Honorable Mention TOKYO-2017 People / Culture

A Yazidi story

  • Photographer
    Giacomo Sini

Yazidis are a religious group of about half a million people who is native of the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh. They share the same language and much of the culture of the Kurds of Turkey and Syria. Because of their attachment to a cult of pre-Islamic and gnostic origin they’ve been received years of strong repression. In last three years Yazidis, have been the main targets of ethnic cleansing by IS militiamen, along with Christians and Shiites. Everyone remember their fugue towards the mountains of Sinjar, when IS began a strong offensive in northern Iraq on early August 2014. At that time, IS forces committed a massacre, killing over 5000 Yazidis men and kidnapping other thousands of women, sold into slavery in Mosul or Raqqa. The population who survived to the attacks fled in the mountains around Sinjar where it was trapped without food, water or medical care, facing starvation, dehydration and the risk of more incursions by IS for several weeks. Fortunately PKK and YPG Kurdish forces open a corridor towards the mountains to Northern Syria, led by Kurdish forces, in order to make them flee safely. Thousands of Yazidis get safe in Rojava and then travel to Europe on 2015. Some of them were stopped on the border between Greece and Macedonia between 2015-2016 on their fugue towards north. After several months of stoppage, a lot of them decided to return in Iraq, despite the risk and the destruction around the area. Therefore today thousands of Yazidis are still living in the heart of the mountain living within continuous tensions erupted in the area within anti-Is forces . Shingal Resistance Units (YBŞ) and other militias are laboriously trying to guarantee them the safety to rebuilt a new project of life. Despite the situation Yazidis have also never stopped celebrating their own New Year in Lalish, Iraq where hundred thousands of people come from every part of the world and also from Shingal in order to honor this sacred date.