Wednesday 10 September 2014

Silent Genocide of the Peacock People

When Saddam Hussein regime built the gigantic Saddam Dam on the Tigris River in 1985 it was not yet the ‘terror state’ and was aided actively by super powers aiming for geo-strategic advantages. Then it started a systematic removal of a particular religious sect in the Kurdish region. Many recorded individual testimonies pinpoint the date to September 23 or 24 1988 when the displaced persons were asked to present themselves to the police station without delay. Ali Hassan al-Majid who was in-charge of the campaign had stated that ‘they should arabize their area’.

Who were these people?

They were the Yezidis. They spoke a language called Kurmanji. They had been consistently termed as devil worshippers by the dominant Abrahamic religionists. They worship no devil but a divinity on a peacock. They have no concept of evil. Their worldview is monist. And they consider themselves as the original Kurds. For centuries this colourful sect of people had lived in freedom and had syncretistic assimilation of many streams of local as well as alien spiritual traditions. But with the advent of Abrahamic monocultures of belief a new saga of organized persecution started taking shape. Islamic regimes raided them, displaced them and exploited them. With the advent of European Christianity the missionary sketches of these people started fanning a picture of devil worshipping exotic cult. Soon they entered the popular psyche of modern world through fictionalized accounts. From pulp fiction writer Robert Howard to philosophical writer George Gurdjieff they were devil worshippers.    

They were the last pagan people of the Arabian Peninsula. Today after the Turkish caliphs, Iraqi dictators, the warlords of the colonial period, they are being mercilessly and humiliatingly being driven to extinction by the dreaded ISIS. Only today the conscience of the world has woken to the human tragedy of Yezidi extinction. It may be mainly because of the social media which is more decentralized and hence does not suffer from the Abrahamic bias of the mainstream corporate media. Throughout history the massacre, genocide, persecution and extinction of non-Abrahamic pagan societies have never got the same attention as the persecution of their Abrahamic counterparts – real or perceived.

For example the world very rightly is agitated over the holocaust of Jews in the Second World War. But the attitude of Winston Churchill towards Hindus was as hate-filled as the attitude of Hitler towards the Jews. And his attitude translated into action in the form of engineering the great Bengal famine. The holocaust of Gypsies-Roma do not yet have a memorial though the Gypsies went to the Nazi gas chambers along with Jews.  Even to this day Roma get persecuted throughout the West. While the anti-Semitism of Idi Amin had been well documented and criticized, his ethnic cleansing of Indian people from Uganda had never been criticized or even documented enough to enter the mind of the world conscience. In 1972 Idi Amin claimed that Allah told him to expel the Indians from Uganda. Even today 20,000 Indians are unaccounted for. The loss of 20,000 Indian lives is no subject matter for any major Hollywood movie or a Pulitzer winning literary account.
It is agonizing that it is always ethnic communities of Indian origin that have been facing the worst persecution for ages followed by genocide or mass murder. Today it is happening to the Yazidis. ISIS is abducting women and children and is starving them to death. It is subjecting them to the worst abuses. Even before ISIS, Yazidis have been systematically subjected to persecution, torture, humiliation and occasional mass murder. Even other Kurds who have been otherwise at the receiving end of the minority Sunni theocracy of Iraq do not worry about the discrimination and suffering the Yazidis face. Worse, the Arabs have joined ISIS to loot and destroy this miniscule minority. US tries to help but airlifting these people – what will happen to them if they are uprooted from their native land and made another ethnic group in US? They will become prey to evangelical forces in the US –destroying their spirituality in exchange to US citizenship.

In this connection it is worthwhile to remember what Swami Vivekananda said about the persecuted communities in the world history and the approach of India to them. In his September 11 address to the World Parliament of Religions he spoke of Mother India as : “… a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation.”  

Today the cultural and ethnic children of Mother India settled in different parts of the planet due to various historic reasons expect the world community to treat them as their Great Mother treated them all. Is that too much to ask? If not then make it a point to shed a tear for the Yazidis and raise your voice for their freedom and safety.

Aravindan Neelakandan