Friday, August 17, 2007


Iraqi Yazidis speak out

(BBC) -- The bomb attacks in northern Iraq on Tuesday targeted the Yazidi sect - a vulnerable religious minority. People in the area are due to vote on whether to come under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government later this year. Two Yazidis reflect on the bombings and why they happened.
Khidir Domle, 39, Yazidi Journalist, Dohuk: "The attacks were not totally unexpected, because the security situation in the area had been getting worse every day. Several of our relatives were hit. Two of them are dead, six are wounded and three others from one single family are still missing and we don't know where they are.
We don't know if they have been moved to hospitals in Talafar, a town near Mosul, or not. I think the motives for the attacks are ethnic - those people were Kurdish - as well as religious. Even neighbouring Arab villages had been threatening Yazidis, trying to stop them voting for Kurdistan in forthcoming polls. Over the past two weeks, the threat from extremist groups like al-Qaeda had also increased.
Yazidis constitute the majority in the area that was targeted; the attacks were aimed at intimidating people. Iraqi government security forces are in charge there, because it is close to the Syrian border. Those forces are not able to control the borders. Kurdish security forces have little influence there. A few weeks ago dozens of local security and police forces quit their jobs because of threats by terrorists.
Such bombings may encourage people even more to vote to become part of Kurdistan in a referendum. But what will encourage them most is the promise of better services for people in the area."
Elias Baba Sheikh, 51: Elias is a local official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two main Kurdish political parties. "None of my close relatives was affected by the attack, but I consider all Yazidis to be my relatives. Dozens of houses have been reduced to rubble. The exact number of the casualties is not clear yet. In the Azadi hospital of Dohuk, I saw many injured lying on beds, many of them in a critical condition. The major motive behind the attacks was obviously political, because the people targeted had already shown their tendency to join areas administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government.
There were also religious motives. These people even kill Muslims, so why wouldn't they kill Yazidis? The impact of these bombings is that it will strengthen people's resolve to hold a referendum and carry out article 140 of the constitution. [Article 140 calls for a referendum in areas claimed by both Kurds and Arabs on whether they should come under Kurdish government control.] A statement by Yazidi religious and political leaders called on the Kurdish Regional Government to send Kurdish forces to the area to protect them."

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