A group of Yazidi families from Şanlıurfa (Rîha) in southeast Turkey have accused village guards in the same area of taking over their land and property and threatening them, warning them not to return to the area.
“We have lodged complaints year on year but the administrators in the Viranşehir district and Şanlıurfa Governor’s Office have chosen to remain silent and to take no initiative in the matter. The state authorities have turned a blind eye to this family in silent approval of the ban on us entering the village,” the families said in a written statement calling for solidarity.
In the same statement the Yazidi families said the Karacadağ family, who work as village guards and take part in military operations as civilians, have been using their state-issued weapons to threaten them, preventing them accessing their villages. “Just last week, they cut us off and destroyed two tractors. They then broke our irrigation systems and threatened us,” Yazidis said.
The families targeted by the village guards are a few among thousands who left Turkey for Europe. They have been living in Germany for several decades, which they maintain is not by choice but by necessity.
“We come to our village annually to take care of seasonal business. But we are attacked by a family in the Şeyhan tribe who usurped our homes and has occupied our farm and pasture lands for 25 years,” they said.
Though the gendarmes have recorded their complaints, no further action has been taken, the Yazidis said.
“We want to return to the ancestral lands we have been kept out of for decades, to rebuild our homes and orchards. But this family constantly threatens us. We call on the authorities to do their duty towards the return of our homes and the rebuilding of our village,” they said.
The Yazidis are an indigenous group in the greater Mesopotamia region, whose population has never grown as their strict pre-Islamic faith does not normally allow them to marry outside their communities. Their numbers have dwindled further as a result of religious conflict and wars in the region. Much of the remaining population left the region for Europe after the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014 subjected their main homeland of Sinjar in Iraq to attacks which have been recognised by several countries as genocide.