Tags: Iraq | Iraq in Crisis | Middle East | Yazidis | Iraq | lobby | Washington

Yazidis in US Lobby Washington to Save Their People

By Elliot Jager   |   Monday, 11 Aug 2014 07:37 AM

A group of Yazidis has been meeting with White House and State Department officials pleading for the rescue of thousands of their people besieged in northern Iraq by the Islamic State, The Washington Post reported.

Many in the 15-member delegation are from Lincoln, Nebraska, and served as interpreters and bodyguards for the United States in Iraq, according to the Post.

Yazidi spokesman Basim Karim told the Post that 200,000 of his people have sought refuge on a mountaintop to get away from the Islamic State. Conditions are dire due to extreme heat and lack of water.

President Barack Obama ordered U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State. He said the Yazidi people face "a horrible choice: descend the mountain and be slaughtered, or stay and slowly die of thirst and hunger," the Post reported.

Karim said the airstrikes were of limited value. "We hope that the U.S. government takes more serious action," the Post reported.

"Our hearts are broken because we lost thousands of people," including children and the elderly. He described the situation as "ethnic cleansing" against a peaceful minority who had contributed much to Middle East civilization.

Karim added that his people were being wiped out because they "believe in something different than Islam" and because of their work for the United States.

The U.S. airstrikes have opened a path for some Yazidis to make their way to a Kurdish-controlled enclave in Syria. Many more are still trapped on the mountain and will need to be rescued by Kurdish land forces, The New York Times reported.

The Yazidis speak Kurdish but, unlike the Kurds, are not Sunni Muslims. They worship the Peacock Angel as a manifestation of God and believe their messiah will come back to end strife and bring peace among all nations, the Post reported.

Islamic State invaders have given the Yazidis the alternative of conversion to Islam or death. There are several hundred Yazidis in the United States, according to the Post.

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