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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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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:56 pm

Long road to justice for Yazidis who escaped ISIS

DAHUK, Kurdistan Region of Iraq — When Hayat was captured from Sinjar by the Islamic State in August 2014, the militants thought that the petite Yazidi woman with a girly face was much younger than 19. To ensure that ISIS wouldn’t sell her as a slave, Hayat pretended to be deaf and mute. She assumed IS fighters weren’t interested in handicapped girls.

She turned out to be right. The first couple of months, Hayat wasn’t separated from her family or sold as a "sabiyya," or sex slave. But then somebody blew her cover. That’s when her nightmare really began.

"A fellow captive, a Yazidi woman, told IS that I lied, that I could indeed hear and speak," says Hayat, now 23. "Together, with other women and girls, ISIS took me to a base in Mosul. DAHUK, Kurdistan Region of Iraq — When Hayat was captured from Sinjar by the Islamic State in August 2014, the militants thought that the petite Yazidi woman with a girly face was much younger than 19. To ensure that ISIS wouldn’t sell her as a slave, Hayat pretended to be deaf and mute. She assumed ISIS fighters weren’t interested in handicapped girls. ISIS leader named Abu Ali gave me clothes and forced me to take a shower. After this, an ISIS fighter drew my name out of a lottery.”

Sitting in a badly ventilated tent in an overcrowded camp for internally displaced persons near the city of Dahuk, she tells Al-Monitor she would like to share her story but doesn’t want her real name mentioned as some members of her family are still in captivity.

When asked how many times she was sold, Hayat picks up her notebook and counts all the names. "Thirteen times," she answers.

Her horrific ordeal ended when she escaped in July 2017, but memories of captivity still haunt her. Hayat remembers everything about the men who raped and beat her, from their ages and facial expressions to their cars and where they lived. "I think about it all the time," she says. "They were so bad to me, all of them."

Hayat documented in her notebook all these details about the men who abused her. She has also told her story to journalists, nongovernmental organizations and even to officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government, but she still feels like nothing has been done with the information she has provided.

Hayat is not the only one who feels hopeless. Many women like her live in camps for the internally displaced in Iraqi Kurdistan, where hundreds of thousands of Yazidis have lived since IS invaded their homeland of Sinjar. Camp conditions are difficult. Yazidis live in tents, there is no electricity and many struggle to make ends meet. In May, many tents flooded during a heavy storm, and a teen died after a fire broke out in Khanke camp.

“Yazidis have been living in the same tents for four years now, while the UN said that the [situation] would last for one year only," says Bahar Ali, director of the Emma Organization. "No jobs, bad living conditions and a grim future: That’s life for Yazidis who came back after, sometimes, years of captivity. They faced all this sexual violence and just sit there in the tents, with all their memories. It is very bad."

The lack of justice for victims of ISIS often stands in the way of their healing process, Ali says. “Part of the recovery is a criminal being punished for his deeds. No punishment means no justice,’’ she adds.

After the so-called ISIS caliphate collapsed, Iraqi courts tried thousands of suspected ISIS members and collaborators, though many more are still awaiting prosecution.

In a new courtroom in Dahuk, a judge informs Ahmad, 26, from Sinjar, of the crimes he is accused of committing: joining ISIS, stealing weapons from the peshmerga and participating in a massacre in Hardan, a village in north Sinjar.

“According to a witness, you were with [ISIS] when they killed the men in Hardan," the judge says. "Did you join ISIS and kill the people over there?"

Ahmad, wearing a red T-shirt, shakes his head: “No, all the accusations are false."

The judge calls a witness, but the witness doesn't appear. A few minutes later, Ahmad’s trial is finished. During the rapid, 20-minute trial, no Yazidis were called to testify, and there was no mention of the Yazidis, slavery or genocide. In the afternoon, after deliberation, the judge tells the suspect he is free to go.

According to another judge in Dahuk, Ghazi Khaleel, who has tried similar cases, there was not enough evidence to put Ahmad behind bars. “We prosecute ISIS militants and collaborators for membership in a terrorist organization, not for genocide," he says. "We don’t have enough evidence yet, as the mass graves in Sinjar, for example, still have to be examined. This investigation will take a long time, probably years."

While the United Nations has declared the killings of Yazidis by ISIS to be genocide and has launched an investigation into the war crimes of ISIS, judges in Iraq have been prosecuting ISIS suspects under the country's counterterrorism law, charging suspects with either belonging to ISIS or providing assistance to the group.

Pari Ibrahim, founder and executive director of the Free Yezidi Foundation, finds it frustrating that after almost four years, not a single individual has faced justice for crimes committed against Yazidis.

Ibrahim, a Yazidi herself, says it’s important for the community that Yazidis have their day in court. “In Iraq, many have even been convicted or sentenced to death for joining or collaborating with ISIS, but not because of what they did to Yezidis," she says. "It’s important for us that these criminals are being charged for these horrible atrocities."

