[LALISH, Nineveh, Iraq. April 13, 2017] – Iraq’s beleaguered Yezidi minority, long targeted by Islamic fundamentalists for its pre-Islamic beliefs and now caught between murderous ISIS extremists to one side and feuding Kurdish militias to the other, has been urged by its spiritual leader not to abandon their ancient homeland, but to begin planning to return and rebuild it.
On August 3rd 2014, ISIS militants attacked and took over Sinjar, a Kurdish-controlled town in northern Iraq that was predominantly inhabited by Yezidis. According to the UN 5,000 Yezidi men were executed and thousands are still missing. Furthermore, more than 3,500 Yezidi women have been kidnapped by ISIS (also known as Daesh), and there have been multiple reports of sexual violence against Yezidi women living in ISIS-controlled areas.
Lately, rivalries among feuding Kurdish militias have erupted into armed clashes, and Yezidis are caught in the middle.
Amid concern that substantial numbers of Yezidis may seek temporary or permanent refuge abroad, the supreme spiritual leader of the Yezidis, Khurto Hajji Ismail, best known as the Baba Sheikh, has assured Yezidis that efforts are underway to restore peace and security.
“We are actively pursuing policies to build Ezidikhan for the return of Yezidis who wish to return to a secure homeland.”
“We spoke with the French, with the Germans, with Washington. We went to Moscow,” the Baba Sheikh said, adding that “efforts are underway to seek out support for Ezidikhan, the Yezidi Nation.”
“Bright days lie ahead for Yezidis,” said the Baba Sheikh, “especially for those who defend and develop Shingal and the traditions of our ancestors.”
“There will be justice and peace for all first peoples, beginning with Yezidis,” the Yezidi pontiff predicts, remarkably in light of the history of injustice directed at Yezidis.
More than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015 alone, sparking a crisis as countries struggled to cope with the influx, and creating division in the EU over how best to deal with resettling people. A mass return of Yezidis to Ezidikhan not only prevents the extinction of one of the world’s most remarkable and tolerant cultures, but is also a responsible solution to refugee pressures in Europe.
The Yezidi leadership stands firmly committed to the return of Yezidis from their refugee status around the world.