Below, we provide a brief introduction to the Yezedis: who they are, their history and beliefs, as well as some of the myths surrounding them and what is happening to them now.
The Yezedis are a distinct ethnic grouping that some believe predate those ethnic groups associated with Islam, Christianity and possibly Judaism too. Their religion is syncretic, which means that it borrows philosophies from many sources (including the Gnostic and esoteric traditions as well as the mystical Sufi tradition within Islam). Many associate the Yezedis with Zoroastrianism, though others claim this link is tenuous. One myth that surrounds the Yazidis is that it is claimed that if a circle is drawn around a Yazidi then he/she cannot get out of it (as in Brecht’s Caucasian chalk circle): indeed, the philosopher G I Gurdjieff related a tale in his semi-autobiographical ‘Meetings with remarkable men’ in which he witnessed this very peculiarity. Traditionally the Yezedis have no formal government or army or even arms to defend themselves. Over many centuries they have been persecuted, but in recent times protected by the Kurds. The persecution by Islamic State of the Yezedis has been well documented and in August around 500 Yezedis were massacred before being forced to flee (see image below) to the mountains at Sinjar.
There are over 200,000 Yezedis displaced as a direct consequence of the conflict in northern Iraq and Syria. Some Yazidis have fled to Turkey, but most have taken refuge in villages protected by Kurds or in camps such as the Garmawa camp where 3500 Yezedis are awaiting their future. Food and other supplies have been provided to these Yezedis by Germans via the Rwanga Foundation (a charity that supports the Yezedis in their plight) as well as via other aid organisations.