Four years have passed since ISIS militants committed a genocide against the Yazidi population in Sinjar. This tragedy was commemorated by members of various communities in Nineveh Province, Iraq.
On the fourth anniversary of the Yazidi genocide that was carried out by ISIS militants in Sinjar, northern Iraq, tribal leaders, as well as local government and community representatives, met to remember the lives that were lost and to reaffirm their commitment to work together to defeat the extremist ideology.
“On this day, humanitarian standards were lost and an innocent group of peace loving people [were] attacked,” said Ali Rashwa Kaari, a prominent religious leader in the Yazidi community. “We stand in solidarity [with the Yazidis, in the event that was] organised by the Shabak community.”
In August 2014, approximately 10,000 people that were members of the Yazidi community were murdered or abducted following ISIS’ seizure of the Sinjar region, which is home to around 400,000 followers of the ancient religion. The figure includes an estimated 3,500 women and girls who were transported by ISIS to locations such as Mosul and Raqqa in Syria. On arrival, they were forced to either marry the group’s militants or become sex slaves and sold at open auctions.
Rescue efforts have mostly been enabled by ISIS’ defeat in many areas of Syria and Iraq it once controlled, with many of its militants now forced to give up their territory and hostages and return to their roots as an insurgent force. In addition, rescue efforts have occasionally been carried out through the purchasing of abductees by the local government of Nineveh Province at ISIS auctions, or through human trafficking websites that exist on the internet.
“6,417 Yazidi men, women and children have been reported [as remaining] missing,” said Khadr Khalath, the Yazidi media representative. “Around 3,000 of them have been rescued and there are 3,150 civilians, [including] men, women and children, [that] remain abducted by ISIS and they are treated as captives. The search for them is continuous so that they may be reunited with their families.”
“We stand here bravely to commemorate this day which affected our Yazidi brothers and sisters and to announce our solidarity with them and that we are united in our fight against terrorism and [the] ISIS ideology,” said Sheikh Abbas Hussein Agha, Head of the High Shabak Council.
The attendees, which included members the local Shabak, Turkmen and Christian communities, handed white flowers to the Yazidis that were present at the memorial service. The Yazidis, for their part, held olive branches to signify their commitment to restoring relations between Iraq’s different communities and repair the divisions caused by the extremist ideology of ISIS.