The word “farman” means a government decree or law. It has become synonymous with genocide for the Yazidis because it was by the 74th farman, the Ottoman Empire committed atrocities against the religious minority, accusing them of being devil-worshippers. The Yazidis have gone through so many attempts to erase their existence, that it has become a norm.

Yazidis are an ethnoreligious group inhabiting Ninevah province in northern Iraq. They were targeted by dozens of Islamic campaigns to eliminate or convert them to Islam over the past century. The latest was the brutal campaign carried out by Daesh, the Arabic acronym for ISIS, in August that caused the deaths of at least 5000 Yazidi men and abduction of at least 7000 Yazidi women according to UN sources.

The Yazidis were forced to leave their hometown of Sinjar and they were scattered throughout the Kurdistan region and some of them climbed the holy mountain of Sinjar and sought shelter there.

Yazidis underwent many hardships in their exodus from their villages. Many fell ill, suffered the summer heat and chilling cold on the mountain with no shelter. Much of the relief efforts for those on the mountain were squandered due to ISIS controlling the entire surrounding region. Some young men volunteered to fight alongside the Kurdish fighters on the mountain to get even.

Several months later, some of the girls managed to escape the clutches of their captors and find their way through perilous lands all the way back to the mountain of their ancestors. A few weeks later ISIS released a group of 200 women, children, elders and people with special needs.

Towns near the mountain are a battlefield where fighters engage in urban warfare every day to no apparent end. In the wake of this fighting, martyrs of the conflict are hailed and given a funeral by their loved ones. A journalist who was covering the events on the mountain was killed in a car bomb blast. A female Kurdish fighter from Turkey was killed, from an airstrike, and is given hero’s funeral and prayed on before she is buried. But even as the fighting rages on, Yazidis celebrate their religious holidays, standing up against all attempts to dissolve their identity. A sacred holiday for Yazidis is the olive holiday where they celebrate in the shrine of Lalash, an important pilgrimage site for the minority, and this shows how life goes on despite all hardships.”

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