After the Sinjar Democratic Autonomous Administrative Council (MXDS) announced its decision to resist any possible attack on Sinjar in Iraqi Kurdistan, women have been engaged in organising and participating in self-defence training.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraq’s government have been engaged in negotiations over the situation and status of Sinjar for some time. The negotiations have also been taking place within the context of calls by the United States government to both parties to reach agreement on the matter. After the Iraq government announced that an agreement had been reached with the KRG on 9 October last year, MXDS issued a statement that confirmed it did would not approve of any negotiations or an agreement that ignored the will of the Yazidis who lived there.
Following this MXDS decision, local women have been engaged in self-defence training as part of the local people’s efforts to defend themselves and their autonomous administration, where Yazidis have had the opportunity to be a part of the decision-making processes in the governance of Sinjar.
Şengalî: We will need to defend ourselves
Nazê Şengalî, a local woman from Sinjar who is participating in the self-defence training, said that during the last farman (referring to the siege by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – ISIS), the women in Sinjar “didn’t know how to use firearms”: only the men were skilled in the use of firearms for self-defence. But now, women in Sinjar are not the same as before. “We are training ourselves on how to use firearms. We learn how to use them, because we will need to defend ourselves”, she said.
Şengalî shared her view that women have suffered a great deal due to a lack of adequate and appropriate self-defence mechanisms in Sinjar, especially during when ISIS took control of the town. “Actually, we trust no force: we need to have our own forces”, she said and added: “We need to have asayish (local security). We need the Women’s Defence Units (YPJ). The women in Sinjar should be able to defend themselves. We will never attack anyone, but we will protect our homes”.
She pointed out that the people of Sinjar and especially the women care so much about attaining their self-defence in order not to suffer again. They do not wish to re-experience and re-live the same tragedies and betrayals the Yazidi people went through in the past. “Yazidi people have never attacked any other peoples.Yazidis have never wanted war. Many people had no arms at home. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) told us that they would send forces to support us. But in the end, they betrayed us: they ran away”, she said.