I am a girl of twelve.
I am not a Christian.
I am not a Jew.
I am not a Muslim, either Shiite or Sunni.
But I believe in God, your god.
I believe in Adam. I believe in all the angels.
No one had ever heard of my people.
No one had ever heard our story before.
We have tried to live to ourselves for 6,763 years.
We were different so you punished us.
We were different so you cleansed us from “your” land.
We were different so you killed us and scattered us to the four corners of the earth.
But we are so much the same as you.
I am a twelve year old girl, same as so many twelve year old girls.
Why am I different? I belong to the Yazidi people.
We are a small people living in small villages, keeping to ourselves.
But because we believe in one being different than you,
An angel by the name of Tuwusi Melek, our peacock Angel,
Your murdered us as devil worshippers for over a thousand years.
We just wanted to be left alone, doing no harm to anyone else.
The Turks wanted us to be followers of Islam and when we would not bend our backs we were purged from Syria during the days of the Ottomans. They killed us by the hundreds.
The Turks were not alone.
Though we belonged to the Kurdish people they thought we were not Kurdish enough and our belief in the angel Tuwusi Melek too strange and since he was not in their Book, we must be worshippers of the devil. So again by the hundreds they killed us.
And now as we try to survive a new people have come against us. They killed us by the thousands.
They came into our village.
They murdered my grandfather.
It was my grandfather who shared the stories of the persecution of our people.
It was my grandfather who told us the stories and why we are proud to be Yazidi.
I am a girl of twelve of Yazidi people.
You still don’t know me.
You now only know those who killed grandfather.
They killed my mother and father too.
You only know the monster that caused my brothers and cousins to flee to the mountains.
You only know those who took my sister and me away to their camps.
You only know because I am here to tell you my sister was raped and married off to a monster.
I just want to be twelve again.
I fled from those monsters. I fled upon the rocky earth to the safety of the mountains my feet torn and bleeding.
I kept running because if they caught me they would do worse than rape me.
No one cared about my people when we were attacked by the Turks.
No one cared about my people when the Syrians forced us out of their country.
No one cared about my people when the Kurds attacked us and tried to destroy our culture.
Only when a new group came, a group considered worse than Al Qaeda did anyone care.
A people who lived thousands of miles away cared, not because of my people dying by the thousands but because this group beheaded a couple men from their country.
I am a twelve year old girl.
Now the old men look at me with suspicion, thinking perhaps what happened to my sister happened to me.
The old women in the mountains looked and ensured that I remained untouched.
The old men still look at me with disgust or avert their eyes.
The boys my age…they do not look at me at all.
Why do you hate us?
Why do you attack us?
Why do you destroy what is different?
Why do you destroy what is strange?
Why do you destroy what is unknown?
Why can’t we be left alone?
Why can’t I just be an ordinary twelve year old girl?
When I reached the safety of the mountain passes I heard the stories. Our village was lucky.
Other villages were completely wiped out, lost forever to history.
Men, women, children and babies all butchered.
The babies were pulled out of their mothers’ arms and beheaded in front of them before the women were killed.
Why do things like this happen?
Why does no one do anything?
I walk around the mountains to get away from the eyes of those who are supposed to love me.
I am escorted by my brothers or cousins or other kin.
They claim to be afraid that I will be stolen away again.
My thoughts thrust me back to that day.
I remember my mother dying and my father shot trying to save her.
I remember my grandfather dying, too slow to flee and dying like a sheep for the slaughter.
I remember being dragged away.
I remember my sister’s screams from the tent next to mine.
They claim to be so righteous, men of God. What God would permit his people to commit such horrors?
The thoughts keep coming back again and again.
At night I can’t sleep because I am there again being pawed at by that old man with his dirty hands.
His eyes and hands so preoccupied that he does not see me grab the fiery piece of wood from the fire pit. My hands burn, blistering with the agony. I do not care as I smash the wood against the man’s head. I drop the burning wood onto the rugs of the tent as I flee. I hear the man’s screams as he and the tent go up in fire.
I hear the screams of the other men as they chase me.
This is the history of our people. A history of death and slaughter, not of our own creation.
In the past we have been put to the sword and in modern times they line up our fathers and shoot in them in the head.
I am twelve years old. I love God. I love my family and I love peace.
We are dying and not just my father and mother but our entire people.
And yet the world stands by and shakes their fist in outrage at the death of a few while we die by the thousands.
I just want to be twelve.
A simple twelve.
An innocent twelve.