YOUNG YAZIDI REFUGEE FROM IRAQ: 'WE FELT IT BEST TO COME TO A CHRISTIAN COUNTRY LIKE ARMENIA'
16:26, July 31, 2015
The bracelet worn by Fadil Bshar, a 17 year-old Yazidi from Iraq,
catches my eye. Woven in white thread, it reads 'Shangal'.
Shangal, also known as Sinjar/Shingal is a town in northern Iraq,
mainly inhabited by Yazidis, which the Islamic State (IS) captured
in August 2014. Hundreds of Yazidis were massacred and thousands fled
to the mountains north of the town.
Fadil's family of nine and that of his brother (5 members), took the
flight from Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan and arrived in Armenia last night.
The families had been living in Shingal before IS captured the
predominately Yazidi northern Iraqi province, also home to Arab and
Fadil tells me that 450,000 Yazidis fled Shangal as a result. The
young man says that he, his brother and uncle took up arms against
the advancing IS forces. Outgunned, armed with mostly AK-47s, the
Yazidi resistance lasted six hours.
"Those six hours allowed families to flee Shangal," says Fadil,
stressing that they retreated not out of cowardice but because they
had run out of ammo and IS had heavier weaponry.
"I am 17 but have never seen peace in Iraq. I have seen genocide
twice. Once in my village when 1,000 Yazidis were killed. I am certain
that there will be no peace in Iraq as long as Islam rules. The
Yazidis there are under the control of the Kurds," says Fadil.
Fadil says the camp he and the family were staying in is a mere five
kilometers from the fighting, in the plain of Badr village. The specter
of danger is all around, Fadil says. The 10,000 Yazidis remaining in
the camp are in need of food since there is no work to be found.
"We were forced out of Shangal and wound up in Iraqi Kurdistan. Our
safety wasn't ensured there either. There were murders and kidnappings,
so we decided to move to a Christian country like Armenia, where we
have Yazidi friends and relatives. We are certain that here we are
safe," says Fadil.
The young man recounts the losses his family has suffered at the hands
of IS. "My uncle and his two adolescent daughters were killed when they
fled. They fell into the hands of IS. Our losses have been great and
so is the pain in our hearts. We have brought nothing here with us."
My conversation with Fadil is translated by Boris Mourazi, who heads
the Sinjar Yazidi National Union. Mourazi says they have organized the
resettlement of three Yazidi families (19 souls) to Armenia. Some of
the Yazidis wanted to migrate to Europe but Mourazi says he talked
them into coming to Armenia, where they could more easily maintain
their traditions and language.
The Sinjar Union has acquired housing for the families in the Armavir
village of Araks. They will also file a petition with Armenia's
Migration Service to get the families refugee status.
Today, in a park adjacent to Yerevan's Republic Square, the Sinjar
Union has organized a food collection event for the three families.
Also on display are paintings drawn by Yazidis as they fled from
Top photo: Fadil Bshar, Boris Mourazi
YOUNG YAZIDI REFUGEE FROM IRAQ: 'WE FELT IT BEST TO COME TO A CHRI
Posted 01 August 2015 - 12:10 PM
YOUNG YAZIDI REFUGEE FROM IRAQ: 'WE FELT IT BEST TO COME TO A CHRISTIAN COUNTRY LIKE ARMENIA'
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Posted 01 August 2015 - 06:29 PM
I wonder if they in time will become a divisive group there.
Posted 02 August 2015 - 06:32 AM
Lotus becomes symbol of Yazidi genocide
YEREVAN. - Lotus has become a symbol of the Yazidi genocide
perpetrated in Iraq last year, head of Yazidi union in Armenia Roman
The flower of lotus has a great meaning for the Yazidis, he explained.
`If you pick lotus, it recovers very quickly and grows again.
Therefore, it is linked to the fate of Yazidis. Everyone knows that
the Yazidis were subjected to genocide for many years, but we are
still here thanks to our firm will. This flower is usually white, but
our symbol has a yellow hue because Yazidis worship the Sun,' he said.
According to him, the tips of the lotus petals are painted red as a
sign of the killed Yazidis. The symbol has an inscription ` DYN which
stands for Destruction of Yazidi nation.
Avdoyan said August 3 marks the first anniversary of the genocide of
the Yezidis in Iraq perpetrated by the Islamic state.
Posted 02 August 2015 - 06:33 AM
Yezidis go on hunger strike in Yerevan
YEREVAN. - Two public figures of the Yezidi community of Armenia,
Sashik Sultanyan and Rustam Bakoyan, on Saturday went on a three-day
hunger strike outside the United Nations (UN) Office in Armenia.
They are demanding to put an end to the genocide of the Yezidis in
The public figures also demand from the UN to assist the Yezidis in
liberating 8,000 to 9,000 Yezidis that are held captive by the Islamic
`They are selling the captive Yezidi women in the Arab markets,' added
Bakoyan toArmenian News-NEWS.am.
