In mid-June, during a Turkish bombing raid on Sinjar in northern Iraq, a young girl ran away screaming at everyone to save her little brother. Her tears were shed in fear for her younger brother Salah, who fell victim to the Turkish air strike. Salah was a victim of the Yezidi genocide that continues to this day. He was also a victim of the political disputes that arose after the extermination that the Islamic State (ISIS) perpetrated.
Salah was martyred, and it was just another coffin carried by the Yezidis; they had already carried hundreds of coffins. Coffins like those that their people had to carry hundreds of years ago just because of their religious identity.
For eight years, the Yezidis in general and the Yezidis of Sinjar in particular have been resisting the suffering and slow death caused by jihad terrorism in the communities around them. A consensus between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish government in Erbil means that the population can return to their badly damaged hometowns. As their tragedies in the expulsion camps and the fires in countless tents continue for the eighth consecutive year, it seems as if death has an eternal contract with these people. One gets the feeling that the 74 genocides were only the beginning; with the burning of the Shariya camp, their permanent displacement began. “Goodbye Sinjar” is the sad name for the nomadic life they have been forced into since that time.
More than 10,000 people fell victim to this genocide, including kidnappings and murders, with the result being the creation of mass graves. According to official local and international statistics, thousands of people are still missing; in addition, more than 2,700 Yezidi women and young girls and dozens of children are “commuting” back and forth in slave markets between Iraq, Syria and even Turkey.
The Yezidis warmly welcomed back their kidnapped wives and children, who suffered for years in Isis’ captivity. But this has been accompanied by clear neglect by the Iraqi government, which has allowed them to remain in tattered tents in the Kurdistan Region from 2014 to the present day. The Yezidis have been living in refugee camps since the Sinjar genocide, as if it were a message from the government authorities not to return to their homes.
Eight years later, a young Yezidi runs to one of the mass graves and says that this is where his father and brother were killed and that he doesn’t know how he survived and left them behind.
The government in Baghdad promised several projects to rebuild the devastated Sinjar region and to resettle the Yezidis and enable stability in the region. So far nothing has been done about the dispute with Erbil.
Thus the question remains: What role does the United Nations play in protecting religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq?