8 Aug 2014

Out on the mountain right now, it is genocide’

The tears roll down Amed Burjus’  face. His hand is shaking so much he can scarcely write his name in my notebook. A group of bemused  Scandinavian tourists passes by, pauses, and moves on, shaken by such pain and grief.

“They are out there now,” he cries at us, ” my family , my people, my relatives. They have nothing – nothing. Out on the mountain right now, it is genocide.”

He now turns directly to the camera waving his small home-made placard: “Please helps us, please – please help the Yezidi.”

Like some endangered human species – in fact they are an endangered human species – the ancient, once sun-worshipping Yezidi people and culture now number only around 100,000 across Kurdistan and northern Iraq, from several million. Whittled down by centuries of persecution and mass murder.

A few hundred outside Downing Street today, joined by Christian and Muslim Kurds, all aghast at what they see as a genocide against minority peoples across northern Iraq from the Islamo-fascists of the Islamic State.

Adnan Kochar of the Kurdish Culture Centre in London helped organise today’s protest and says they have waited too long and the world has taken far too long to wake up to what Downing Street and the White House now readily call genocide.


As we are there news comes that the first airstrikes have been conducted by the US, against US weaponry – the heavy guns the IS looted from the US-supplied Iraqi army, which the west trained at such expense only for them to run away at the first sign of war from the bearded ones.

Reaction is mixed. “We welcome this but it will not stop the IS,” a woman tells us draped in the flag of Kurdistan

“You better do something to stop this, ” warns a young man, “these guys are getting more and more radical and your people are coming out to join them then coming back here and then who knows what?”

Adnan Kochar says darkly: “They are here now all over Britain – the IS. It is not safe for us on the streets here even now. It is happening.”

This being the region it is there are whispered theories about how involved Turkey is in all that is happening. Less than whispered anger at Qatar and Saudi Arabia, perceived – yet again – to be funding yet another franchise of Islamic ultra-violence.

Again and again and again from everyone here, tales of how the IS come into your town or village and offer you the chance to convert to Islam,  get out of town and your home – or be killed by bullet or beheading.

I am hearing this from everyone here today as I have all day by phone, Skype and Twitter from those in the region. Too many people, too often, in too many disparate situations for this to be any kind of war propaganda and myth.

Then a Palestinian man wanders up to me, as I talk to these protesters: “Funny, isn’t it? Cameron and Obama talk instantly about genocide with the Kurds, yet they never find that word when it comes to Gaza, do they?”

Follow @alextomo on Twitter

Tweets by @alextomo