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Yazidis Who Suffered Under Isis Now Face Forced Conversion to Islam
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The Yazidis, who were recently the target of massacre, rape and sex slavery by Isis, are now facing forcible conversion to Islam under the threat of death from Turkish-backed forces which captured the Kurdish enclave of Afrin on 18 March. Islamist rebel fighters, who are allied to Turkey and have occupied Yazidi villages in the area, have destroyed the temples and places of worship the Kurdish-speaking non-Islamic sect according to local people.

Shekh Qamber, a 63-year-old Syrian Kurdish Yazidi farmer who fled his town of Qastel Jindo in Afrin, described in an exclusive interview with The Independent what happened to Yazidis who refused to leave their homes. He said that some were forcibly brought to a mosque by Islamists to be converted, while others, including a 70-year-old man he knew, were being lured there by offers of food and medical attention.

Even the place names of Yazidi villages are being changed. Mr Qamber recounted a conversation he had with an Islamist militant who had arrested and questioned him near the town of Azaz when he was trying to escape. He was asked by his interrogator where he was from and he replied that he was from Qastel Jindo. The Islamist, whose groups often describe themselves as belonging to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), said: “it’s no more Qastel Jindo. It’s al-Quds now. We will give it the name of Palestine’s capital. These areas were occupied by the infidels and now it is [going] back to their original owners and original names … We came here to regain our lands and behead you.”

Mr Qamber recalls that he replied to this threat to kill him by a saying that what would happen would be by god’s will. His interrogator responded: “Shut up! You are infidel. Do you really know or believe in god?” Mr Qamber said that believed in one god and soon after he was released because, he believes, he was old and sick. He eventually found his way to the main Kurdish enclave in northeast Syria which is protected by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) backed by US airpower and 2,000 US troops.

There are frequent reports that many of the Sunni Arab fighters in the FSA, who are under the command of the Turkish military, are former members of Isis and al-Qaeda. In their own videos, they describe the existing Kurdish population as infidels, using slogans and phrases normally associated with al-Qaeda.

Mr Qamder says that the majority of the people in villages around Qastel Jindo, which fell early during the Turkish invasion that began on 20 January, are Yazidis. He says that some villagers fled, but others risked staying because they did not want to lose their houses and lands. These who remained were later “taken to the mosque and given lessons in Islamic prayer”.

In addition, there were “there were temples and Yazidi worship houses, but all have been blown up and destroyed by the militants after they entered the village”. The Yazidi religion is a mixture of beliefs drawn from Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Mr Qamber said he had spoken to people from the Yazidi villages of Burj Abdalo, Basufane, Faqira, and Tirende and they all said “the militants are teaching the Yazidis the Islamic prayer”.

Mr Qander puts part of the blame for what is happening on his own people who returned to their homes after the initial advance of Turkish army and its Arab auxiliaries. He says that they ought to have known better, going by the terrible fate of the Yazidis in Sinjar [Shingal in Kurdish] in northern Iraq in August 2014 when it was overrun by Isis. He asks: “Why don’t they learn from the experiences of Shingal where the Yazidi women were taken as sex slaves and our dignity and honour taken?

Asked about the present concerns of the Yazidis, many of whom are in refugee camps in northern Syria and Iraq, Mr Qamber said that after the defeat of Isis as a territorial entity they “expected that the Turks will attack us, either directly as they did before in Turkey in the 1970s, or indirectly using their allied Islamist Jihadi groups, like Daesh [Isis] or other groups like the so-called Free Syrian Army”.

Only a limited amount information has been coming out about conditions in Afrin since it was finally captured by the Turkish army and its Arab allies on 18 March. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in its latest report on the Afrin crisis on 16 April says that 137,000 individuals have been displaced from Afrin, while 150,000 remain there, of whom 50,000 are in Afrin City and 100,000 in the countryside. It says that the movement of people is heavily restricted and many who want to return to their homes are not being allowed to pass through checkpoints, which, though it does not identify who is in charge of them, must mean the Turkish military or their Arab auxiliaries inside Afrin, since they are the only authority there.

Reports by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), widely seen as neutral or pro-opposition, citing multiple sources in Afrin confirm Mr Qamber’s account of sectarian and ethnic cleansing by the Turkish army and its Arab allies. It says that it has reliable information that ‘the resettlement of the displaced people of Eastern Ghouta in the Afrin area is still continuing.’ It says that Abdul Nasser Shamir, the military commander of Faylaq al-Rahman, one of the most important armed groups previously fighting the Syrian government in Eastern Ghouta, has been settled along with his top commanders in a town in Afrin.

