Since the emergence of the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) in 2003, the terrorist militia has carried out targeted campaigns to annihilate many ethno-religious minorities, including Christians, Shiite Muslims, Shiite Turkmen, Shiite Shabaks, as well as Yazidis. Their persecution of the Yazidis was particularly cruel. On August 3 and 15 of 2014, ISIS attacked about 20 villages and towns in the Sinjar region, the Yazidi’s ancestral homeland in Iraq. All men and boys over the age of 14, including the elderly, the sick, and the disabled, were executed in mass graves. The younger boys forcibly became child soldiers. Women and girls were separated from each other, many were raped and then sold into sexual and domestic slavery. More than 5.000 Yazidis were killed during the genocide in the cruelest possible way. The number of unreported cases is even higher. Half a million people became refugees overnight, hundreds of thousands fled to the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, where many still live in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) today.
HÁWAR.help’s founder and chairwoman, Düzen Tekkal, travelled to Iraq as a journalist in 2014 to report on the atrocities committed against her faith community. She is a Yazidi herself. Her parents fled to Germany in the late 1960s. The result of this trip is her documentary film “HÁWAR – My Journey to Genocide” (2015). The images shown demonstrate how quickly genocide can become a reality, a mere 75 years after the Holocaust and for our globalized world to see. It begins with the dehumanization of people based of their faith, ethnic origin or sexual orientation. In 2015, she and her siblings founded the human rights organization HÁWAR.help. In Kurdish, “HÁWAR” means “cry for help”, which is exactly what she followed. With its projects, HÁWAR.help wants to give hope and humanity. On the ashes of a genocide.