Statement presented by the Yezidi Nation at the 16th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on Friday, April 28, 2017
The Yezidis, the indigenous people of Mesopotamia, by whose calendar we now are in the year 6767, are among the oldest surviving indigenous nations of the Middle East. Despite Yezidis’ demonstrated willingness to recognize and adopt diverse spiritual teachings, for centuries they have faced continuous persecution and repeated genocidal onslaughts, simply because they refuse to abandon the ancient traditions of their ancestors, the original people of Mesopotamia.
In the dark of night last Tuesday April 25th, Turkish military jets struck international coalition bases on Mount Shingal, the sacred mountain of the Yezidis, killing at least five Kurdish Peshmarga and one Yezidi soldier. Once again, outside forces violate the Yezidi nation Ezidikhan, so no man, woman, or child of Shingal can sleep in peace.
While the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces claims that the air strikes on Mount Shingal were meant to repel threats to Turkey, he also adds that such operations will continue, further endangering the lives of innocent people. The Yezidi people have yet to recover from the genocidal assault of August 2014 in which thousands were massacred by Daesh. Thousands more women and girls remain in captivity under conditions of sexual slavery, as the well-known case of Nadia Murad demonstrates. Nadia continues to seek justice against ISIS in the international court system.
The Turkish attack is a direct violation of numerous UN conventions, including the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration is meant to protect the existence of indigenous peoples caught within the boundaries of states by recognizing their rights to self-determination and the right not to be persecuted by state governments. In particular, Article 30 aims to prevent military actions on indigenous lands without their consent. Turkey and its neighbors Iraq, Syria, and Iran are all signatories to the Declaration. The Ezidikhan leadership implores these states to abide by their commitments to the Declaration and especially Turkey to stop the military assaults on Yezidi people.
The fear of further attacks is also a substantial barrier to the hundreds of thousands like Nadia who live in the Yezidi diaspora around the world, and who yearn to return to their homelands.
The Yezidi nation Ezidikhan condemns the Turkish attack, requesting that the international community apply pressure upon their neighbors to respect national boundaries and desist from launching attacks upon the Yezidi people and the territory of Ezidikhan.