A rally was organised in the village of Xelef in the Sinun district of Sinjar (Shengal) in northern Iraq on Sunday. Yazidi and Arab villagers joined in the rally together to protest against a recent move by the Iraqi army to build a wire fence, which, according to the protestors, was aimed at ‘breaking the bonds between the Yazidi and the Arab peoples.’
The building of the fence was reportedly ordered by the Iraqi Prime Minister Moustafa al-Kadhimi to draw a border between the northern and southern regions of Sinjar.
At the rally, the slogans, ‘Sinjar is free!’, ‘Long live the union of peoples!’ and ‘Jin, jiyan, azadi!’ (‘Life, women, freedom!’) were chanted.
The crowd marched to an Iraqi army checkpoint where a statement was read out by the co-chair of the Peoples Assembly of Hesewike village, Xidir Salih.
The statement said:
“We, as tribes of the region and elders of the tribes, condemn the decision by the Iraqi government to build a wire fence border between the Arab and Yezidi villages. We find that such a decision goes against both tribal and social laws. We are aware that there have been many wars in this region. All these wars were triggered to sow discord between the Yazidi and Arab peoples. They want to manufacture divisions and differences between all peoples, religions and individuals in Iraq. However they have not been successful so far. Far from it, we have established a strong fraternity amongst us. Building wire fences between us will undermine the peaceful presence of the groups in the region. It will also cause economic problems. We demand that the decision to build borders between our villages be revoked. Such a move will be against the interests of Iraq and the region.”
The Yazidi people, who were abandoned by the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga in the face of the Islamic State (ISIS) attacks and ensuing genocide in 2014, were assisted by Kurdish forces, namely the fighters of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and People’s Defence Units (YPG) in establishing their own self defence forces and resisting the ISIS attacks.
An agreement between the Iraqi Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government in October 2020, which excluded participation by the Yazidi representatives, aimed at re-establising central authority and ending the autonomous capabilities of the Yazidi people in Sinjar.