Ezidi activists suspend peaceful strikes

Independent Yazidi youth groups suspend strike

By Ammar Aziz in Ninewa

The Independent Yazidi Youths, an umbrella for local young activists, has temporarily suspended their strikes in Shingal (Sinjar), west of Ninewa province, after 48 days of continuous gatherings, demanding an end to the fighting and the withdrawal of all armed groups from the war-torn region.

The Independent Yazidi Youth Group announced a temporary suspension of its public peaceful gatherings at a press conference on June 18.

Saad Shamo, a member of the Independent Yazidi Youth Group, told Kirku Now that after the Turkish aircraft targeted the headquarters of the Shingal Autonomous Council in Sunni district on June 15, the Sunni tribal chiefs gave the Shingal Resistance Units (YBŞ), a group headed by the autonomous council, several days to leave the town.

"We are waiting to see what happens and we don't want to get involved in their problems, so we have stopped the rallies," Shammo said.

A group of 50 young Ezidi activists in the district of Shingal, home to the Ezidi community in Ninewa province, have been demonstrating since last May, demanding the implementation of four main demands related to the deadlock in the district.

The youths have four demands: an end to armed clashes, withdrawal of all armed groups from the entire district except the local police, and the establishment of an independent administration, with a concrete commitment to implement their demands.

Shingal, after the expulsion of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters in 2017, is going through an unstable security situation and direct confrontations between different armed groups in the region, each trying to impose its domination over the district.

"We decided to stop the demonstrations Saturday, June 18, and we will meet on June 21 to make a final decision on whether to put an end to it completely or change the way we protest," Shamo added.

Earlier this week, 19 members of the group went to Baghdad and met with the adviser of Iraqi Premier to convey their demands yet returned without any concrete results or promises.

The group was formed after fighting between the Iraqi army and the Shingal Resistance Units (YBŞ), a group affiliated to Kurdistan Workers Party PKK, which fights Turkey since 1980s and holds territories in Iraq, in May this year, which claimed casualties from both, while more than 800 families were displaced.

At the early hours of May 2nd, troops of the Iraqi army with heavy weapons supported by warplanes attacked two points of pro-PKK Ezidkhan Asayish (Security), part of Yabasha or YBS, in Sinuny. Two were killed and 12 were injured from both sides, sources affirmed to KirkukNow.

On the 18th and 19th of April, armed clashes erupted after an army force asked Ezidkhan Asayish members to evacuate a military post near Sinuny. A fighter of YBS was killed and three injured, in addition to the injury of 21 soldiers of the army Iraqi army and three civilians.

At present, the Iraqi government considers the implementation of the terms of the 2020 Shingal agreement concluded between the unilateral government and the Kurdistan Regional Government the only way to resolve the Shingal issue, yet the agreement has not been implemented so far in light of the presence of eight different armed forces.

The militants group affiliated to Kurdistan Workers' party PKK in 2014 provided a narrow safe escape from the grip of the extremist militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS for the civilians to Mount Shingal and from there to the IDP camps in Duhok where still thousands of Ezidis live in tens of camps under tents, reluctant to return to the war-ravaged region.

They also played a remarkable role in the war against ISIS. Most of the YBS militants are Ezidis and part of the YBS and Ezidkhan Asayish under the Autonomous Administrative Council, as part of those fighters has officially joined the Shiite paramilitary of Popular Mobilization Forces PMF, known as Al-Hashid Al-Shabi.

In the Ezidi-dominant region of Shingal, only three thousand square kilometers, Baghdad federal and Erbil regional governments compete to establish their rule following the claimed defeat of IS in 2017: three local administrations want to administer the district, and eight different armed groups are deployed.

There are more than eight different armed groups within the borders of Shingal district, including the PMF, Ezidikhan Asayish, YBS, Women Protection Units YPZh, the local police, the federal police, the Iraqi army, the Ezidkhan Peshmerga and the KRG Peshmerga (Kurdish fighter) forces.

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