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Yazidis Continue to Suffer While ISIS Supporters Return to Northern Iraq

While thousands of Yazidis remain displaced after the Sinjar massacre of August 2014, several supporters of the ISIS are able to return.  Yazidi activists have put allegations on Baghdad for allowing such groups who “took part in the 2014 genocide” to return to the villages near Sinjar in northern Iraq.

On Tuesday, a human rights advocate for Yazidi survivors of the 2014 genocide, Amy Beam posted a video on Facebook, showing over 35 cars and trucks waiting at a checkpoint on a road that leads from Tal Afar to Snune in northern Iraq.

An activist in a tweet wrote, “Yazidis concerned over return of families involved in Islamic State Shingal massacre. The return of these people will become a threat to the lives of people in Shingal, and bad things may happen which we do not accept.”

In August 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attacked the area around Sinjar Mountain, which is a native land of hundreds of thousands of Yazidis, members of religious minorities. Under this systematic destruction, over 10,000 people were captured and separated according to their gender by ISIS. The men were murdered, women were sold, and the children were forced into slavery. On August 8, 2014, the US asserted this horrific crime as genocide.

Although Sinjar was liberated in 2015, several Yazidis are still living on Mount Sinjar. They are still living on the sacred mountain, due to the changing control of the area from Kurdish Peshmerga to Iraqi federal forces and the unstable security situation. However, some Arab families, who fled the area, have returned since the Iraq’s federal government and Shi’ite militias took control in October 2017.

Some of the local Arab tribes have been accused by the local Yazidis of supporting the ISIS. Besides, the government is also questioned on the screening of the returnees. Yazidis have also expressed their fury for not having access to infrastructure in Sinjar and security, while the other displaced groups are able to return.

Beam wrote on the video posted on Tuesday, “Video of Sunni Arabs returning August 28 to Gholat village on the east end of Shingal Mountain. Residents of Gholat are accused by Ezidi [Yazidi] neighbors of participation with ISIS to attack them August 3, 2014.”

The activists also expressed that she is hoping for “peace and justice” and would try to speak with some of the returnees.

“Shia and Sunni Arabs also suffered from Daesh and lost their family members and houses. How will the innocent Arabs be separated from the guilty Daesh,” she wrote.

Nasir Pasha Khalaf, a member of the Yazidi community, said, “We ask the United Nations, the US and the Government of Iraq and people of conscience all over the globe to not allow criminals to return to their places of residence while victims are being tortured under the tents of the displacement.”

Thousands of Yazidis continue to suffer, as they are away from their homes. Many are afraid as some of their Muslim former neighbors aided Islamic State. Is there any respite for Yazidis from the suffering? Will the survivors of the genocide ever return to their homes?

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