Yazidis are killed by saying“La İlahe İllallah”
Most of the Yazidis who came to Diyarbakır are staying as guests on property belonging to the Yenişehir Municipality, which is on the way to Mardin. The site is 10-15 kilometers away from the city center, and known among locals as the picnic site. A smaller group of Yazidis are staying in the Sümerpark site of the Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality at the city center.
We leave to visit the site. “Yazidi people who have come here because of the Şengal massacre are staying in our picnic location. Entrance is forbidden”is written on the yellow-red-green plate at the entrance of the site. Municipality officers say that as of today (September 4) there are 2.700 Yazidis staying there, and the numbers are increasing rapidly. They add that only yesterday 800-900 people arrived to the site.
Rugs are put on the green, picnic site. By hanging sheets on the clotheslines, separate spaces for sleeping are created. Rubber mattresses are put over one another. Yazidis are sleeping on those rubber mattresses at night, over the grass in open air. There are several children’s playgrounds on the site. Volunteer doctors provide services on those playgrounds. Those who arrive in Diyarbakır are hosted by the Metropolitan Municipality and other lower scale municipalities. For example, while a small municipality is responsible for 100 families, larger ones look after higher numbers of families. Meals are cooked in the park and distributed every morning, noon, and evening. The Municipality’s public servants also stay here with their families.
I see lots of children. Children are interestingly very quiet, with wide open eyes. They listen to the stories of the massacre being narrated all the time. Some of them quietly play with the empty water bottles on the ground. The quietness of the children shivers me.
We first go nearby to Besna, who is a mother of 6. Besna, along with her 6 children, had walked on the mountain for 28 days. Most of her family members were killed. “I do not even think of tomorrow. Right now my only concern is feeding my children,” she says. At the same time, food is being served. They lay a table cloth on the ground; Besna and her 6 children sit down and begin eating. Today’s menu includes soup, meatballs, potatoes, and yoghurt. Thank god Besna’s children are fed today, but what about tomorrow…
Later we gather with men by sitting on a rug. They begin to tell their stories. Some families walked for 21 days and others walked for 30 days when they were escaping Şengal. Each story is more painful than the other…
Hasan says when ISIS came to their village, they gathered the women and said, “We are dirty, give us a bath in the hamam.” The women who refused were killed immediately. Those who accepted had to go with ISIS.
In another village, beautiful women were selected and sold to people coming from Saudi Arabia for 130 dollars. Around 2000 women from 19 villages were taken by ISIS members themselves.
Most of the Yazidis reached South Kurdistan by passing through the corridor opened by the YPG (The People’s Protection Units), and then arrived in Turkey from the South. It is my understanding they are not allowed to enter Turkey without passports. I ask them how they passed the border. They say they were not accepted legally; therefore, they passed illegally. Illegal entries at the border have been ignored by the officials for some time.
One of them says, “Friends in the YPG died for us.” Another one adds, “Guerrillas did not eat anything for three days. They gave their food to us and to our children.” A third one says, “We are living thanks to them. We will never forget that.”
Haci was a soldier. The representative of the KDP (The Kurdistan Democratic Party) came to his village. The Peshmergas took his gun and told him that they would fight against ISIS, if they came. However, when they came, they did not fight against ISIS. The villagers quarreled with the Peshmergas by saying, “Give us the guns if you are not going to fight.” A few Yazidis and Peshmergas died during that quarrel. The commander of the Peshmerga told them they received an order stating, “do not fight.” Hacisays repeatedly, “I was a soldier. I knew how to fight. They took my gun.”
Another person joining the dialogue says, “Even if the Peshmerga fought for only two hours, we could have saved our women and children. They did not fight. While we were running with our cars, Peshmergas were hiding between our cars.”
The rug we are sitting on gets more and more crowded. Everyone wants to tell his story. Telling their stories comforts them:
“They raped the women after they killed them.”
“It was such a bad situation. The son had to leave his mother… Everyone tried to save his/her own life.”
“They told us that they would kill us if we spoke Kurdish. They told us to speak in Arabic.”
“They cut the belly of a pregnant woman, took the fetus out, and cut the baby in the middle of the village.”
Children are also listening to us. Because of that, I try to change the subject several times, but I cannot succeed. From their mobile phones, they try to show me how their beloved ones were slaughtered. I do not want to watch. “Look, look, they cut my uncle’s son’s head off and put it on Facebook,” as a child listens to us quietly. I do not want to look at it. The videos are also passing from hand to hand amongst the children. I try to take the phones from the children. I cannot succeed. The ISIS member in the video, says, “La ilaha illallah” before cutting a man’s head off. I feel horrified.
The soil in Şengal now smells of blood
“What about the future? Do you think of returning?” I ask. The majority of them tell me that they do not want to even hear the name of Şengal from now on, and they do not want to return. One of them says that the soil in Şengal smells of blood. “We are not secure in Şengal. We trust the Kurds here. We live thanks to the guerrilla. They should not send us back,” says another. A man adds, “If they guarantee us they will look after our women and children here, I can return and fight.” But most of them either want to go to Europe or stay here. “What about your land?” I ask them. “Your (Kurds’) nails are even more valuable than land,” answers one. Most of them say that they cannot live with Arabs anymore. Another one tells me, “How are we going to return? We left our animals at home. They can be forgotten. But we are people whose women were taken and raped right under our own eyes. How can we return to that land?” I remain silent.
Just as I was about to leave, one of them who knows I write on these issues, calls to me: “Does the Turkish government host us? If so, pass them our thanks.”Before I reply, another Yazidi answers, “Would we sleep on the grass if it was the Turkish state hosting us? We are welcomed by poor Kurds.”
September 8, 2014, Diyarbakır,Amed
*As published in T24 on 08.09.2014