ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the Sinjar (Shingal) genocide on Friday, former President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani stated that rescuing and assisting Yezidis (Ezidis) and reconstructing Shingal is the priority and joint duty of all.
Shingal was home to some 88,000, most of them part of the Ezidi religious minority, when it was overrun by IS in Aug. 2014. After taking over, the jihadist group kidnapped and massacred untold numbers and thousands of women and girls were forced into sexual slavery.
“On the four year anniversary of the Shingal massacre, I’d like to salute our Peshmerga forces. To all Yezidi brothers and sisters: you are an [inseparable] part of the Kurdish [society], you shall remain a source of immense pride to all Kurds across the globe,” Barzani tweeted on his official Twitter account.
In a statement published on his personal website, he stated that “during the occurrence of Shingal genocide, all the people of the Kurdistan Region along with Ezidi brothers and sisters suffered the pain. Therefore, our sons and daughters from all over Kurdistan came to sacrifice their lives for liberating Shingal.”
Barzani also mentioned that “Ezidi brothers and sisters are an inseparable part of the people of Kurdistan and no imposed situation can deprive them of their people,” referring to the current control of the area by Iraqi forces and Shia militias.
In another part of the statement, he said that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has already put all efforts into rescuing a large number of the Ezidis kidnapped by IS.
“But finding and rescuing all the kidnapped, normalizing the situation and reconstruction [of the city] is a joint duty of all, and it is the priority for now that must be hurried.”
In addition to the human cost, destructive acts by IS and the battles to remove the jihadist group from Shingal have left most of the city in ruins. The group enthusiastically destroyed shrines and ancient historical sites related to the Ezidi religion, something they saw, in their ideological fervor, as a way of eliminating polytheism.
Tens of thousands of Ezidis from Shingal and surrounding areas remain displaced in the Kurdistan Region, Europe, North America, and other regions. Thousands are still missing.
Almost three years have been passed since the 2015 liberation of Shingal by Kurdish Peshmerga forces supported by the US-led coalition. It has been under the control of Iraqi forces and Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) militias since October.
Much of the city is still rubble, and very few have returned to their homes due to insecurity and lack of public services.
Editing by John J. Catherine