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Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue May 29, 2018 11:15 pm

Iraq orders exhumation, identification of Yazidi ISIS victims

An analysis by The Associated Press has found 72 mass graves left behind by Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria, and many more are expected to be discovered as the group loses territory. (Kurdish Mass Graves Directorate via AP)

Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Iraq has ordered to open up mass graves to identify the Yazifi victims of Islamic State militants, a source at the health ministry was quoted saying.

Iraqi Almaalomah website said the general secretariat of the Irai cabinet directed the health ministry to immediately open up Yazidi mass graves in Sinjar, the religious minority’s habitat in western Iraq.

The cabinet asked the ministry to use its forensic examiners to start DNA analyses of the remains and to hand them over to their relatives.

A statistic released by the Kurdistan Region Government’s Endowments and Religious Affairs Ministry last July said Islamic State’s massacres of Yazidis forced nearly 360.000 of the religious minority to flee their areas.

It said ISIS had kidnapped 6417 Yazidis since 2014, the report added. Those included 1102 women and 1655 children, the statistics show, adding that the authorities themselves had run into 43 mass graves of Yazidi victims slaughtered by ISIS.

Islamic State massacred and enslaved thousands of Yazidis when they overran their Sinjar region, west of Nineveh.

In August, the United Nations said Yazidi atrocities under the Islamic State continued. “The genocide is ongoing and remains largely unaddressed, despite the obligation of States…to prevent and to punish the crime,” the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria said in a report.

“Thousands of Yazidi men and boys remain missing and the terrorist group continues to subject some 3,000 women and girls in Syria to horrific violence including brutal daily rapes and beatings,” it added.

https://www.iraqinews.com/features/iraq ... s-victims/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:18 pm

ISIS detains Iraqi women, children in Syrian underground prisons

An Iraqi Yazidi activist has revealed places where Islamic State keep Yazidi women and children at underground prisons in Syria.

Speaking to the Russian Sputnik news agency, Hussein Ali al-Khansouri said Islamic State holds no less than 2000 people at regions of Sousa, Hegeen, Shoafa and Baguz in Syria’s Deir az-Zour province as well as Desheisha region, near borders between Syria and Iraq. Among the abductees are Yazidi women and children.

“At Desheisha only, there are are more than 300 Yazidi children and adults, who were kidnapped by ISIS in August 2014,” he said.

All the above mentioned regions, according to Khansouri, “are being shelled by the U.S.-led Coalition as well as French jets, especially near Desheish and Hegeen.”

In February, Eidan al-Sheikh Kalo, head of the Yazidi affairs department in Duhuk, said the total number of Yazidi survivors who were held by ISIS since August 2014 reached 3,259 persons, with 2,076 females. The total number of Yazidi men and women who were held by IS since 2014 eached 6,417 persons, including children.

Islamic State captured Sinjar region as well as villages in west of Mosul, Nineveh province, in August 2014. The group committed genocide against Yazidis. The men were killed, while the girls and women were taken as sex slaves. They were forced to convert from their religion.

https://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/yazi ... -in-syria/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:40 pm

World failing Yazidi women forced into sex slavery

PARIS (Thomson Reuters Foundation):
The world is failing Yazidi women forced into sex slavery by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, with 3,000 still unaccounted for, according to the head of a charity dedicated to helping survivors recover from their horrific experiences.

Murad Ismael said many Yazidi women and girls had been brainwashed or killed in captivity, while those who had managed to escape after years of enslavement and rape were left struggling to survive without an income or identity papers.

“Every inch of these women’s body and soul is broken,” Ismael, executive director of Yazda, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“And yet the international system is failing to embrace them and help them return to normal life,” said Ismael, who will speak at the Foundation’s Trust Conference on modern slavery in Brussels on Wednesday.

“These girls, they just want to resume school, go back to normal. But they’re not given any income or support so many of them have to be a father and a mother to their siblings, in addition to being a survivor.”

