The Genocide And Rape Of The Yazidis Of Iraq
The Yazidis are an ancient religious sect of Kurdish speaking people centered mainly in the Mosul area of Iraq and around Kilis and Gaziarstep in southern Turkey. Their number is estimated at between 40,000 to 70,000 only
In the recent explosive rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS); while the reporting of the horrifying actions of the ISIS has captured the world’s attention, perhaps what has been the most horrifying action of the ISIS -the extermination of all the males and the sentencing of all the females to sexual slavery of the old world community- the Yazidis of Iraq has not been highlighted nor has it received the world’s attention. This one action of the ISIS is by far the most depraved and most dastardly crime of the century.
Who are the Yazidis, and why has not the free world reacted more strongly to this totally depraved and most dastardly crime by the cadres of the ISIS?
The Yazidis are an ancient religious sect of Kurdish speaking people centered mainly in the Mosul area of Iraq and around Kilis and Gaziarstep in southern Turkey. Their number is estimated at between 40,000 to 70,000 only. Modern scholars believe that the Yazidis were descendents of the Umayyad Caliph Yazid 1, who reigned between 680 to 683 AD. Their religion is syncretic, including Judaic, Christian, Islamic and Zoroastrian elements, They are angel worshippers as they consider Satan to be a fallen angel, who will be restored. Their scriptures are in Arabic, but the tradition is passed on in Kurdish- the language of prayer. Their religion is syncretic, including Judaic, Christian, Islamic and Zoroastrian elements. Wednesday is their holy day. The Yazidis remained aloof from their neighbours and sought no converts. They are mostly farmers. The Yazidis value cleanliness and are of high moral caliber.
Yazidis are found primarily in the districts of Mosul in Iraq, Diyarbakir in Turkey, Aleppo in Syria and also in Armenia and the Caucasus region and in parts of Iran. The Yazidi religion is a syncretic combination of Zoroastrian, Manichean, Jewish, Nestorian, Christian elements. They are thought to be descended from supporters of the Umayyad Caliph-Yazid 1. They believe that they were created separately from the rest of mankind, not even been descended from Adam and they have kept themselves strictly segregated from the people among whom they live.
The Yazidis lived innocuously as civilisations evolved and remained as a minority group as major religions, evolved around them through the centuries. They chose not to be absorbed in the major religious groups-Judaism, Christianity and Islam that evolved in the Middle East where they were settled. They evolved a syncretic religion of their own, taking leaves from Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrian elements. Their religion was peaceful and they maintained good relations with the people of the majority religions-Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
On August 03, 2014, the fighters of the ISIS invaded the villages on the southern flank of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq. Its villages were home to the Yazidis a tiny religious minority of Iraq. Men and women were separated immediately after capture. The men were collected in a group and all of them were killed by automatic gun fire. The women and girls were hauled away in open trucks. Men and women and girls were separated within the first hour of their capture. Men and adult boys were taken to the hill side and machine gunned to death and the women and girls hauled away in trucks. The women and girls of the Yazidis were obviously singled out for sexual slavery by the ISIS. In the eyes of the ISIS the Yazidis were despised unbelievers, lower than Christians and Jews.
The systematic rape of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority has been deeply enmeshed in the organisation and the radical theology of the ISIS in the year since the group announced it was reviving slavery as an institution. Interviews with twenty one women and girls who recently escaped from ISIS custody as well as an examination of the group’s official communications illuminate how the practice has been enshrined in the groups core tenets.
A total of 5270 Yazidis were abducted last year and at least 3144 are still being held according to the community leaders. A growing body of internal policy memos and theological discussion has established guidelines for slavery, including a lengthy “how to” manual issued by the Islamic State Research and Fatwa department. Repeatedly the ISIS leadership has emphasized a narrow and selective reading of the Quran to not only justify violence, but also to elevate and celebrate each sexual assault as spiritually virtuous!
“Every time he came to rape me he would pray-said a fifteen year old Yazidi girl, who was captured on the shoulder of Mount Sinjar an year ago and was sold to an Iraqi ISIS fighter in his twenties. She added that her tormentor told her that raping her is his prayer to his God. She escaped in April 2015 with the help of smugglers after being enslaved for nine months.
The ISIS introduction of systematic sexual slavery dates to August 03, 2014 when their fighters invaded the villages on the southern flank of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq. Its valleys were home to the Yazidis for centuries.
‘Spoils of war’ snaps, the English language journal of the IS. The reference is to thousands of Yazidi women, the group forced into sexual slavery after taking over their mountain kingdom, Sinjar in August 2014. Far from being a perversion, it claims that forced concubinage is a religious practice sanctified by the Quran. Religious preachers have responded with a series of protests. “The reintroduction of slavery is forbidden in Islam. It was abolished by universal consensus, declared an open letter sent by 140 Muslim scholars to the ISIS’s caliph, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi earlier this year- “You have taken women as concubines and thus revived corruption and lewdness on the earth For almost a century the Middle East on paper, at least was free of slaves. Human beings are born free and no one has the right to enslave, humiliate, oppress or exploit them,”—proclaimed the Cairo declaration of Human Rights in Islam in 1990.
(The writer is former Director General, BSF)
By E N Rammohan