The small minority of Iraqi Yazidis – a religious minority of Kurdish ethnicity singled out by the terrorist group the Islamic State for extermination – is ready to move on from Iraq. After mass killings, starvation, enslavement, and a history of being the targets of slaughter, many say they see no reason to remain in Iraq.
Speaking to Kurdish news outlet Rudaw, refugees living in Kurdish charity-run camps in Iraq tell the stories of how Arab Sunni Muslims took to the streets to support the Islamic State upon their arrival in northern Iraq’s Yazidi territory, and how they were forced to flee for their lives. One man explains that the most harrowing thing about the Islamic State’s advance is how eagerly some locals took to supporting them. “It wasn’t even IS who did most of the killing,” saids Hassan Jindi, “it was our Sunni Arab neighbors… We looked after these people’s children, and as soon as ISIS appeared, they immediately turned against us.”
Another expressed frustration with Iraq generally, noting that the history of Yazidis in Iraq has been for centuries one of persecution. “We are done with this country, done with Iraq. We want to go to Germany, the USA, wherever – but out of here,” said Jalal Dakeel.
For women captured by the Islamic State, Rudaw reports, their fates are even more painful. One woman, who is not named for fear of endangering her, managed to speak to a Rudaw reporter from Islamic State captivity. The women are kept in a prison hall, she reports, where they are kept until needed as sex slaves. “Three to four times a day they visit the hall. The girls plead with them for a bullet in the head to put them out of their misery,” the woman told Rudaw, adding that many commit suicide, hanging themselves with the headscarves the Islamic State forces women to wear.
The Yazidi minority, according to Iraqi Member of Parliament Vian Dakhil – the only Yazidi in Parliament – has suffered 72 genocides in their history. Dakhil took to Mount Sinjar, where Yazidis had taken refuge from the Islamic State, on a helicopter personally to distribute humanitarian aid. The helicopter crashed due to the weight of those trying to put their children on it, and Dakhil broke both of her legs.
Dakhil herself has said that she does not believe the Yazidi population will remain in Iraq if they can escape. “They don’t have the trust anymore to live there, because another genocide may occur in the future,” she said, according to Anadolu News Agency. “The people around them were the ones who betrayed them during the IS assault. They cannot trust them again.”
While many Yazidis wait for the turbulence to subside in camps, it is believed that hundreds have been taken into captivity for sale in the slave market or for use as sex slaves. Many in camps wait to leave the country, accepted elsewhere as refugees.