After the Islamic State group's Sinjar attack, local groups step up to the plate

By Anna Patricia Valerio 07 September 2015

Iraqi doctor Ahmed Saad Saeed, who works with a Turkish NGO, Doctors Worldwide, sees Yazidi refugees with health problems. For the Yazidis who have escaped the strongholds of the Islamic State group, the ordeal is far from over. Photo by: Caroline Gluck / EU / ECHO / CC BY-NC-ND

With help from two Yazidi-run nonprofits, Free Yezidi Foundation and Yazda, Luis Moreno-Ocampo was able to reach Lalish — a mountain village in Kurdistan in northern Iraq that Yazidis deem a holy site — last week. The former International Criminal Court chief prosecutor was there to discuss what he said could be a strong case for Yazidi genocide to be brought to trial at the ICC.

FYF and Yazda — which organized Moreno-Ocampo’s trip — are just some of the organizations delivering much-needed assistance to the Yazidis, a largely ethnically Kurdish group that has been the target of the Islamic State group since last year.

But religious violence against the Yazidis is not a recent occurrence. Incorporating aspects of Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam into their beliefs, the Yazidis have had a long history of being subjected to persecution. Their belief in Melek Taus, a fallen angel whom Yazidis consider to have redeemed himself, led to a centuries-old accusation of devil worship and compelled the group to seek refuge in Iraq’s remote mountain regions, Thomas Schmidinger, who specializes in Kurdish politics at the University of Vienna, told the National Geographic.

Massacres by the Ottoman Empire, Arabization campaigns of Iraq’s deposed President Saddam Hussein, and targeting by some Sunni Muslim groups after the fall of the Saddam regime were just some instances of oppression that the Yazidis endured over the years.

This article is for Devex Members
For full access to the content of the article sign in or join Devex.

About the author

Bldg 3
Anna Patricia Valerio

Anna Patricia Valerio is a Manila-based development analyst focusing on writing innovative, in-the-know content for senior executives in the international development community. Before joining Devex, Patricia wrote and edited business, technology and health stories for BusinessWorld, a Manila-based business newspaper.

Join the Discussion