By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis on Wednesday appealed to the world to take action in favour of the rights of the persecuted Yazidis, and he described the religious minority as “innocent victims of a senseless and inhumane barbarity.
His words of support and condemnation of religious intolerance and hatred came during an audience in the Vatican with representatives of Yazidi refugees from Iraq and Syria who have found shelter in Germany.
Saying that it is unacceptable that human beings continue to be persecuted and killed because of their religious affiliation, the Pope called for the recognition, protection and respect for persecuted minorities and said that every person has the right to freely profess his or her own faith without limitations.
“Once again, he said, I raise my voice in favour of Yazidi rights, above all for the right to exist as a religious community: no one can claim the power to obliterate a religious group because it is not tolerated.
Serhat Ortac, President of the society of Yazidi Academics was amongst those representing the Yazidi people during today’s audience with the Pope:
Ortac told Vatican News that a people the Yazidis are very grateful for the Pope’s invitation and they are very thankful for his support.
“We hope to stay in contact with the Vatican to maintain the support and the attention of the world” on the fate of persecuted minorities in Iraq and across the globe, he said.
Ortac said that the Yazidis have been persecuted and are confronted with genocide since August 2014; since then, he continued, many thousands have been killed and there are still about 4,000 kept hostage and we don’t know where they are.
“We need the help of the international community to help these people” he said.
He also said that from 300,000 to 400,000 Yazidis are still in refugee camps and cannot go back to their homeland because they may still face persecution.
The State, he noted, is not capable of protecting these minorities including many Christian communities who have been forced to flee their homeland.
”We have to support these people, he concluded, so they can go back and live in their homelands”.