The genocidal atrocities being perpetrated daily on the Yazidi people by the Islamic State have vanished from media radar. They have been targeted by the IS for death, forced conversion and sexual slavery. The killing, the torture of thousands; the abduction of girls as young as eight, raped, sold, used as sex slaves by IS fighters, continues unabated.
Last Friday morning a group met with Yazidis at the Zionist Centre on Marlee, to hear their story and to help raise public awareness of their plight. Participating was Dr. Mordechai Kedar, renowned Arab and Middle East expert, whose cutting edge ideas and leadership abilities have led many to call him the Winston Churchill of our day. A professor at Bar Ilan University, he also served for many years in the IDF's Intelligence, specializing on all facets of Islam. He was in town for a series of lectures.
Hearing Mirza Ismail talk about his people, was eerily reminiscent of the history of the Jewish people. He is Chairman of the Yezidi Human Rights Organization International. Like the Jews, the Yezidis are an ancient people, dating back 6,000 years. Their origin is in the heart of Mesopotamia, the birth place of civilization. They have been attacked again and again over the centuries by Islamic forces, "just because we have a different culture and religion". Today they are on the verge of annihilation. "And the world is silent", he told the group in despair. The Yazidis have an ancient monotheistic religion that is neither Christian nor Muslim.
The present plight of the Yazidis is disturbingly similar to what happened to the Jewish people during the Holocaust. They were persecuted and targeted for genocide simply because they were Jews and were abandoned by the world. This time the enemy is wearing black hoods instead of brown shirts.
There are 500,000 -700,000 Yazidis, largely based in Northern Iraq in the province of Nineveh and Mt. Sinjar. But they are also in Syria , Turkey, Iran, Russia, Georgia and Armenia, forced to flee their ancient homelands. Some are also in the US and about 85 families live in Canada.
In August, 2014, ISIS attacked and took over the Kurdish controlled town of Sinjhar, driving more than 50,00 Yazidis out of their homes and fleeing for their lives to Sinjar Mountain. An estimated 10,000 men have been executed and as many as 7,000 women and girls have been made sex slaves and sold. Four hundred escaped and told horrific tales of brutality; multiple rape – 20 to 30 times daily – beatings, being forced to give blood to wounded ISIS fighters.
Eyewitnesses report stories of beheadings, rape and children dying of starvation and dehydration. William Devlin, a New York pastor who visited in January, called the present situation of more than 300,000 refugees "genocidal and insane" in dire need of humanitarian aid. In the camp "hospitals" there are no doctors. "For the Yazidis there is no doctors without borders", Merza told the group. Why in the 21st Century, everybody knows, but nobody cares about our lives?" Furthermore, they are treated "with no respect" by the Muslim UN workers in the camps, he said.
Twelve thousand are still on Mt. Sinjar, totally isolated, lacking food, water and "most important," said Mirza, "arms. "The US and Europe are giving arms to the Kurds to give to the Yazidis, but they don't. The world thinks the Kurds are protecting them, but they don't give them any support." Mirza connected Dr. Kedar by telephone to a Yazidi on Mt. Sinjar. They spoke in Arabic. I could hear the desperation in his voice over the speaker phone. "The world is not taking them seriously. They have no power because they are not sufficiently organized," said Dr. Kedar. He proceeded to tell them how to "package" themselves to get the attention of the media and the world. "If you are not on the media, you don't exist," he said. Later he arranged a meeting for them with the Indian Consul General.
"Our voices must be their voices," said JIMENA's (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) president, Gina Waldman. "Their plight must be our plight."