Iraq: Yazidis demand autonomous zone

Haider Shasho, commander of the Yezidi Shingal Protection Forces in northern Iraq, met with the Yazidi community in the German city of Cologne last week to discuss the circumstances of his arrest by Kurdish authorities. Shasho said he was arrested April 5 for attempting to form a separate Yazidi militia to fight ISIS outside the command of the Peshmerga, the armed forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). He added that the incident shows that Yazidis must establish their own autonomous zone within the KRG. "We intend to form an independent Yezidi entity in northern Iraq, to guarantee equal rights to the members of our community there," he said. "We as Yezidis will not detach ourselves from the Kurdistan Region, we are also Kurds, it's our right as part of the Kurdish people to have an independent political and administrative entity, so we can serve our people and protect their rights."

Shasho said the autonmous zone would be based at Shingal (also rendered Sinjar), the Yazidi heartland now still partially under the control of ISIS. "We aspire for an autonomous administration in Shingal, that can have good relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government, but enjoy a right to self-determination," he said in an interview with ARA News. He accused the Peshmerga of a "tactical withdrawal" from Shingal that allowed ISIS to consolidate its presence there. He also asserted that articles 125 and 119 of the Iraqi constitution allow the Yazidis to administer their own areas. (ARA News, May 10)