THE YEZIDI GENOCIDE
It all began on 3 August 2014 – the date of the devastating genocide against the Yezidi people. A peace-loving, monotheistic ethnic minority in Iraq.
In a night-time ambush, ISIS surrounded their city of Shingal and the nearby villages of the Sinjar Mountains. The Yezidis were left unprotected by those who were supposed to defend them. They were alone with no arms and no way to escape the onslaught, except to flee for the mountains where ISIS wouldn’t follow them.
It’s estimated that around 250,000 people made this perilous journey in a bid to save their lives. They walked for days in 40 degree heat with no food or water, and many without shoes. Along the way several hundred children and lost, vulnerable Yezidis died from thirst and exhaustion. Eventually they made the safe passage to Syria created by the joint Yezidi/ Syrian Kurdish and Kurdistan Workers party (YPG and PKK) along with the American forces.
For those unlucky enough to be left behind, a worse fate befell them. ISIS captured about 7,000 women and children and took them as slaves. Most men were systematically slaughtered within a few days – at least 5,000 were thrown into mass graves.
The Yezidis were living peaceful and happy lives; worshipping in temples, farming their land and studying in universities surrounded by their Muslim neighbours, with whom they had a good relationship until that fateful day.
Throughout history, the ancient, monotheistic Yezidi people have been subjected to as many as 74 genocides simply because they are not Muslim. Over time their numbers have reduced from millions to around only 800,000 worldwide.
Since the genocide of 2014 as many as 360,000 are living in tented camps in Kurdistan with around 50,000 living in terrible conditions in the Sinjar and Shingal regions. The remaining population is scattered likes seeds across the world, their society and culture greatly threatened, as is their existence.