Thousands of Yazidis leaving their ancestral homeland


yazidi, yezidi, ezidi, yazdani

Thousands of people leaving their ancestral homeland. Women and children being kidnapped, raped, and sold as slaves. Men slaughtered by the thousands. The Islamic State (IS) has been waging a genocidal war against the defenseless Yazidi people.

The Yazidi (also Yezidi, Êzidî, Yazdani) are a Kurdish ethno-religious community whose syncretic but ancient religion is linked to Zoroastrianism and ancient Mesopotamian religions. They live primarily in the Nineveh Province of northern Iraq, a region once part of ancient Assyria and capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Additional communities in Armenia, Georgia and Syria.

In August 2014 the Yazidi were targeted by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, in its campaign to “purify” Iraq and neighboring countries of non-Islamic influences. The Salafist militant group Islamic State, which considers the Yazidi devil-worshippers, captured Sinjar in August 2014 following the withdrawal of Peshmerga troops, forcing up to 50,000 Yazidis to flee into the nearby mountainous region. Threatened with death at the hands of militants, they faced starvation in the mountains.

In Sinjar, ISIL destroyed a Shiite shrine and demanded that the remaining population convert to their version of Islam, pay jizya (a religious tax) or be executed. Up to 200,000 people (including an estimated 40,000 Yazidi) fled the city before it was captured by ISIL forces, giving rise to fears of a humanitarian tragedy. ISIL demanded the Yazidi convert to their version of Islam, pay jizya (a religious tax) or be executed. Thousands of Yazidi and Christian religious minorities trapped on the mountaintop in northwest Iraq. Between 20,000 and 30,000 Iraqis, most of them women and children, besieged by Isis. Sick or elderly Yazidi who could not make the trek were being executed by ISIL.

Yazidis are the common victims of Islamist hate and intolerance. Beside ISIL threats, Yazidis are also facing attacks from their Arab neighbors. Unfortunately for the Yazidis, they may not be returning to their homeland for a long time, if ever. “Such a return will be difficult if not impossible, and the international community should be prepared for the permanent displacement of the majority of the surviving Yazidis,”

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