On top of Mount Sinjar - The forgotten victims of ISIL’s genocidal campaign

Catherine Shakdam
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen. A regular pundit on RT and other networks her work has appeared in major publications: MintPress, the Foreign Policy Journal, Mehr News and many others.Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting. She is the author of Arabia’s Rising - Under The Banner Of The First Imam
Members of the minority Yazidi sect. STRINGER Iraq
The forgotten faces of a war which has already proven so terribly graphic in its horrors, the Yazidis of Iraq await salvation on their mountain; the last fort for a people and culture which so far has survived the test of time.

About a year ago, when ISIL advances into Iraq and Syria shocked the international community in their speed and barbaric violence, an entire people was forced to flee to a nearby mountain - the desperate exodus of one of the world’s oldest religious groups - Iraq’s Yazidis - to Mount Sinjar.

A monotheist religious community which syncretic faith has roots in Zoroastrianism and other ancient Mesopotamian religions, Yazidis quickly became one of ISIL’s main targets, as its leaders associated their theology with apostasy.

Hate-preachers have long associated Yazidism with Satanism, postulating that Yazidis’ main deity, Tawsy Melek, the “Peacock Angel” is none other than Satan - a deduction rooted in bigotry and unbearable ignorance. And though many will chose to disagree with Yazidism, no group should have to suffer in their flesh for exercising their inherent right to believe in the divine - or not for that matter.

As tens of thousands ran before the blade of ISIL’s legions, the world watched aghast as a piece of history withered and bled under the vengeful wrath of theo-fascism.

Just as ISIL plundered Iraq’s precious archeological relics, as its hired guns took it upon themselves to not only redact Iraqis’ cultural patrimoine, but destroy any hope of a future for its people, its armies worked to obliterate a faith, and a people from the face of the earth; arguing absolutism.

But ISIL has no faith! And because ISIL has no faith and its adepts have lost their humanity, this one terror group has declared war on religion per se - whatever its form, and whichever its denominations. And while Yazidis have suffered more than most, for they have dared held true to their forefathers religious heritage, their plight mirrors that of countless minorities in the Middle East.

Under the ominous flag of ISIL, no men or women of faith can claim refuge, for there is no mercy to found in the horrors ISIL death preachers vomit to their brain-washed flocks. As US President Barack Obama so rightfully put it: “ISIL knows no religion!”

But if in truth there is little point in debating ISIL’s extremist rationale, we can however denounce its crimes for what they truly are, and the harrowing reality they underscore. ISIL’s vengeful campaign against Yazidis, Alawites, Christians, Jews, Sufis, Shia Muslims and Sunnis is but a grand religious genocide - the echo of a plague which a few decades ago swept through Europe, claiming millions to its demented psychosis.

READ MORE: ISIS use rape as ‘violent, brutal, terrorizing weapon,’ Angelina Jolie tells Lords

Alone on Mount Sinjar a people stand besieged by the hands of terror - alone they stand, and yet, its people’s faces have become that of so many lost souls across the region; wherever the hands of Wahhabi-inspired radicalism has managed to stretch.

But if Iraq’s Yazidis remain prisoners of this war ISIL declared on humanity, it is maybe the world’s silence which has cut the deepest, since it speaks of a lack of courage before a terror so absolute, heads of states have refrained from naming.

So who will call the Voldemort of our story? Who will label the evil which has befallen the Middle East and North Africa, and yet too few have dared slap with the proper noun?

“For Yazidis, it is very important to secure recognition that genocide was committed against us,” Pari Ibrahim, a Yazidi woman told Middle East Eye in an interview late this October.

Indeed, should the United Nations Security Council agree to define ISIL terror campaign as the genocide it truly is, the International Criminal Court (ICC) would be able to open a case against the group; thus offering much needed legal weight and bite to this war the world is currently waging against Wahhabi fundamentalism.

More importantly, a genocidal label would guarantee that ISIL leaders, funders, associates and militants would be held accountable for their crimes. So why procrastinate? Why have Western powers systematically eluded the question, preferring instead to slam sanctions against those countries which have proven most determined in defeating terror: Russia, Iran, Syria …?

The answer might lie in geopolitics. However ghastly ISIL legions are, they offer an undeniable opportunity to those hawkish politicians who understand war and military occupations as the only potent expressions of their nation’s political power. More disturbingly, and sadly undeniably true, ISIL serves a covert agenda Western powers have no stomach in addressing, let alone challenge.

Whether by association or by design, Western capitals keep dangerous friendships, which friendships could prove too much of a legal liability should genocide come to define ISIL's agenda.

As often in politics, morals and ethics are checked out the door, leaving space only for greed and ambition.

But then what words are we left with to define the beheadings, crucifixions, human pyres, stolen women and mass enslavement? Where do the gang rapes, systematic torture practices, the brain-washing and forced indoctrination fit if not within the semantic of genocide?

In 2014, Russia and China vetoed a draft UN resolution which provisioned for the ICC to gain jurisdiction over Syria’s conflict, and thus all crimes committed within its borders. The move, at the time, was criticized ad nauseam by a well-thinking mainstream media - proof many claimed that both powers aimed to protect their political interests, even if it meant in the way of justice.

Only that wasn’t the real story! The real story was that Russia and China prevented the UNSC from playing the legal system to score aggressive political points against President Bashar al-Assad.

If today the UNSC is playing deaf to calls from activists, rights groups and political leaders it is because they fear the political and legal implications the word genocide inherently carries.
For when the world will learn to say genocide before ISIL crimes, world leaders will no longer be able to rationalize aiding and abating terror’s arms to their citizens.


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.