Êzidî women: 'we won't allow another massacre' (6)
Êzidî fighter Raperin calls for resistance
SHENGAL - In the wake of the Daesh attack on the Êzidî city of Shengal, women surviving the massacre have joined the YPJ-Shengal--the recently formed defense unit composed entirely of Êzidî women, working to defend themselves.
"You can't escape these serious sins by running away," said Raperin Engizek, who fights in the YPJ-Shengal's ranks. The fighting unit was formed after the Daesh attack on the city of Shengal, with the support of guerrillas from the YJA-Star and HPG (affiliated with the PKK).
"When those in power want to destroy a people, they focus on women first; this is why Daesh attacked Êzidî women," said Raperin, referring to Daesh's capture of more than 7,000 women and children to sell as slaves. "These attacks produced fear, uncertainty and lack of confidence in our society. In particular, the fleeing of the peshmerge got rid of our last hopes."
After the peshmerge fighters of the Federal Kurdistan Region abandoned the city, guerrillas and fighters from the Rojava autonomous region in Syria moved in to defend the fleeing people of Shengal. These forces then trained Êzidîs to defend themselves. Raperin noted that the horrors that Êzidîs witnessed--the killing and rape of their loved ones, mothers forced to abandon their children--left them with a sense of helplessness and inferiority.
"There's a widespread saying among the Êzidîs: even if the world is destroyed, whatever happens is left to God," she said. "This gets internalized, normalized and people swallow everything, calling it 'fate.' And this is the biggest risk for us, actually.
"We saw this throughout history--with the Ottomans, the Safavids and most recently Iraq and the local government, they did the same thing to us," said Raperin. "We always said we don't have any strength; let someone defend us. But those who we said we would let defend us have dragged us through everything.
"With laziness, with wages, withmaterial things, they made our people dependent on them. With one hand, they offered candy, with the other, a slap. They said, 'you only exist as long as I'm here,'" said Raperin. Historically, she said, the people retreated into the caves of the mountainside to hide from massacres when these forces turned on them. "During the [imperial] decrees, our people hid in the mountains and thus, protected themselves. Actually, it was when we started depending on the outside that we lost."
Raperin said that the women fighters who lost their lives defending Shengal again showed Êzidî women what they too, could do. The existence of the YPJ-Shengal has demonstrated to Êzidî women that defenselessness is not their only option.
"We understood that the force that makes a revolution is women. The ones who develop thought are women," said Raperin. "Our real goal is to save Shengal. But as women, we can't liberate our land before we liberate ourselves."