The 3rd of August marks the anniversary of the Yezidi Genocide six years ago. Every year on this day since 2014, Yezidis remember their loved ones who were lost in the massacres that ISIS perpetrated on this community.
Yezidis have thousands of stories and pains on this day. They wish that all the world would listen to them and take action to help them heal from this trauma.
Yesterday, Yezidis in Sinjar, their hometown where the genocide happened, remembered their beloved people who were either killed, kidnapped or died while trying to escape ISIS.
For me personally, as a Yezidi who was in Sinjar in 2014 and lived the tragedy, this was not an easy day. On this day every year, our ever-present wounds get bigger. Almost every single family in this city has lost a loved one — a member of the family, a friend, or a neighbor. The wounds are not likely to be gone soon. Even after six years, lots of kidnapped Yezidis are still missing. Many families still wait for their people to come together. Mothers’ eyes have been on the doors, waiting for the knock and for their children to come back.
The genocide and its consequences are nothing but numbers for most of the world. We usually hear the world speak of the number of people who were killed, kidnapped and displaced, with barely a thought of the feelings and attitude of these victims.
What pushed me to write this piece was the woman and her grandchildren who are shown in the photo. Yesterday, while my friend and I were taking a break from our work in preparation for a memorial event, we suddenly saw this mother sitting beside us. She was so confused and did not know where she was. She was holding two pictures in her hands. She asked, “Is there any protest here?” Honestly, I did not understand her question at first, but my friend did. She answered the woman “yes.” The mother was in a hurry, and she asked if we were going to soon start our “protest”, as she called it, or if she should go to another place to protest. My friend surprisingly said, “We will start in thirty minutes. Don’t go anywhere. But can I know why are you here with these kids and pictures and on this hot day?” The mother said that since the morning, she couldn’t be calm and sit at home. “My heart is burning and I don’t know what to do, where to go,” she said. Then she added: “My three sons with my daughter in law and their kids were kidnapped six years ago. In six years, nobody brings any news about them.” She brought their photos to show the world, so that they might be reminded. And might help her.
Here, neither my friend nor I was able to say a word. However, many questions came to mind as I listened to her. I wonder now how many other years she will hold the same photos and ask for the same help. In six years, she has not stopped asking the world to find her children and bring them back. She has no idea if they are alive or dead. She just wants them back, even if they are only bones.
I am wondering what could be the feeling of this mother as she holds these pictures, sits in front of cameras, and asks everyone to help her children and bring them back to her. She walked for a few kilometers to reach us and to talk to the media there. What was so obvious in her words was that she did not know whom to ask for help. She felt as hopeless as I do, and every Yezidi does.
Her wounds are the wounds of so many mothers who are tired of waiting and counting the days for their children to come back. Will the pain ever end…