Yazidi people are gradually leaving the refugee camps and returning to the Sinjar area, despite enormous challenges.
After six years of living under the two meters of nylon, Ezidi people decide to return to Shingal
by farhad barakat ali, June 15, 2020, Ezidi24
On 3rd of August 2014, Ezidi people in Shingal faced the worst tragedy in the history. Shingal didn’t give up to anyone the history and always fought for its people, regardless of how many men and women died, killed and captured, they were born to sacrifice for the Ezidisim. Since the time of *Mir Jafar Dasni who was a Ezidi and a leader who in 838 launched an uprising against Abbasid Caliph al-Mutasim in the area north of Mosul. After being defeated at Babagesh he resided in castles in Dasin, was covering his Ezidi people and he sacrificed for them and that was mentioned because Ezidi always sacrifice for their people.
During the history, this poor minority has faced more than 74 genocides, and in those genocides more than 80 million were killed and were forced to be converted to another religion by different militias and groups. The population of Ezidis now is approximately 2 millions all over the world.
Later, and after the worst genocide had happened to the Ezidis in 2014, they fled to live in a safe place, so they went through Kurdistan Region cities and to other areas, then settled there. Today, more than 200,000 Ezidi are living in Kurdistan camps, and all of them had displaced in 2014. After two years of Genocide, some of the families returned to Shingal but the rate was too low nearly 5%.
After that more than 100,000 returned that heightened the rate to 20%. This past week, more than 80 families returned and highletend the last rate to 35%. In the time being, Ezidi people are still thinking whether to return to Shingal or stay in the camps. they say “if we stayed in camps more, we won’t get anything”, and some say “ if we don’t go to Shingal then who will go” . In the real meaning they are two parts, some agree on returning and some don’t.
In Conclusion, Ezidi people are not obligated neither to stay nor leave by any government, some of the families were stuck for hours in a checkpoint then they were passed and allowed. Shingal needs its people to come back and continue their life, at least the Government and Organizations can do something for them, you were born in Shingal so if you die then die in Shingal.
Yazidis returning to Sinjar, despite fresh conflict and Covid-19
efe-epa, By Marta Rullán, Madrid Desk, 30 Jun 2020
Despite Turkish bombings, the continued threat of the Islamic State terror organization and the global Covid-19 pandemic, Yazidi refugees are returning home to Sinjar six years after they were forced to flee genocide.
Some 250 families have returned to their homeland in northern Iraq in recent days, sick of suffering and waiting for help that never arrived in the camps for internally-displaced people dotted around the region.
They’re looking to restart lives that were suspended on 3 August 2014 by a brutal IS attack on Sinjar.
“I think we will have a good future if someone provides us with safety and security,” 58-year-old Saad Hamad Mato tells Efe, adding that he is “tired” of being displaced and just wants to start his life again.
In 2014, he spent eight days wandering through the wilderness to escape the IS onslaught in Sinjar. He said he saw the bodies of Yazidi elders, murdered by IS, as well as children who died from a lack of food and water.
On 3 August, some 6,500 Yazidis, mainly women and children, were abducted by the IS.
The Yazidi people, whose belief system has links to the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism, can trace their roots in Sinjar province to 2,000 BC, in which time they have suffered 74 sectarian genocides.
The IS extremists executed at least 5,000 Yazidi men and older women and sold many young Yazidi women into sexual slavery and trained young boys to fight.
Around 400,000 Yazidis fled and hundreds or thousands — the exact figures are not known — died of hunger and thirst as IS surrounded Mount Sinjar.
Saad and his family were able to escape through a secure corridor opened by Kurdish forces.
He said he would never forget what happened to the Yazidi women and children.
The same applies for Nada Selo Shekho, 37-year-old mother to four children aged 18, 15, 13 and nine.
“ISIS killed and enslaved many Yazidis including 28 members of my husband’s family and my sister with her children and we do not know anything about their fate,” she tells Efe.
Saad described his experience in the refugee camps as a “struggle for life.”
He said people spent their days “thinking about our homes all the time, we were like prisoners who were waiting for execution.”
Ahmed Khudida, joint director of the NGO Yazda, which was created in the wake of the genocide, says: “Life in the camps is very difficult especially during coronavirus pandemic.”
“People were waiting for a rebuilding plan for Sinjar, justice and reconciliation but nothing has happened now and there is no plan for that.”
Many have grown tired of waiting.
Nada tells Efe: “We should return and restart our life and rebuild our destroyed homes.”
She calls on the international community to step in and help with the rebuilding of Sinjar.
Some 350,000 Yazidis live in the camp for IDPs in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.
German psychologist Jan Ilhan Kizilhan, who specializes in post-conflict trauma and has treated over 1,400 young people who were held as sex slaves by the IS, has been to speak with those displaced there.