The Yazidi, a religious sect whose beliefs combine elements of ancient Middle Eastern religions, are regarded by Islamic State as devil-worshippers.

Thousands of women and girls of the Yazidi faith were abducted, tortured and sexually abused by ISIS fighters who invaded their homeland in northwest Iraq, in 2014.

The militants were driven out a year ago, but most Yazidis have yet to return to their villages and nearly 3,000 women and children remain in captivity.

“We used to get over 100 rescued women and girls arriving to our office each month, but now we only see five or six,” said Ismael.

“The pace of rescues is slowing down because many of these women have already been killed or brainwashed by their captors.”

“HORRENDOUS SUFFERING”

Manal, a young Yazidi woman who was kidnapped at the age of 17 by ISIS in 2014 and is now being supported by Yazda after being rescued, said her captors beat her until she was unconscious.

“When I woke up there were scars on my body and blood all over my clothes,” she said in Arabic through a translator.

“I tried to kill myself several times but I didn’t succeed. They didn’t care and raped me again and again.”

Now living with her family in a refugee camp in Qadiya, northern Iraq, she said she wanted to become a psychiatrist to help other survivors.

Baroness Nicholson, founder and chair of the British-based AMAR Foundation which provides education and healthcare in the Middle East, said the world’s religions should urgently recognize the Yazidi faith.

“Unless this is done, they will continue to be considered by some – quite wrongly - as devil worshippers, giving vile people the excuse they need to attack them,” she said by email.

Nicholson urged the international community to ensure the Yazidis could return home safely, and offer them asylum if they could not face doing so.

“The horrendous suffering of those women and girls so monstrously violated by IS should remain in the public consciousness forever,” she said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over IS in December, five months after his forces recaptured the country’s second city Mosul in a protracted battle with the jihadist militants.

The group continues to carry out bombings, assassinations and ambushes in different areas of Iraq, and remains active in neighboring Syria.

Reporting by Zoe Tabary @zoetabary, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-slav ... SKCN1J101O
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Jun 22, 2018 1:49 pm

Living in the shadows: Yazidi women tell of ISIS hell

A sense of foreboding hung in the air on the eve of one of Iraq’s greatest modern tragedies – the killing, displacing and enslaving of tens of thousands of Yazidi men, women and children by Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi’s army of terror.

Mosul had fallen in June and they knew an ISIS attack was likely. But it wasn’t until the early hours of August 3, 2014, when vigilant men gripping rusty Kalashnikovs spotted unfamiliar vehicles heading towards them through the desert, that Iraq’s Yazidis came face to face with their killers.

In one swift assault, ISIS fighters armed to the teeth attacked and seized Yazidi towns and villages in Sinjar, north Iraq, where about 500,000 members of the religious minority lived.

In the days that followed they killed thousands and enslaved an estimated 6,383 women and children, devastating and traumatising entire communities in the process. Countless families were shattered by the loss of a mother, a daughter, a sister.

As the stifling summer dragged on and the United States announced its air campaign against ISIS, the first group of reporters began to appear. By mid-August the catastrophe had created a media frenzy. Reporters from all over the world descended on the country in turmoil, slinging laptops and cameras and donning body armour.

In the years that followed, the focus fell largely on the gruesome details that emerged as more and more women were able to escape their captors and share their stories. Tales of violence, despair, starvation and rape trickled in as some editors back in the news rooms pushed for increasingly fast-paced stories and sensational details.

At a time when most were churning out hard news, one British journalist decided to slow down, take a step back and delve into the past, present and future of Iraq’s Yazidi women.

Cathy Otten’s first book, With Ash on their Faces: Yezidi women and the Islamic State, is the product of five years spent in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and 14 months of solid reporting and writing.

Otten moved to Kurdistan in early 2013, almost 18 months before the rise of ISIS and the devastation that ensued. For months, the young freelancer lived in the safety of Sulaymaniyah, a Kurdish city of more than half a million people near the border with Iran.

