Human Rights

Yazidis React to the Killing of ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi


Following the death of al-Baghdadi, what has been the reaction from Yazidis in northern Iraq?

Yazidis in northern Iraq have expressed their satisfaction at the news of the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. While some believe that the group has died with him, others have stated their wariness about the future existence or emergence of the terrorist group.

“We are happy that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed, but ISIS is still alive,” said one Yazidi woman. “ISIS, which suppressed us and killed my mother and family in our village, is still there.”

“Fear has died with him, we are not afraid anymore and we will not be,” said another Yazidi woman. “However, we wish we had killed him with our hands, which would have made us more comfortable.”

During ISIS’ assault into Iraq in mid-2014, Yazidis living in the northern parts of the country were subjected to horrific and brutal acts carried out by the group’s militants.

Hundreds of thousands were displaced, with thousands more killed or injured. Thousands of women were also put into sexual slavery by ISIS.

According to the Yazidi advocacy organisation Yazda, 2,700 Yazidis, mostly women and children, remain missing or in captivity. The atrocities carried out by ISIS have been labelled a genocide by the UN.

The response from Yazidi women in northern Iraq comes after that of the family of the Jordanian pilot, Muath al-Kassasbeh, who was gruesomely executed by ISIS in January 2015.

Like many others, the family spoke of happiness that their son had been avenged, calling Baghdadi “a virus” that “tarnished the image of Islam and Muslims”.

While the death of Baghdadi will bring some solace to people affected by the group, for others, the struggle continues to find some form of normalcy.

“Take the Nobel Prize and all the prizes of the world,” said Nadia Murad, a Yazidi human rights activist who escaped from ISIS. “And give me back my dignity and the dignity of my people.”