Iraqi MP: 'Ezidis will not return for fear of genocide'

Lawmaker Vian Dakhil said Ezidi's experiences at the hands of the Islamic State have left them fearing genocide if they ever return to northern Iraq

Lawmaker Vian Dakhil said Ezidi's experiences at the hands of the Islamic State have left them fearing genocide if they ever return to northern Iraq

ISTANBUL - Iraq’s Ezidis are too scared to ever return to home because of fears of a future genocide, the Iraqi lawmaker who brought their plight to the world’s attention has told The Anadolu Agency.

Vian Dakhil, who is recovering in hospital in Istanbul after surviving a helicopter crash on Tuesday in northern Iraq, said: "They cannot go back to Sinjar. They are too scared to go back."

She added: "They don't have the trust anymore to live there because another genocide may occur in the future.

"The people around them were the ones who betrayed them during the IS assault. They cannot trust them again," she said, using an abbreviation for the violent Sunni militant group Islamic State, which took control of large swathes of the country's predominantly Sunni provinces in early June. 

Dakhil, Iraq’s only Ezidi lawmaker, raised the suffering of her co-religionists, who follow beliefs linked to Zoroastrianism, in an emotional speech to Iraq’s parliament on August 5.

In the face of a barbaric onslaught by IS fighters, thousands of Ezidis fled their homes and sought shelter in the Sinjar mountains. According to Iraq’s human rights minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, IS killed hundreds of Ezidis and buried some alive, including women and children.

As well as those massacred by the IS, many died of thirst and starvation before a rescue operation was launched.

Dakhil was accompanying an aid mission when the helicopter crashed as it attempted to take-off, leaving the pilot dead and injuring around 20 people, mostly Ezidis who had just been picked up.

Speaking exclusively to the AA, Dakhil said Ezidis faced two choices -- live in a United Nations-appointed 'safe haven' or emigrate abroad. "Most of them want to go to other countries," she explained.

The Ezidis, who are ethnic Kurds, are primarily heading for safety in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Dakhil said many would take up arms with the Kurdish armed forces peshmerga to fight against IS.

The militants’ offensive was only blocked thanks to American air strikes, which paved the way for a rescue corridor. The peshmerga are still fighting to halt an IS advance on their capital, Erbil.

Ezidis are not the only minority group suffering IS atrocities -- any group failing to comply with their extreme views face being targeted. But Dakhil’s father, a former official of the Kurdish regional rule, said the insurgents are particularly brutal towards Ezidis, who they considered 'devil worshippers' because of their beliefs.

Saeed Khuder Dakhil, who claimed more than 1,000 women and children have been "enslaved" by the militants, said: "Shiite, Christian or Shabak people are going through a similar fate. But the Islamic State force them out of their home towns -- they don't just kill them or take their women and children like they do against us."

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