Yazidis in Iraq mark five years to the day since the Sinjar massacre, which left thousands of Yazidi men, women and children dead and missing.
Yazidis in Iraq experienced the greatest catastrophe in their modern history five years ago, when ISIS stormed into the Sinjar District of Nineveh Province and massacred thousands of Yazidis, and took many more as captives and kidnapped women and children. The massacre was commemorated on the fifth anniversary of the grave crime, as Yazidis and officials gathered to remember those who lost their lives to ISIS terrorism and discrimination.
“Today is a dark day, children died of thirst and hunger while the elderly died of fatigue, hunger, and displacement. They attacked us from all sides”, expressed Ghazzalah Rashou, a Yazidi resident of Sinjar.
Family members visited the graves of their loved ones and paid their respects. Thousands of Yazidis are still missing as a result of the ISIS kidnappings and so it is not yet known whether they are dead or alive.
Yazidis have often felt vulnerable as an ethno-religious minority in Iraq that is subject to prejudices. These prejudices took an extreme form as ISIS showed its colours especially when confronted with minority groups who did not fit into their twisted totalitarian ideology.
“In times of adversity, we defend the homeland and offer martyrs. In the time of war, we have offered many martyrs, but we feel that we are strangers and do not take our full rights from the state”, commented Azad Abd Al, a representative of the Yazidi Freedom and Democracy Party.
A number of unprecedented crimes were committed against the Yazidis by ISIS terrorists. For instance, thousands of women were captured and used as sex slaves and were sold among ISIS militants. This has caused unimaginable psychological trauma for those women, many of whom are undergoing rehabilitation programmes. Yazidi children also suffered at the hands of ISIS as they were taken in and indoctrinated and trained militarily for the purposes of terrorism in the future.
Sinjar was liberated thanks to joint military efforts within Iraq and it has been governed by the Sinjar Council since.