The Steadfast Shamoun Brothers on Sinjar Mountain

The Sinjar mountains in Iraq have always been historically linked to the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people. The words from the Sinjar mountains by the two Syriac brothers Isa and Gabriel Shamoun  in an interview last week on Yezidi television; “we want to take this opportunity to great our Syriac people and hope they have had a really good Christmas and we wish them all the best for the new year”, said the Shamoun brothers.

In the interview the Shamoun brothers told about their origins and how their ancestors had moved here from the Turabdin region of Bethnahrin. Rather, how they fled Turabdin in the southeast of Turkey to settle in the Sinjar mountains because of the 1915 Genocide (Syriac-Aramaic: Seyfo or ”Year of the Sword”). Isa and Gabriel Shamoun, “the area has belonged to our people since ancient times and after the Seyfo genocide carried out by the Ottomans against our ancestors, they fled here and settled here again.”

One of the brothers, Isa, is the Christian representative in the municipal council of Sinjar.

The two men testified that there were three churches in Sinjar and that there were more than 600 Syriac families living here but that persecution and genocide have also continued against our people, predominantly by the terrorist group ISIS; “Our churches were crowded at Sunday Mass before Daesh (ed. ISIS) attacked us. Us, who were living here peacefully together in the Sinjar mountains. It is not only Yezidi’s who have been killed, but our people also suffered from Daesh’s barbaric atrocities and genocide against the minorities of Iraq”.

Sinjar, home to Yezidis, Christians and Muslims, was overran by ISIS mid-2014. The radical and barbaric Islamist group killed and displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians from different religious and indigenous minorities. One of the most biggest ISIS crimes against humanity was the kidnapping and enslaving of thousands of Yezidi women and children.

“Before Daesh attacked us, we, the people from different ethnicities, lived side by side as siblings. But after the occupation by ISIS, people have lost confidence in each other and therefore it has become much more difficult to live here”.

At the end of the interview Gabriel and Isa Shamoun talk about how the fateful Christian Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians were forced to emigrate and fled the Sinjar mountains (most of them to the US and Canada). “All peoples here had to flee”, but at the same time they say they have not lost hope that some families will return to the region to settle here again, “this way, Christianity will continue to live on in the Sinjar and work through the Sinjar region.”