Other displaced people from Eastern Ghouta are being moved into houses from which their Kurdish inhabitants have fled and are not being allowed to return according to SOHR. It says that refugees from Eastern Ghouta object to what is happening , saying they do not want to settle in Afrin, “where the Turkish forces provide them with houses owned by people displaced from Afrin”.


The Eastern Ghouta refugees say they resent being the instrument of “an organised demographic change” at the behest of Turkey which would, in effect, replace Kurds with Arabs in Afrin. They say they reject this plan, just as they reject any demographic change orchestrated by the Syrian government and Russia in their own home region of Eastern Ghouta, where shelling killed about 1,800 civilians and injured some 6,000. The SOHR notes that the ethnic cleansing by Turkey of Afrin is being carried out “amid a media blackout” and and is being ignored internationally.

The Yazidi Kurds fear that the slaughter and enslavement they endured at the hands of Isis in Sinjar in 2014 might happen again. Mr Qamber is living safely with his wife Adula Mahmoud Safar to the east of Qamishli, the de facto capital of Rojava as the Kurds call their territory in north east Syria. But he is pessimistic about the future, expecting Turkey to invade the rest of Rojava.

He says that many Turkish officials say that “if the Kurds live in a tent in Africa, that tent should be destroyed”. He adds that because the Turks and their Arab allies see the Yazidis as both infidels and Kurds, they are the doubly jeopardised and will be the biggest losers in any future war waged by Turkey against the Kurds.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Syria, Yazidis 
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  1. Sean says:

    One minute the Kurds are the great beneficiaries of the war, next they are crushed. Something for Iran to think about.

  2. Just more proof that Turkey is an evil entity. Ankara should be bombed.

    • Replies: @Brooklyn Dave
  3. No business of the US government or responsibility of the American tax payer. Bring all our troops home.

    • Agree: RadicalCenter
    • Replies: @llloyd
  4. llloyd says: • Website
    @Chris Mallory

    I agree. They don’t appear to be deliberately slaughtering the Yazidis which would make it a humanitarian issue. Forcible conversion via Moslem education to Islam is medieval but not barbaric. It sounds a bit like Starbucks’ “sensitivity training”.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  5. Do not spread false news please. This article is pure Christian propaganda garbage. Turkey has Christian and Jews, living inside Turkey for nearly a thousand years. These non-Muslim populations prospered and economically tended to be better off than most other Turkish Islamic people, partly because they were not always drafted for the army in past. Yazidis in Afrin will be treated same as everyone else. If they are PKK/PYD terrorists, then they will be neutralized, but not converted.

    • Replies: @c matt
    , @Avery
  6. c matt says:

    Prospered like the Hagia Sophia?

  7. @c matt

    Smaller churches and synagogues were not touched. Hagia Sophia was too visible, too central, and too beautiful to be kept as a Christian Church inside a capital city of the times. So, there has been a very long history of debate in Turkey on what to do about it. Realize, in the Balkans all Islamic buildings were demolished and the local Islamic populations in the Balkans were totally exterminated. So, it became a little difficult to fully respect the old Christian heritage after such a bloody World War I.

    • Replies: @Avery
  8. @llloyd

    Of course it’s barbaric, because anyone who refuses to convert is murdered as a punishment — often tortured and beheaded, as well.

  9. Talha says:
    @c matt

    Seems to be doing pretty well as a museum of sorts.


  10. Talha says:

    Pretty amazing – the Yazidis were pretty much left alone for centuries under the Ottomans, but give some of these nincompoop extremists a little slack and they go all postal on the religious minorities. There will be a price to pay for all this if the people responsible do not put a stop to this stupidity.


  11. Avery says:

    { These non-Muslim populations prospered and economically tended to be better off than most other Turkish Islamic people,}

    Say UygurTürkoğlu, whatever happened to those millions of indigenous Christians (Armenians, Asssyrians, Pontic Greeks) who were supposedly ‘prospering” in Turkey circa 1915?

    Any idea?

    Nobody quote ‘prospers’ where Nomadoğlu Turks squat: your ancestors are a pestilence that wiped several indigenous, creative, sedentary, peaceful civilizations of Asia Minor.
    Not much has changes.

  12. Avery says:

    {Smaller churches and synagogues were not touched….}

    Liar: 1,000s of Christian churches – Armenian, Assyrian, Greek – have been destroyed, converted to mosques, converted to barns,… the savage nomads since they invaded Asia Minor several centuries ago.

