The views expressed in this op-ed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SyriacPress.
By Matti Kallo
The Yazidis are considered one of the indigenous ethnic components of the country of Iraq. In history, they have been subjected to more than 70 massacres. The most ferocious massacre is in recent times, in August 2014, when the Islamic State (ISIS) invaded their living areas, especially Sinjar, one of the Yazidis main population centers. The United Nations declared the ISIS invasion of Sinjar and subsequent massacres, forced religious conversion, and sexual violence a genocide.
As a result of the massacres many Yazidis fled to the areas of the Kurdish Region in Iraq and more than 100 thousand Yazidis emigrated on to especially Germany, and to Sweden, Belgium, Russia, Australia, the U.S., and Canada. Furthermore, more than 100 thousand Yazidi people still live in IDP-camps as most of them could not return to their own towns and villages. The fate of more than 2.800 female and male kidnapped Yazidis is still unknown. ISIS militants had been buying and selling Yazidi women and girls asking for huge sums of money for their release. Some of the Yazidi women who were forced to have children from ISIS terrorists, left their children behind in Syria as a condition to be re-admitted in the ranks of the Yazidi people. The Yazidi agony was exacerbated when more than 80 mass graves containing the remains of ISIS Yazidis victims were discovered.
Sinjar is considered one of the disputed areas between the Baghdad central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Officially, Sinjar is under control of Baghdad, but it is still suffering by and from contested administrations. This has a negative impact on people’s livelihood and dealings. All efforts and voices calling for coordination between the two governments and saving Sinjar residents from local or regional political differences as well as the repeated Turkish bombing, have failed and remain unheard.
After more than three years of its liberation, Sinjar remains destroyed. It still lacks proper health care, education, safe drinking water, and security. The deteriorating economic situation aggravates their suffering since no one really lent them a helping hand to be able to live a decent life. Even the Iraqi Ministry of Immigration and Displacement has abandoned them!!
According to the statistics available on electronic platforms, the number of Yazidis exceeds more than 550 thousand inside Iraq and more than 450 thousand in the diaspora. They are classified as the fourth component in the hierarchy of the Iraqi ethnic components. The question that arises here is why Yazidis have not been nominated independently for previous parliamentary elections. I believe their number is sufficient for having member(s) in the Iraqi Parliament and thus having an official voice to claim their rights and protection. Also, no Yazidi minister concerned with their affairs was chosen.
Yazidi fragmentation and division, however, has weakened their position inside Iraq and kept them far from the inner political arena. Yazidi fragmentation is due to their affiliation to several other parties that have different political agendas. Unfortunately, the Yazidis entered Iraqi parliament under the umbrella of the bigger parties. The Yazidi MP is merely a number added to big party parliamentarian groups and any claim for Yazidis rights must be first approved by the big party. A hard task.
This was also the case with some of the representatives of the Christian component who won the votes of dominant Islamic parties in the political arena, in exchange for crumbs from what remained of those parties’ share!!
Although Mustafa al-Kadhimi, before forming his cabinet, confirmed with Speaker of Parliament Muhammad al-Halbousi in a meeting with representatives of the components, that smaller components’ positions in the state’s executive institutions had been discussed, nothing remarkable happened.
I have a question for al-Kadhimi about the recent changes he has made where 15 security, economic, administrative, and financial officials were replaced. In these recent changes al-Kadhimi adopted the principle of quotas (although according to large parties’ statements the bigger parties did not ask him to do that). My question is to al-Kadhimi is: of all the positions that he distributed to the dominant parties in the political arena since the occupation so far, wasn’t it possible for him to give one of those official position to a Yazidi representative?
The dominant parties failed to run the country and make it prosper and safe. Instead, they only contributed greatly to the spread of corruption in all aspects and areas of the state. Could al-Kadhimi not find one single honest, competent, and experienced Yazidi representative who would deserve one of the state positions he distributed!?
Yazidi’s demanding their rights only through social media platforms will not work, because history has taught us that rights are not granted but are taken. Furthermore, rights taking must be preceded by eliminating the deep divisions between the Yazidis, uniting all opinions as well as avoiding rushing into the arms of the larger parties that deal with the small components according to jungle law, i.e. the strong eats the weak. Since 2003, many experiences have proven that the political parties and their militias dominating the political arena in Iraq contribute to dismantling and crushing the Iraqi institutions without any humanitarian values or principles.