I participated today (Aug. 3), along with another member of our CPT team in Iraqi Kurdistan, in the second anniversary commemoration of the beginning of the genocide, by ISIS (here called Daesh).
The program included singers, spoken testimonies, a dance, video footage of Ezidi families arriving to safety after harrowing experiences, and a drama put on by Ezidi youth depicting Daesh attacking families and then killing Ezidi men and kidnapping women and girls to be used as sex-slaves. It is estimated that 5-7,000 Ezidis were killed, kidnapped, raped, or sold as slaves and that more than 4,000 are still in captivity. Tens of thousands are still living in displacement camps.
The drama triggered intense grief and pain in all who were watching, especially the Ezidis who had personally experienced this two years ago. Everyone was crying, and many sobbing, hopefully cathartic and not re-traumatizing them. I, too could not hold back the tears, remembering two years ago, when I was last here, meeting Ezidi families as they were just arriving in the huge tent camps in northwestern Iraq. We heard many horrific stories of what they had just experienced.
It is important that we not be seduced into thinking that if we just send more troops or drone attacks to troubled areas, we can reign in terrorism or oppression. It is time our country turned around, and takes a different role in the world. We must support authentic peace building in countries around the world, that deal with the underlying causes of the violence and oppression and do what we can to call our country to stop the military interventions that are carried out for making it safe for our oil and other corporations to go in and exploit the resources and economy of those countries.
Le’ts think how we can stand with, seek economic and social justice for, and love the weak and powerless groups of people around the world and in our own country and in doing so prevent future genocides and racist violence against such people.
(The pictures show the people gathered for this event, a scene from the drama, and the response of grief and pain that this evoked in everyone there.)