Murad Ismael’s remarks on Occasion of 6th anniversary of Yazidi Genocide
What brings us together today is not only a Yazidi tragedy but, in essence, a human tragedy. We, as a society, should commemorate, reflect, and learn from this. Yes, learn, so that no other community in the world lives what Yazidis lived.
As someone who worked for the past 6 years on this case, I can tell you that it is too much. Too much to bear on a personal level and on a collective level. We have all reached our limits. I see thousands of Yazidis with fractured souls. I see a level of trauma that goes so very deep, that it will probably take decades to understand. Let alone understand how to heal it.
The Yazidi community was not equipped to handle this multidimensional, complex crisis. It was a simple community recovering from years of injustice, lack of education, and poverty. But, it was a community that was looking forward. For the first time, people were building new homes and small factories. There were jobs, and people were able to send their children to school. For some, they were able to finally put enough food on the table to feed their family.
Now, the thousands of new homes built in Sinjar, Bashiqa and other Yazidi areas between 2003 and 2014 are mostly gone. Thousands of boys and girls were studying at college. Now, for hundreds of them, education is no longer an option. Yazidi women, after decades of inequality, had achieved some level of progress, only for this progress to be destroyed by ISIS and years of sexual slavery.
There are so many personal stories of survivors to share, and there are hundreds of stories that will never be heard. There are the stories that will remain buried at the Tal-afar sinkhole, where 500+ Yazidi men were killed. Or the stories from the two villages, Kasir Mehrab and Qizil Qayo, where ISIS held more than 2500 Yazidi women and children and treated them as objects in a garage sale. I was talking to people in these two villages until the calls became less and less as time passed until there were no more calls at all.
I spoke with Aziza and other Yazidi girls as ISIS loaded them on buses, taking them from Sinjar to Mosul, then back to Sinjar, and finally to slave markets in Syria where more than 190 girls perished in the ISIS sex slavery machine. We witnessed them go, whole and full of life, and we witnessed some of them return fragmented and terrorized. For some, including Aziza, we still wait for their return.
I can tell you the story of Sultan, who was only 15 when ISIS annihilated his family. He didn’t pursue the dreams of a child or the ambitions of a boy. He doesn’t enjoy the warmth and care of his parents. Instead, he speaks of mass graves, an abandoned farm, and a fading family legacy. He wants his family remembered and honored, not forgotten.
I can tell you the story of an old Yazidi mother whose son, along with 60,000 Yazidis, escaped genocide with his wife and children, only to perish in the Aegean Sea. But his mother lived in denial. She told me that her son and his family were being held in a Syrian prison. Many Yazidis are still in denial because they cannot live with the reality.
I must also bring to your attention another ongoing genocide against Yazidis in Syria today, this time not by ISIS. We are seeing the last days for Yazidi community in that country.
I will not list all of our demands for we have stated them many times, but I will say this, if we fail in Sinjar, then there will be no success in Iraq and frankly nothing to be proud of. In Sinjar, we must create an example of success; we must achieve justice, co-existence, economic prosperity, and cooperation. To do this, we need to gather the political will to create a local administration, write a comprehensive economic plan to rebuild the region, and unify all of the forces in Sinjar per the constitution, and per the need of the region, where a force of 25,000 locals is needed to protect it.
Our people are courageous, indeed courageous. They fight every day. They fight so that their homeland remains a livable place. Yazidis are also grateful people, we thank everyone who stood with us; countries, organizations, and individuals.
We must acknowledge that Yazidis areas are not isolated from the rest of the country. We must build an Iraq that is fairer, more peaceful, and more prosperous for all. An Iraq that treats the weak and the strong alike, and the minority and the majority alike. An Iraq that is as rich as its rich, ancient history.