“From the many conversations I have daily with the Yazidis in the camps, the readiness and motivation to return to Sinjar is very great. But they need security and support,” he tells Efe.
THE DREAM OF RETURNING
It is this motivation that has seen many Yazidis return to Sinjar in recent weeks, despite the absence of essential services in their homeland.
Khudida says: “Sinjar lacks basic services including electricity, water, education and so on. Sinjar is one of the poorest areas in Iraq even before ISIS attacks as it was systematically persecuted for many years.”
His NGO is working to rebuild infrastructure in the region and is carrying out projects developing a mobile health clinic, a women’s center, psychological support groups and a department to document the genocide.
Sinjar’s healthcare system is unprepared to properly deal with the Covid-19 pandemic but Saad insists it is “the only place that reunites us with our families, neighbors, and community.”
Security is another concern for the returning Yazidis.
On 15 June, Turkish warplanes killed several civilians in an operation against militias in the zone, while the IS has launched several new attacks in Iraq, despite having lost almost the entirety of its former territory.
“We have many concerns about recurrent Turkish attacks, but I don’t think they will launch a military operation on the ground. We are condemning any attacks on our territories from anyone,” Saad says.
Nada adds: “The Yazidi people in Sinjar have suffered a lot, and it's time to stop all conflict and escalation over their land, especially Turkish attacks, also the international community shouldn’t let Turkey bomb us.”
Kizilhan says the United Nations should station personnel in the region to help keep peace while Sinjar recovers, a suggestion that NGO director Khudida agrees with.
“The presence of UN troops will prevent Turkish airstrike attacks, eliminate the role of the militia groups, and decrease the possible attacks that ISIS may have plans for,” Khudida says.
AN OPEN WOUND
There are still some 2,800 Yazidis unaccounted for after the genocide, according to Iraqi Kurdistan regional Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs.
“They are in ISIS families camps such as Al-hol, missing within communities in Iraq and Syria, Turkey and other countries,” Khudida says.
The missing and the perceived indifference of the international community is an open wound for many Yazidis.
Saad says: “The international community didn’t do too much regarding the Yazidi case, they observed the genocide that took place without intervention, mass graves remain without exhumation, still, Yazidis have about 3000 missing at ISIS captivity.”
Kizilhan says an “international support community, similar to the Afghanistan Conference, is needed to provide financial and structural support to enable the people to return home, to rebuild their homeland and to have a dignified perspective.”
“The Iraqi and Kurdish governments must also do much more in this regard and support the Yazidis with necessary reparations. That is a political and moral duty.”
Despite the tricky path ahead, Nada remains optimistic about the future.
“I feel that I was able to bring back my memories when I returned to my home.”EFE-EPA
Shingalian displaced people are continuing to farewell to the camps
June 18, 2020
Ezidi 24 – Basim Qasim
Translation – Tahseen Haskany
With nearly six years of Yazidi genocide committed by the terrorist organization ISIS and the displacement of all its residents to the Kurdistan region, large numbers of displaced families started knocking on their city door again and bid farewell to the camps.
Today, Thursday June 18, 2020, a number of Shingal residents from the displacement camps in Dohuk Governorate have returned to their homes and will return to the villages of South Shingal and the Center of the district.
Mahmood Mato’s family is one of the families that left today the kabartoo camp heading towards the Shingal district center, “Mahmood” spoke to “Ezidi 24” and said, “After tragic conditions and spending more than five years in the IDP camps, we decided to return to our city. It doesn’t matter how can we live In Shingal but, it’s better than living in camps.”
He also said, “We are not the only who are returning now. There are dozens of families, and they will each return to a village in Shingal as well.”
Waiss Naif Shingali, head of the Shingal District Council, spoke to “Ezidi 24” and said, “Our displaced families are continuing to return to their areas, and we also in the Shingal administration are continuing to work to serve our people.”
“The number of returning families is constantly increasing and they return with their own decision and their will, without the assistance of any party, they have returned to their destroyed city” He continued.
Dozens of Yazidi families have returned in the recent period to the district of Shingal and continue to do so, and it is expected that a higher percentage of the displaced will return to their homes.
The return of Shingal’s people and the ISIS’ crimes documentation process, between pros and cons
July 2020, Ezidi 24 – Dyab Ghanem
Translation – Tahseen Alhaskany
The ISIS terrorist organization committed numerous crimes in Shingal district, in western Nineveh province/northern Iraq, when it attacked the district in August 2014, left behind dozens of mass and individual graves, in addition to booby-trapping homes and kidnapping thousands of residents of the district.
The Yazidi community has devoted its organizations and individuals most of its attention to documenting these crimes to the recognition of what happened to Yazidis and other components that were present in Shingal as a crime of genocide.
