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The Crime of Kidnapping a Yezidi minor Girl. Causes and Consequences

von Alia Ismail Beg

On January 9, 2013 a Yezidi girl no older than 12 years was kidnapped from the front of her house in the town of Shikhka, Nineveh Province. A young Muslim Kurdish peddler abducted her for marriage, and to force her to embrace Islam.  

This serious case caused a wave of anger, resentment and condemnation among the Yezidi community; it was not the first time for such an abduction, a violation of human rights made more serious because of the girl’s young age. This minor girl escaped from her family, then immediately married her kidnapper, and declared her conversion to Islam. Because she married, the crime of rape became legal under the views and protection of the authorities and the government in Kurdistan.

Many articles have been written and a lot of appeals raised to the official institutions and authorities of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to return the kidnapped girl to her family and to arrest the kidnapper and refer him to the courts. But the KRG has protected him and did not respond to these appeals.

This crime shows the most important challenge that faces the Yezidi minority in Iraqi society and the restrictions that threat their security and safety besides the dispossession of their identity and their public freedom, in addition to the religious discrimination, integration, emotional suffering, and sense of alienation at home.

The Yezidi people have suffered grievously – as have the other religious minorities in Iraq (Christians, Saaba Mendaee, and Kakais for example) from injustice and persecution of both the previous and current governments.

This case shows that democracy and human rights in Iraq still face big troubles and are not secured – religious minorities in Iraq are governed under the Islamic laws. The radical Islamic institutions and parties have a large role in human rights and civilian social organizations.

The activities of the terror groups like „Al Qaeda“and „Wahab“ in Mosul attack the Yezidis by publishing „Fatwas” against them, and kill them just because they are Yezidis. According to these extremists’ views, Yezidis are devil worshipers and must be killed.

On February 15, 2007, hundreds of Kurdish radical Muslims, under the protection and with the support of the Police officers, attacked the predominately Yezidi town of Sheikhan. They attacked the city and shot aimlessly at the citizens, destroyed and burned houses, cars, shops, the Yezidi cultural center, and the Yezidi religious temple, „Sheikh Mend”. In my opinion such actions meet the legal definition of genocide, according to international documents and penal laws.

Also 24 Yezidi workers in the city of Mosul were killed in April 2007 by an Islamic radical group.  Many Yezidi students – nearly 900 – in the University of Mosul have been forced to leave their studies out of fear for their lives. And all the Yezidi families have likewise left their home and jobs in Mosul, with no chance of returning.

In Iraqi Kurdistan also many Yezidis left their jobs in Duhok, Erbil and Suleimanya because the attacks by the terror Muslim groups and the fanatic Muslims.

A real genocide against Yezidis occurred in the Sinjar Region on August 8, 2007, when four suicide bombers used explosive-filled trucks which killed more than 500 innocent Yezidis, and wounded 800 more – many women and children among them. These explosions destroyed two villages completely, and some of the survivors still remain homeless.

Yezidis remain isolated in their homeland. They are oppressed by governments and and laws, suffering from marginalization, exclusion, and religion and social discrimination.

The Yezidis’ rights in Iraq are just ink on paper, and for this the Iraqi Constitution has been condemned by the Yezidis because of this preference for the Muslim majority.

The Yezidi people demand:

ـ that their religion be respected and that they have the same rights as the other religions before the law without discrimination.

ـ issuing a law to protect the Yezidis and all the religious minorities from the control of Islamic laws.

 ـWe also demand the application of civil laws and cancelling of the Islamic rules, and not accepting change of religions of those who are under the age of 18 years.