AKNALICH, Armenia (Rudaw)—A small town in Armenia has built a memorial honoring the country’s enduring ties with Yezidis who fled there a century ago.
The Armenian-Yezidi Brotherhood memorial was opened on Monday in Aknalich, a small town in Armavir province that is home to the only Yezidi temple in the Caucasus.
The memorial consists of several sculptures, including a peacock angel—worshipped by Yezidis—with an Armenian solar cross symbolizing eternity.
The memorial also includes three sculptures of Armenian and Yezidi Kurdish community leaders, who fought together against the Ottoman Empire from 1915-1918.
Thousands of Yezidi Kurds from Armenia and Georgia attended the event and the ceremony also drew Armenian officials, Yezidi clerics and leaders from the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches.
The event included prayers for Yezidi victims under threat by Islamic State (IS) extremists in Iraq and memorialized the persecution of Yezidis and Armenians during the Ottoman Empire.
About 40,000 Yezidis were uprooted to Armenia from modern-day Turkey during the Ottoman Empire and continue to live in mostly rural areas.
Many officials spoke about the tragedy in Shingal, were thousands of Yezidis—who are ethnically Kurdish but practice an ancient religion—have been killed and kidnapped by IS radicals.
Even though the Armenian government has not taken in Yezidis from Iraq, it contributed $50,000 in humanitarian aid to Yezidi refugees in Kurdistan.
“Yezidis and Armenians have been brothers over the centuries, and we help them as much we can,” said Minister of Justice Hovanes Manukyan.
Gazi Tahir Khaled, Iraq’s ambassador to Armenia, attended the event. Iraqi Yezidi Member of Parliament Vian Dakhil, the main advocate for Yezidis in Iraq, was expected to attend but could not because of health reasons.
On Oct. 1, Armenian Member of Parliament Naira Zograbyan called on the Council of Europe to intervene on behalf of Yezidis and other minority groups that are under IS threat in northern Iraq. She compared the international community’s “silence” on the current threats against minorities to its passive position during the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire.
Earlier, Armenian and Kurdish musicians held a charity concert for Yezidi refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan and Syria. The famous Armenian singer Shushan Petrosyan announced before the performance, “My Yezidis, your pain is ours. We know how it feels.”