Yezidi Mass Exodus from Turkey Fails

By Dr. Amy L. Beam:2013 amy beam headshot t

On June 26, 2015, Shengal Yezidis from refugee camps in southeast Turkey, began a mass exodus to the Bulgarian border. They were hopeful of leaving Turkey and entering Bulgaria or camping out between borders to gain the attention of the international community. They are pleading with countries to open their doors to them after they were attacked by Islamic State in Shingal, Iraq, on August 3-4, 2014.

Three buses with approximately 65 people per bus made it to the Bulgarian border, but Turkey refused to let the Yezidis leave. The Yezidis were sent back to the Istanbul central bus terminal. Another 28 buses were prevented from going further than the Istanbul central bus station. From a planned 20,000 Yezidis who hoped to join the mass exodus, only 2,000 were allowed to leave their camps.

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Most refugees are children

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Ezidis stranded for two days at Istanbul central bus station.

Most set out from Diyarbakir camp. Others in Batman and Sirnak Kurdish-run camps, as well as Midyat and Nusaybin government-run camps, were prevented from leaving. In Diyarbakir camp, hired buses were stopped from arriving. Fifteen hundred people began walking (a 24 hour trip by bus).

In Midyat camp it was reported that police (or security officers) severely beat a man who was then hospitalized. Three women who wanted to leave the camp and join the exodus were also beaten. Anyone who left prior to the exodus was warned they would not be permitted to return.

In Istanbul, the Yezidi leaders met with the Governor of Istanbul and HDP party representatives who said they would attempt to take the Yezidi request to President Erdogan. However, while the refugees were waiting, Nusaybin camp managers worked into the night preparing tents for their return.

After waiting through the day, the refugees were sent back to Nusaybin camp. Leaders of the exodus attempt were prevented from entering the camp for several hours, but were eventually allowed in.

The refugees were assigned to clean tents and given new bedding and an electric space heater. Space fans were promised to be delivered in a few days.

Those Yezidis who held ID cards issued by Diyarbakir camp were returned the next day from Nusaybin camp to Diyarbakir camp. Diyarbakir camp population has now shrunk from 5000 to 3000 people. The camp kitchen was closed a few months ago. Yezidis are being given only tomatoes, cucumbers, and bread once a week to eat. They must buy their own food, but most have no money. They are going hungry and suffering malnutrition in a deteriorating situation in Turkey.

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Yezidi refugees living on tomatoes, cucumbers, and bread in Diyarbakir camp

One six-month-old baby had to have emergency dialysis treatment due to infected kidneys.

Read Yezidis Want Mass Exodus from Turkey for background information on why Yezidis are trapped in Turkey and want to immigrate to Europe. They do not understand the silence of the world in response to the genocidal attack upon them last August.

Dr. Amy L. Beam promotes tourism in eastern Turkey at Mount Ararat Trek and writes political and historical commentary on Kurds and Yezidis in Turkey and Kurdistan at Kurdistan Tribune.  She has been reporting on the Yezidis since September 2014. Twitter @amybeam;

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