Then in June 2014 Mosul fell to ISIS – Otten packed her bags and moved west to the capital of the Kurdish region, Erbil, which at the time was just 60 kilometres from the front line.

During the next four years she reported on every aspect of the war against ISIS, paying particular attention to the human tragedy. “I don’t think I’d ever encountered anything like that,” Otten says from her home in Manchester, to where she recently returned. “Everything had changed, everything had collapsed. It was a huge civilisational catastrophe.”

The book, Otten says, was inspired by a trip to Sinjar mountain in 2015 with a young Yazidi woman who was returning to her hometown for the first time since her enslavement. “She was reclaiming the mountain,” the journalist says. “The book came from this. I was so impressed with her resilience.”

With Ash on their Faces illustrates the ways in which oral folklore empowered thousands of Yazidi women living under the brutality of ISIS.

“Yazidism is an oral religion, passed down through hymns sung by specially designated singers and the playing of holy instruments,” Otten writes.

Yazidis have suffered 74 separate genocides, all of which are remembered through folklore. For centuries, tales of resistance were passed down orally from mother to daughter. Then, in 2014, these ancient methods of survival were brought back to life and employed by the captive women.

Some smeared ash on their faces in an attempt to appear less attractive to their male captors. Other women cut their daughters’ hair to make them look like boys and some even kept their children from speaking – so that they appeared to be mute to dissuade their captors from taking the youngsters away.

However, Otten points out, storytelling has its limits, and can also be limiting.

Historically, the Yazidi religion has been passed down by folklore. Partly because of this the literacy rate in their native Sinjar region has been low. This in turn made it more challenging for the women to escape their captors, because they were often unable to read road signs or phone messages from their rescuers.

And while folklore plays a defining role in keeping Yazidism alive, this vulnerable minority cannot solely rely on oral history for survival. “I thought it was an interesting element – their use of storytelling to try to counteract the effects of ISIS, or to escape ISIS,” Otten says. However, she says, “it’s also important to point out that it didn’t ultimately work”.

But when folklore and oral tradition came up short, the state should have stepped in. Instead, Iraq and the Kurdistan Region’s deeply flawed political system not only participated in endangering Yazidis, it did not redeem itself when it had the chance to.

In Sinjar, the author explains, there are several intersecting histories and narratives. And indeed, Otten’s story touches on all of these – effortlessly weaving together voices from all the different components.

But it’s this web of factions and self-serving politics, Otten says, that hinders the rebuilding of Sinjar and prevents Yazidis from returning to their homes.

“It’s all about jockeying for the power. Even pushing back ISIS was about territory and land – I don’t think it was done to help the Yazidis.”

Even today, with the rise to power in May of Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr and his anti-establishment rhetoric, there is little hope of change for the Yazidis. “Nobody has the interests of the Yazidis at heart,” Otten says.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, thousands of Yazidis are still living in displaced people’s camps in north Iraq. Restless and marginalised, there is little hope of them soon returning home. Many of their houses have not been rebuilt, while the lack of state institutions means the basic functions to make people feel comfortable and safe are not in place. Meanwhile, those who could afford it, have left Iraq. But even then, leaving their home behind and starting afresh in a foreign country comes with its own difficulties.

“The Yazidi religion is closely linked to the land and the temples and shrines around Sinjar and Lallish. It’s yet to be seen how the current migrations will influence the way Yazidism is practised,” Otten writes.

“It’s difficult to leave your land and the lands where you spent most of your time. If it wasn’t for ISIS, I wouldn’t want to leave, but after ISIS I don’t want to stay here,” one of the book’s interviewees says.

Otten’s writing interlaces centuries-old practices with first-hand accounts of indelible pain, delivering a book that is both timely and historical – revealing a side of the secretive community that most readers are unlikely to have heard of.

The heart of the book is rooted in reporting that is exhaustive, incredibly lucid and thorough. The author recounts the fear and anguish of the Yazidis in minute detail, walks the reader through the women’s terrifying journeys and finally looks to the future.

