The Unweaving of Mosul
As the battle rages between the Islamic State and a coalition of forces led by the Iraqi government for control of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, many of the ethnic and religious minorities who called it home for generations fear the city will never again be the tolerant, culturally rich home it once was. Sunnis, Shiites, Yazidis, Christians, Kurds, Arabs, and others all coexisted in the vibrant cultural landscape of a city with both historical and contemporary significance, but the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq and the recent occupation of Mosul by the Islamic State have all but decimated the minority communities that called the city home. The New York Times takes a look at the city’s decline, the uncertainty of its future, and the stories of those who once flourished in a cosmopolitan city known for its diversity and tolerance.
“In Once-Tolerant Mosul, a Social Unraveling That Feels Permanent” (The New York Times)
“Iraq: Can Mosul survive ISIL?” (Al Jazeera)
(Image Credit: Felipe Dana/Associated Press, via The New York Times)
Largest Yazidi temple in world in plans to be built in Armenia
- Funded by a Moscow-based Yazidi businessman, the temple (Quba Mere Diwane, or “All Will Come Together”) is set to be built in the village of Aknalich, near the Armenian capital of Yerevan.
- Though set to be the physically largest, the most theologically sacred temple will continue to be Lalesh, a pilgrimage site located north of Mosul in northern Iraq.
- Yazidis are one of the largest ethnic minority groups in Armenia, with their community expanding as the global diaspora has ballooned in the wake of systematic persecution by the Islamic State.
“Armenia to House World’s Largest Yazidi Temple” (EurasiaNet)
“World’s largest Yazidi temple under construction in Armenia” (The Guardian)
“Largest Yazidi Temple to Be Built in Armenia” (The Armenian Weekly)
(Image Credit: Maxim Edwards via The Guardian)
Thousands of Yazidis remain in captivity on anniversary of massacre
- The U.N. reported that around 3,200 Yazidi women and girls are being held in sexual slavery and thousands of Yazidi men and boys are missing, many presumed dead.
- August 3 marks the second anniversary of the Islamic State’s attack on Sinjar, Iraq, which left 10,000 Yazidis dead or enslaved in what observers have increasingly called a genocide.
- Prior to the attack, Sinjar had been home to the largest Yazidi community in the world.
“Thousands of Yazidis missing, captive, two years after start of ‘genocide’: U.N.” (Reuters)
“Yazidis Mark Second Anniversary of Islamic State Massacre” (Voice of America)
“Yazidi Activist Nadia Murad Speaks Out on the ‘Holocaust’ of Her People in Iraq” (TIME)
(Image Credit: Z. Yasar/Voice of America)
IS to be tried for crimes against Yazidi women in international court
- Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney will prosecute the Islamic State for crimes against the Yazidi community including sexual slavery, rape, and genocide.
- The prosecution follows a campaign by Yazidi advocates like Nadia Murad Basee Taha, who petitioned the U.N. Security Council and the international community to take action.
- IS has accused Yazidis of being devil-worshippers, driven more than 700,000 from their homes in northern Iraq, and enslaved more than 7,000 women and girls.
“Exclusive: Amal Clooney to represent ISIS survivor Nadia Murad and victims of Yazidi genocide” (The New York Times)
“Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney to defend Yazidi women, ISIS sex slaves” (Reuters)
“Amal Clooney to represent Yazidi sex slaves and demand Isis genocide investigation at The Hague” (International Business Times)
(Image Credit: Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images, via The New York Times)
Iraqi Yazidis in Georgia commemorate anniversary of genocide at hands of IS, but find little opportunity in new home
- Yazidis near the Georgian capital of Tbilisi commemorated the first anniversary of the Islamic State’s massacre of 3,000 Yazidi men and abduction of 5,000 women and children in Sinjar, Iraq.
- Yazidis began arriving in Georgia seeking asylum soon after the August violence, but faced a host of issues ranging from the expiration of Georgia’s visa-free agreement with Iraq to the low ($113/month) stipend for families.
- The community has faced persecution not only from IS, but from the Iraqi and Kurdistan governments, who often refuse to acknowledge a Yazidi culture and identity distinct from Kurds.
“It’s a tragedy, but it has united us, made us wake up and shown us what we can do.”
Read the full story at Al-Monitor.
(Image Credit: Maxim Edwards, via Al-Monitor)
Turkey’s parliamentary elections sees AKP lose majority, pro-minority Kurdish HDP win representation for the first time, and numerous victories for minority candidates.
- While the AKP won the largest parliamentary share with 41%, HDP crossed the threshold of representation with around 13% of the vote, winning 80 seats in the parliament.
- While the HDP has largely been defined by the Kurds it represents, it also opened up to all those marginalized by the party in power, including women, religious minorities, LGBT citizens, and other ethnic minorities.
- The new parliament will see a record 96 women and its first Yazidi and Roma MPs, and the HDP also put forth the first openly gay candidate for office.
- The momentum for the HDP grew out of 2013’s Gezi Park demonstrations, where protesters rallied against the government’s perceived encroachment on the country’s secularism.
“Turks and Kurds are well ahead of the political leaders of the country, and they have a lot of expectations of the democratic process that they have well bought into…This is a very impressive outcome. It shows that Turkey is going through an important political maturing process, and that an increasing number of people are interested in a pluralistic society.”
More on this story at The Guardian.
(Image Credit: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images, via The Guardian)