Yesterday, 3 August, was remembered as the Annual Commemoration Day of the Yazidi Genocide in the hands of the ISIL. On this day in 2014, the Islamic State began attacking the Yazidi community, killing many and enslaving thousands of women.
Yazidis are a minority community in the Kurdistan region of West Asia. They have their own religious belief, called Yazidism, a pre-Islamic religion. Because of this, they have faced persecution by Islamic majoritarian groups for centuries. The Islamic community considered the Yazidis devil worshippers’ because they believed in anthropomorphic deities. The rise of ISIL in Syria and Iraq had put a target on this community. According to the UN, Yazidis have been “systematically targeted by ISIL and subjected to gross human rights abuse.”
In August 2014, ISIL attacked Sinjar, a district in Northern Iraq primarily inhabited by the Yazidis. The civilians tried to defend themselves with any arms they could find, yet, on 3 August, the ISIL managed to take over Sinjar. They started killing any man who refused to convert to Islam. Women and girls, even children, were abducted and enslaved.
Almost 50000 people tried to escape to the Sinjar mountain region, where they remained surrounded and trapped by the Islamic forces surrounding them. The USA started an airstrike on 8 August, while the Iraqi forces airdropped food and water to the refugees and started rescuing them in helicopters. By 9 August, a safe path was created, which allowed people to be moved to Syria.
A report by the UN claimed that 5000 Yazidi men had been massacred in August 2014. Reports also show that a few hundred died of starvation and dehydration while fleeing the ISIL. In addition, nearly 7000 women and girls were abducted and turned into sex slaves by the ISIL. This was one of the worst cases of sexual violence in history. Nevertheless, women who managed to escape ISIL control continue to share their harrowing and traumatic experiences with the world.
The UN considered ISIL’s attack on the Yazidis to be an act of genocide. However, thousands from the community continue to remain missing.