The Yezidis also demand that the UN Security Council intervene, and,
to ensure the safety of the Yezidis, a Yezidi autonomy to be formed in
the Shangal (Sinjar) province in northern Iraq.
`The Yezidis in Iraq, [and] representatives of the Yezidi community in
European countries also have gone on a hunger strike today,' added
He also informed that ten Yezidis from Shangal have petitioned to
them, and with a request to be relocated to Armenia.
`We will try to assist them and transfer [them] here,' said Rustam
Bakoyan. `[But] I believe that, once the situation is handled in
Shangal, we will be able to return these Yezidis to their homes.'
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Posted 19 August 2015 - 07:46 AM
WHY ISRAEL AND ARMENIA SHOULD 'ADOPT' THE YAZIDIS
Aug 18 2015
Posted: 08/18/2015 3:14 pm EDT
Stefan Ihrig, Polonsky Fellow, Van Leer Jerusalem Institute
JERUSALEM -- The recent horrifying New York Times exposÃ© on the
Islamic State's sex slavery system targeting Yazidi women was one of
the most-read articles on the paper's website in the last days. And
yes, in a doubly perverse sense it feels good to be morally outraged
at ISIS for a few minutes. But let us not get all too comfortable with
our outrage over what the Times titled "Theology of Rape," because we
like to forget just how easily we forget. The history of mass media and
atrocities in the modern world has taught us that the hurdle for us to
really care -- to the point where something is done about atrocities in
progress -- is just astoundingly high. The history of the last century
provides a seemingly endless list of atrocities that were not stopped,
and rarely was this ever for a lack of information about them. We,
at least as countries and societies, simply don't really care. We
would like to think we do, but, empirically speaking, we don't --
and the latest case in point is the sheer existence of a system of
Yazidi sex slave trade in 2015.
We humans and we modern societies have a tremendous ability to
compartmentalize what is going on in the world around us and to assign
most of it to such a distance that it simply does not matter. We have
an even greater ability not to care or to forget and suppress quickly
what we read, hear and see about the tragedies and wars around us. Our
ability as societies to ignore, downplay or misunderstand what is
going on -- in the face of reports, coverage and even discussion in
our own media -- has a long tradition.
Let me give you just two examples of a dark tradition of not caring
too much to illustrate just how easy this is and was: In the 1890s
great massacres broke out in the Ottoman Empire; under Abdul Hamid
II tens of thousands of Armenians were killed in a span of about
three years. Germany was especially close to the Ottoman Empire at
the time and was rather well-informed about what happened. From its
own sources and from English papers, the German press printed horror
stories featuring such explicit depictions of the murder of Armenians
by mobs in some localities that even over hundred years later they
make for a highly disturbing read. And still they failed to instigate
any great response by German society as such.
The papers aligned with the German government downplayed the
atrocity reports as British propaganda or outright justified what was
happening. Some critical papers were shouted down with the accusation
of being obsessed with minority issues because they were Jewish-owned.
Others were either silent or sought their own way out of a tragedy
that warranted some kind of response, especially because Germany was
a quasi-ally of the Ottomans at the time, often either by advancing
racial justifications or by stressing that Germany had enough problems
at home to care about first. But don't judge Germany of the 1890s all
too quickly, the other Great Powers also did next to nothing to help
ISIS is pretty clear about what it cares for and what it does not.
What about us?
By the time the Armenian Genocide occurred, some 20 years later,
one German paper, which was the widely acknowledged mouthpiece of
political Catholicism, went a step further to justify not caring for
the Armenians: it observed laconically that there were either many
or not so many Christians in the Ottoman Empire, depending on the
perspective. What the paper meant to suggest was that only if one
counted the Orthodox Christians -- the majority of Armenians were
Orthodox -- fully, as real Christians would the total number be high.
It did not say so explicitly, but what it suggested was clear: because
the victims are not really Christians, German Christians were not
obliged to bother themselves with this faraway tragedy.
Another example -- and a case in point that the size of the
humanitarian disaster matters little to our ability to not comprehend,
to suppress, downplay and so on -- has to be the Holocaust as it
was happening. Deborah Lipstadt and others have shown how often and
almost casually news about the ongoing Holocaust was pushed to the
less important pages of American papers and routinely downplayed in
importance. A recent study by Michael Fleming examines how the news
about Auschwitz traveled to the Allies and how it was received. He
painstakingly documents all the hurdles that needed to be surmounted
before this news -- about what is today the iconic killing place of
the Holocaust -- was taken seriously by policymakers and news media at
all. Fleming combats the myth about the Allies not having had reliable
information about Auschwitz until late in war; well, they did, but
it would be just all the more comfortable to believe that they did not.
