Resiliency In Wartime: Remembering the Yazidi Genocide

By Chelsey Gonzalez

Four years have passed since the Yazidi Genocide took place on Mount Sinjar, Iraq. The memories of the deaths and kidnappings still permeate the air, as the people who escaped breathe in their dreams and out their hopes of being reunited with their friends and family still being held in captivity. And the world is breathing with them. According to The Independent, “9,900 members of the ethnic and religious minority were killed or captured in a matter of days.” Religious sites and homes were also destroyed during ISIS’s occupation of their land.

While the Yazidi community reserves this month to mourn, we hold onto the stories similar to that of two young lovers, who not only survived the genocide but stayed resilient throughout their journey. Nebras, a young Yazidi woman, and Malu, a former member of the Peshmerga Army, were engaged to be married when ISIS came to Sinjar on March 8, 2014. ISIS found Nebras hiding in her village and kidnapped her, forcing her to leave her fiancé with no knowledge of his wellbeing. As she was being transported into ISIS territory, Nebras was able to find a phone and call home. However, when she spoke to her family, they passed on bad news: Malu, too, had been kidnapped and tortured.
Holding onto hope, Nebras tried to escape twice, but was caught both times and beaten and tortured as punishment. Still, Nebras continued to plan her escape, knowing she could not give up on life.

On January 1, 2015, her plans of escape came to fruition and she escaped with a few other girls and returned home. Once Nebras returned to her village, she found out that Malu had also escaped ISIS captivity, after being held for three days. Nebras and Malu were so overcome with joy over being reunited that they decided to marry on January 21, 2017. However, after they had married, Nebras had to leave Iraq for her safety. Nebras set off on a journey to reach Germany with a few other girls and held onto that same hope that she and her husband would once again be reunited.

When Nebras arrived in Germany, she became a student of Tech Over Trauma and reunited with her deaf sister, Aseema. Driven by love, Malu followed Nebras and walked miles and miles every day, longing to decrease the space between them. Eventually, he made it to the Czech Republic, but was detained on February 17, 2018, because he did not have any legal papers or identification.

Hearing that Malu was detained, Nebras wrote her story about reuniting with Malu. The Roads of Success Team met with members of the European Union and shared Nebras’ story asking for Malu’s release. Soon afterwards, Malu was released and reunited with Nebras.We recently visited Nebras and Malu in Germany and watched them as they breathed each other’s hopes in. Seeing their love first hand strengthened our resolve to bring more women out of captivity and reunify more families.

Dearden, L. (2017, May 9). Almost 10,000 Yazidis ‘killed or kidnapped in Isis genocide but true scale of horror may never be known’. Retrieved from The Independent:

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