    {…., in the Balkans all Islamic buildings were demolished and the local Islamic populations in the Balkans were totally exterminated.}

    And how did Islamic buildings appear in the Balkans – land of Christians?
    What did the Islamic invaders do to indigenous Christian populations and Christian buildings?
    Who started the exterminations?

    Turks were a foreign element in the Balkans: foreign, nomadic, savage invaders.
    Your homeland is in East and Central Asia: Altai mountain is calling all nomad Turks to return to their homeland.

    • Replies: @Turkish person
  13. @Avery

    You really don’t have any idea on genetic mix-up of Turkish people, do you?

    I am a proud Turk, and used to believe propaganda people like you keep spewing and I thought my family were originated from Central Asia until I took a DNA test (AncestryDNA) and amazed to find
    my genetic mixture as 30% greek/italian, 5% askenazi, 1% iberian, 1% central asian, and the rest Caucasian.

    My paternal side is going back to todays Czech republic 5000 years ago, who were branched into Anatolia from there and we are native to this land for thousands of years.

    I saw some articles mentioning central asian contribution to Turkishness at about 4%.

    So you can just keep spewing your hate and tell me to go back to Central Asia. I only laugh at your ignorance and stupid hate.

    • Replies: @Avery
    , @Talha
  14. Avery says:
    @Turkish person

    {I am a proud Turk….}

    Are you also proud that your Türk predecessors are genocidal mass murderers, mass rapists, child killers, child rapists….?
    What exactly are you as a Türk proud of?
    What have Turks contributed to the world other than Genocide, invasions, mass murder, theft, destruction, looting, arson,……
    Pretty much everything so-called ‘Turkish’ was stolen by Turks from Armenians, Persians, Assyrians, Greeks, Arabs,…..
    Even your modern alphabet was created by an Armenian.

    And I know all about those DNA tests and DNA lineage.
    Obviously after centuries of forced theft of indigenous, civilized, sedentary peoples’ DNA by invading nomad Turks there certainly will be an admixture of DNA from noble peoples.

    But you Türks are still nomad savages.

  15. Talha says:
    @Turkish person

    You have to forgive Avery…he is Armenian so he has issues with anything Turkish.

    As you said, there isn’t anything much “Turkish” (from a Central Asian point of view) left other than the language (highly influenced by Persian). Much of their culture were adoptions of Persian culture as well – not to mention religion and religious influences like the Naqshbandi (which comes as far away as India). The Turks, like the Mongols certainly came crashing into the Middle East in a tidal wave of blood, steel and fire – but they, as a distinct people, didn’t last very long.

    The Ottoman elite especially were very European quite quickly since they had a penchant for marrying European women (or having children with European concubines). This is fairly well known from a serious historical perspective; I’m glad the genetics bears it out.

    I come across a few aunties and uncles in the Pakistani/Indian background that talk about descended from Genghiz Khan or Tamerlane…yeah – get in line.


    • Replies: @Avery
  16. @German_reader

    A Turk will always act like a Turk

  17. Avery says:

    {……he is Armenian so he has issues with anything Turkish.}

    Why, Thank You Dr. Thalha, M.D., for the accurate remote psychoanalysis and diagnosis: now I know what’s wrong with me.

    Yo, Talha: {You have to forgive Avery…}

    One thing I don’t need is forgiveness (are you serious?) from a genocidal, nomad Türk.

    • Replies: @Talha
    , @I, commenter
  18. Talha says:

    When it comes to Turks, Avery – you never disappoint – may God give you great many years on Earth.


  19. Hagia Sophia was too visible, too central, and too beautiful to be kept as a Christian Church

    Here’s a solution: don’t invade someone else’s country

    Balkans all Islamic buildings were demolished and the local Islamic populations in the Balkans were totally exterminated

    see solution above.

  20. @Avery

    It’s disgusting how the west has always thwarted efforts to take back Constanstinople and restore Hagia Sophia to its rightful owners, the orthodox church.

    As for the yadizis, they are suffering the same fate of Christians and other minority religions in this region – they are being wiped out, with our help, with our policies. Why else would we be going after Syria which is a last haven for many Christians.

    I can’t help but think to many secularlist neocons, this is actually a side benefit.

  21. anonymous[359] • Disclaimer says:

    This “journalist” bases this essay on one or two people’s testimony, and other nebulous “sources.” I can understand if only Islamist militants were involved… but, the Turkish?

    He says that many Turkish officials say that “if the Kurds live in a tent in Africa, that tent should be destroyed”.

    He says, she says… really? Shameful “journalism.”

