Modern Slavery and The Quandary of The Yazidis

The Earth is flooding, and the rain is slavery.


By Cobin Szymanski |IRAQ

The radiant sun peaks over Mt. Sinjar casting an auspicious shadow for the inception of the day. The foreboding peak casts a tranquil presence over the village reminiscent of a time long past. However, in local lore, there is a much more clandestine aspect to the peak, it was the final resting place of Noah’s ark. It was the beacon of hope that sailed the expansive sea, holding all hope of the future and treasures of the past.

The peak is quite a presence to behold especially in the sparse times of peace. Below the peak, there is a village named Sinjar that houses a large population of Yazidis, a small minority in Iraq. While Noah was fortunate enough to have sailed the flood that overwhelmed the remainder of the globe; the Yazidis have not been so fortunate in facing a new deadlier inundation, persecution. In their ancient lore, it is said that they have suffered as many as 72 genocides, it may now be 73.

The ancient religion of Yazidism has been said to have had its inception around 5,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia. It is a non-Abrahamic religion, yet it borrows many of its rituals and beliefs from Islam and Christianity. It serves as a religion as well as an ethnicity and is constituted by approximately 800,000 adherents. The majority of the following lives in a small desolate region of Iraq named Nineveh. This area has proved to be as much as it is contentious as war-torn for it lies in the special autonomous region of Kurdistan.

The Kurds have declared the Yazidis as a separate ethnic group despite that they share the same historical past. While the religion of Yazidism has many peculiarities it has unfortunately been marked as satanism by ISIS, leaving them open to persecution. This is due to the fact that there is an angel in their religion named Tawûsê Melek that was cast down to earth by god but later reconciled with him; it serves as a major part of their dogma and thus has been labeled devil worship. While many may consider it erroneous to assume this, the rouge caliphate ISIS, posses no rationale or mercy.

The ISIS that we are familiar with was endowed in 2014 in Iraq after it merged with an al-Qaeda sect. The group wrought destruction and malice from this point forward launching a campaign of radial terrorism; the incident in Sinjar was no exception. In August 2014 ISIS laid siege to Sinjar and many neighboring towns; the Yazidi locals took to the streets to protect their homes but were quickly inundated by the ISIS militants. They quickly announced that all Yazidis in the town must declare allegiance to Islam and the ISIS state or be slaughtered, many did, but a massacre still followed.

While the town was being seized 50,000 people fled from the village, many heading to the peak Mt. Sinjar as a last resort. Thousands ended up at the top of the mountain with no food or water and remained there for daysThe once-hallowed place morphed into a place of desolation. They were given airdrops of food and water to sustain them for as long as possible. While ISIS continued to lay siege to the mountain the U.S launched airstrikes allowing the refugees to descend the mountain and head for safety.

A large-scale humanitarian crisis ensued; the aftermath was horrific hundreds of men, women and children were executed at the bloody hands of ISIS while families were torn apart. While this occurred a less conspicuous aspect of the tragedy occurred in the town of Sinjar, thousands of people were taken by ISIS to be slaves. The caliphate in its last days of power has struggled to possess a steady flow of revenue but slavery held steadfast, in 2015 ISIS was holding 3,500 people as slaves.

The innocent humans that ISIS takes for revenue are then sold around Iraq and Syria turning a small profit for the caliphate. While many are sold some remain on the front lines with ISIS turning once innocent and benevolent children into brainwashed knaves. The problem is still occurring, with many children and women being sold up to 11 times and being beaten by their captors. The emotional and physical toll is significant and many are brainwashed by the ISIS militants leading to an arduous homecoming.

In 2017 around 43 million people are being held against their will as slaves around the world. They work as laborers or servants to their captors that possess unbounded malice. Child slavery is also prevalent with millions in captivity. While slavery in the eighteenth century is worlds away from modern slavery, the principles are the same. There are many occupations that slaves serve to in order to please their captors including but not limited to, debt-bondage, child slavery, forced labor and sex slavery.

It is imperative that we acknowledge the physical and emotional toll that slaves are subjected to. Many of the child slaves and others are beaten and or are verbally abused by their captors which can lead to lifelong impediments and even PTSD. Further, families are decimated when their children are captured or people are killed due to their captivity. In our modern society, slavery still exists and malevolent exploitation continues to occur.

While genocides and slavery continue to exist in a world bound upon peace it is now time that we find solutions to such atrocities. In order to abolish slavery once and for all the nations of the world will need to act coherently towards our common goal of a world that treats all as humans equally and values all life.

Slavery exists in every country in the world in one way or another and thus it is a global problem that needs global solutions. We need to recognize our duty to third world countries to provide humanitarian aid when they need it most. The United Nations will need to hold countries accountable for their support of slavery and for any part they may hold in such a deplorable act. We need to set a precedent once and for that we will not accept that slavery exists in our world if we wish to find a solution to it.

When Noah set upon that hallowed voyage he was set upon a mission of saving as many lives as feasible. Our world is now flooding and it is up to us to save it.

Works Cited

Elbagir, Nima. “ISIS’ Power Is Waning, but Its Child Slave Trade Is Still Booming.” CNN, Cable News Network, 2017,

Green, Emma. “The Yazidis, a People Who Fled.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 2014,

“ISIS Fast Facts.” CNN, Cable News Network, 2017,

Jalabi, Raya. “Who Are the Yazidis and Why Is Isis Hunting Them?” The Guardian, Guardian News, and Media, Nov. 2014,

Karadsheh, Jomana, and Chris Jackson. “Bringing ISIS to Justice for Crimes against Yazidis.” CNN, Cable News Network, Nov. 2017,

“What Is Modern Slavery?” Anti-Slavery International,

“Who Are the Yazidis, the Ancient, Persecuted Religious Minority Struggling to Survive in Iraq?” National Geographic, National Geographic Society, Nov. 2014,




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