Remembering legendary Yazidi commander Berxwedan Tolhildan

A short story about a Yazidi fighter whose family and homeland fell into the captivity of the ISIS: Berxwedan Tohildan played a decisive role in the liberation of Shengal and the founding of the Yazidi resistance units.

Shengal Resistance Units (YBŞ) Commander Berxwedan Tolhildan (Adnan Süleyman) was martyred on 23 January 2015 in the fight against the ISIS. He was a founding member of YBŞ and took part in the rescue operation for the Yazidis when the YPG and HPG fought to open an escape corridor in the Syrian-Iraqi border area for the Yazidis surrounded by the terrorist organization.

Tolhildan was born in the village of Girzerik near Shengal. He started working after primary school to contribute to the livelihood of his family. Until the brutal campaign on August 3, 2014, when ISIS attacked the Yazidis in Shengal, Tolhildan was serving in the Iraqi army as a regular soldier. When ISIS took all his relatives hostage excluding only two of them, Tolhildan rushed to the Shengal mountains.

In freedom, in war, in celebration

It is possible to see martyr Berxwedan Tolhildan on a variety of video footage taken during the liberation of Shengal from the ISIS terror reign. In the various images, he is seen maintaining the security of the crew shooting a TV documentary in the area, fighting the gangs, leaving his position to congratulate the people on the Yazidi festival, saying: "Tell your families, we are liberating Shengal, tell them to come and reclaim their homeland."

"Only the PKK responded to our call for help"

At the first official meeting of the YBŞ, Tolhildan acting as a spokesman said: "Let us fight for the liberation of Êzîdxan [Land of Yazidis]. No party, no government or force apart from the PKK offered us help for our freedom and the liberation of our land. It was only the friends from the PKK that heard the cries of our people. They came and sacrificed their lives in the mountains of Shengal."

At another meeting, this time a people's assembly, Tolhildan gave the following message: "Shengal is no longer what it used to be. There was no force to protect the people of Shengal in the past. Today there is the YBŞ. Look at the mountains of Shengal and its surroundings, everywhere there is now the YBŞ and those resisting. No state, no government and no other force defended the Yazidi people like the YBŞ did. We have a force today that defends our sacred land in the Êzidxan, which is the YBŞ."

"Youth must follow the path of freedom"

Tolhildan continued: "Regardless of where and in which states the Yazidi youth live, we call on them to join this struggle. Come and defend your land. Today if we die defending the lands of Shengal, we will be martyr and immortal. All youth of Êzidxan should take this path.”

Today, five years after his death, traces of Tolhildan can be seen in Shengal and all of Êzidxan. For example, the fighters of YBŞ and YJŞ are trained in the "Berxwedan Tolhildan Academy " to follow in the footsteps of their first fallen commander.