checkpoints, which are sometimes only metres apart along roads that were recently controlled by Isis.

Yazidis now fear renewed attacks not just from Isis, but also from their Kurdish liberators. Yazidis themselves are not politically homogenous, and many distrust the rival Kurdish groups. By May 2016, despite the liberation, only 3,220 families had returned to Sinjar district.

While the infighting goes on, Isis stands only to gain. Yazidis are stuck in a complex series of client-patron relationships with Kurdish leaders, in which ethnic identification is used in exchange for promises of safety. Meanwhile, the Yazidis remain unable to define their future, militarily or politically. While military clashes continue, any political settlement to the rivalry between liberating forces looks a long way off.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/ ... zidi-women

Main photograph: Rodi Said/Reuters

This is an edited extract from With Ash On Their Faces: Yazidi Women and the Islamic State by Cathy Otten, which will be published by Or Books in October.
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:55 pm

After years of captive slavery by ISIS, freed Yazidi women seek further escape

“This is what they have done to our people,” says the uncle of a newly escaped young woman.

In 2014, unimpeded by any resistance from the West, the Islamic State made a horrific assault upon the Yazidi peoples living in the northwestern region of Iraq, forcing them them to flee to Mount Sinjar, where thousands of elderly and the very young were stranded and taken captive. Many of the younger women and children were subjected to untold horrors as the surging regime declared, under an obscure Islamic law, their right to enslave Yazidi women.

The recent recovery of Mosul has helped approximately 180 young women and children to become reunited with their families, but walking away from the captivity and sexual assault they have endured promises to be a difficult and long process. Often sold and resold as slaves, they now face an unimaginably arduous road of physical, emotional and spiritual healing and self-reclamation. Able to run to their families upon first meet-up, to “cry and laugh” in those first moments of reunion, the women soon — sometimes within hours — find themselves unable to stand, or to stay awake, as the family of 16-year-old Souhayla, an ISIS captive who was sold seven times since that 2014 aggression, described to journalists:

Women rescued in the first two years after ISIS overran their ancestral homeland came home with infections, broken limbs and suicidal thoughts. But now, after three years of captivity, women like Souhayla and two others seen last week by reporters, are far more damaged, displaying extraordinary signs of psychological injury.

“Very tired,” “unconscious” and “in severe shock and psychological upset” were the descriptions used by Dr. Nagham Nawzat Hasan, a Yazidi gynecologist who has treated over 1,000 of the rape victims.

“We thought the first cases were difficult,” Dr. Hasan said. “But those after the liberation of Mosul, they are very difficult.”

The “shock” manifests as a kind of “escape into sleep.” The women will sometimes sleep for days at a time, eating sparsely and interacting with their families only with great effort, their eyes eventually rolling back as they slip away into unconsciousness.

Family members have visited their reclaimed sisters and cousins, bringing supplies and gifts to them at the Shariya Camp in Iraq (where medical attention and processing assistance is available), and they leave distraught and weeping at what they have observed in their encounters.

Cars pulled up outside, bringing relatives carrying pallets of orange soda. They left the tent, hands over their mouths, trying to hold back sobs.

Family members said that except for a few brief moments, the women have not awakened since then, over a week ago.

It is common knowledge that victims of sexual abuse will dissociate — mentally and spiritually compartmentalize within themselves — as a means of enduring and surviving these terrors. This is something I have experienced in my own life. I suspect now that these women are home, and safely among people who love them, their minds — which had to remain alert to survive — are shutting down, both as a means of restorative healing and self protection. Imagining how much they are having to process internally and emotionally, it’s really not surprising to learn that they are feeling weak and sleeping excessively. Sometimes, in the face of the rest of your life, a world can simply become too much to take in, except in small pieces and moments, until one feels stronger.

Over 6,000 were originally taken as prisoners by ISIS and over 3,000 remain captive or unaccounted for. It was recently reported that hundreds of women and girls were held and abused at the Syrian Orthodox Church of St. Ephraim, in Mosul.

Healing from the years-long ordeal of captivity, enslavement, and sexual assault promises to be long and complicated for these much sinned-against women, who were kidnapped while the world watched, and then all but forgotten amidst daily headlines and internet distractions.

Let us keep them in our prayers, every day

https://aleteia.org/2017/07/27/after-ye ... er-escape/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:44 am

Êzidîs expelled from the AFAD camp out on the streets

The state-run AFAD camp authorities in Mardin’s Midyat district threw the Êzidîs out of the camp yesterday evening. The Êzidîs settled in a park in Midyat and are calling on the Kurdish people to protect them.

Êzidîs who were settled in the state-run AFAD camp in Mardin’s Midyat district following the genocidal attacks by ISIS gangs on Shengal in August 2014 have been subjected to inhumane practices of the Turkish state forces on the anniversary of the invasion. The AFAD administration decided to expel some 50 Êzidîs for no reason. The AFAD administration gave notice to the Êzidîs in the camp to leave in 3 days, and then expelled 6 people before the time was up yesterday.

The Êzidîs were thrown out despite having “applicant for international protection” registration documents issued by the Ministry of the Interior. Azam Khider Hamad, Khalaf Ali Kanan, Zedan Khalef Kje and Hussein İsmail Qasa settled in a park in Midyat. They are protesting the cruelty and calling for help.

“THE TURKISH STATE SUBJECTS US TO ISIS-LIKE CRUELTY”

One of the expelled Êzidîs Azam Hamad said the Turkish state was being cruel to them like ISIS. Hamad pointed out that there was already an atmosphere of cruelty and oppression in the AFAD camp and protesting the cruelty they experienced, said: “But at least we had a roof over our heads, now we don’t even have that."

Hussein Ismail Qasa stated that their families are to be expelled from the camp on Wednesday and pointed out that the real tragedy will begin then. Qasa called on the public to protect them. Qasa stressed that the whole world should see the tyranny of the Turkish state and said they are now experiencing Turkish cruelty after the ISIS cruelty.

“THE KURDISH PEOPLE SHOULD PROTECT US”

Khalaf Ali Kanan said they were expelled from the camp with no explanation even though they have identification, and that they had no place to go. Kanan pointed out the injustice of the Turkish state and stated that the Êzidîs are facing a new kind of torture and genocide in the camps.

Zedan Kje stated that women and children were left behind and said what they experienced is not something anybody can just accept. Kje said their children are soon to be expelled and asked the Kurdish people and Kurdish institutions to protect them.
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:55 pm

Precious people of the sun
Nowhere to hide, nowhere to run
For 3 years past, we have cried
For all Yazidis who have died

Friends became enemies overnight
As Arabs joined ISIS along with their fight
Men torn from wives horrendously dying
Women raped and children left crying

Those left living to the mountain did flee
As for the world’s help they did desperately plea
On that mountainside so many more died
From hunger and cold as for help they all cried

Many ladies and girls ISIS stole away
Their fate is unknown to this very day
All of them as sex slaves were used
Frequently raped and greatly abused

When ISIS invaded the Yazidi land
The world did not rush to give them a hand
Thousands of Yazidis tortured and dead
While the rest of the world slept happy in bed

Many thousand Yazidis ISIS did kill
The exact number is unknown to us still
Families destroyed their lives in tatters
But to the world none of this matters

For the innocent Yazidis used as a sex slave
The world does nothing these ladies to save
No-one could say that they are not aware
It’s obvious to us that no-one does care
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