Some activists claim northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region is removing members of the Yazidi minority group for joining the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) or publicly opposing the upcoming independence referendum.
The PMF, also known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and Hashd al-Shaabi, is a Baghdad-sanctioned umbrella group made up mainly of Iran-allied Shiite militiamen who have clashed with Kurdish Peshmerga troops in northern Iraq, primarily the Yazidi-majority towns Sinjar (or Shingal) and Bashiqa.
PMF forces have promised to put the Yazidis back in control of the Iraqi areas they controlled before being invaded and devastated by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
Many Yazidis, also spelled Yezidi, fled to the to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)-controlled territory in Iraq following a brutal ISIS genocide campaign that devastated their community.
Mirza Ismail, the chairman of the Yezidi Human Rights Organization International, declared, “The KRG is doing its best to get rid of all those Yezidis who voice opposition to the independence referendum … the Yezidis are being forced to leave or to vote KRG at the upcoming referendum.”
“The KRG started kicking the Yezidis out of its region in Northern Iraq more than a year ago. However, at the beginning were individual cases of the Yezidis’ political activists; then followed the Yezidi human rights activists; and now the KRG is kicking out the Yezidis in groups — those who joined-up with the Popular Mobilization Force to liberate their Yezidi regions from ISIS,” added Ismail, who has accused the KRG of betraying the Yazidis by taking their heavy weapons before ISIS invaded Sinjar in August 2014.
Meanwhile, other Yazidis have expressed support for Kurdish independence, particularly supporters of Haider Shasho, who founded the Yazidi Democratic Party that has been recognized by both the KRG and Baghdad.
The KRG did not respond to Breitbart News’s requests for comment.
In Iraq, the Yazidi-majority are located in the country’s Nineveh province, right outside of the KRG territory.
After liberating Sinjar from ISIS, Kurds claimed some of that territory as being part of the KRG, prompting some Yazidis to accuse them of stealing their land.
“The leader of the Yezidi party [Shasho] said that Shingal and other Yezidi areas must remain part of the Kurdistan Region and called on Erbil to include Shingal in the upcoming September referendum,” notes the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw.
Yazidi activists in the United States and Iraqi Kurdistan told Breitbart News the KRG has ordered its internal police force Asayish to remove anti-independence and pro-PMU Yazidis.
“The KRG gives Yazidis 24 hours to leave,” said Nayis Sameer Abdullah, an Iraq-based activist, adding, “Yazidis in Kurdistan are not free to express their opinion.”
However, Ismail notes that the time the KRG is giving the Yazidis to leave Kurdistan varies on a case-by-case basis. Some people are being told to leave within a few hours while others are immediately kicked out, he proclaimed.
“There are also family groups who are given few days to leave the KRG region,” he continued. “The Asayish personnel would visit those families and tell them ‘You have a few days, if you put pressure on your man/men to leave the Popular Mobilization Force and come join-up the KRG peshmergas,’ you can stay here in the Kurdistan region and if you cannot do this, then you have to leave immediately!”
“Anyone who does not support independence referendum must leave Kurdistan, and anyone who stays will say yes to the referendum by force,” Sufyan Waheed Hammo, a spokesman for the Yezidi Human Rights Organization International, told Breitbart News from Iraq.
Hammo claims he has been detained by the KRG in the past for his efforts to help other Yazidis.
He also told Breitbart News many Yazidis do not support Kurdish independence in Iraq.
Ismail added that the Yazidis who do back Kurdish independence do it for self-serving political reasons, fear, or large amounts of money. Baghdad has come out against the referendum vote, expected later this year.
The United States does consider the KRG one of its most effective partners against ISIS. Iraqi Kurdistan has given sanctuary to many members of Iraq’s minority community, including Yazidis and Christians, who have been victims of genocide at the hands of ISIS.
Nevertheless, when asked what message he had for the U.S. government, Hammo said, “My message to President Donald Trump is if you do not rescue us, the Muslim’s will kill all of us.”
Baghdad has come out against the KRG referendum, which is expected to succeed.