Prince Tahseen Said Beg died after a long illness in Germany on Monday. He had spent much of his life in exile, advocating for the Yazidis during some of their darkest years. Challenges await a successor.
The “Islamic State” (IS) group’s attack in 2014 was the Yazidis’ darkest moment in their ancestral land. IS murdered, sexually assaulted and enslaved thousands of people. At that point, Tahseen Said Ali Beg had been the mir, or prince, of the Yazidis for seven decades. Living in exile in Germany, he appealed to nations for military assistance in the fight against IS.
“No event had challenged him as much as the beginning of the Islamic State’s genocide of Yazidis in the Sinjar region,” the Yazidis’ central council in Germany wrote in a press release announcing Said’s death on Monday in Hanover after a long illness at the age of 85. He had dedicated his final years to helping Yazidis who had fled return to their homeland. He had pursued that goal “with great energy till the end — but success eluded him,” according to the council, which advocates for Germany’s 150,000 Yazidis.
“He was a wise leader and a firm believer in peace,” Nadia Murad, a survivor of the IS assault who last year became the first Iraqi and first Yazidi to win the Nobel Peace Prize, wrote on Twitter on Monday. “He will be greatly missed. May his soul rest in peace today and always.”