“Yazidis, along with Armenians and Assyrians, are the societies that have suffered the worst physical genocidal attacks in Mesopotamia since the first half of the 19th century,” writes Meral Çiçek for Yeni Özgür Politika.
This era of genocide, which reached its peak in the First World War years was called Aghet [lit: calamity] by the Armanians, Sayfo [lit: the sword] by the Assyrians and Ferman [lit: Islamic edict]by the Yezidis.
One element of genocide was physical massacre, the other, deportation. Today the numbers of Armenians, Assyrians and Yazidis living in Bakur [North Kurdistan] are so small as to be negligible. The number of the Assyrian diaspora is many times those living in their ancient lands. Similarly, the number of Armenians deported and scattered across the world is more than twice those living in Armenia. Sadly these two indigenous peoples, who know these lands where the first civilisations emerged as their homelands, have largely become diasporas.
It would be the same for the Yazidis if it were not for Sinjar and Shekhan. From the 1830s on, the Yazidis of northeast Anatolia were forced to migrate to Armenia, Georgia and Russia, while from the 1970s on those of Mardin and Urfa were systematically directed to Germany, leaving Bakur almost completely devoid of Yazidis. (Today it is estimated that the number of Yazidis living in Germany has reached 150 thousand.)
Yazidis have also faced numerous fermans in the Sinjar mountains, but they have not abandoned these arid lands, an assurance of their existence. There is a large Yazidi community who, from the tents where they have lived for years, have resisted the genocidal attacks of ISIS just as they resisted the attacks of the Baath regime pouring concrete into their springs to dry them up. The aim of the 73rd Ferman was to complete the Yazidi genocide, to scatter the last of the Yazidi community living on the line between Sinjar and Shekhan, and to drive them out of Kurdistan. While ISIS’ part in this policy was physical massacre and the enslaving of women as ‘war booty’, the forces of capitalist modernity undertook the mission of distributing the survivors to places thousands of kilometres away.
The Western states opened their doors wide in the name of their supposedly humanist and helpful policies, and caused the Yazidi diaspora to grow still larger. When the Canadian government announced in a grand gesture that they would be granting 1,200 Yazidis residence rights, this was held up as an exemplary refugee policy. On a visit to France, Nadia Murad, who ecaped fromthe clutches of ISIS, asked President Macron to accept more refugees from Sinjar. None of these charlatan states, who behave as if their intention is to protect the Yazidi people and their beliefs, have made the slightest effort to ensure that the Yazidis can live in their own lands in peace and security. On the contrary…
Faced with genocidal attacks (and related deportation policies) the only way the Yazidis can continue to live in their lands is by attaining capabilites of self-government and self-defence. The approach to date of the Kurdistan Freedom Movement and the support it offers to the Yazidi people of Sinjar has always been in this framework, and in line with this reality. The basic intention both of the regional state powers (including the KDP [Kurdistan Democratic Party]) and the foreign forces led by the USA, UK and Germany, has been to return the Yazidis to the pre-2014 status quo. The agreement of 9 October 2020 is the most concrete expression of this.
The clearance and occupation attacks directed at Sinjar by the Iraqi armed forces should be evaluated in this context. These attacks are not just being conducted through cooperation between the fascist Turkish state, their stooges the KDP and some Sunni elements in Iraq. In the larger picture, the policies of genocide developed and implemented by the forces of capitalist modernity in Mesopotamia have been effective for the last 200 years.
The only way to resist these policies is to insist upon self-determination, self-governance and self-defence. This is the stance represented by Dayê Kînî [a Yazidi woman who said publicly recently that Yazidi women will never give up]. Whereas objectively, the mass migration called for by some Yazidi diaspora organisations and their representatives would be a move towards completing the genocide, even though this is not their intention. Calls on these lines made to international powers end up serving genocidal policies.
The powers that left Yazidis defenceless in the face of genocide at the hands of ISIS yesterday are today cooperating to complete what ISIS left unfinished. It is foolisheness to expect help from those who are part of or even the engineers of this plan. What needs to be done is to defend the autonomy of Sinjar with a spirit of warfare. There is no other way.