Yazidis Demonstrate for International Protection and Asylum

By Dr. Amy L. Beam:2013 amy beam headshot4

On March 23, 2015, 1500 Yazidis demonstrated in Brussels to plea for International Protection and aid from countries of the world. They were supported by demonstrations of thousands of Yazidis in Europe and refugee camps in Turkey and Iraq holding up signs written in both Arabic and English for the world to hear their urgent plea: Save our girls, Brussels our last hope, Save the Yazidis from extinction, Shengal, No To Mass Graves, We want International Protection, It was Genocide, Stop ISIS, It could be your daughter, Help us to emigrate.

Nusaybin camp, Turkey, 3000 Yazidis  

Nusaybin camp, Turkey, 3000 Yazidis

Yazidis in Nusaybin camp in solidarity with Brussels demo

Yazidis in Nusaybin camp in solidarity with Brussels demo

In Kurdistan, Iraq, demonstrators were dispersed by police using water cannon. One Yazidi whose cousin was arrested described an attack upon demonstrators from a Zakho camp:

23 /3/2014 demo. Everywhere Yezidi are especially in Jam Mishko camp where my family is. The Asaiysh (Kurdistan security forces) of Zakho arrested about 50 person of the demo and for 24 hours kept them under the most types of torture. hitting them in their feet, cheek, back, hands by pipe sticks, hand grips. and they didn’t releases the one who affected by hitting so that they can heal and no one know what they did with them. they arrested them because they were saying “Hol hola tawsy malaka” and saying “Apo”. The ones saying Apo are still gone.

“Apo” refers to Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK who is currently holding peace talks with the Turkish government to end the 30-year internal armed conflict with its Kurds. The Kurdish PKK forces opened the path from Shengal Mountain last August and saved the 50,000 Yazidis who were stranded there without food or water. The PKK are currently fighting the Islamic State. Yazidis show gratitude to them.

Yazid in Zakho hit by security forces March 23. 

Yazidi in Zakho hit by security forces March 23.

Asayish (Kurdistan security forces) arrested about 50 Yazidis.

Asayish (Kurdistan security forces) arrested about 50 Yazidis.

Yazidis suffered a genocidal attack from the Islamic State gangs (ISIS) last August 3 and 4 in Shengal, Iraq. The entire Yazidi population of over 250,000 people were displaced to Kurdistan, northern Iraq and neighboring countries. Over 21,000 Yazidis fled to Turkey where they are living in refugee camps in the southeast. At least half of them are children.   Several thousand men were killed during the genocide and 5,000 or more women and girls were captured by ISIS gangs.

Over 3,000 kidnapped women, mostly teenagers, are still being held captive by ISIS or have been sold into sexual slavery. Rescuing them is the top priority for all Yazidis. Young Yazidi women are becoming more vocal about demanding the international community take action to get their sisters back.

Most of the camps in Turkey are run by local Kurdish municipalities and rely solely on donations. Only two camps, Midyat and Nusaybin, are jointly operated by the Turkish Ankara government and the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR).

Yazidis insist they will never return to live in Shengal where they were brutally attacked by ISIS, betrayed by their Arab neighbors and abandoned by the Kurdish Peshmerga defense forces. Although the Peshmerga has regrouped and is fighting the Islamic State, the Yazidis’ trust has been broken.

In accordance with the international concept of non-refoulement, Turkey’s new Law on Foreigners and International Protection, states the Yazidis cannot be forced to return to Iraq as long as their safety is in danger. However, Turkey’s law does not offer the possibility of permanent residency to refugees. They must go to third countries. The job of resettlement falls to the UNHCR which has been overwhelmed. Waiting periods for interviews with the UNHCR are over seven years.

In addition to the Yazidi refugees, Turkey is hosting 1.7 million Syrian refugees. On March 6, the World Food Program announced it is suspending it financial aid to nine Syrian refugee camps in Turkey due to a $71 million dollar shortfall for its annual aid program in Turkey. Turkey, which has already been sharing 40% of the cost, will have to finance all of it.   How long can Turkey survive the financial load of the refugees without international help?

Meanwhile, the Yazidis are trapped in Turkey.  They can’t go home, but unless they have relatives in other countries, they are blocked from going to other countries.  Refugees in the camps are bewildered as to why governments of the world are not offering financial assistance and asylum.   It is nearly eight months since ISIS committed its horrifying atrocities and kidnappings against the Yazidis and only last week the United Nations issued an overly cautious report stating ISIS “may have committed” genocide.

The U.N. report of March 20 is based on interviews with over 100 survivors.  It cites detailed evidence of orchestrated attacks proving that the extremist group’s fighters had sought to wipe out the Yazidi minority in Iraq.  In light of overwhelming evidence, the suggestion of doubt by the U.N. report further distresses Yazidis.

The August 3, 2014, attack was the 74th recorded genocide against the ancient Yazidis.  Yazidis demand that world governments recognize their genocide and react.

Unless other countries of the world step up and share the responsibility for relocating the refugees, Yazidis face a grim future with increasing food insecurity.

Bielefeld, Germany, home to over 7,000 Yazidis

Bielefeld, Germany, home to over 7,000 Yazidis

near Elsine, Belgium

near Elsine, Belgium

Diyarbakir Fidanlik Park camp, Turkey; 3500 Yazidis

Diyarbakir Fidanlik Park camp, Turkey; 3500 Yazidis

Sirnak camp, Turkey, now has 770 Yazidis

Sirnak camp, Turkey, now has 770 Yazidis

Sirnak camp, Turkey, women cry over missing girls

Sirnak camp, Turkey, women cry over missing girls

Sirnak camp, Turkey

Sirnak camp, Turkey

Sirnak camp, Turkey

Sirnak camp, Turkey

Nusaybin camp, Turkey

Nusaybin camp, Turkey

Nusaybin camp, Turkey

Nusaybin camp, Turkey

Diyarbakir camp, Turkey

Diyarbakir camp, Turkey

Yazidis in Russia show solidarity with Brussels demonstrators.

Yazidis in Russia show solidarity with Brussels demonstrators.

14 20150323 ezidi demo

Dr. Amy L. Beam promotes tourism in eastern Turkey at Mount Ararat Trek and writes political and historical commentary on Kurds and Yazidi refugees in Turkey.  Follow her on Twitter @amybeam or email her at amybeam@yahoo.com  Read her many other articles at Kurdistan Tribune.

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