Shengal Autonomous Council: We demand our rights enshrined in the constitution

Shengal Autonomous Council insists on its right to self-defense, enshrined in the Iraqi constitution, and rejects the Kadhimi government's demand to disband the local security forces.

Shengal Democratic Autonomous Council (Meclîsa Xweseriya Demokratîk a Şengalê, MXDŞ) insists on its self-defense forces and will resist an outside intervention. The self-governing body, established after the 2014 ISIS genocide, made the announcement at a press conference following a special meeting in Shengal.

Recalling that Yazidis have been living in Shengal for thousands of years, the Council pointed out that the Yazidi people have never discriminated or oppressed other peoples and faith communities but have cultivated a culture of brotherhood. Despite this peaceful attitude, it said, they have been subjected to massacres throughout history, most recently in August 2014 by the ISIS. Before the ISIS attack, security in Shengal had been in the hands of the Barzani Party KDP and the Iraqi central government, it noted. "When ISIS attacked Shengal, both KDP and Iraqi army forces ran away. Before they left, they collected all the weapons that the population could have used to defend themselves. For this reason, these two forces are responsible for the massacre. Only the guerrillas of the PKK and the fighters of the YPJ and YPG rushed to the aid of the Yazidis. This prevented an even greater genocide," the Council said.

390 fighters killed in the defense of Shengal

The Council recalled that 390 fighters died in the defense of Shengal and another 1060 were wounded. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee, thousands were murdered, women and children were abducted, and many are still missing today.

"We have learned from this massacre. Without Yazidi defense forces, Iraq cannot protect Shengal. Regarding our security, we can no longer trust these forces. As Yazidis, we want to live autonomously and freely in Iraq.” The right to self-government and self-defense is enshrined in the Iraqi constitution, and the Council has been trying for a long time to push through a status for Shengal through talks.

Yazidi structures are to be destroyed

"However, the government under Mustafa al-Kadhimi did not listen to us and instead made plans with Turkey and the KDP. A plot against the Yazidi people was signed on October 9, 2020," the Council said of the agreement on the future of Shengal signed under international supervision between the KDP and Iraq in Baghdad.

"We reject this agreement," the Council said and pointed out that in order to avoid war and destabilization, dialogue would continue to be sought. The cause, however, is not security issues; rather, it is a political problem that can be solved through the recognition of an autonomous status, it said.

Deadline on March 1

The Iraqi government had demanded a withdrawal of the Yazidi security forces and set a deadline of March 1 for this. The Council said: "The date chosen has special significance for us because it is the anniversary of the withdrawal of the HPG guerrillas from Shengal. We reject Iraq's demand. Our people trust in the security forces (Asayîşa Êzîdxanê) and the YBŞ/YJŞ resistance units. The Autonomous Council protects Shengal and its people. Why does Iraq think it is necessary to come to Shengal? It has enough forces in the region anyway. Besides, as an official Iraqi force, the YBŞ are responsible for security in the mountains. Why should Iraqi troops be stationed everywhere there now? Doesn't Iraq know that we have holy sites all over the Shengal Mountains?"

The security forces will not be disbanded

The Shengal Autonomous Council concluded: "As Iraqi nationals, we demand our rights enshrined in the constitution. This demand is legitimate and in accordance with the legislation. We have the power and have projects for a solution. We are ready to resolve the existing problem and thwart the plans of the occupiers. We do not want war and destabilization in our region. Iraq would not benefit from this either. The Kadhimi government is threatening us with military force. Certain regional forces are also announcing bloodshed. These threats do not frighten us. No force can make us return to the state before the ISIS genocide. If methods other than dialogue and negotiations are used, we will protect our people and ourselves. We will not expose our people to further massacres without protection. Therefore, the demands presented by Iraq are unacceptable and we reject them. We will not dissolve the Asayîş, nor will we allow other forces to enter our holy places. Our faith does not allow that either.

If the government under al-Kadhimi insists on its demands and sends troops against the Yazidis, we will resist. We call on all political parties in Iraq and all Kurdish forces to work for defense of Shengal. The United Nations has not played a serious role in finding a solution so far; on the contrary, it has supported the policies of the Iraqi government and Turkey. This makes the situation even more problematic. The UN and all international institutions must also fulfill their role and prevent a war."