At the time of the book’s publication more than 3,000 Yazidi women and children were still in captivity, with few attempts to rescue them. As the political and security landscape in Iraq and Kurdistan continues to shift, the Yazidi community is likely to become less and less of a priority for the powers that be. And while many of the women fought tooth and nail to break away from their brutal captors and make their way back home, the trauma they endured will live with them for ever.

“Even if we marry or fall in love, there will still be this thing inside that is broken,” one young Yazidi woman told Otten.

Perhaps the suffering will become yet another tale to tell their daughters, or a lyric to recite in an effort to never forget the persecution and murder of thousands of Yazidis, and the world’s failure to protect them.

With Ash on their Faces is available at http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/ash-faces-cathy-otten

https://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture ... l-1.742771
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:09 pm

A Yazidi mother’s torment four years after the genocide

"Without the children, I would have killed myself." Kocher, a Yazidi mother from Iraq, survived two years in "ISIS" captivity. The atrocities suffered have left her full of rage. Three of her children are still missing.

Since her return, Kocher has been wearing black only. Time does not heal all wounds, not, when you have returned from hell. Since her liberation from the "Islamic State," (ISIS) Kocher, her husband Mahmood, and her five youngest daughters have been living on the barren plateau of Mount Sinjar in Northern Iraq.

They are refugees stranded inside their own country. Their recent torments are not spoken about in the family: "It's too late for me," says 40-year-old Kocher, only hinting at her pain.

The claws of the past

Her thoughts constantly return to her three older children — her two sons Saadon, who is 22 now, and Firaz, who is 18, as well as her 15-year-old daughter Aveen. Their whereabouts remain unknown. Only the vague hope of a reunion keeps Kocher from succumbing to the clutches of the past.

During her many sleepless nights, she is tortured by the question of why she is among the survivors. Her five daughters, aged four to 13, are also terrified at night. For Kocher, there is no doubt that "without the children, I would have killed myself."

The genocidal attack

Kocher's nightmare began on August 3, 2014 when ISIS militia invaded the Sinjar region of Northern Iraq, which for centuries had been the heartland of the Yazidi minority. For the self-proclaimed jihadis of the "caliphate" Yazidis were "infidels" and "devil worshippers."

The invaders committed unimaginable atrocities, including mass executions, which the UN has classed as genocide. So far, however, no one has been held accountable.

In August 2014, some 50,000 terrified Yazidis headed up Mount Sinjar, the holy mountain of the Yazidi people, in a desperate bid to seek protection on the harsh and inaccessible terrain of a high plateau. Seeking refuge on their holy mountain seemed to be their only hope.

Together with other families from her neighborhood, Kocher and eight of her children braved the difficult serpentine road. Her husband Mahmood stayed behind to care for his elderly parents.

The enslavement

Kocher's group had made it half way up the mountain when they were intercepted by ISIS fighters and either killed or enslaved. Weathered clothes, torn underwear and faded shoes strewn along the roadside still document how Yazidis attempted to escape their fate.

"They also took older women than me and forced them to marry five or six men," says Kocher. Not once does she use the word rape. "They exchanged women for a cigarette and gave each other women as presents."

Time and again, Kocher and other mothers were separated from their children. She lost contact with her two older sons, her daughter Aveen was forcibly married to an ISIS fighter in Mosul. They only brought her back to see her mother once. The girl was dressed in black and fully veiled, with bridal make-up on her face.A further humiliation: "It is one of the great pleasures of a mother to put make-up on her daughter's face for her wedding." Since that day, there has been no further sign of life from Aveen.

The burden of liberation

Kocher and her five youngest daughters "were sold like fruit from a pushcart," first within Iraq, then across the border into Syria. The last few months were spent with about 50 other women and children in a dark dungeon in Raqqa, constantly hungry and in fear of airstrikes.

Sometime in the summer of 2016, the group was freed — probably with the help of a ransom paid by the Kurdish regional government, but Kocher does not know the details of their release. She only remembers that they were put on buses and driven back to Iraq.

