Guerrilla forces of the HPG and YJA-Star, who were protecting the Ezidi population in Shengal, are withdrawing on the decision of the KCK from the region.
Source: ANFEnglish / The Dawn News / April 1, 2018
When the Islamic State invaded and committed genocide on 3 August 2014 in Shengal, home of the Ezidis, the security forces of the autonomous regional administration, the Peshmerga of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDK), abandoned Ezidis the Islamic State. Thousands of people were killed, women and girls kidnapped, sold on the IS slave markets, abused and raped. It was the guerrilla forces of HPG and YJA-Star who helped the defenseless population of Shengal and saved tens of thousands of lives. One of the first guerrilla fighters to arrive in Shengal at the time was HPG commander Serxwebûn Azadî.
Our colleague Selami Aslan from the MA news agency talked to Azadî about the beginning of the period in the Shengal, the founding of the Ezidis’ self-defense units and the decision of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) to withdraw the guerrillas from the area.
How and for what purpose did you come to Shengal?
Our goal was to forestall the danger of political and physical annihilation of the Ezidi people. We came to strengthen the consciousness of the Ezidis, to assist in their organization, and to make them create a self-defense strong enough to defend their society.
Have you achieved your goals?
We have achieved the goals set for us at a high level. The YBŞ, YJŞ, the security units of the Asayişa Êzidxan and political and administrative structures have been organized and remain active on the basis of democratic autonomy. The Ezidis have become a force that, with their spirit and their will, can bring about the democratization of Iraq as a whole. It was this task that we took on and we fulfilled our mission.
With the decision of the KCK you withdraw from Shengal. What does this mean?
Since we have fulfilled our duties, the KCK have stated that they are withdrawing the guerrillas of the HPG and YJA-Star from the Shengal. We have fulfilled our historic duty and are now retreating. Here in Shengal, the spirit of revolution has formed. On this earth, which was soaked with the blood of the fallen, a decisive cornerstone of revolution has been laid. The people, too, are holding fast to the spirit of revolution, and we know that tomorrow they will stand up for this revolution. For their future sake, the Ezidis will forget neither the revolution nor their fallen. They are aware and can assess the situation well. We believe that they will move at the highest level.
Against the IS you have come to Shengal with your own free will and also leave the city with your own will. How do you evaluate the effects of the withdrawal?
Wherever there is danger to our people, genocide is intended, we will be there with the power we have to defend our people. We will be with our people until they are saved, they are free, they have achieved their own will and gained strength. We will support them. These are the principles that led us to Shengal in 2014. We do not care what others say. We will always be in the thoughts and hearts of our people. Our people are the ones who will decide. KCK has made the decision about our withdrawal on this basis. It is a correct decision.
What do you say about the repression and threats emanating from Turkey?
We do not have the problem of being afraid of anyone. We are the women and men of a revolution that has existed for 40 years. Apart from freedom, there is nothing we have to lose. Our movement is a movement of conscience and morality. We are the representatives of those who say that they are people of morality and conscience. We have no interest in what our enemies say. The foundation of our power, our feelings and our faith lies with our people. Serok Apo says, “Even if we have the power to defeat the entire world, we will not attack. But in the event an attack on our self, defense is the most sacred act. “That is the crucial point for us.
What do the Ezidi people you live with for almost four years say about your retreat?
There are the feelings of happiness, sadness and sentimentality. It is true that our people have suffered unspeakable things. We lived and suffered together with these people. We shared our needs, we shared our bread. We experienced war, death and happiness together. The children who were born during the genocide have grown up. They are soon four years old. That’s why people here are both happy and sad. They themselves say, “You will always be in our thoughts and in our hearts.” The cornerstones of tremendous importance to our lives are now indispensable principles for these people.
What will the Ezidis do from now on?
The Ezidi people must believe in their strength and continue to strengthen their military forces. In order to reach a level where they can defend themselves in a dangerous situation in both military, political, economic and religious terms, they must fight even more. If they realize that, they will never again be at risk of genocide. Wherever they are, in the case of threats, we will not hesitate and set off without losing an hour or so. There is no such thing as rest for us. We are revolutionaries. It is important for us to reach the area in case of danger to protect our people. We are not like some others who are only active for their own interests. We understand the reason of our existence in the benefit of our people. To the last drop of blood in our veins, we will continue our lives with this spirit. Our highest priority is the existence of our people.
Under the pretext that HPG and YJA-Star are there, the Turkish state threatens Shengal with an attack. What would an attack mean in spite of your withdrawal?
Erdoğan wants to re-emerge the Ottoman Empire. That’s why this is not just about the Kurdish population. The Iranians, Arabs and even the Turkish people will get their share. Or if we want to rewrite it from a religious point of view: All peoples of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Shiite or the Christian faith are at risk of attack. Erdoğan, with his affection for “one nation, one state, one flag and one religion,” is intent on building a new Ottoman Empire. That’s why the other peoples must be vigilant, too.
He brought the Islamic State to Kobanê and had them attack. In Kobanê he scored no victory, while in Afrin the attack took place as a result of agreements with international forces. Afrin was a heavenly place. There was equality and freedom. The peoples lived freely according to their beliefs. The Islamic State and the other fascist groups have changed their clothes. It is them who are used [by the Turkish state] to carry out the attacks on Afrin and settle there. What is happening in Afrin is now intended to be done in Shengal as well. With his stooge, the Islamic State, the Turkish state has failed to physically and politically destroy the Ezidi people. Because the Ezidis are loyal to their country, they are now facing the threat of another genocide.
This danger still exists now. But if Iraq and other peoples of the region protect the Ezidis, Erdoğan’s plans will crumble to dust. It is the other states that have given Erdoğan the aggressive occupation position. From nation states to the Arab states in the Middle East, to Iran and other states, they have a finger in this game. The peoples and Iraq must defend themselves against it. This country is the land of the Ezidis. Erdoğan annexes the countries of Syria and Iraq. It does not matter who makes those decisions. The peoples must unite and overcome this danger.