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APPEAL ON BEHALF OF THE PERSECUTED YEZIDI AND OTHER MINORITIES
You may be aware of the crimes that are taking place against the Yezidis, Chaldo-Assyrians, Shebak, Mandean, Turkomen, and others in Northern Iraq. The Yezidis are right now being subjected to the 74th genocide in their history. The brutal attack by ISIL on August 3rd, 2014 at Mount Sinjar resulted in the killing of thousands of Yeizidi men, the abduction of thousands of women and children and the displacement of the entire Yezidi population in the area. Currently, these tens of thousands have taken refuge in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, in cities and towns such as Dohuk, Zakho, Erbil and Sulaymania. They need urgent assistance. We estimate that there are still approximately 5,000 to 7,000 women and teenage girls in captivity. They are being raped and sold as slaves just because they belong to a minority religion.
In June of 2014, the Iraqi government was defeated by ISIS; lost control of Iraqi-Syrian border; then the ISIS took control of large areas in Iraq that included Anbar, Mosul and Tikrit provinces. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) claimed that the Iraqi government is defeated and failed to protect Iraqi citizens and minorities in the disputed areas in particular. Therefore, the KRG claimed that the disputed areas are now annexed to KRG.
However, when the ISIS attacked the Yezidis in Sinjar on August 03, 2014, thousands of KRG militias protecting the Yezidis refused to fight ISIS, refused to supply arms to the Yezidi fighters who were ready to fight ISIS. Similar circumstances were present in August 14, 2007, when four trucks passed through all check points and entered two Yezidis’ villages (Till Ezeer and Siba Sheikheder) and then detonated/exploded killing 500 innocent Yezidis and injuring 1700. The governments in Middle East have failed to protect Yezidis – be it Central or the KRG. The only solution for Yezidis and other religious minority to survive and protect their“Culture, religion, language and history” is an “Autonomous Region” in Sinjar and Nineveh Plain.
Historically, Yezidis have been exposed to policies of expulsion and assimilation. That is why they fled to the mountains and then migrated to the European countries and North America in the last century. As a result of the Iraqi Baath government policies; which aimed to replace Yezidis with Arab Muslims on Yezidis’ farmland, Yezidis were driven from their homes, shops and farms. This campaign severely affected social and economic situation, and the Baath government’s cleansing of Yezidi lands was largely ignored.
Since 1991, when the Iraqi Kurdish Region began to enjoy its own autonomy but especially after the fall of the previous dictatorial Baath regime, the “Kurdish Question” has over-shadowed Yezidi people.
Some may ask how other groups in Nineveh are coping with the ISIS invasion. Sadly, many have joined ISIS. Local Arabs, Kurds, Sarhoky and Khatoni quickly joined up with ISIS at the time of the attack. There are several reports of former neighbors looting the possessions of the displaced Yezidi, from jewelry to farm equipment to automobiles.
A further note; Kurdistan Regional Government abandoned the very Yezidi they were protecting against ISIS offensive. Secondly, they have refused to support Yezidi efforts to defend themselves.
Today, Yezidis and other religious minorities need your urgent and immediate support. The Yezidis are an ancient and proud people from the heart of Mesopotamia, the birthplace of civilization and cradle of many of the world’s scientific inventions, religions and traditions. Unfortunately, today the Yezidi people are on the verge of total annihilation and extinction. Yet the world remains silent. We appeal with all our sincerity to the United Nations, United States, United Kingdom, India, Turkey, EU, NATO and other members of the international community to:
- Give asylum to as many as possible of the half a million displaced Yezidis and other minority groups and provide them a safe home in Europe or North America where they can preserve their culture and religion.
- Intervene with the new Iraqi Government, supporting-creation of an “Internationally Protected Region” for the Yezidis and Assyrians in the Sinjar region and Nineveh Plain.
- Make a concerted effort to negotiate the release of Yezidi sex slaves and all other sex slaves, the release of young men kidnapped and forced to be child soldiers, the freeing of women forced to convert and marry or become concubines, and the freeing of political activists.
- Put pressure on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to not impose the Kurdish identity on Yezidis and respect the rights of the Yezidis to identify themselves as Yezidis and to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Right
- Provide humanitarian aid for Yezidis, Assyrians and other minorities in refugee camps in Iraq, Syria and Turkey; and protect all refugees from beatings, torture and rape of adults, as well as from child abuse. This assistance should come from neutral, non-governmental sources to mitigate diversion of food and water
- Recognize the “Yezidi Genocide” and give equal rights and freedom according to UN constitution, so that our rights will not be abused again
We hope and pray that Europe will not fail this small and persecuted minority at a time of grave danger.