Workshop on ‘Women and Defense’ in Shengal marks the anniversary of liberation from ISIS

The Free Yazidi Women’s Movement (TAJÊ) is holding a workshop titled ‘Women and Defense’ in Shengal on the anniversary of the city's liberation from ISIS.

The Yazidi settlement area Shengal (Sinjar) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is the last contiguous settlement area of the Yazidi community. Thousands of Yazidis were murdered and thousands of women and children were taken prisoner in the 3 August 2014 onslaught on Shengal by ISIS militants. While ISIS gangs began murdering Yazidis in Shengal, the Peshmerga left, leaving the Yazidis behind, unprotected. The guerrillas of HPG (People’s Defense Forces) and YJA Star (Free Women’s Troops) and fighters of the YPG (People’s Defense Units) and YPJ (Women’s Defense Units) came to the Yazidi people's aid in the face of ISIS aggression. Thanks to a months-long selfless struggle, the city was liberated on 13 November 2015. After the liberation of the city, the HPG and YPG/YPJ subsequently withdrew in 2017. People who returned to their land after Shengal's independence reformed, established defensive units and built their institutions.

The Free Yazidi Women’s Movement (TAJÊ) is holding a workshop titled ‘Women and Defense’ in Shengal on the anniversary of Shengal’s liberation from ISIS. The workshop kicked off at Shengal People’s Assembly this morning with the participation of 150 women.

Making the opening speech of the workshop, TAJÊ Spokesperson Riham Hico said the following: “We congratulate Leader Apo (Abdullah Öcalan), the martyrs, the YBŞ/YJŞ (Shengal Resistance Units/Shengal Women’s Units) on the anniversary of Shengal’s liberation. We were exposed to a massive massacre in Shengal due to the betrayal of the KDP and Iraqi forces. Why was Shengal not defended? Because the defense forces did not belong to Shengal itself. It was the guerrillas and fighters who contributed to the liberation of Shengal and the prevention of a genocide. There is the blood of martyrs under every single rock in Shengal. The KDP claims to have yielded martyrs in Shengal. Yet, we know who liberated Shengal. The collaborators of ISIS conspired with ISIS and sought to drive the Yazidis out of Shengal. We liberated Shengal with our own blood and we will defend it with our blood. We will make our decision about our destiny. We, women, will become soldiers when necessary and defend Shengal. We will not allow anyone to make decisions about us. All the forces here today belong to us. Those who fled from Shengal on 3 August are not our legitimate defense forces.”

Riham Hico continued: “It is thanks to Leader Öcalan’s ideas that we, Arab and Yazidi women, have gathered here today. We will not give up our struggle to build an autonomous and free Shengal.”

The opening speech was followed by a screening about Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan’s perspective on women and defense.