A 52 year old Yazidi grandmother and her husband lay down on a white mattress on the floor of a building inside the complex of the Yazidis’ holiest temple site, Lalish. Their faces were at times expressionless, and at other times gripped with sorrow.
When the couple was released from captivity on Sunday, along with nearly 200 Yazidis, the fighters of the ISIL took away their one-year-old granddaughter. “They asked me to give them my granddaughter. I refused,” recalled the husband, “They pulled her out of my arms and said if you protest, we will kill you.”
Up until August 2014, the area of Sinjar, in the western part of Iraq’s Nineveh province, had the largest concentration of Yazidis in Iraq and the world. However, since then, when area was attacked by ISIL fighters, the group has been subjected to extensive brutality and forced conversion to Islam.
While younger Yazidi women have been taken as wives or sex slaves by ISIL fighters, many men have been killed, and younger boys have been put through ideological training in the hopes of turning them into future fighters.
For a community whose identity has been shaped for centuries around their religion, being forced to convert to Islam has been psychologically and emotionally devastating. The trauma they have endured, along with the painful memories of loved ones still in captivity has left the Yazidis overwhelmed with sorrow.
The grandmother sums up the mood here: “Our life is no more,” she says, overwhelmed by emotions. “We cry so much. We grieve so much.”
- Pray for the Yazidi people, to find hope in their faith and to have a genuine relationship with the God who loves them and grieves with them
- Pray for those left behind as captives, to not lose hope.
- Pray for Christian Aid workers working amongst the Yazidi people, to reflect the Love of Jesus and be a channel of healing to these hurting people.
Psalm 34 vs 18: “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.”