ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – President of the autonomous Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani on Saturday met with the new leader of Yezidis (Ezidis), Hazim Tahseen Beg, and expressed his support to the religious minority community.
The meeting took place in Beg’s headquarters in Duhok’s Sheikhan district on the same day that the Kurdistan Parliament, by majority vote, officially designated Aug. 3 as Ezidi Genocide Remembrance Day.
Barzani reiterated his congratulations to Beg for assuming his new role as leader and wished him success, according to Barzani’s press office.
Beg thanked the president for the personal visit and for “his continuous support” for the Ezidis by following-up on the regular needs and problems of the religious group.
On July 27, six months after the death of the former head of the Ezidi community, Beg's father, he was sworn in.
In Saturday's meeting, both sides discussed the current conditions of the Ezidis, the situation in the city of Sinjar (Shingal), efforts to resolve ongoing problems, reconstruction, and stability in Ezidi areas.
Members of the religious minority were subjected to extreme brutality at the hands of the Islamic State after its militants overran Shingal in August 2014, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. Others, unable to leave, remained stranded in the war zone and faced atrocities and mass executions at the hands of the extremist group for years.
Its fighters subjected women and girls to sexual slavery, kidnapped children, forced religious conversions, executed scores of men, and abused, sold, and trafficked females across multiple areas they controlled in both Iraq and Syria.
Before the 2014 attack, there were roughly 550,000 Ezidis in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. As the militant group took over large swaths of territory in Nineveh province, where Shingal is located, 360,000 of them escaped seeking refuge elsewhere, according to the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ezidi Rescue Office.
According to the office, dedicated to the rescue of Ezidis kidnapped by the Islamic State, during the first day of the attack, it killed 1,293 individuals and in the months that followed, kidnapped 6,417 (3,548 males and 2,869 females) members of the Ezidi community.
The rescue office latest statistics indicate that 3,509 of them have been rescued (1,192 women, 1,033 girls, 947 boys, and 337 men), while 2,908 remain missing. Furthermore, there are 2,745 Ezidi children who have been orphaned.
So far, 80 mass graves containing the remains of Ezidis have been found in Shingal and its surroundings among the remains of what used to be a thriving city, now largely rubble. At least 68 temples and other religious buildings were also destroyed.
Editing by John J. Catherine