There is also work and concern at the global level with the Yazidi issue, and they are also trying to document all the crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq and especially Shingal district to work on them and help the persecuted people.
The director of the Yazidi Organization for Documentation, Hossam Abdullah, spoke to “Ezidi 24”, and said, “The importance of documenting crimes in Shingal is an essential and ongoing task and not a temporary Process, because the crimes that committed are international crimes and genocide, and international crimes often need a long time and not a short process an example of this is the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 20th century, and despite its international recognition that it is genocide, the work continues to search for and collect the remains of victims, and therefore the documentation continues in Shingal and will continue.
He also said, “Return is a positive and important thing for several reasons. Firstly, adherence to the land. Secondly, protection of evidence. Thirdly, protection of mass graves from tampering and sabotage. Fourthly, in order to compel the state to implement transitional justice measures for victims and their families, which include considered compensation, restitution of victims, reparation, and protection from non-commission of what happened again and holding the perpetrators accountable with the participation of victims and their families in the trial procedures that take place for those responsible, and that return compels the state to take these steps.”
“Our returning honorable families need to draw attention to the following, firstly to report any criminal evidence they find, secondly not to prejudice, play, or tamper with any of this evidence, whether it is clothes, bones, or gunshots, or any of that evidence, as it is criminal evidence, otherwise the person is exposed to the legal accountability.” Thirdly, reporting is either to the police, the judiciary, or organizations that have an obligation to help inform the relevant government agencies, and we must be exempt from some of the actions that took place a few days ago in tampering with one of the graves that have been found, thus losing the rights of their relatives, as well as the work is still ongoing, whether the international investigation team UNITAD or the local organizations concerned with documentation and others, and the investigation and documentation processes are still ongoing and the people must pay attention to that,” He said.
And Abdullah said, “We -in the Yazidi Organization for Documentation- call on our honorable people to cooperate and exercise caution in order to protect and preserve this evidence, because what happened is an international crime and is genocide and we need documents in order to prove it internationally.”
The Shingalian youth man , Dawod Khalil, also spoke to “Ezidi 24” and said, “Documentation is an important thing for me and for all the Yazidi community because it is the only thing that we can get our rights and the rights of our martyrs and the rights of ISIS victims, so more and more attention must be paid to it.”
He also said, “The return of the people has a somewhat negative effect, because there are many graves that have not yet been discovered, and the people are burning what is around them for the purpose of cleaning and also plowing the lands, and this is a dangerous thing that can hide the effects of these crimes in those areas.”
“We must all, especially the new returnees, inform the government authorities of what they see as evidence if a previously undiscovered document is discovered, while the open documents must be observed more and more than everything,” Khalil added.
He concluded his speech by saying, “There are many other things documenting what happened to us, including explosive roads, tunnels and houses that were destroyed completely, that must be preserved and documented, so that they are disclosed by the relevant committees”.
UNITED NATIONS DIGITAL DIALOGUE COMMEMORATING THE SIXTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE GENOCIDAL CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE YAZIDI MINORITY
Nadia’s Initiative and the Permanent Missions of the Federal Republic of Germany and the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations
August 3rd, 2020
10.30 am – 12 pm (EST)
Six years after ISIL started its genocidal campaign: The state of the Yazidi community
Restoring the Yazidi Community in Iraq in the Aftermath of the Genocidal Campaign
On August 3rd 2014, the so-called Islamic State (ISIL) began a genocidal campaign against the Yazidi ethno-religious minority that involved ethnic cleansing in the form of mass executions, forced conversions, and widespread sexual violence. These attacks resulted in the massacre of thousands of Yazidis, enslavement of more than 6,500 Yazidi women and children, and displacement of over 350,000 Yazidis to Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps in Northern Iraq.
Many of the over 120,000 Yazidis who have returned to their ancestral homelands in the region of Sinjar are struggling to rebuild their lives. The majority of these individuals have been without vital services since the summer of 2014, including healthcare, education, and livelihoods support.
H.E. Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office of Germany
H.E. Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation
Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Laureate, UNODC Goodwill Ambassador
Amal Clooney, International Human Rights Lawyer
High level representative, Iraq (tbc)
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, SRSG, UNAMI
Karim Khan, UNSG Special Advisor, UNITAD
Jomaa Jameel Murad, Director, Nabu Organization for Awareness
Following the panel, the floor will be open to all member and observer states and civil society for interventions.
Topics that will be raised
Provision of basic services and restoration of infrastructure in Sinjar
Missing Yazidi women and children
Justice and accountability for crimes committed by ISIL perpetrators
Improving local governance and security in Sinjar
Working with the federal government in Baghdad and the regional government in Erbil to ensure safe, dignified and voluntary return of those still displaced
Protection of Yazidis in Syria
This event will be streamed online at webtv.un.org.
August 3, 2020