Sinjar, my soul
To you I belong
My blood is a sacrifice
And in you, healing.
„Belonging“ by Emad Bashar
As a Kurdish-speaking ethno-religious minority based in Iraq and other countries of the region, the group came to the world’s attention when the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) conducted a genocidal campaign against them beginning on August 3, 2014.
Thousands of people were killed and imprisoned in the weeks and months that followed. As a result of the conflict, large areas of the mainly Yezidi populated region of Shingal in northern Iraq were destroyed by the Jihadist organization.
Shingal, or Sinjar, is a desert-like region centered around an enormous mountain which had been a traditional stronghold for Yezidis against different opponents. Many shrines mark this rugged upland as sacred in its entirety.
The impression one gains today when walking through Sinjar city isn’t very different from when ISIS had just left in 2017 except of the presence of Iraqi military and other militas – buildings lie in ruins, streets are mostly empty, many people still live in camps or exile in other countries. Nevertheless, stories around the genocide and the events which people remember as connected to the shrines spread rapidly. The question of who defended or reconquered which shrine or village has become decisive for the post-ISIS political order in the region.