Genocide against Yazidis: Düzen Tekkal on recognition in the Bundestag
vote on Thursday
The Bundestag wants to recognize the genocide of Yazidis. “For the survivors, this is a piece of healing,” says Düzen Tekkal
In 2014, Düzen Tekkal witnessed the crimes against the Yazidis in northern Iraq at first hand. Since then she has been fighting for the recognition of the genocide. Today the Bundestag wants to vote on it.
Ms. Tekkal, this Thursday the genocide of the Yazidis is to be held in the Bundestag Yazidis be recognized – what does that mean for you personally?
We fight with ours human rights organization for nine years that the crimes against our people are recognized. Now the time has finally come. My parents and survivors of the crimes will also be in the Chamber. A genocide survivor who was held by ISIS just sent me a video of herself trying on the Yazidi costume she plans to wear to celebrate the day. Tears welled up in my eyes right away. You have to understand: For the survivors, this recognition is a piece of healing. It is proof that what was done to them should never have happened. Any recognition of genocide is also a promise to prevent crimes of this magnitude in the future.
the crime the Yazidis were recognized as genocide by the UN in 2016. Why is it so important that this is now also done by the German Parliament?
In 2021, a court in Frankfurt ruled for the first time worldwide that an IS terrorist who let an enslaved Yazidi girl die should do so on genocide has involved. It is only logical that, following this initial legal recognition, politicians are now following suit. Incidentally, the parliaments in Armenia, Scotland, Luxembourg and Australia have already recognized the genocide – although by far the largest Yazidi diaspora lives here in Germany.
Düzen Tekkal: Crimes against Yazidis have destroyed my whole worldview
Apart from the symbolic value – what concrete advantages does one have recognition by the German Parliament?
To date, there has been no systematic legal reappraisal of the genocide. The recognition of the charge of genocide in German criminal proceedings against IS criminals is now more relevant. And we will now strive for these procedures even more intensively here: After all, more than a thousand people at that time Germany connected from the IS. So far, providing evidence here has been extremely difficult, since there are no written orders from IS to wipe out the Yazidis. However, there is evidence of the genocide, for example from the UN investigative team, which has proven the mass executions, the systematic enslavement and the long-term imprisonments. This is now also recognized in Germany. And we can now make denying this genocide a punishable offence.
You have been to northern Iraq several times since 2014 to document the crimes. Do you remember a moment when you realized: This is not just another crime in the historical persecution of the Yazidis, a genocide is taking place here?
There were several such moments. When I met the first women who had just been freed from IS captivity. Or the Yazidi child soldiers who got out of this system after five years. The family man who showed me the passport photos of his three daughters who were enslaved by IS. When people are that close to death, you see it. In those faces I could see what my grandparents had warned me about – Háwar – genocide. This horror was no longer abstract. That destroyed my whole world view at the time: How can people do something like that?
How are the surviving Yazidis doing today?
Most of them still live as refugees in camps in northern Iraq. In most cases, they cannot return to their former villages and towns – the houses have been destroyed and the region is repeatedly bombed by Turkey. There are still people who fanatically believe in IS. The Yazidis feel betrayed and forgotten by the world – they survived IS and now they languish in the camps – the suicide rate is high. Nothing is as bad as the pain that remains invisible. And that’s why recognition is so important.