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Lincoln Yazidi community remembers 74th genocide

Lincoln Yazidi community remembers 74th genocide
Lincoln Yazidi community remembers 74th genocide(Ellis Wiltsey)
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 10:52 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - More than 3,000 Yazidis call Lincoln home, making the Capital City the largest resettlement of the group in North America.

Tuesday marked the seventh anniversary of the start of the 74th Yazidi genocide in Iraq.

Community members who now call Nebraska home gathered together at Holmes Lake to remember and honor those who lost their lives and are still missing.

During that genocide, ISIS forces killed over 10,000 people. It’s estimated another 6,500 women and children were kidnapped.

Organizers of the event said they mark the anniversary with events like this to ensure nobody is forgotten and to remind the community that there is still work to be done.

Tuesday night’s event centered around an 8.3-mile walk. It coincides with the date, but also mirrors the walking that hundreds of thousands had to do to get to safety.

“Remember the souls, remember the victims, remember the people who have lost their lives on August 3rd of 2014 and the days after,” said Haroon Al Hayder, a Yazidi community member.

Dozens came out to participate in that walk. Many wearing white clothing, a symbol of purity and peacefulness.

“To show the world and show this community that we are a peaceful community and we ask for peace for all people,” Al Hayder said.

Also in attendance was Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, who has had a longstanding history of working with the Yazidi community in Lincoln and during his time in Washington. Most recently, having a meeting with Iraq Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi about protecting religious minorities.

“For many years it was a quiet community but then ISIS came and conducted a genocide,” Fortenberry said. “A horrific, dark, twisted ideology of trying to exterminate people because of their religion.”

Al Hayder said to have such a strong community here in Nebraska is what attracts many who come to the states to settle here.

“We practice our rituals, we practice our traditions, we come together, we visit each other, so we live our culture together,” Al Hayder said.

The evening ended with a candle-lighting ceremony for the fallen.

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