Genocide and aftermath for Yazidi women -3-

Yazidi women still held by ISIS and women rescued from ISIS

The last article of our article series focuses on the trauma experienced by thousands of Yazidi women, who were rescued from ISIS or are waiting to be rescued, and the Yazidi women’s struggle for the international recognition of the genocide committed against them in 2014.


Shengal-  Women were targeted in the genocide committed against the Yazidi community by ISIS on August 3, 2014. Thousands of Yazidi women were abducted, tortured, raped and sold in slave markets by ISIS. The women, who were abducted by ISIS in 2014 and then rescued from ISIS, are the most important witnesses of the genocide committed by ISIS.

 Riham Heco, a coordinating member of the Yazidi Free Women's Movement (TAJÊ), spoke to NuJINHA about the struggle being waged by the movement for the Yazidi women, who were rescued from ISIS and who are waiting to be rescued.

 “As the women’s movement, we make great efforts to liberate all Yazidi women being held captive by ISIS. We have done whatever we can to rescue the abducted Yazidi women and we will continue to do so. We support the families of the abducted women and follow every trace that can show us where the abducted women are held. When the border of Rojava was open, we worked coordinately with Kongra Star and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to rescue the abducted Yazidi women. SDF has played an important role in rescuing the Yazidi women since ISIS took many women to Raqqa and Tabqa. Until now, the SDF has helped us to rescue many women. Several days ago, the SDF reported that they had rescued a Yazidi woman; however, we cannot take them to Shengal to reunite her family. Iraq does not help us to take the rescued women to Shengal. This is the biggest challenge faced by us.”

 “European countries want to remove the traces of the genocide”

 Pointing out that the Iraqi government has created barriers for them to rescue the abducted Yazidi women, Riham Heco said:

“International forces are negotiating over the rescued Yazidi women to separate the witnesses of the genocide and remove the traces of the genocide. After women are rescued, the European countries compete with each other to take these women to their countries. Each woman who goes to a European country can take her family to this country and her family can take another family to this country. This means that they want to leave Shengal without Yazidis. A resistance was waged in Shengal and dozens died while rescuing Yazidi women from ISIS. However, the European countries do not want to see this and want to take all rescued Yazidi women to Europe. Many countries such as Austria, Canada, the Netherlands and many more countries detract these women from their roots.”

“We want to work coordinately with the Iraqi government”

“As TAJÊ, we want to work coordinately with the Iraqi government to rescue the abducted Yazidi women,” Riham Heco said, “We know that some Yazidi women have been held captive in which countries and make efforts to rescue them. We visited all the consulates and asked them for support to rescue the abducted Yazidi women; however, they kept silent and they still keep silent.”

Figures show what happened

Before ISIS attacked Shengal in 2014, there were 12,000 KDP Peshmerga members and 6,000 members of the Iraqi forces in Shengal. After the genocide, 360,000 Yazidis were forcibly displaced from Shengal. 200,000 Yazidis went to the Kurdistan Region, about 10,000 Yazidis went to Europe. 3,504 Yazidi women and 2,869 Yazidi men were abducted by ISIS. The number of Yazidi children having been abducted by ISIS is still unknown. Until now, 1,188 Yazidi women, 337 Yazidi men, 1,020 Yazidi girls and 935 Yazidi boys have been rescued from ISIS. 150 of the rescued Yazidi women live in Shengal now. The number of the rescued Yazidi women, who went to Europe, is very high. 1,340 Yazidi women and 1,597 Yazidi men are still held captive by ISIS. According to official figures, there are 80 mass graves across Shengal. The number of orphans is 2,166. During the genocide, six holy places of Yazidis were destroyed.

Efforts for the international recognition of the genocide

Shengal is a town in northern Iraq. Although a genocide was committed on the territory of Iraq, the Iraqi Parliament hasn’t recognize the genocide committed against the Yazidis in Shengal by ISIS. Riham Heco spoke about the reason for not recognition of the genocide by the Iraqi parliament.

“There are many parliamentarians who played a role in the genocide. If the Iraqi Parliament recognizes the genocide, these parliamentarians will stand trial for their crimes. They do their best not to bring the recognition of the genocide on the agenda of the parliament. Our main demand is the recognition of the genocide by the Iraqi parliament. If the Iraqi parliament recognizes it, all countries will recognize it. Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Nations (UN) have officially recognized the massacre of Yazidis as genocide. These countries have recognized the genocide committed against the Yazidi community; however, they have done nothing to judge those who are responsible for the genocide. We still face a genocide; the Turkish state attacks us every day, it kills our leaders and children. Recognition of the genocide means to say no to the genocidal policies.”

“The world must pay its debt to us”

Underlining that Belgium has also recognized the genocide against the Yazidi community but it also support the Shengal Agreement of 9 October 2020. “So Belgium says, return to your lives before the genocide. It says the Yazidi people have no rights. The policy followed by Belgium is not a correct policy; on the contrary, it is deception. The world must pay its debt to the Yazidi community by recognizing the massacre committed against us by ISIS as a genocide.”