August 15, 2023: ICHRRF highlights the ancient Yazidi religion and its ongoing genocide at the Parliament of the World's Religions
Today, on August 15, 2023, ICHRRF conducted a 1.5 hour panel discussion at the ongoing Parliament of the World's Religions on The Ancient Yazidi Religion and its Persecution. This marks the first time this ancient West Asian religion has been represented at this global conference of religious traditions. The Yazidi community has been in the news headlines this past decade due to the genocide conducted on them by ISIS. The keynote speaker on this ICHRRF panel was Yazidi genocide survivor Alex Muqdad Alhamy.
The Yazidi religion is, both, the most ancient living tradition of West Asia as well as one that is indigenous to it. It is unique in that it shares deep roots with other ancient eastern traditions and has also deeply impacted West Asian religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Therefore, it was noted, "Understanding this community is key to a historical understanding of West Asia and is also important to the Human Rights discourse in the region and beyond."
ICHRRF President, Dr. Adityanjee chaired the panel and introduced the topic by emotionally stressing the plurality of spiritual paths leading to their ultimate unity. He pointedly remarked, "Physical colonization has now been replaced by intellectual and religious colonization, which demand uniformity of belief systems. It has lead to the use of market forces to purchase the loyalties of captive and vulnerable populations to a particular chosen sect or religion."
A statement from ICHRRF Board Member and internationally reputed Professor of Law Ved P. Nanda was read out in his absence. Prof. Nanda strongly condemned the criminal apathy of governments and non-governmental organizations towards the genocide and sexual enslavement of the Yazidi community by international religious terrorist organizations. He spoke forcefully against false popular stereotypes that motivate religious hatred.
Yazidi genocide survivor and US-based advocate Mr. Alex Muqdad Alhamy spoke at length about the horrifying statistics of massacres of unarmed Yazidi villagers, sexual trafficking of Yazidi women, the growing population of orphans, the exploding refugee crisis, and the inhuman conditions in refugee camps.
Mr. Alhamy expressed despair that at the time the genocide began, Western governments had sent troops to secure oil fields nearby, but did not bother to chase away the ISIS tormentors of the Yazidis despite being aware of the ongoing massacres. In addition to commercial interests, Dr. Adityanjee had also mentioned that the Obama administration in the US had chosen to ignore ISIS genocide of the Yazidis because they saw them as a useful geopolitical tool to oust the Assad regime in Syria.
In a shocking testament to the helplessness of the exiled Yazidis, Mr. Alhamy described how Yazidis were having to "buy back" their women from sexual slavery by paying the terrorist and human trafficking networks. Alhamy thanked Western governments for acknowledging that this is a genocide, and urged that if Muslim societies and Islamic states had also followed that example, the world could say in good conscience that this is the crime of a terrorist fringe. Alhamy also urged Western governments to back up their verbal acknowledgments with action to provide asylum to Yazidis and help reunite stranded families.
A few audience members from Canada and the US came up to describe their own community initiatives to help the few Yazidis who have been given asylum in the West. They said it is imperative that the governments of Canada and the US do more to give Yazidis refuge.
ICHRRF Executive Director Carl Clemens described the main tenets and some of the nuances of the Yazidi belief system to debunk historically ignorant and malicious propaganda that has cast them as "sun worshippers" and "Satan worshippers". The truth is that, far from a primitive tribal sect or a strange offshoot of other religions, Yazidism is truly a world class philosophical and spiritual system of belief and practice that fulfills the criteria of a universal cosmogony, logical perennialism, and polycentricity, in addition to embodying a deeply non-violent ethic. ICHRRF Treasurer Mr. Harilal Patel then touched upon the interesting commonalities between Yazidism and eastern perennialism traditions like Hinduism.
Dr. Adityanjee ended the session pledging that ICHRRF would conduct Special Hearings on the Yazidi genocide and publish a Hearings Report. This would be of value in, both, historically documenting the journey of the Yazidis, their culture and their persecution, as well as providing a handy guide that lawmakers and Human Rights advocates can use to provide help and prioritize this burning issue.