ISIS' Sex Slavery
So, now we have more horrifying news about ISIS and we are outraged
by ISIS' sex slave system. And we should be. But then what? By the
time you looked up from that Times article to do the next thing you
probably already began to put this disturbing piece of information
some place away from the things that matter to you. We learn to do
so every day. But somebody needs to care. Why? Because it is simply
far too easy not to care about the Yazidis (and we had in fact already
almost forgotten about last year's near extinction of tens of thousands
of Yazidis, almost miraculously saved by the Kurdish Peshmerga). Not
only are they far away, the overwhelming majority of us just don't
have any Yazidis in our circle of friends and neighbors.
And finally, and perhaps most importantly, they are neither Christian,
Jewish or Muslim and their belief system is just foreign in the most
literal sense to us.
Given their history, at the very least the state of Israel and
Armenia should, in some form, politically adopt the Yazidis. Like
the Armenians and the Jews in the 1890s, during the Armenian Genocide
and during the Shoah, the Yazidis, too, have no state of their own,
no army and no powerful enough lobby anywhere. And precisely because
they don't and because they are not "one of us," they matter so much
and should matter more than the threatened destruction of the ruins
of Palmyra. After we have proven, as a world, that we do not care that
much for the Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims of Syria, or the Kurds
and all the other inhabitants in now ISIS-controlled Iraq, the Yazidis
should be the last straw. But they probably won't be. ISIS is pretty
clear about what it cares for and what it does not. What about us?
Posted 19 August 2015 - 12:25 PM
ARMENIANS -- 1915, YAZIDIS -- 2015
Editorial 8-22 August 2015
By Edmond Y. Azadian
One hundred years have elapsed since an entire nation was uprooted from
its historic lands, exterminated and/or dispersed around the globe,
yet the world has learned nothing. The same brutality, the same vicious
campaign that was waged against the Armenians, today are being waged
against Yazidis in Iraq. Pope Francis accused the world of indifference
which encouraged the perpetrators of those crimes a century ago. Today,
are we surprised that Yazidis meet the same indifference in their
hour of need? At best, some lip service is offered by the powers who
could halt these atrocities if they really wanted to.
The same criminal minds and bloody hands that exterminated 1.5 million
Armenians in 1915 are in action today, in the year 2015, destroying and
dispersing the Yazidi minority in Iraq. The beheadings are committed
by the Islamic State (or ISIS/ISIL) but the main culprits are Turkish
leaders who helped create the terror group and trained and armed
them in front of the world. ISIS is an evil force to spread mayhem to
accommodate Ankara's political designs on controlling the Middle East.
The Turkish leaders used ISIS to destroy Kessab's thriving Armenian
life in Syria, to desecrate the Genocide memorial in Der Zor and
threaten organized Armenian life in Aleppo.
A political charade is being played at the expense of peaceful
populations in the region. It defies logic that the all-powerful US
forces were able to pulverize the organized army of Iraq in a matter of
a few days and yet cannot contain the ragtag army constituting ISIS,
which has already occupied a swathe of territory as large as Great
Britain on the landmass of Iraq and Syria.
The US has been cajoling the Turkish government to earnestly confront
IS and allow the US war planes to use Incirlik Airbase for air strikes,
but Ankara has been dragging its feet.
When Washington halfheartedly consented to allow Turkey to establish a
no-fly zone in Syria, Ankara relented. It feigned that it has joined
the US and its allies to fight IS, while in reality, it began to
fight its Kurdish foes, which also happen to be the only combatants
successfully facing down IS.
The idea of a no-fly zone is Turkey's plan to amputate Syria's
territory. Already, the French Colonial powers had ceded in 1938 the
Hatay region of Syria, mostly populated by Arabs and Armenians, to
Turkey, just as the same powers gave Cilicia to the latter, leaving
the Armenian civilian population to the tender mercies of marauding
Kemalist forces. Syria has never accepted the loss of Hatay.
Last week, during an exclusive interview with the BBC, Prime Minister
Ahmet Davutoglu angrily blamed the news sources which were revealing
the truth -- that Turkey was tending to its own agenda in fighting
the Kurds and only going through the motions of fighting IS. The
journalists revealed that as of the date of the interview, Turkey
had carried out 400 air strikes against Kurdish forces in Quandil
mountains in Iraq and had carried one single raid against IS.
Of course, this dilly-dallying will embolden ISIS to continue its
While the rape and murder of Yazidi women was taking place unabated,
only the plight of the American hostage jolted the conscience of the
US public. Indeed, Kayla Mueller had been used as a sex slave for Abu
Bakr, the self-styled caliph of the IS nation, before being murdered.