'ISIS' is believed to have enslaved some 7,000 Yazidi women and children.

So far, only half of them have returned

Kocher was reunited with her husband in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. During their two-year separation he had joined Kurdish militias to fight 'ISIS' in Sinjar. The first time they saw him again, the youngest daughters Asma, aged four, and Basima, aged six, did not recognize their father.

"Sometimes, to find some relief, I cry like crazy,” says Kocher, "but never in front of the children."

"I'm not normal anymore, the doctors told me that no medicine can help. They say I think too much."

The forgotten mountain

Since their reunification, the family has lived in a cluster of tents on Mount Sinjar. Up here, on the windy mountain plateau, an estimated 2,000 families — some 10,000 people in total — are still defying the elements. They are, quite simply, too scared to leave.

Nearly 70 mass graves have been discovered in the Sinjar region. On August 7, 2014 it was the plight of the desperate Yazidis on this mountain range that prompted then-US President Barack Obama to order airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq. Today, military victory over the so-called caliphate has been declared. But the world, it seems, has forgotten about the mountain and its people.

More than 200,000 Iraqi Yazidis have fled Sinjar, seeking shelter in the large refugee camps near the city of Dohuk in the autonomous Kurdish region, or setting off on the long journey to Europe.

Mahmood and his daughter

Kocher and Mahmood have received 20 sheep from a Christian aid organization to help them make a living. For the girls, the animals are also playmates: they give them comfort and distraction. The family has enough to eat, and there is even a diesel generator and a TV. But their lives are haunted by the past.

After lunch, Kocher rolls up the left sleeve of her 10-year-old daughter Zhiyan's jumper and points to some rough letters scratched into her skin. "I tried to tattoo their names on their arms," Kocher recalls. "I did not want the children to forget what they were really called when they were taken away from us. They gave them new names after the forced conversion. But the man in charge found out and threatend to cut off her arm. I only managed to complete half of my daughter’s name."

Impossible reconciliation

Rambusi, the family's home village, lies below the southern flank of the mountain and can be reached in less than an hour by car. Before August 2014, the family owned a large house they had invested all their savings in.

Today the village is eerily quiet and desolate, there aren't even any stray dogs. Most houses have been destroyed — either blown up by 'ISIS' or hit by American air raids. Mahmood and Kocher sometimes go back to search for clothing and old pictures beneath the rubble.

Kocher says she does not care about the destruction. "The way they abducted small girls, just six or eight years old. How they gave them to groups of 10 or 12 men. A girl of 10 years who gets pregnant from ISIS, isn't that the most difficult thing?"

There is rage in Kocher's voice. Mahmood is silent. Both say that some of their former Muslim neighbors were among the perpetrators. Any reconciliation in their home village of Rambusi is, they say, inconceivable.

The Sar-Dashte Yazidi refugee camp on the plateau of Mount Sinjar

Uphill, in the refugee camp, Mahmood has his loaded Kalashnikov at hand. There's a deep, palpable fear that they will again come under attack, since after the genocide, who can the Yazidis trust?

There are weapons everywhere and Sinjar is caught between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdish regional government. There's also been infighting among the Kurds. There are many armed groups active in the area along the border with Syria, including Kurdish Peshmerga and Kurdish fighters of the PKK as well as the YPG, against which Turkey is fighting.

And then there's a new force making its presence felt, the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi militia, which is supported by Iran. The Yazidis of Mount Sinjar — a tiny minority — are trapped in a myriad of conflicting interests.

Kocher, Mahmood and their children recently applied to an aid program that would allow them to migrate to faraway Australia. Of course, they don't want to leave their three missing children behind and there are those rare days when individual Yazidis return from enslavement, ransomed for more than $10,000 (€8,580) with the help of smugglers and human traffickers.

Mahmood has also contacted smugglers."If, with God's help, my children come back, we will leave Iraq immediately", Kocher says. "We are done with Iraq."

http://www.dw.com/en/a-yazidi-mothers-t ... a-44329312
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