Global Yazidi Delegation Receives Warm Welcome and Support in India

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Laila Khoudeida, Gulie Khalaf and Yazidi delegates
with Smt. Sushma Swaraj, India’s External Affairs Minister

HOUSTON: When Houston’s Indian-American community stepped forward in solidarity with the Yazidi ethno-religious minority of Iraq, their efforts provided a humanitarian bridge to appeal to the people of India to continue their rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts.

Once numbering 23 million, the Yazidis are on the brink of extinction today, as they have been reduced to barely 800,000 today, due to 74 separate genocides over the centuries. On August 3rd, 2014, the terrorist group called Islamic State (ISIS) attacked the defenseless Yazidis in their Iraqi homeland. At least 7000 Yazidis were killed. Over 6000 women and girls, as young as 11, were abducted and sold as sex-slaves in open markets for as little as $25, or were gang-raped and forcibly “gifted” to ISIS terrorists for refusing to convert to Islam. 500,000 Yezidis fled overnight to nearby Mount Sinjar, for shelter. Many children and elderly victims perished due to the scorching summer heat and dehydration. The freezing winter continues to take its toll on the refugees living in the open with no food, shelter or warm clothing.

Appalled at the ongoing rampant genocide in Iraq, a global delegation of 15 Yezidi leaders and activists (from USA, Canada, France, Sweden, Armenia and Iraq) toured India for several weeks during January-February 2015. After receiving a warm welcome in New Delhi, the Yazidi delegates had several meetings with representatives of NGOs and officials regarding medical relief teams and scholarships for Yazidi students. They spoke on several TV-News Media outlets, toured the ISKCON and Malai Murugan temples, and addressed a late-night meeting of 150 students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). In Bengaluru, the delegates visited the Art of Living Ashram, attended Yoga-Meditation sessions and met H.H. Sri Sri Ravishankar to thank him for his ongoing relief efforts in Iraq.

They travelled to Mysore to attend the “International Conference and Gathering of Elders” at the Ganapati Sachchidananda Ashram, organized by International Centre for Cultural Studies (ICCS) where the Yazidis presented their ancient history and religion to 400 participants, hailing from 70 ancient cultures from 40 countries. The delegates received the blessings of “Yoga Rishi” Swami Ramdev at Patanjali Yogpeeth Ashram in Haridwar, and Swami Chidanand Saraswati at Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh. The Yazidi delegates performed the ceremonial Ganga Arati and offered oblations into a sacred fire or Yajna (Havan) on the banks of the holy river Ganga.

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Mirza Ismail, Laila Khoudeida, Gulie Khalaf and Yazidi delegates
at the Ganapati Sachchidananda Ashram in Mysore

Laila Khoudeida, US-based Yazda activist, narrated her experiences in India: “I struggle to put into words my deepest gratitude for the relentless work done by the Hindu brothers and sisters in order to make the Yezidi cries reach the farthest corners of the world, including India. During our meeting with Indian Foreign Affairs Minister, Mrs. Sushma Swaraj, she stated that ‘her heart bleeds for our people’. This statement will stay with me forever, as it is a profound statement that came from a person who probably had never met a Yezidi person prior to our meeting. All along our journey in India, I became more aware and more appreciative of every single Indian person that I came across, because they truly regarded us as their own family. Your commitment to helping a vulnerable group of people is no simple task and every single one of us owes you a debt of gratitude. It is these acts of kindness and humbleness that we would have expected from our own blood relatives and for that, I thank you. However, the work does not end here and we will continue to work hand in hand because it is slowly but surely moving in a positive direction”.

Another US-based Yazidi activist, Gulie Khalaf, revealed: “It has been my dream to see India for more than 10 years. My recent experience with India, the Hindus, and Indian Americans have shaken up my perception on living, humanity, and activism. If there is ISIS on one end of the spectrum, then the other end of spectrum includes the Hindu people we have been working with. While we were in India to raise awareness and seek help for our people, we definitely got more out of our trip than we bargained for. On behalf of the Yezidi delegation to India, on behalf of the hostages, those who are in camps suffering in silence, those Yezidis on Mount Sinjar, I thank you for helping us making it possible for them to be heard and for letting their plight visible to the rest of the world.”

Mirza Ismail, North-America based Yezidi activist, underlined the similarities in both religious traditions; and spoke from his heart: “We wish to express our sincere thanks to our Hindu sisters and brothers for all the works you organized into making our India trip worthwhile, which is extremely appreciated, will always be remembered and will have an everlasting effect on all the Yezidi delegates.”

Visit: , or to help Yazidis this winter. For more info, contact Ravi Raghavan, (c) 281-235-5779,