The Wall Street Journal, in its August 14 edition, brought to light
the horrendous atrocities committed against the Yazidis: "ISIS has an
elaborate, organized structure for its sexual slave trade, much like it
developed an infrastructure for basic services in the territories it
has claimed. The New York Times reported this week that ISIS planned
to establish a sex market before its attack on Iraqi Yazidis on Mount
Sinjar last August. ISIS considers the sexual use and abuse of Yazidi
women as permitted under Islam because they are 'infidels.'"
The same exact logic was used by the Turkish government 100 years
ago to rape Armenian women and confiscate Armenian properties.
Further down, the Wall Street Journal article continues, "And while
many countries have denounced ISIS and its beheadings, mass executions
and other horrific acts, little effort has been devoted to rescuing
women taken as its sexual slaves."
The US air raids and Turkish mock air raids had not made a dent on
ISIS' resolve to maintain occupied territory. Only the war-hardened
Kurdish Pesh Mergas' fight yielded results and ISIS was forced to
evacuate some territory in Iraq. What the Yazidis are discovering
in those recaptured territories are mass graves, similar to the ones
that exist to this day in the sands of Der Zor desert.
Life is too dangerous for the Yazidis and Christians in Iraq while ISIS
forces are at large. They have decided to move to other countries. Some
families have come to settle in Armenia, where a thriving Yazidi
community has existed for decades.
Yazidis, numbering fewer than 1 million worldwide, are believed to
be an offshoot of Kurds (though Yazidis themselves disagree) with
their particular religion, which is a blend of pre-Christian, Sufi,
Muslim and various monotheistic traditions. It is estimated that
40 to 50 million Kurds live in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. Both
communities have been victims of persecution in those countries on
and off, with shifting policies. The only place where the Kurds and
Yazidis have found safe haven has been Armenia. Even during the
Soviet period, they developed their culture through publications
and broadcasting. The Yazidi community in Armenia is 40,000 strong,
constituting 1.3 percent of the country's population.
The president of the World Union of Yazidis Aziz Tamoyan said recently
at a press conference in Yerevan that he is grateful to President
Serge Sargisian and Armenia's other officials who have raised the
issue of the Yazidi genocide in northern Iraq in international venues
for more than a year.
"Only the president of Armenia has supported us. He took to the floor
of international organizations and raised the issue of the Yazidis. It
is already a year that Yazidis in northern Iraq have been subject to
a genocide but the international community and the world powers do
not undertake any steps," added Tamoyan.
By empathizing with the other victims of genocide, we can elevate
our tragedy to the level of universal pain.
Some Armenians and Jews, in grieving their tragic pasts, become inward
looking and insensitive to the pain of others, resorting also to
comparisons, such as our pain is greater than yours, or our martyrs
were more valuable than yours. However, if we don't care about the
tragedies of other ethnic groups, why should they bother to embrace
and sympathize with our pain?
In the Yazidis' case, Armenians have gone out of their shell to
embrace another group in agony.
Incidentally, the Yazidis have laid the foundation of an imposing
temple in the town of Aknalich in Armenia.
Human nature will not change. One hundred years later, the Turks are
the same Turks that perpetrated mass atrocities, only this time with
more modern weaponry.
If it is the destiny of weaker nations to become victims of political
games, the world community cannot be comforted that by 2115, another
genocide will be avoided.
Posted 15 April 2018 - 09:14 AM
PanARMENIAN.Net - A Yazidi family fleeing extremist violence in Iraq has walked hundreds of kilometers to Armenia, where the family of six has finally found safety and hope at the end of their long journey.
The Voice of America has in a special video report unveiled the story of Sheikh Mrat Alpeshimam who, alongside his wife and four children fled Iraq when life became too dangerous for the Yazidi people following the takeover of their homeland by the Islamic State extremists.
When asked about life in their home country, family members break into tears.
“We walked about 450 kilometers in the mountains, one of our kids was only four, and the child had to walk with us. There were no means of transportation,” Sheikh Mrat recalls.
His family are Yazidis, a Kurdish religious minority that live mostly in Iraq.
They had to leave a lot behind, including relatives: some live in Iraqi refugee camps, others were murdered.
“My wife’s sister was killed, my cousins - both males and females - were kidnapped. We were able to save two girls but not the boys: the girls managed to run away from their kidnappers,” Mrat says.
While their hometown is considered safe after the militants es were expelled, the family is afraid to go back. Too many of those who tried to return to their homes were exploded by mines laid by the extremists.
After they fled, Mrat and his family spent eight days hiding in the mountains with no food or water.
Thousands of children died in these conditions.
“When we were hiding in the mountains, my four-year-old child was thirsty but there was no water, he was hungry, but there was no food. Every time that killed me as a mother,” says Mrat’s wife, Hanna Omari.
Finally they found safety in Armenia where border authorities and ordinary citizens welcomed them and offered them shelter and support. And though living conditions are poor, the family says life is so much better than what they had left behind in Iraq.
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