Seven Years since the Yezidi Genocide

The genocide of the Iraq’s Yezidis revealed the depth of the fragility of Iraqi society and politics. Furthermore, it revealed, in a larger way, the fragility and insensitivity of regional states towards their minorities.

It also revealed the possibility of these countries to fracture and thus to export the most barbaric and brutal types of terrorism, as in the example of ISIS, which emerged from the womb of an imagined Islamic history and from the cracks of the two divided states in Iraq and Syria.

As for the seventh anniversary of the genocide, it, in turn, reveals the lack of “national” solidarity with the ongoing Yezidi tragedy, and what can be described as the impossibility of healing the deep wounds of the Yezidis.

Perhaps what is happening to Afrin is the clearest evidence of the continuation of the genocide, as the Yezidis there are subjected to a genocide that is less severe than that committed by ISIS in Iraq.

The difference is that the armed factions in Afrin are good at borrowing the Nazi practice of “Night and Fog” in dealing with the Yezidis, denying and concealing their crimes just as Nazis “disappeared” resistance members and left their fates unknown.  

Thus, in an amendment to the ISIS genocide, these factions succeeded in restricting the Yezidis of Afrin, destroying their cultural heritage and religious shrines, seizing their property, and worse than this, forcing some of them to change their religion.

The attack on Sinjar and the resulting massacres, slaughter, and sexual slavery of women, was the satisfying reward offered by ISIS to its members.

This human booty turned into propaganda material that contributed to the expansion and strengthening of the organization and the promotion of its “victories.”

What hurts the most is when Yezidi survivors describe that those who worked as guides and snitches for ISIS members and participated in the crime of the sexual enslavement and purchase of Yezidi women were their non-Yezidi neighbors.

Many of those ISIS guides had lived with the Yezidis for decades.

If this matter reveals the fragility of the social fabric, it also reveals the impossibility of the Yezidis’ acceptance of the idea of a neighbor who waits for opportunities to harm the sons and daughters of their own society.

Perhaps this fear ISIS sowed among the Yezidi minority contributed to emptying the traditional Yezidi areas and cemented their preference for staying in the diaspora over returning.

Despite the reconstruction efforts of those areas undertaken by the United Nations and the exodus of ISIS from Sinjar and its defeat, the realistic meaning, which resembles a metaphor, lies in how hard it is for survivors, both males and females, to forget the brutality and cruelty of ISIS.

Perhaps this prolonged “occupation” of the soul is the complement to the physical occupation that took place in August 2014.

On the seventh anniversary of the genocide, along with 5,000 victims, the fate of 2,800 Yezidis is still unknown.

Many have accused the Iraqi government of not paying attention to the process of revealing the fate of the missing.

There are many other issues including mass graves that have not been discovered yet and children of unknown parentage who the highly religious Yezidi community refuses to accept due to the fact that they were born to an ISIS father and a Yezidi mother, which is one of the things that makes the consequences of the genocide continue.

At the same time, the Yezidi women have not healed yet from the psychological pain caused by sexual slavery and the loss of parents, which pushed more than one of them to commit suicide.

The UN and the European Union’s recognition of what happened in Sinjar as a genocide was preceded by other recognitions announced by Western countries. In addition to Iraq, we find in the relatively modest list countries like the US, France, Britain, Armenia, the Netherlands, Portugal, and others not exceeding ten.

However, it is noteworthy that all Arab and regional countries, Turkey, and Iran ignored the genocide and did not recognize it, which doubles the fears of the Yezidis and pushes them to further isolation due to the continuous historical genocides and massacres they have been subjected to. More than seventy massacres and genocides, which the Yezidis call ferman in their historical narrative, have been carried out against them.

Recalling the genocide requires tracing the causes that led to it.

Perhaps the failure of the policies of coexistence between religious and national ethnicities and the lack of social integration programs paved the way for genocide.

Furthermore, the failure of the entire Iraqi defense system to protect civil groups, especially religious minorities, leaves the door open for future genocides.

However, addressing the reasons for the Yezidi genocide is still below the required level.

The Yezidis are supposed to be allowed to form a local entity that could turn into an “Iraqi Vatican” with powers that allow the Yezidis to form a permanent self-defense force separate from the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces system to secure protection for tens of thousands of Yezidis and receive support and coordination from the Iraqi state.

The safe return from the diaspora and displacement camps is related to the final elimination of ISIS, which seems to be still waiting for an opportunity to emerge in the fragile areas, especially in Iraq, and this possibility is increased by the decline of the American presence in the region.

In fact, the policies of regional countries have led to the expulsion of many religious and national minorities from their native lands. Sometimes they are taken out of reality into history.

This is because cruelty and racism were the most prominent feature of the successive regimes and their management model for diversity.

However, what is more horrific is that evil organizations complete the task of racist and fascist regimes, and in a more open manner.

If a peaceful group such as the Yezidis was chosen to be an “example” for other groups and a laboratory of updated historical “religious” terrorism, the policies of elimination and genocide in the region, which are led by official countries in the meantime, make an event such as the remembrance of the Yezidi genocide a sentimental and political necessity, so that those regimes and terrorist organizations do not depend on the lack of solidarity between peoples, civil groups, and individuals.