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Why the Yezidis of Iraq are still not safe

Fréderike Geerdink photo
Fréderike GeerdinkShengal, Iraq
Why the Yezidis of Iraq are still not safe
In the summer of 2014 the world watched as the Yezidis of Iraq fled to the mountains after Daesh occupied their lands, massacred their men and kidnapped their women. The PKK came to their rescue. But the story isn't over. The Yezidis are still not safe. Byline reports.

SHENGAL – ‘Let it be war’, one of the mourning women suddenly says. A day earlier Naze Nayif Qewal, the 21 year old daughter of a friend, was shot dead by the peshmerga she was demonstrating against. The women have come together in a big tent to mourn their loss. They are fed up with the rising tensions in the Shengal region, which in early March suddenly burst into violence, with several casualties as a result. They encourage the local defence units, the YBS, to no longer just defend their people but to attack.

But their call to armed action will not be answered.

The condolence tent where the women mourn, next to the men’s tent where also the whole day long visitors come in and where two sheep are being slaughtered to feed everyone, is set up at the edge of a sprawling refugee camp, in a valley in the Shengal Mountais. In the summer of 2014 the whole world came to know those mountains, when the jihadists from Daesh attacked the region in the northwest of Iraq predominantly inhabited by Yezidis, an ancient religious minority. Daesh murdered thousands of men and kidnapped just as many women and children to turn them into slaves, to force them into ‘marriages’ and to brainwash them to be child soldiers.