The Yazidi Supreme Spiritual Council has now come out to clarify its decision taken on April 28 after the declaration of acceptance of all ISIS survivors back to their community.
Now the Council has clarified that it will allow Yazidi women survivors to return with their children, except for those born of rape by Islamic State (ISIS) members.
The clarification came after the council’s initial statement on April 24, which was mostly interpreted as an acceptance of children born to ISIS fathers.
The initial statement had been long sought and warmly welcomed by many, primarily by victims who had been subjected to ISIS rape and captivity. With the latest clarification, women have been forced to, this time, separation from their children.
“This means that these women will have to choose between returning to their communities or keeping their children. Some women have been forced to give their children up for adoption; others have not been able to return to their communities,” Alexandra Saieh, an advocacy manager at the Norwegian Refugee Council, told Media Line.
Ethnically Kurdish, the Yazidis have a religion which includes precepts of both Islam and Christianity. The Yazidi faith does not recognize marriage between Yazidis and non-Yazidis and says both parents must be Yazidi in order for a child to be recognized by the community.
Traditionally, when a woman married someone who is not Yazidi, she was forced to leave the community. Before his death on January 28, Mir Tahsin Beg, the last spiritual Yazidi leader, had broken with the custom on sexual politics and had ruled that women raped by ISIS fighters must not be excluded from the faith. The council has ruled in line with Mir Tahsin.
“The women and children need help and support. There is no need to talk about religion. We need to talk about humanity,” said Ahmed Burjus, the London- based deputy director for Yazda, the Global Yazidi Organization.
According to Dawood Saleh, a Yazidi survivor who wrote a book on his experience during ISIS attacks on Yazidis in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, the council reversed its initial decision after knowing the possible consequences when implemented.
In addition to religious and social restrictions, another reason behind the council’s refusal to take in the children is a national law in Iraq.
Article 26 of the Iraqi national identity card law says a child born to one Muslim parent must be registered as a Muslim and does not mention rape as an exemption. So far Iraqi authorities have made no exemption or amendment to the law.
“It is necessary for the Yazidi community to find a solution for those children who have become victims of the ISIS crimes,” Saleh told VOA.
Concentrated in northern Iraq, the Yazidis were targeted by ISIS fighters in 2014, declaring them to be “heretics”, “godless” and “devil worshippers.”
Thousands were killed or enslaved in atrocities that amounted to genocide, according to the United Nations. It is estimated that over 85 percent of the Yazidi population have been displaced.
In March, US-backed Kurdish forces declared victory over ISIS after defeating the group in its last stronghold in eastern Syria. However, there are nearly 3,100 Yazidi women and children still missing, according to rights groups.