During the GLOBALO breakfast at the Munich Security Conference 2016, Vian Dakhil, Member of the Iraqi Parliament and Representative of the Yazidi Community in Iraq, presented her view of the situation of the Yazidi minority in the Middle East. She is the only representative of 300,000 Yazidis in the parliament of Iraq.
In Munich she demanded religious tolerance and the option for all family members to decide about their religion. If a family member becoms a Muslim, all his children have to become Muslims as well, due to a new law. The Iraqi ID cards mention the religion of each.
Dakhil became known internationally when she campaigned to raise attention for the horrific situation thousands of Yazidi people trapped on the Sinjar Mountains experienced during the capture of Sinjar by the Islamic State.
The Peshmerga had run away. They did not even leave their weapons behind to give the Yazidis a chance to protect themselves. First mass casualties were reported soon thereafter. Daesh had begun killing people. Some were able to run and made for the protection of the Sinjar mountains. With barely any water or food, they held out for days and weeks. In the dangerous but familiar terrain, small Yazidi militias were able to protect their people from Daesh fighters whose heavy weaponry could no longer reach them in their hideouts. After a period of tremendous suffering, the Yazidis were rescued with the aid of Kurdish PKK forces.
Mrs Dakhil has accused the Islamic State of genocide against the Yazidi people in a widely recognized speech held in the Iraqi parliament on 5 August 2015.
Since the start of the latest conflict, more than 200.000 Yazidis have been displaced with many leaving the country. The Yazidi population that had counted roughly a million at the turn of century, has shrunk to less than half of that by now.
Even if the threat of ISIS was defeated, Mrs Dakhil said, staying in Iraq was a very hard choice for many Yazidis because of the persecution faced not only by ISIS, but also by the Iraqi government in Baghdad. She cited examples:
- Representation. While usually the Iraqi constitution allocates 1 parliamentarian for roughly every 100.000 people, the Yazidis are far less generously represented than all other ethnicities. In fact they only have one single representative, Mrs Dakhil, in the parliament.
- At the same time, a new law has just been enacted that heavily discriminates against non-Muslims. For example, it designates the entire faith of a man’s family as Muslim if he chooses to convert to Islam, irrespective of what his family members think about that.
- Even her Muslim friends in the parliament voted for the bill.