Yazidis in northern Iraq gather to commemorate four years since Sinjar fell to ISIS and call for the release of thousands who are still being held by the group in captivity.
Four years ago, as ISIS was growing in strength and influence in Iraq, the terrorist group launched an attack on the Sinjar region. This offensive led to one of the most heinous crimes committed by the group throughout its existence in Iraq – the genocidal killings of the Yazidis.
Religious leaders from a variety of denominations assembled to commemorate the tragic events and discuss ways for the society to move forward from this trauma and rebuild trust among communities. Leaders from the Yazidi, Christian and Muslim communities attended the commemoration.
The Director of the Yazidis General Affairs demanded the search for over 3000 missing Yazidis whose fate remains unknown until today. He also criticised the way that the government has treated them and how it has not made any serious attempts to find solutions, pointing out the presence of many Yazidi captives in areas previously occupied by ISIS who have not been released until today.
“We are still buying those captured through human trafficking websites for ridiculous amounts of money that families can not possibly afford”, said the Director of the Yazidis General Affairs.
The Sinjar region is home to the majority of Yazidis in Iraq and is regarded by many Yazidis around the world to be their homeland. The region has been the target of extremist groups over the past two decades and ISIS was no exception. There has been a perception among extremist Islamist groups in Iraq that the Yazidis constitute a “heretical” sect and that its subjugation is a legitimate course of action.
Indeed, the Yazidis of Sinjar suffered a terrible fate at the hands of ISIS as thousands were killed in the genocidal massacres in 2014, while women were kidnapped and sold as slaves, and their children were subject to ISIS’ brainwashing campaign, leaving many of them oblivious to their former identity and culture and forced to fight as child soldiers.