  22. Same old, same old story Islam is violent blood drenched nightmare. Every other religion has experienced their tender loving mercy.

  23. Bianca says:

    What an inflammatory title, article a straight up propaganda, Patrick Cockburn should be really more carefull. Yazidis in Afrin — the subject of this story
    were NEVER maligned by ISIS. Yazidis in IRAQ ,
    from town SINJAR were ISIS victims. US made a return to Iraq due to this event. To wrap up Iraq, US, PKK Kurds and Peshmerga Kurds did the honors on the ground, US in the air – to liberate Sinjar. But then
    a nasty seitch occured, as US allowed PKK to enter Sinjar, not Peshmerga — setting off the row between the teo, referendum gambit, and Iraqi forces kicking
    PKK Kurds from Sinjar and Kirkuk, while Peshmerga
    jusr looked on. Payback time.

    Now, hoping for a similar US heroic impulse to bome to Afrin, wheresome other Yazidi are being threatened, this time by Turkey’s militia, former FSA. Apart from the fact that US would not venture into Turkey
    occupied Afrin — it is a major miracle that an old and sickly man managed to cross iver from Afrin, accross multiple war zones into US/YPG territory! And calls it
    SDF — as if such entity still exists.
    In the best of times, YPG Kurds were really the
    backbone of SDF, with few Arabs particiating.
    Arabs have since deserted to Syrian Army, while
    Kurds — alwats thin on the ground — abandoned all of their posts in Deir Azxor, along Euphrates Valley
    and even Raqqa, to rush back to Kobane region
    and protect from Turkey incursion. This left US Special Ops ALL ALONE. This is why they acted
    crazy when Assad forces moved into area abandoned by Kurds, and close air support action killed many on the ground, including Russian contractors.

    The bottom line, Arab population will not put up with Kurds as overlords, US is not allowing them to do
    what THEY want to do — go under Damascus
    control. This is why the missile strike was orchestrated — to claim the presence of NATO
    in Syria, and intimidate Russia to let the colonial
    trio to have a say how Syria would be run.

    This is why the talk of some Arab armies to come in as peacekerpers so US troups can leave. In fact — with Kurds nowhere to be found on the ground woth the exception of Kobane/Hassakah region — US is facing Arab revolt, and local self administration. Raqqa is already out of either Kurds or US reach, and they demand to go under Damascus rule and humanitarian aid. They still have bidies in rubnle, place is not demined, and no water or electricity.

    So, under such circumstances US is to take on Turkey and Russia, to protect a Yazidi village in Afrin Kurdish
    canton, The real wuestion for the entire Afrin is — Turkey or Damascus. Kurds gambled that US will not allow Turkey to iccupy them, thus, refused to accept
    reintegration with the rest of Syria. Now, they no longer have an upper hand, and will need to beg Damascus to take them back, and fir Turkey to leave.
    But for this they will have to wait until peace settlement.

    • Replies: @Talha
  24. Talha says:

    Thank you for these details. I would love to get a couple of links, if you have them, for further reading from this perspective.


    • Replies: @Bianca
  25. Bianca says:

    It takes following several good sources. Synthesis — you can arrive at on your own. Kerp in mind that it is a fluid dsitustion, not inly in the ground in Syria, but in neighboring countries, particularly Turkey, Iraq and Jordan.
    I recommend Moon of Alabama, Al Masdar and anything by Elijah Manzier. Moon of Alabama tracks various global events, not just Syria — but oddly enough — many issues are still related to the knotty issue of Syria. Elijah Manzier is a source of information from the Middle East. So is Al Masdar, a Lebanese based newswire, a blow by blow information accross all fronts in Syria and occassionally Iraq. Look up conservative sites, such as Have a patience there, but it is worth it. A huge Trump base, but totally unfazed by the games in Washington —- many astonishingly good contributors on topics of Syria. The base is 99.9% against attacks on Syria, against on going US military intervention, and surprisingly against Israeli treatment of Palestinians. I found it worth my while to scan thousands of readers comments – as it appears that many are in the military, in the region, and know what they are talking about. Read occassionally Turkish media, English versions available. While neocons have taken iver managing a once excellent media, Asia Times — it still publishes a few good analysts — just so that they keep readership to sell globalist/interventionists agenda. Analysts such as former diplomat Bhadrakumar are worth reading. Occassionally off mark, nothing unusual for analysts of global trends, as they do not follow daily tidbits, and miss the trees for the forest.

    • Replies: @Talha
  26. Talha says:

    Thank you very much for those references!


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