Kurdish leaders commemorate seventh anniversary of genocide against Yazidis

A combined picture of Sinjar district and Yazidis escaping from ISIS atrocities

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Kurdish leaders on Tuesday commemorated the seventh anniversary of the genocide against the Yazidis, calling for reconstruction of Sinjar.

Islamic State (ISIS) overran the Yazidi faith’s heartland of Sinjar in northern Iraq in 2014, forcing young women into servitude as “wives” for its fighters and massacring men and older women.

The militants shot, beheaded, burned alive or kidnapped more than 9,000 members of the minority religion, in what the United Nations has called a genocidal campaign against them. According to community leaders, more than 3,000 Yazidis remain unaccounted for.

Kurdistan Region’s President Nechirvan Barzani said the Yazidis had faced “unimaginable cruelty at the hands of ISIS terrorists … They rightly expect all of us to help them resolve their difficulties, heal their wounds and live in peace and harmony”.

“All efforts must be exerted to rescue the kidnapped Yezidis and to uncover the fate of all others who are still missing,” Barzani said in a statement.

“Peace, stability and prosperity must be restored in their areas to ensure their safe and honorable return to their homes, and most importantly, all of us must cooperate to restore their trust,” he continued.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said the genocide against the Yazidis was a heinous and brutal crime that will remain in the conscience and minds of the people of Kurdistan”.

Barzani said the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) would continue its efforts to return the displaced Yazidis to their areas “with dignity” and that it was working with the federal government and international community on the reconstruction of Sinjar.

He also stressed the implementation of an agreement reached between the KRG and the federal government in October 2020 to normalize the governance and security situation in Sinjar.

In a separate statement, Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani said the anniversary of “this disgusting and inhuman crime” would encourage them to prevent the repetition of “killing differences, slavery, and slaughtering people due to different beliefs and identities.”

Talabani further said he would support all internal and external steps to restore the Yazidi society to the normal life.

Separately, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Co-president Bafel Talabani said the invasion of Sinjar and the genocide of Yazidis would remain “in our nation’s conscience forever as an unhealed wound”.

“Today, as seven years passed over that historic disaster, sadly a large part of our sisters and brothers live in a poor condition in the camps and live far from their land, and no efforts have been made to reconstruct the area,” Talabani said in a statement.

“This is concerning to us. We should all together worry for Sinjar without conflicts, and intensify our efforts to provide a decent and tranquil life for Siniar and its beloved people,” he added.

He also expressed the PUK’s readiness to offer assistance and support to rebuild Sinjar and to recognize the “big crime” as genocide.

“The government of Iraq should continue its efforts to compensate and to normalize life in Sinjar, and that area should no longer be the field of political conflicts”.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-led Coalition forces said in a tweet that it stands in solidarity with the Yazidi community to honor the victims of the massacre and support the survivors in their path to recovery and their fight for justice.

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