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The Yazidis (Ezidis) are Kurdish speaking community who follow a mixture of mystical principles, religious and theological traditions dating back to the ancient religions of the Middle East. Previous to the ISIS attacks there were about 700,000 (in 2005) Êzîdî‎s living mainly in the Sinjar (Şingal)  district, Nineveh governorate of northern Iraq, and this figure has fallen to 500,000.[1] The 4,000-year-old Ezidi religion is a synthesis of pre-Islamic, Zoroastrian, Manichaean, Jewish, Nestorian Christian and Muslim elements. Êzîdîs  are dualists, believing in a Creator God and Malak Ta’us (Peacock Angel), executive organ of divine will.[2] Radical and even moderate Muslims consider the Êzîdîs  as ‘devil worshippers’ due to a misinterpretation of their Peacock Angel figure. The Ezidi religion is hardly fit neatly into Iraq's sectarian mosaic. Although many Êzîdîs  speak Kurdish and to an extent majority consider themselves ethnically Kurdish, Êzîdî‎ are religiously distinct from Iraq's predominantly Sunni Kurdish population.

On 3rd of August 2014 a few hundred IS members launched the attack on Şingal. They were later joined by some local Sunni tribes who also started to attack the Êzîdî population. The multiple attacks by IS as well as some Sunnis and the sudden withdrawal of the KDP under suspicious circumstances without consulting the Êzîdîs created a chaotic situation. The Êzîdî population was left with no choice but to escape to Mount Şingal. Within several hours, more than 250,000 of them left their home without taking any personal belongings. Some were captured on their way and stripped of the few things they had managed to bring with them. Êzîdî men were taken away and killed immediately while young women and their children were abducted.


The criminal IS campaign against the Êzîdîs is defined as a genocide in the Human Rights Council (HRC) report ‘They came to destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis’. The attack forced the entire community to flee and leave their homeland. Those who could not escape were either kidnapped or killed. An estimated 5,000 men were massacred. The men who refused to convert to Islam were executed and dumped into mass graves. Many young boys were kidnapped and brainwashed in line with IS teachings of Islam, forced to become child soldiers and sold to IS families. Many of these children were later found in Turkey. Even after the military defeat of IS, many Êzîdî parents still find their children with the help of mediators in Turkey. An estimated 7,000 women and children were kidnapped, enslaved and forcibly transferred to locations in Iraq and north-eastern Syria. The entire population of Kocho village was either killed or kidnapped on August 14 and 15, 2014. According to a research, the number of victims from Kocho village amounts to 1,170 with around half of them being men. Nearly 301 of them were under 10 years and 558 under 20 years old. The young women from the village were used for sex slavery. Survivors reported being repeatedly sold, given away as presents or passed around among IS fighters. To date, more than 2800 women and children still find themselves in IS captivity, suffering unimaginable brutalities in unknown places on a daily basis. Apart from the efforts of the Êzîdî community itself, there is still no clear strategy for rescuing those still in captivity. Families, most of them living in displaced peoples’ camps, are selling all they have and borrowing as much money as they can to buy their relatives back from the fighters who are abusing them and to pay smugglers to retrieve them. Until today, many women and children are still being found in Turkey under unclear circumstances.


Most of the surviving victims of the genocide are female. Êzîdî religious leaders have called for survivors to be embraced by their community. For the most part, this has protected Êzîdî women and girls from banishing from the community and helped to maintain its unity. Survivors are suffering from severe trauma, with limited psycho-social support available to them. For many women, especially those with young and/or highly traumatized children, it is difficult to regularly attend counselling.

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