Democratic autonomy declared in Shengal - UPDATE

Democratic autonomy has been declared at a press conference in Shengal town, Southern Kurdistan.

Democratic autonomy has been declared at a press conference in Shengal town, Southern Kurdistan.

The press conference was attended by Shengal Democratic Autonomous Assembly Co-chairs Hisên Hecî Nefso and Rîham Hıço, Democratic Administration Board Co-chairs Hecî Hesen Pîso and Nehlê Yusif Hefsun, Deputy Co-chair Yardımcısı Kurdê Elî Ezîz, YBŞ (Shengal Resistance Units) Commander Seîd Hesen Seîd, Êzîdxan Asayish member Faris Herbo Xidir and Shengal Youth’s Assembly Co-Spokesperson Îbrahîm Omer.

Shengal Democratic Autonomous Assembly Co-chairs Hisên Hecî Nefso and Riham Baqi Hıco made the following statement in Kurdish and Arabic, introducing the ‘Democratic Autonomy Project of Êzidîxan’:

“We as the Êzidîs are the most ancient faith and cultural society in history. Due to our faith, we have suffered repeated genocides, we have been displaced, subject to all kinds of victimization and agony throughout history.

It must be understandable that in this regard our faith identity came further to the fore in order for us to protect ourselves and exist. The Êzidî faith, the most ancient faith of humanity and the Middle East, faced with massacres at genocide level at the hands of fanatic religious governments and societies throughout history. As as the Êzidî society describe these genocidal attacks as firman [decree]. With these firmans of physical and religious genocides, Êzidîs across Kurdistan and Mesopotamia came to the threshold of extinction. Hundreds of thousands of them had to migrate to Armenia, Russia and Europe. We managed to reach the 21st century with a community that dropped to hundreds of thousands settled mainly around Welatêşêx and Shengal.

The perpetration of the latest firman against the Êzidîs in the 21st century, when we considered values such as democracy, equality and freedom to be gaining ground, is clearly a shameful and insulting case for all humanity.

Our Êzidî community has been subject to the barbarity and fascism of ISIS gangs that became a menace to humanity. The inhumane and brutal attack carried out on our Êzidî society on August 3, 2014, which we define as the 73rd firman, was one of the most tragic and painful firmans we have been through. It is known that this firman has led to troubles difficult to rehabilitate.

Thousands of Êzidîs were kidnapped in these attacks, thousands more –mainly women and children- were kidnapped, hundreds of thousands were displaced from their holy land Êzidîxan and scattered all around the world. With this firman of ISIS, Êzidîs faced going out of existence. Although these massacres were predictable, neither the IRaqi state nor the Bashurê (Southern) Kurdistan Regional government took precautions.

Due to the lack of self-governance and self-defense forces of the Êzidîs, ISIS managed to invade the Êzidî villages and reach Shengal in a short while during their onslaught on 3 August 2014. The military forces in Shengal did not resist against the ISIS attack, and thus left hundreds of thousands of Êzidîs to the genocidal aggression of ISIS.

Like in the previous firmans they had faced in history, women, children, youth and elderly took to the Mount Shengal barefoot, without food and water. In this most difficult time of the Êzidîs, 12 self-sacrificing PKK guerrillas made themselves a shield against the ISIS’ herds of murderers, while YPG/YPJ guerrillas similarly rushed from Rojava and opened a humanitarian corridor through which they rescued Êzidîs from a great massacre and genocide.

Most of the Êzidîs that survived the firman settled in camps in Rojava, Bashurê (Southern) and Bakurê (Northern) Kurdistan, while 15-20 thousand of our people remained in Mount Shengal, young and old alike, and continued their lives under challenging circumstances. In the face of the ISIS threat, thousands of families insisted to stay and continue their lives in Mount Shengal amid challenging winter conditions, which constitutes a great resistance in the Êzidî history. This resistance went down in history as our people’s determination to continue their existence.

HPG guerrillas and YBŞ fighters that organized themselves as the self-defense force of Shengal did not allow ISIS to set foot on Mount Shengal, and they liberated several settlements around Mount Shengal from ISIS. YBŞ and HPG guerrillas played a leading role in the liberation of Shengal town center from ISIS in 2015’s autumn.

