Which Yazidi women should we send our letter to? The noble fierce fighters, dressed in camouflage suits and carrying weapons in their arms, whom a well-intentioned press returns to us, as if to pamper our conscience. If they are like this they have made it, or can make it. As if even having to fight every day to try to continue to exist is not a prolonged defeat. Alternatively, the very young, perhaps too young, Yazidi brides - and this too is somehow a form of violence, due to the thousands of persecutions in history - and beautiful, that ethnographical articles offer us when we go looking for news about them. There are the Yazidi women too, whom in 2014, the so-called Islamic State kidnapped, killed or enslaved in a thousand unspeakable ways. These women were instruments of war, to destroy their people through the secrecy of their bodies, as ISS were destroying bridges over the Euphrates - the name meaning “great river”, a river full of promise and history - and tearing down houses and streets, disintegrating squares and family gardens.
Let us begin again. Dear Yazidi women, sisters, we solemnly promise that our days will not rest until each of you has received the consolation of truth and justice, and with you your fathers, brothers and sons. Perhaps this is the only letter possible. New, double-faced words must be found to speak of you. Words that can see and preserve the fierce memory of everything and at the same time can fix your gaze onto the horizon of a long period of peace. Nevertheless, how can this be done. For most of us in the West, the story of the Yazidi people surfaced when the men dressed in black marching behind the black flag of the so-called Islamic State decided that you were the enemy to destroy, like others before, but with greater ferocity. It was the story of you, Yazidi women in colorful clothes and elegant hairstyles that brought down the walls of our distraction. And so, from the mixture of humanity inhabiting the borders of mythical Mesopotamia, the land between the two rivers that every child studies because it is ancient, beautiful, fertile, an earthly paradise model of all future promise, suddenly the Yazidis were born to our awareness. Escaped from yet another sleep of reason. Not that reason can explain what men do, nor can religion. Your religion is mild, oral, mysterious like all religions, more elusive than those around you. In the name of a different religion they have wrought evil against you. However, it is not God, you know. It is the power of men who know how each woman's body can restart the life of a people, and hope.
Can that thought be there after such experiences? It is called the space of a thought. However, sometimes the space is all occupied by the shadow of pain. We wonder what remains that is good and certain in the lives of those who have survived. A thousand times she could have died and did not. We wonder how to help find within ourselves the way to resurrect humanity.
Perhaps sisters is the right word. The stories that Nadia Murad has given to the world with unthinkable generosity tell us that you have exercised a natural, immediate, spontaneous sisterhood, mourned the dead of everyone together, held the threads of your existence even when they separated you, helped each other escape. You discovered yourselves sisters to Tutsi women in Rwanda, to Muslim women in Bosnia-Herzegovina, to Rohingya women fleeing Myanmar. A world tour of violence that uses women’s bodies to annihilate a people.
Now that, for at least some of you, that ferocious wave is over, a new time of good may be opening, the time of repairing the lives of those who survived, and the story of the Yazidi people says that you are masters of rebirth, resilient, determined, infinitely capable of starting again. Your stories of determination, resilience and courage come to us. You have kept your eyes fixed on hope.
It is time to free the huge number -approximately three thousand- who are still slaves in the refugee camps, or who do not leave so as not to leave their children behind. Evil is given a start and then it lives a life of its own and it takes a world to stop it. It takes a brotherhood, a universal sisterhood. It is easy to hit the Yazidi, it has been said, for they are a people without land. However, no one owns the land and so your story reminds us of the truth of all of us men and women. No one owns, we are just custodians. In nature, violence is only that which is necessary to live. The animal you eat, is so as to live. The rest is just the sin of men. In your history of these years, it seems that evil prevails. Violence, death, kidnapping, more violence; ib hn addition, today the silence of the refugee camps. It seems like the end of our human world.
Dear Yazidi sisters, we solemnly promise to ally ourselves with those who are helping you, to support with words, writings, money those who are working to reunite you, those who are accompanying you to begin again in some country of the world that has not forgotten its humanity, to support governments that feel the responsibility of the world. Aware that if Heaven still gives us days down here, it does so in order to save our common humanity.
by MARIAPIA VELADIANO