In an inspirational show of resilience and hope, the oppressed Yazidi people displayed courage through art. The works of arts were presented to the public in an exhibition in Sinjar last week. Touching images depict paintings presented among the ruins of houses and the hangover of war.
The Yazidis are a heavily persecuted ethnic and religious minority, originating from the mountainous regions of northwestern Iraq. Since the Islamic State captured Sinjar in August 2014, an estimated 1800 Yazidis have perished. There were 3,400 reported missing, according to Western Journalism.
After 18 months under the Islamic State, the Kurdish Peshmerga militia recaptured Sinjar in November of last year. Liberation has shined a light on the full extent of Yazidi suffering under ISIS.
But the horrors are far from over. Just last week, there was another appalling discovery of a mass grave. And this has prompted demands for Obama and the UN to officially recognize a Yazidi Genocide. The gruesome grave consisted of approximately 130 Yazidis – mostly women, children and the elderly.
It was reported that the ethnic group were killed for refusing to cooperate with ISIS or to convert to Islam. In a conversation with The Media Line, Christophe Wilcke, a researcher for the Middle East division of Human Rights Watch, explained that: “ISIS did not allow any Yazidis to continue being Yazidis, men and some women were shot dead … and women were sexually enslaved, to be forcibly married and converted.” The Daily Mail has also presented the harrowing stories of Yazidi women who survived ISIS capture.
In the wake of brutality, the art exhibition is a fierce image of hope for a group who has suffered hatred for centuries. Religiously matchless and geographically isolated, the Yazidis have developed a very private community and are accustomed to persecution, writes National Geographic.
Matthew Barbew, Yazidi history scholar at the University of Chicago, explains that the group believe themselves to have experienced their 73rd attempted genocide in 2014. “Memory of persecution is a core component of their identity,” he adds.
But despite their stoicism, the Yazidi’s struggles are far from over. Media Line reports that 90% of Yazidis – a population of 700,000 – remain in limbo in refugee camps in Northern Iraq and Southern Turkey.