Saturday, August 13, 2016

Yazidi Forced Concubinage

"He [ISIL slave-owning soldier] told us that Taus Malik is not God. He said that Taus Malik is the devil and that because you worship the devil, you belong to us."
"We [Islamic State terrorists] can sell you and use you [as a slave], as we see fit."
Escaped Yazidi woman
Nadia, a young Iraqi Yazidi who was abducted into slavery by members of ISIS, is photographed in the U.S.
Kirsten Luce for TIME Nadia, a young Iraqi Yezidi who was abducted into slavery by members of ISIS, is photographed in the U.S.

Two years ago the world became aware of an obscure tribe of people living in the Middle East, called the Yazidi. They live in Turkey, in Syria, in Iraq and elsewhere, in small villages, and often among a larger Kurdish population. They have been historically vulnerable as a distinct ethnic group with a religion that is considered to be a hybrid religion, not Muslim, but taking elements from even earlier religions of the region.

Their history as a people is an ancient one, known to have arisen in Mesopotamia. They have, despite aeons of oppression, discrimination and massacres, remained true to one another and to their religion which Muslims declare to be devil-worshipping. They are the quintessential outsiders, they find protection only living among the Kurds, another, much larger distinct ethnic group which considers the Yazidis to be a Kurdish 'cousin', an offshoot.

As far as Muslims are concerned, the Yazidis are subhuman, leading to contempt for them and their beliefs, leading in turn to ongoing repression and violations of their most basic human rights. They, on the other hand, respect both the Bible and the Qur'an. Their own religion follows an oral tradition of belief in souls and rebirth and ultimate purification as monotheists whose singular divine being is represented by seven spirits.

The greatest of those spirits is named the Peacock Angel, Malik Taus, the executor of divine will to whom Yazidis pray. An alternate name for Malik Taus is Shaytan, Arabic for "devil", leading Muslims to cast aspersions on Yazidis and their religion as devil worshippers. It is in their self-appointed role as defenders of Islam that Islamic State has taken to "erase their identity", as the UN describes the genocidal intentions of ISIL.

The Islamic State assault two years ago on the major Yazidi town of Sinjar saw five thousand Yazidi men and boys slaughtered, and over three thousand Yazidi women and girls rounded up to be taken away as slaves. The women are used in a system of human ownership lauded by ISIL, which refers to the Koran for its guidance in how to treat their vulnerably helpless captives.

They are bought and sold, kept in compounds like cattle until such time as a buyer steps forward. They have no rights, since they are entirely the possession of whomever buys them. They can be bought singly or in groups by 'wholesalers'. They are despised as unbelievers, relegated to an even lower status than Christians and Jews.

One woman attributes her freedom to the collusion of the wife of the man who bought her, enabling her successful escape. They represent, it seems the "Jews" of the Arab/Muslim world of conquest, rejection and subjugation.

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