Regularly targeted, constantly persecuted and ignored, the history of the Yazidis is filled with suffering and struggle.
The Yazidis have been dehumanized by the continuous persecution they have been subjected to because of their religion, where they have been discriminated against as a minority and often ignored and described as ‘devil worshippers.’
Surrounding political entities, including the Iraqi government and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, have also isolated the Yazidis and left them vulnerable to attacks, Yeni Özgür Politika reports.
On 3 August 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacked the mountainous region of Sinjar, homeland of the Yazidis, killing thousands of men while taking thousands of women and children into sexual slavery.
Up to 200,000 Yazidis are still displaced throughout Iraqi Kurdistan and the world, whilst thousands of people remain missing.
Since the liberation of Sinjar in 2015, some Yazidi families have managed to return to their homelands. Daye [Mother] Koçer spoke about those days.
“They took us captive. I remained a captive, in their hands, for three years and three months. One of my daughters was held captive for 40 days. My other daughter, Ezda, was held captive for three years. I was taken to Raqqa. I was liberated when the Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] launched an operation in Raqqa.”
When her mother spoke, Ezda listened silently. She did not want to speak a word about those days, but the more her mother spoke, her expressions changed, and her outlook changed.
Ezda begin to tell her story once she broke her silence: “I was 13 when ISIS took me captive. I was a little child when they took me to Tal Afar, but I grew up that same day. Before they came, we were an ordinary, happy family. We used to play with my friends. We used to go to school and we used to approach my mother when we were hungry. When my mother got all angry, she used to playfully throw her slippers at us. We would laugh and run. This is how we lived. We harmed no one. Why did this world do this to us?”
On the day ISIS took over control of Sinjar, she witnessed her people’s terror, something she will never forget. “The town changed, the people changed, the streets changed. There was screaming and death and people running in the streets. I was shocked, I was terrified. I remember that I was so afraid and I cried for hours out of fear.”
“We were in a car with all my family. They stopped our car, they forcibly took us out of the car and they took us to a school building in Tal Afar where we stayed for three days. Then, they separated us. They took the men of our family somewhere else and they left the women aside.”
When the women of the family were left on their own, ISIS members separated the three daughters, including Ezda from their mother.
“You cannot take my girls away from me, my mother was shouting. My mother could not let us go, she was trying to pull us back. As she was striving, they hit her head with their gun. I bit one of their hands with all my power and he started to hit me. But seeing my mother like that, I was only feeling her pain, not mine. Even when she fell to the ground, she did not let go of our hands.”
This was the first day she was taken away from her family and after that, she resisted for three years, to survive in the hands of ISIS, all alone as a child.
“I have no guilt regarding what I have been through. I was taken away as a child, playing her games and they made me suffer from all kinds of unconscionable things. I am not responsible for any of the things that happened to me, the world is the responsible of what they have done to us. Whatever we say cannot describe our pain. Our pain is an unspeakable one.”