Video: Protecting the rights of the Yazidi population in Kurdistan Iraq

On the morning of 3 August 2014, IS forces captured the city of Sinjar as well as the Sinjar district in the Nineveh province in Kurdistan Iraq. The Nineveh province is mainly inhabited by Yazidis. Between 3 and 6 August IS killed more than 700 men. Women had been raped, killed or abducted as ‘spoils of war’ and sold into slavery.

Almost 200.000 civilians, mostly Yazidis, managed to flee from Sinjar city. The plight of the Yazidi population was brought to international attention when about 50.000 Yazidis fled into the Sinjar mountains where they were trapped without food, water or medical care, facing starvation and dehydration. After ten days, an offensive led by Kurdish Peshmerga forces helped to break the stranglehold on Mount Sinjar and enabled thousands of refugees to be evacuated.

Emma (meaning ‘we’ in Kurdish) is a women’s organization based in Erbil focusing on gender based violence and improving women’s rights and health, especially in the rural areas of Iraqi Kurdistan. In the context of the Yazidi refugee crisis, Emma organized (with the support of Women on the Frontline) a conference near the Lalesh temple: the holiest site of the Yazidis, situated in a valley in Nineveh Province. During this conference Emma managed to bring together government officials, international and national NGOs, Imams, Priests and Yazidi clerics.

They addressed the specific needs of the Yazidi population, with special attention for the women in these communities, and formulated recommendations for the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Federal Government of Iraq to protect their rights. Watch the short film (see top of the page) about Emma, the conference they organized and its follow-up.


Sinjar District – Nineveh Province