YJŞ: We will not renounce the choice of a free life

After months of resistance, the HPG and YJA Star guerrillas, the YPG/YPJ forces from Rojava and the Yazidi defense forces YBŞ-YJŞ cleared Shengal from ISIS mercenaries on 13 November 2015.

After the ISIS onslaught on 3 August 2014, the Yazidi town of Shengal in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq) was liberated on 13 November 2015 thanks to a months-long struggle led by the PKK guerrillas and YPG/YPJ fighters.

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.

In a statement marking the ninth anniversary of Shengal’s liberation, the Shengal Women’s Units (YJŞ) vowed to defend their town to the very end.

The statement released by the YJŞ includes the following:

“Humanity has reached the stage of keeping Leader Apo (Abdullah Öcalan) under aggravated isolation and physical captivity for 25 years. Leader Apo proved the fact that women can develop an honorable life through a great struggle.

As the YJŞ, we believe in the ideas of Leader Apo and embrace with love the hand extended to us for our liberation. The Yazidi society, and especially Yazidi women, have been through massacres throughout history. The selfless fighters of Leader Apo came to the rescue of the Yazidis to make sure that they did not experience another genocide, and they defended the Yazidi culture. The selfless fighters left after handing over the victory they had achieved at the cost of a heavy price to us. All this happened thanks to the ideas of Leader Apo. For this very reason, we in the YJŞ strongly condemn the isolation imposed on him.

Nine years have passed since the genocidal attacks launched on the Yazidis, which were met with mighty resistance from the HPG and YJA Star guerrillas and the YPG and YPJ forces, who yielded 450 martyrs to this end. As the YJŞ, we reiterate our promise to follow in the footsteps of the martyrs and to realize their dreams.  

As is known to all, ISIS mercenaries attacked Shengal on 3 August, 2014. ISIS mercenaries were the army of sovereign states. The Turkish state played a role in its creation and has continued to play its role perfectly to date for all the world to see. The YJŞ was founded amidst a severe war and bloodshed. We in the YJŞ will defend our roots by relying on our self-power. We have been able to continue our march to these days thanks to a spirited idea and philosophy architected by Leade Apo.

The Yazidis are not what they used to be before the liberation of Shengal from ISIS on 13 November, 2015. The Yazidi society has the self-defense forces of YBŞ and YJŞ today. It has gained the experience of a common life and puts it into practice today. For this reason, we will not renounce the choice of a free life, no matter what.  

We, the YJŞ, will not forget the 74th ferman.* We celebrate the ninth anniversary of Shengal’s liberation and promise to defend Shengal to the very end. The vengeance of the YJŞ will be the assurance of Leader Apo’s freedom and Shengal’s autonomy.”

*Ferman is the term the Yazidis use to refer to the massacres and extermination operations in their history. While in Ottoman usage the term stands for a decree of the Sultan, in the Yazidi community the word took on the denotation of persecutions and pogroms. The genocide and femicide that began with the rout of the KDP peshmerga and the ISIS invasion of Shengal on 3 August was the 74th ferman in Yazidi history.