Afrin Developments Put Security and Safety of Thousands of Syrian Yazidi Citizens at Serious Risk
For Immediate Release, January, 23 2018
Yazda follows with great concern the military and security developments along the Syrian-Turkish border and expresses its alarm with respect to the security and safety of Yazidi citizens in 21 villages in the vicinity of Afrin, where a Turkish military incursion is unfolding.
We want Turkey, Syrian rebel forces instrumentalized by Turkey (called the Free Syrian Army), and any other jihadist groups to be held responsible if any persecution or acts of ethnic cleansing take place against our people in the Afrin area. The Yazidi community in Syria has been targeted since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011 because of its identity and many Yazidis have suffered forced displacement. According to our sources, the Yazidi community in Syria has been reduced from 90,000 people to less than 15,000.
Many Yazidis in the Kurdish-speaking areas of northern Syria were targeted with persecution both by al-Qaida affiliates (such as Jabhat al-Nusra) and by Syrian regime secret police (mukhabaraat) and subsequently fled the country to become refugees in neighboring states. As Turkey now sends Syrian rebel forces back into Syria to control the areas that it is invading, there is concern as to whether Salafi-Jihadi-Islamist elements are among these forces (under the umbrella of “Free Syrian Army”) who could possibly target Yazidis with violence, as a community that is not recognized as a “People of the Book,” as Yazidis have already been targeted in Syria and Iraq throughout this conflict.
The current military operation and instability in the area puts the lives of those Yazidis remaining there at a great risk which could result in dire and tragic consequences for the Yazidi community in Syria.
Our fear is that jihadist or radical groups within the attacking forces could treat the Yazidis in a similar manner to that which ISIS employed and might therefore commit another genocide in Yazidi homelands,which include the following villages; Basofan (the largest Syrian Yazidi village-population of 3500 people before forced displacement), Faqira, Bafloun, Qastil Jandul, Qaibar, Burj Abdadlo, Ghazawiya, Shadir, Eiska, Kufir Zayit, Baa’i, Ein Dara, Qatma, Sinka, Ashka, Ali Qayna, Chaqla Koma, Qaila, Gonde Mazin, Kafir Safra, and the village of Jinders.
Yazda holds the Turkish government responsible to protect Yazidi citizens in these areas and calls on the United Nations, USA, and Russia as global powers with forces on the ground, to prevent radical groups from reaching these villages. Yazda also calls upon the Yazidis to leave such areas of conflict and to not remain under the rule of jihadist armed groups, as such groups consider the Yazidis to be infidels.
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