Yazidi and Arab women gathered at a conference entitled “Towards Women’s Revolution with Jin Jiyan Azadi [Woman, Life Freedom]” in Iraq’s northern city of Sinjar (Shengal) on Sunday, nine years after the Islamic State (ISIS)’s worst massacre, which the United Nations have recognised as genocide against the Yazidis.
The were 350 delegates and participants at the conference organised by the Yazidi Women’s Freedom Movement (TAJÊ), which stressed that a united women’s struggle is being waged in the lands of Kurds and Yazidis and that the women’s struggle is now a struggle for existence, and concluded that they would continue that struggle.
TAJÊ member Lawa Shengali said in a speech that the conference was dedicated to Jina Mahsa Amini, who died in September 2022 after being detained by the morality police in Iran, and whose death sparked an uprising across the country.
“Why are states so afraid of the philosophy of ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadî‘? Because they know that this philosophy breaks down the walls of oppression, injustice and captivity and is based on the struggle. They are afraid of the power, belief and spirit created by the women’s struggle,” Shengali added.
Hêza Shengali, a member of the Yazidi (Êzîdxan) Women’s Units (YJŞ), who was captured by ISIS in August 2014, said, “As women, we decided to defend ourselves by reviving our will, faith and hope. Yazidi women who went to Raqqa to bring back the women captured by the ISIS gangs themselves fought against ISIS.”
Participants in the conference addressed the absolute isolation conditions in which Abdullah Öcalan, the creator of the of ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadi‘ philosophy, is held in Turkey’s İmrali prison, and stated that “the government and the patriarchal mindset are taking their revenge on Öcalan for the Kurdish women’s struggle, which is a pioneer all over the world today.”
Öcalan’s evaluations on the women’s movement were also discussed by the many Yazidi and Arab women who attended the conference.
“Today, we see that women who are devoted to their land against all forms of enforced migration, genocide and pillage, who protect their land against the plunder of natural resources, who do not leave their country, who develop patriotism and insist on the construction of socialisation are preventing massacres”, said the Kurdistan Communities Union’s (KCK) Sozdar Avesta in a video message.
Avesta added that the will Öcalan organised as a free idea in the person of women has resulted in the great concept of self-organisation. “One of the main types of women’s organisation started with female militarisation. Middle East democratic confederalism is the contiunuation of that. Now the world is moving towards a women’s confederal system,” she concluded.
Jin Jiyan Azadi is a slogan that arguably led a woman’s revolution in the Middle East, and can be traced back directly to the ideas of Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Iraqi government prevents guests from crossing into Sinjar
According to Roj News, the Iraqi government has denied entry to numerous guests from outside Sinjar who want to attend the conference. Co-chair of the Yazidis of Russia Manama Pir, who was prevented from attending the conference and therefore had to join online, condemned the Iraqi government’s approach and said that Yazidi women will not bow to persecution and oppression wherever they are, and that they will achieve victory through struggle as women.
The ISIS attacks against Yazidis were carried out in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq in 2014, starting on 3 August. ISIS overran the Yazidi land, forcing young women into sexual and domestic servitude for ISIS fighters, massacring thousands of people and displacing many others. ISIS was removed from the area on 13 November 2015. An independent United Nations commission of inquiry recognised the massacres as genocide in 2016.