A Germany-based Yezidi activist has thanked the Aurora Initiative for awarding him its flagship award for humanitarian work last month, calling it a diplomatic recognition of the genocide which ripped apart the small community five years ago. However, Yezidis continue to face grave threat in their homeland amid Turkey’s current offensive in northeastern Syria, he warns.
"[The prize] is a kind of symbolic, diplomatic recognition of the Yezidi genocide and will help empower the Yezidi issue and strengthen our struggle for Yezidi rights," Mirza Dinnayi has said, according to Rudaw English.
The Aurora Prize - established by the grandchildren of Armenian Genocide survivors - is the largest in the humanitarian community, and was awarded to Dinnayi for his work with survivors of terrorism.
He added that the prize has given him a responsibility to “spread the language of peace to the world.”
Where he is less optimistic however, is in the future of his community in their own homeland, particularly in light of the ongoing Turkish offensive in northeast Syria.
“There is no future for the Yezidis in the Middle East” he said gravely.
Operation Peace Spring, launched in October, has displaced hundreds of thousands from the Kurdish-held enclave in Northern Syria, including members of the Yezidi ethnoreligious minority. Twenty-three Yezidi villages lie inside Turkey’s so-called safe zone, and over 50 percent of Syria’s Yezidis have left the country since civil war broke out in 2011, according to the activist.
Dinnayi, a Yezidi who has lived in Germany for several decades, has been engaged in fighting for Yezidi rights for over 20 years. He previously served as Presidential Advisor for Minority Affairs under Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.