The liberation of Shengal from ISIS is not just an important case alone. We thus gained awareness that attaining autonomy on the basis of self-defense, and developing a free and democratic life was a guarantee to not face further firmans. On this basis we advanced our self organization, which was a most fundamental right of ours. To us, it is neither understandable nor acceptable that the powers which did not fulfil their responsibilities towards the Êzidî society and caused us to be victimized with this firman have sought to prevent the Êzidîs from using this basic right of theirs.

In the wake of this firman against our community, treating the Êzidîs as before, not recognizing their will and considering that they have not drawn a lesson from what has happened is the biggest unfairness and disrespect towards Êzidîs. To our regret, some powers seek to re-dominate themselves on Shengal and Êzidîs today ignoring all we have been through. Their attack on Khanasor on 3 March 2017 via the gangs that broke from the Rojava Revolution, was the consequence of such a mindset. Khanasor was not under ISIS occupation. It was an area that was cleansed of ISIS and defended by our children for two years, and where people organized themselves. After the failure of these attacks, the Turks were made to attack our territory. Turkish warplanes bombed Shengal in order to intimidate us and break our will. All these practices will not ever be able to suppress our society.

Êzidîs are not the Êzidîs they used to be before the firman, and everyone should understand this. We should not be expected to accept any power that imposes their dominance on us without recognizing our will. We stated already that we will not be discouraged by the tendencies of these powers. We will be resisting from now onwards as well.

KDP could have, but did not, liberate the ISIS-occupied areas due to the plans made on Shengal. When this was the case, Hashd al-Shaabi militia that fights ISIS reached the border of Shengal and entered the Êzidî villages. Upon this development, the Iraqi central government re-stepped into between the powers that seek to dominate Shengal.  

As Êzidîs desire to attain an autonomous life basing on self-defense and self-government in the wake of the latest firman, the essentiality of democratic autonomy for the Êzidîs has once again revealed itself clearly amid the fight given by some powers to dominate over Shengal. Those who failed to protect the Êzidî society during ISIS onslaught made clear their desire to establish dominance over Shengal after the defeat of ISIS in this territory.

For us Êzidîs, 3 August 2014’s firman is a milestone. Our people do not mean to entrust our existence to the mercy of some other powers anymore, and they want to attain a democratic autonomous life in order not to face yet another genocide.

For this reason, our people constituted their assembly and declared their will in a conference only 5 months after the firman, on 14 January 2015, when they declared to the world their will and determination to enhance resistance, liberate their lands, turn Shengal back to a living space, enable the return of those displaced back to home, advance their self-defense and self-government systems. They thus manifested their will to turn Shengal back into a source of life and hope.

It is beyond argument that this will revealed by the conference as Shengal Construction Assembly is the most legitimate representation and will of the people of Shengal because as the people and assemblies of Shengal, we did not leave our land and we resisted. With no contribution and support from the central and regional governments, the assembly of this people managed to fill the existing gap of administration despite all the difficulties and lack of sources.

The construction assembly working to build a self-government system for the past 2,5 years has established several institutions and organisations needed by the people during this period of time. Despite all the challenges, the construction assembly created means and opportunities for the living of the people that remained in Mount Shengal. From education centers to schools, municipality, field assemblies, health services, asayish and several other institutions and organisations, the construction assembly turned Shengal back into a living space in spite of all the obstructions.

Shengal Construction Assembly played an important role for not only the Êzidîs that remained in Shengal, but also for those who were forced to migrate, and became a hope for their return. Thousands of families could turn back to their land on this foundation built in Shengal.

Until today, this assembly has played its role to meet the basic needs of the people, building people’s institutions and defending the people with its defense forces. In addition to all these tasks and responsibilities, our people want their assembly to assure the status of Shengal on the basis of autonomy.

Since 14 January 2015, our Êzidî people desire an autonomous life in which decisions concerning themselves will be made by their own assemblies and the self-defense force to protect them against attacks will be affiliated to this assembly. They reject the fight for domination over Êzidîxan. In this regard, we submit the democratic autonomy project, which our people consider a must, to the appreciation of all political powers, concerned states, international powers and the Kurdish public opinion. We expect all those responsible powers to support the democratic autonomy structure that will lead Êzidîxan to a free and democratic life through an improvement of this project with necessary contributions.


1- Establishment of Êzidîxan autonomy commission under the supervision of the United Nations, and inclusion of representatives from Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional governments, PKK and Democratic Northern Syria Federation in this commission.

2- Under the supervision of this commission, establishment of Êzidîxan People’s Assembly to involve representatives from all Êzidî communities, Êzidî religious functionaries, women and youth organisations, and different faith and popular communities living within the borders of Êzidîxan; and functioning of this assembly as a constituent assembly.

