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Iraq: The Yazidis

In 2014 ISIS killed about 3,100 Yazidis in Iraq, many of which were shot, beheaded, and burned alive. Another 6,800 Yazidis were kidnapped and forced to become sex slaves or fighters. The Yazidis are a religious minority that ISIS considers to be devil worshippers. Since then hundreds of thousands of Yazidis have fled Iraq to escape persecution.


After thousands of Yazidis were killed and raped in 2014, many were displaced and living in poverty. Several others were living in camps. Bashouq Ali lost 93 family members to the violence. Homes were also looted and for some all possessions were taken. Some of the victims have anger towards the Arab Muslims that live in the ISIS controlled areas and see no distinction between them and ISIS.


The ISIS fighters abducted Noora in 2014; she was taken to a prison with around 4,000 other Yazidi girls. She now lives in a refugee came in northern Iraq and mentions that no Yazidi will ever forget the day that everyone fled, not even children. There are still people under ISIS captivity and Noora believes that until all families are reunited, the community won't be able to heal from the trauma of August 2014. Layla Lahdo Khader who was able to escape being captured says that everyone's future has been taken away; those living in the camps don't feel like they're living their own lives.

Al Jazeera

Many of the Yazidi women and girls that were captured by ISIS were raped, sexually assaulted, and in forced marriages. Some were also forced to convert religions which is looked down up in the Yazidi religion, although with the mass abductions the community has been more open to it. Lei was one of the women who were kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam. After she escaped she reunited with her family and she mentions that tradition is the most important thing, so she's happy she has been welcomed back despite her conversion to Islam. After her return she was baptized back to her original faith, which wouldn't have been allowed a few months prior. Other women were scared to return to their families and some have been told that it's okay to convert to Islam in order to stay safe.


A document by ISIS revealed that it's permitted to buy, sell, and gift women as captives and slaves and that being them is permissible.Some of the women and girls that were abducted by ISIS were bought from other the ISIS members; they were bought for up to $2,000. One woman pretended to be married to prevent being raped because she heard ISIS members favored virgins. Other girls had said it was forbidden to marry married women. But she was taken to Syria and was forced to marry one of the men who said it wasn't forbidden if they are Yazidi women. Some of the women and girls attempted suicide in order to escape being raped, forced into marriages, or forced to convert religions. Some tried hanging, cutting, or electrocuting themselves, and drinking what they believed to be poison.


Around 40,000 people fled to Mount Sinjar after ISIS attacked the Yazidis in August 2014. Many have died from starvation and dehydration due to lack of supplies and the summer heat. Thousands are living vehicles or tents. Life is hard on the mountain, but many feel that they have no choice since looters have stripped their town. Some families have returned to their villages but there is a lack of electricity, healthcare, schools, and education.

Al Jazeera

As of August 2017 the UN said that the genocide in Iraq against the Yazidis was still ongoing and that the issue remained unaddressed. Around 3,000 women and children were still being held captive. The control over Sinjar was still being fought over and justice for the crimes against humanity had yet to be investigated. ISIS members were selling women and girls that were enslaved as a way to escape from the US led coalition.

Al Jazeera

Survivors from the Yazidi genocide are still trying to recover and come to terms with the atrocities they witnessed and endured. Wahda and her daughters were held captive for two months and were regularly beaten. She has trouble sleeping at night because of her anger and wants revenge for her daughters. Wanda has tried to get psychological and physical support, but has been denied because the NGOs didn't believe her or said she was ineligible because they weren't raped or were held captive for only two months. The Iraqi government has yet to help those that are displaced or start rebuilding the destroyed infrastructure, leaving many living in instability.

Al Jazeera

A Yazidi family fled Sinjar after ISIS invaded the area in 2014. Their village wasn't attacked but it wasn't safe for the Nohs family to stay. They would have been killed if they didn't convert religions, so they left and tried to go to Greece through Turkey. The journey during winter was cold and after being turned down five times by security they tried a different route and ended up in Lesbos. Afterwards they made it to a camp in Ritsona near Athens and a year later some of them went to France after being granted asylum. The culture is different and they had to start their lives over in a new country, but they're grateful for the opportunity to live in a safe place.


In December 2017 Yazidi fighters were accused of killing 52 people from the Imteywit tribe. Civilians from eight families were kidnapped and then executed in June 2017. Many Yazidis claim the Imteywit tribe had connections with ISIS in the violence from 2014. Members of the tribe disappeared as they were leaving the desert to the Qabusiye village and haven't been seen since. An investigation has been pledged but no one has been yet to be held accountable for the crimes.

Al Jazeera

Abdullah Shrim rescued 338 Yazidis that were abducted and held captive by ISIS; most of them were in Syria. At least half of those that were kidnapped are still missing and are believed to be in Turkey, Syria, or sold to human trafficking rings. One of Shim's nieces called him from Raqqa pleading for help and he worked with other Yazidis and Kurds to make rescue attempts. It didn't work out and after that he relied on Arab Syrians for help. US and Iraqi forces would not get involved in the rescue missions. Each woman or girl cost $3,000-$15,000 to get back which mostly came from private donations. They had to use secret bread delivery informants, which was very dangerous; ISIS executed five people after being caught. ISIS has been sending Shim regular death threats and several people call him asking for help to search for their relatives.


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