Translated from HawarNews
Throughout their history, Yazidis (Êzidîs) have been subjected to genocidal attacks by the Seljuks, Oghuzs, Mongols, Tatars, Ottomans, Turkey, Britain, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Yazidis (Êzidîs) have been subjected to those attacks because of their beliefs. The fact that they did not accept the religion of Islam made the Yazidis (Êzidîs) a target of massacre and repeated attacks. Yazidis, mostly living in Sinjar, within the borders of Iraq, have experienced 73 massacres so far. Historical records state that the genocidal attacks against the Yazidis (Êzidîs) date back to the reign of the Islamic caliph, Omar Bin al-Khattab (634-644). The first attack on Yazidis (Êzidîs) was carried out in 640 by Kasım Bin Abbas El Yemeni and Abdullah Ömer during the rule of the Umayyads. After the fall of the Umayyads, the Yazidis (Êzidîs) were attacked by the Abbasids. According to Yazidi (Êzidîs) sources, twelve attacks and military operations aimed at genocide were carried out between 640-979 against Yazidis (Êzidîs).
A history of genocides
After this period, the Yazidis (Êzidîs) were attacked by the Oghuzs, one of the Turkish tribes, in 1029. The Seljuk Empire, which was established after the weakening of the Abbasid state, ruled in the region under the name of Islam. The Seljuk Empire carried out many massacres against Yazidis (Êzidîs). Today, Yazidis (Êzidîs) remember the Seljuks for their attacks and massacres, and they call them “Romi”, which symbolizes evil.
Yazidis (Êzidîs) were also subjected to genocidal attacks in 1259 (by the Tatars), 1368, 1394 and 1400. Yazidi (Êzidî) researcher Xidir Domelî observes that: “The history of this country has never been compassionate towards the Yazidis. This religious belief has faced many calamities, massacres, disasters”.
Fatwas were issued by emperors that legalized the murder of Yazidis (Êzidîs) and the plundering of their property. Some examples are the fatwa of Ahmet Bin Henbel in the 9th century and the fatwas of Abu El Leys El Samarkand, Abu Siud El Imadi and Abdullah El Rebtki. However, amongst these fatwas, it is the fatwa of Abu Siud El Imadi that was the most severe in scope. Yazidis (Êzidîs) were tortured and killed in great number and for this reason, Abu Siud El Imadi is called “Romi” by the Yazidis (Êzidîs).
According to researcher Davud Murat Xetarî, the Yazidis (Êzidîs) were subjected to 101 massacres in the period from 1560 – 1918. Massacres also occured during the Ottoman period – most notably, the Hasan Pasha massacre (1715), the Ahmet Pasha massacre (1733), the Süleyman Pasha massacre (1752), the Ottoman governor of Baghdad, Ali Pasha massacre (1802), the Süleyman Pasha El Seğir massacre (1809), the Yenice Bayraktar massacre (1835), the Reşit Pasha massacre (1836), the Hafız Pasha massacre (1837), the Mehmet Şerif Pasha massacre (1845-1884) ), the Mehmet Giritlioğlu Pasha massacre (1845-1846), the Tayyar Pasha massacre (1846-1847), the Eyüp Bey massacre (1891), the Ömer Faruk Vehbi Pasha massacre (1892) and the Bekir Pasha massacre (1894).
Yazidis (Êzidîs) cultural and historical places were also destroyed during these massacres. For instance, Lalish is considered to be a divine place by Yazidis (Êzidîs) and located in Şexan, the north of Iraq. It was constantly attacked and holy places and tombs were destroyed there. Islamic madrasahs were opened in the holy Lalish region, the worship of Yazidi (Êzidî) and the word Yazidi (Êzidî) were banned.
20th century massacres
During the 20th century, massacres of Yazidis (Êzidîs) continued. According to the documents of Murat Xetarî, British forces in Iraq committed a massacre against the Yazidis (Êzidîs) in 1925. During the Turkish Republican period in Anatolia, Turkish soldiers who raided Kiwexe village of Mardin city in 1940 trapped 29 Yazidis (Êzidîs) in a cave and burned them alive. This village was raided by soldiers three further times. On each occasion, many Yazidis (Êzidîs) were killed.
According to the “Algeria Agreement” signed between Iraq and Iran on 6 March 1975, the Shah of Iran, Muhammet Reza Pahlavi, continued to direct the Mele Mustafa Barzani movement under his control. Then, massacre operations against Kurds took place and Yazidîs (Êzidîs) were also subjected to these massacres. Whilst 150 villages in Sinjar were burned, Yazidîs (Êzidîs) were once again forced into exile. Before the ISIS directed massacres, the Yazidis (Êzidîs) once again faced a massacre in Tilezer with Siba Şex Xidir in Sinjar in August 2007. According to official figures, nearly 500 Yazidis (Êzidîs) were killed there.
ISIS attacks and the 73rd Decree
For Yazidis (Êzidîs), the word “decree” refers to massacre. In 21st century terminology, this equates to genocide. Yazidis (Êzidîs) have described what they have lived through in Sinjar as a continuation of the previous massacres and call it the “73rd Decree”.
On 3rd August 2014, ISIS attacked Sinjar and the Yazidi (Êzidî) people who lived here. When ISIS reached the city centre, the peshmerga forces, who were expected to protect this region, withdrew and left the area vulnerable to attack. ISIS massacred Yazidis (Êzidîs) in this region which remained occupied for more than a year. ISIS killed thousands of Yazidis (Êzidîs) and took thousands of women and children as prisoners. Some of the prisoners were sold by ISIS members in various Arab countries in slave markets. Some were killed and some were raped.
According to the Yazidi Rescue Office :
• 6,417 Yazidis were kidnapped by ISIS in Aug 2014.
• 3,451 Yazidis have been rescued or escaped.
• 2,966 Yazidis remained in captivity or their whereabouts remain unknown.
• 2,745 children were left as orphans.
• 80 mass graves have so far been found.
According to unofficial data, ISIS gangs killed more than 3,000 Yazidis (Êzidîs) and kidnapped more than 5,000 in this massacre. 1,500 Yazidi (Êzidî) women were subjected to violence and more than 1,000 young women were sold in slave markets in Syria and Iraq. More than 350,000 Yazidis (Êzidîs) also had to leave their lands.
The United Nations (UN) evaluated the ISIS attack against Yazidis (Êzidîs) in Sinjar as a “war crime and a crime against humanity” and described it as a genocidal attempt against the Yazidis (Êzidîs).