Around 21 civilians have been randomly arrested in Sinjar during the last two months by armed groups claiming to be from the Iraqi army.
The civilians were arrested by soldiers, who Yazidis doubt to be from the Iraqi army, as they lacked any judicial order or legal statement from the government when they took them away.
Sinjar is a disputed area, with various armed groups and militias trying to impose their control over the area. These include the PKK, YPG, Hashid -AlShabi, Iraqi army, Yazidi forces, and peshmerga. Therefore, civilians are struggling to find safety within their own community, as they could be killed, arrested, or even kidnapped at any moment by those groups.
In the last two months, 3 Arab people from the surrounding areas of Sinjar were assassinated, and several Yazidis were accused of the crime and arrested without any evidence of their responsibility. Surprisingly, the murdered Arabs were from tribes that had good relations with Yazidis.
On August 3, 2014, ISIS led a genocidal campaign against Yazidis, abducting 6417 people, mostly women and children. The assault also created 80 mass graves, 85% destruction of the area, with 360,000 people ending up in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in the Kurdistan region.
At the time of the attacks, many of the Arab tribes from Sinjar backed ISIS in their attacks, betraying Yazidis who had been living with them for centuries.
After six years of displacement, the conflicts in the area have made it hard for those displaced Yazidi families to return to their homes. Those who returned do not feel safe enough to practice their daily life activities normally, as each village is under the control of one of those militant groups. And, after all the trauma they experienced 6 years ago, they continue to pay with their suffering now.
“They want us (Yazidis) to become weak in our areas so that they can take over,” said a civilian from Sinjar. “A lot of people who were in the positions of authority supported ISIS when they attacked us, so they do not want us to return and rebuild our lives here (in Sinjar). And (they) want us to not ask for our rights, as a lot of people have returned in the past few months.”
After the first assassination of an Arab, three people were taken by the so-called army. The soldiers claimed that within one hour of the arrest, the civilians confessed to the killing. Legal experts from Sinjar claimed that “there is no way that someone will confess within one hour.”
And last week, 5 more people were arrested in the center of Sinjar while in the graveyard burying their grandmother, and no one has heard about them since — no clarification as to why they were arrested, and no judicial order from the court or the government. Those people have never done any harm to anyone, according to their relatives and people of their neighborhood. It seemed completely arbitrary.
All of these events have left Yazidis in shock, feeling completely insecure in Sinjar. And the situation is getting worse day by day, with nothing being done to solve the security issues of the area.