3- Unification of YBŞ and military forces of various Êzidî communities under a joint command and formation of Êzidîxan’s self-defense force affiliated to Êzidîxan People’s Assembly.

4- Administration of police and asayish forces by the “desteya rêvebir” [Executive Council] and “desteya parastın” [Defence Council] to be formed under the Êzidîxan Assembly.

5- Establishment of a Diplomacy Committee affiliated to Executive Council to work towards establishing relations with Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional governments, foreign states, international institutions and concerned political organisations and parties to serve a free and democratic living on the basis of Êzidîxan’s Democratic Autonomy.

6- Establishment of executive councils to work in the fields of health, education, culture, economy, trade and justice within the Êzidîxan Assembly, and supervision of these works by the assemblies to be formed only by the involved staff.

7- Press gets organized independently on the basis of Êzidîxan democratic principles and societal values. Problems regarding the press get resolved by press institutions or assemblies made up of press workers. Êzidîxan allocates a certain, and equally allocated, budget to the press every year.

8- Every city and town must be administered by local assemblies, a part of which shall be formed by general and equal quota-centered elections, and the other part to comprise representatives elected by organised democratic institutions on a democratic basis. These assemblies make all the decisions that concern the related town or city but not entire Êzidîxan. Executive councils manage the works concerning the cities and towns in question.

9- All political opinions get organised freely and these organisations are secured by assemblies and executive councils. Every pressure to be exerted on a different political opinion and organisation constitutes a crime.

10- In all working areas women’s distinct organization is ensured, matters that concern women specifically are decided for by the women’s own organizations and the women’s councils.

11- In all councils and communes there is a minimum quota of 40% for women. The youth representation quota for councils is 15% minimum.

12- In the Êzidîxan council the Êzidî religious scholars have sufficient quotas. This quota comes to the council with the predetermined election system.

13- After the Êzidîxan people’s council acts as the constituent assembly, it is renewed according to elections held in line with the elections act.

14- Both Êzidîxan and city and town council members are determined 65% with the general vote, and 35% by the democratically elected representatives from organized societies.

15- After the Êzidîxan people’s council acts as the constituent assembly, how the democratic autonomy to be created in Êzidîxan will relate to the Iraqi central government and Bashurê Kurdistan will be determined by the negotiations the Êzidîxan autonomy commission holds with said powers. If there is no agreement in the negotiations, a democratic referendum will determine whether the Êzidîxan will be under the Iraqi central government or the Bashurê Kurdistan Federation or a third option.

16- After how the autonomous structure of the Êzidîxan relates to the relevant governments is determined, the democratic autonomy created in Êzidîxan is made compatible with the general Iraq and Bashurê Kurdistan Federation to avoid conflict in political and social life without touching the core of the autonomy.

17- In matters not directly related to the Êzidîxan and those that relate to Iraq in general like defense, diplomacy and economy, Êzidîxan acts according to the Iraqi and Bashurê Kurdistani constitutions and laws. But in foreign embassies for general diplomacy, an Êzidî cultural attache is appointed for the promotion of the Êzidîxan culture and life.

18- The autonomy of Êzidîxan under the aforementioned principles is included in the Iraqi Constitution and the Başurê Kurdistan laws.

19- Êzidîs are history’s legacy to humanity. The autonomy of Êzidîxan should not just be guaranteed by the Iraqi constitution, but should also be secured by the United Nations. The Êzidîxan autonomy commission under UN supervision continues its existence until the Democratic Autonomy is accepted and put into practice.

20- In the process of institutionalizing the autonomy, no new outside military forces should be brought in to Êzidîxan other than the existing forces now. With the announcement that all parties accept the democratic autonomy in the framework stated above, all military forces not under the Êzidîxan council should withdraw from the Êzidîxan.

21-Recognition of the 73rd Firman against the Êzidîs as a genocide in the international arena. For that, the Êzidîxan autonomy commission under UN supervision will complete the duties and responsibilities on their part.

22- Founding of an independent court in Shengal by the Êzidîxan autonomy commission and the trial and punishment of peoples who played a bad role in the Firman and have Êzidî blood on their hands.

23- Support for the Êzidîxan autonomy commission in the protocol to be signed among the Iraqi Êzidîs, Turkmens and Christians in the European Parliament on October 26, 2017."