Yezidi brothers Rasheed and Dawood participating in the Diwali Arti with the local Hindu leaders Vijay Pallod, Swapan Dhairyawan and Rajiv Bhavsar.
By Achalesh Amar
HOUSTON: The Yezidi – Hindu Coalition efforts on raising awareness about the humanitarian crisis faced by Yezidi people in northern Iraq have gained momentum over last three weeks. The group comprises of distinguished members from both Yezidi and Hindu communities in USA and Canada, and has itself has grown from 24 to 138 members in this short span of time.
It may be worth recalling that ever since ISIS (Islamic State) laid siege on Northern Iraq in August 2014, one of the holiest places for Yezidis – Mt Sinjar – has seen many tragic and miserable days. The community which once boasted of 23 million practitioners has been reduced to close to a million at the moment. Between August 2014 and now, over 500,000 Yezidis have been displaced; around 2000 Yezidi men massacred and close to 7000 men, women and children have been kidnapped and/or enslaved.
The efforts of bringing Yezidis and Hindus started in July 2014 with the establishment of Yezidi Sanatan Dharma Society (YSDS) and later bolstered by Yezidi – Hindu Coalition. Sewa International played its part by helping bring the two communities together, by inviting Yezidi brothers and sisters to Raksha Bandhan celebrations in Canada.
About 200 Yezidis from all over U.S., supported by the Hindu community, joined hands for a demonstration at White House, Washington DC on Oct 24, to make an urgent plea for the U.S. intervention to halt the murderous ISIS campaign of forced conversion, enslavement, and genocide of Yezidi men, women, and children in the Sinjar area of northern Iraq. A Yezidi delegation, led by their supreme spiritual leader Baba Sheikh, went to Murugan Temple in Washington DC to offer prayers and meet and thank the local Hindu leadership there. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the spiritual leader of Art of Living, also met the Yezidi delegation in Chicago and assured them of all possible help. Tulsi Gabbard was also present at the occasion. The Hindu leadership in Houston invited local Yezidis for the big Diwali event and the same warmth was extended at many other cities throughout USA and Canada.
As a result of the pressure created by Yezidi-Hindu Coalition, the white house stepped up its offensive against ISIS and also issued a statement reiterating United States commitment to the safety and security of Yezidi people. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/10/31/statement-nsc-spokesperson-bernadette-meehan-deputy-national-security-ad is the direct link to the statement.
Over next couple of months, the coalition intends to conduct fund raising all over USA to help with the humanitarian relief work on the ground and requests the support from all right thinking people who believe in Humanity. Here are the two links for Donation:
http://www.sewausa.org/files/uploads/2014_Diwali_SewaUSA.html SEWA INTERNATIONAL
https://secure.iahv.org/donations.aspx?ref=0 IAHV (associated with ART of Living Foundation)