A building shown destroyed during the ISIS conflict in northern areas Shingal on June 6, 2018. Photo: Chris Johannes | Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — An international conflict prevention and
resolution NGO has called on Baghdad to stabilize the Yezidi homeland of Shingal by making use of a local administration
set up by the KDP in order to facilitate
Members of this administration "possess the skills
needed for the restoration of functioning governance institutions in Sinjar,”
stated the International Crisis Group (ICG) in a report published on Tuesday.
When ISIS militants brutally marched into Shingal and its
surroundings in August 2014, they arrested thousands of Yezidis. Some of them
were collectively killed in the region; other girls and women were taken and
later sold as sex slaves by ISIS members.
The ICG report urged Baghdad to "lead the way" to
restore local governance in Sinjar by relying on Yazidis in order to reduce
"their dependence on external power.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had the opportunity at
the Kuwait conference last week to make his case for stabilization and
rebuilding projects in Shingal.
Yazda, a US-based NGO run by Yezidis, was present at the
conference. Its executive director, Murad Ismael, participated in high-level
meetings at the reconstruction conference.
"We are saddened that no Yazidi or minority voices were
heard," stated Ismael on February 13. "The situation of the Yazidis
and other religious minorities should have been at the heart of these
discussions, including the plight of Yazidi women as survivors of an ongoing
genocide and sexual enslavement."
Yezidi MP Vian Dakhil from the KDP noted that Iraq did not
bring the donor conference a single proposal for reconstruction of the Shingal
district, despite the city being officially declared a war-damaged zone.
The town was liberated more than two years ago, in November
2015, by Kurdish forces including Peshmerga of the Kurdistan Region and PKK
Shingal has been a stronghold for the Kurdistan Democratic
Party (KDP), the largest party currently in the Kurdistan Regional Government.
It controls the ministries of interior, Peshmerga, and office of the prime
ICG charged that the KDP "treated the Yazidis... as
second-class Kurds" and "barely disguised its ambition... to annex
Contrary to the sluggish process of development and return
of IDPs to their Yezidi hometowns, Shingal appears to be heading toward a
hotly-contested election with some locals expressing that politicians are busy
getting themselves posts and positions for themselves at our expense. The KDP has tipped 20 Yezidis in Nineveh province for the upcoming elections.
Shingal came under Iraqi central control last October when
the Iraqi army and Hashd al-Shaabi took over much of the disputed areas. Prior
to this there were still KDP, PUK, and PKK-affiliated Shingal Protection Units
(YBS) checkpoints and security institutions in Shingal.
A Hashd commander said that his forces coordinate only with
Iraqi forces, though they have good relations with the Peshmerga. Abu Mahdi
Muhandis, deputy head of the Hashd’s general body, also told Rudaw that the
areas will be handed over to locals to administer once the region is completely
clear of ISIS.
So far, 47 Yezidi candidates have registered for the Iraqi
parliamentary elections on May 12, vying for the votes of nearly 160,000
locals. They will campaign on seven lists in provinces of Duhok and Nineveh, as
the Shingal region straddles both.
An investigation into mass graves conducted by The
Associated Press and published in August 2016, concluded that between 5,200 and
15,000 people are buried in 72 mass graves in territory the militants formerly
controlled between Iraq and Syria.
The UN has called the massacre of Yezidis genocide.
More than half a million Yezidis lived in the Shingal region
prior to ISIS. Around 360,000 Yezidis are sheltered in the Kurdistan Region,
while about 100,000 have gone abroad.
Yazda stated last September that as many as 1,636 women and
girls and 1,173 men and boys remain unaccounted for.
"Only the effective reentry of the Iraqi state,
mediating between factions and reinstating local governance, can fully stabilize
Sinjar, lay the groundwork for reconstruction, allow the displaced to return
and end foreign interference," added the ICG.
Related: Yezidi MP ‘pessimistic’ about future in post-ISIS Iraq