During annual Yezidi pilgrimage, Masoud Barzani stresses Kurdistan Region support

The Yezidi's (Ezidi) holiest site, the Temple of Lalish in Duhok province. (Photo: Archive)
The Yezidi's (Ezidi) holiest site, the Temple of Lalish in Duhok province. (Photo: Archive)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish statesman Masoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KRG), expressed his congratulations to members of the Yezidi (Ezidi) religious minority on their annual pilgrimage known as the Gathering and Feast of Seven Days.

Also known as the Jamayi or the Ziyaret, the week-long observance is a sacred time when Yezidis make a journey to the Temple of Lalish to unite as one people. Lalish, the Yezidis' most holy site, is located in the Kurdistan Region's province of Duhok.

"On the occasion of the Yezidis' feast," Barzani wrote in a statement that honored "the Emir of the Yezidis, Baba Sheikh, the Spiritual Council of the Yezidi religion, and all the Yezidis in Kurdistan and the world."

"The injustice and crimes committed by the terrorists and the enemies of the Kurdistan people against Yezidis in the past years have caused us great pain and suffering," he continued, reiterating his support “to the demands of our Yezidi brothers and sisters."

Barzani stressed the need to "eliminate all obstacles and reasons that prevent the re-normalization of Yezidis' lives, especially in Sinjar (Shingal), and their wounds must be healed and they need to freely decide their fate."

The leader stressed, "the need to strengthen the culture of coexistence in Kurdistan, wishing that the Yezidis will spend their holidays in safety and happiness."

There are about one million Yezidis worldwide, with almost half of them living in Iraq and the autonomous Kurdistan Region.

The emergence of ISIS and its violent assault on Sinjar in 2014 led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of members of the religious community. Most of them fled to the Kurdistan Region, while others resettled in neighboring countries or in Western states.

Others were not as lucky and remained stranded in the war zone, where they experienced atrocities and mass executions at the hands of the extremist group for years. Militants subjected women and girls to sexual slavery, kidnapped children, forced religious conversions, executed scores of men, and abused, sold, and trafficked women across areas they controlled in Iraq and Syria in what are now widely recognized as acts of genocide.