Having rid Mosul of its Christian population, the terrorist group ISIS – now the Islamic State – has begun targeting a small population of Iraqis known as Yazidis, who have fled the now-ISIS-controlled town of Sinjar and are living on a mountaintop devoid of food and water.
The Yazidis are one of Iraq’s smallest religious minorities (they are ethnically Kurdish) and follow a unique religion that is neither Christian nor Muslim but most directly tied to Zoroastrianism. They are monotheistic but believe that God is not the administrator ruling the Earth, rather an archangel referred to as a “Peacock Angel” – which some Muslims believe is an analog to Satan, hence the derision towards Yazidis as “devil worshippers.”
The Yazidis lived peacefully in Sinjar until the arrival of the Islamic State, which repeated its persecution against Yazidis in much the same way it did against Christians. The Yazidis were massacred; those who survived fled to a nearby mountain to avoid death but have nowhere to go. One Yazidis showed al-Jazeera a series of text messages received by Yazidis upon the arrival of ISIS, reading: “Where are you going to go? I swear [to] God I will cut you into pieces… We are coming for you, you pig, you enemy of God.”
The Yazidis took the threat seriously. The Washington Post reports that estimates vary from 10,000 to 40,000 Yazidis currently stranded on a mountain above Sinjar, knowing their immediate death awaits them at the foot of the mountain.
They do not have food or water. The Iraqi government has attempted to air-drop water to the internally displaced refugees, but, The Washington Post notes, efforts have not been successful. According to the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw, the lack of resources on the mountain has led to significant deaths among the population, particularly children and the elderly whose bodies could not sustain them longer. “The children and the elderly cannot stand the lack of food and water, and the aid doesn’t reach all the families who have taken refugee on the mountain,” said one eyewitness. Unlike the Washington Post, Rudaw estimates up to 50,000 Yazidis are stranded. The outlet estimates that forty children and elderly have died in the days since the conquest of Sinjar.
Iraqi Member of Parliament Vian Dakhil, who is Yazidi, delivered a heart-wrenching speech on the Parliament floor in defense of her people, testifying that “our women are being taken as slaves and sold in the slave market” and at least seventy babies and fifty elderly have died on Sinjar mountain. Calling it a “campaign of genocide,” she notes every other Iraqi group has been targeted: “the Shiites, the Sunnis, the Christians, the Turkmen, and the Shabak were slaughtered, now the Yazidi.” “We are being exterminated,” she cries, before her sobs no longer permit her to speak.