In Iraq, there is no law to punish genocide, says Ibrahim. “The Iraqi terrorism law doesn’t mention anything about rape or sex slavery," she says. "Iraq also has a statutory rape law, but it is not being used for terror suspects, only for civilians."

Ali understands the frustrations of the victims. As a young woman, she lived through the infamous poison gas attack on Halabja in the '80s. She wanted Saddam Hussein to be punished, but then his regime was overthrown in 2003.

Ibrahim says the West faces the same problems when prosecuting ISIS fighters. “Of the thousands of fighters who traveled on European passports, and the thousands who returned, none has been tried for crimes against Yazidis," she says. "We are working very hard on changing that."

After a two-hour interview, Hayat asks if there are any questions left. She looks tired as she rubs her head. Ever since she was rescued from the hands of her rapists, she suffers from nightmares and migraine attacks.

“I tried everything, but it doesn’t get any better. I have to try to live with it, I guess."

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/origin ... stice.html
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:15 am

EU aid not reaching Yazidi in northern Iraq

The EU has provided some €350m in humanitarian funding aid for Iraq between 2015 and 2017.

But Nadia's Initiative, an NGO named after an enslaved Yezhidi girl who managed to escape the Islamic State, says little if anything ends up helping the discriminated community in Sinjar, an ancient city in northern Iraq.

Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown, who has been working with the community since 2015, told this website Iraqi politicians are now refusing to disperse any of the needed aid funds to the area in and around Sinjar.

"There is no aid, there is no reconstruction, there are landmines and mass graves and political disputes and reconstruction can't begin because Sinjar hasn't been de-mined," she said, last month in an interview.

Brown, who had also helped mount a case of genocide against the Islamic State at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, says Iraqi government forces to drive out the militants have made it somewhat safer for the Yazidis to return home.

"Now we need the Iraqi government to hire the Yazidis and make them part of the security. I think that is a very concrete action that I think the Iraqi government and international community can support," she said.

The EU maintains humanitarian funding is going to Ninewa governorate, where Sinjar town is located, to assist vulnerable people, including Yazidis. The funding apparently goes towards health care, education in emergencies, as well as assistance in response to flooding in Sinjar.

But Brown says the money is not reaching the people because local political authorities "don't really care about the Yazidi population".

Caritas, an international aid organisation, is now promoting Nadia's Initiative to help bring some solutions, says most of the EU funding is going to Mosul, Telfar, and Hawija in west Anbar.

"It is another sign how the system is failing when the community of victims is responsible of ensuring that justice prevails," said Shannon Pfohman, a policy and advocacy director for Caritas Europa.
War crimes and delays

Survivors who fled to Turkey, after being hunted by radicalised militants, are also having to wait until 2022 for appointments with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

"Due to the increase in the number asylum-seekers especially in the last few years, there are waiting periods throughout the process," said the UNHCR, in a statement on Tuesday (3 July), when asked to explain the 2022 date.

It noted people also have to go through Turkish authorities for processing and that appointment dates with the UNHCR are automatically generated by a scheduling software.

Such delays are part of a broader frustration to help the community, targeted by the Islamic State in a deliberate campaign to exterminate them.

The militants had in August 2014 laid siege to the city, displacing up to 300,000 people, and kidnapped thousands of women and children, who then suffered horrific abuse.

The United Nations Human Rights Office had in a report said Isis may have perpetrated a genocide against the Yezhidi, noting crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Stories of women and children being held captive, tortured and enslaved, gripped international attention as the armed militia indiscriminately slaughtered thousands.

Statistics are difficult to obtain.

Yazda, an NGO based in Iraq, estimates only around a few thousand, out of the 90,000 who fled Iraq, ended up in Europe. It says many try to reach Europe but are turned back at the border with Bulgaria.

It also remains unclear how many obtained asylum given ethnicity is not registered during applications.

But last year, over 52,000 people from Iraq applied for international protection in Europe, less than half the number registered in 2016.

More than half of Iraqi applicants were counted in Germany and Greece. Around 60 percent obtained refugee status and around 35 percent a subsidiary protection status.

https://euobserver.com/migration/142272
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jul 05, 2018 10:53 pm

Stop recruiting child soldiers in Iraq
Zama Coursen-Neff

"Daoud" said he wanted to fight "for revenge" after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) swept into Iraq's Sinjar district in August 2014, killing thousands of adherents of the Yazidi religious minority and taking thousands more captive.

Daoud's family managed to flee, taking an escape route opened up by the People's Defence Forces, the armed wing of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Those forces offered training and weapons to a Yazidi militia, the Sinjar Resistance Units. Six months later, Daoud, whose real name isn't used for his safety, joined the militia. He was 15.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented 29 casesin which armed groups linked to the PKK, had recruited children in Sinjar and in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq - even though the group's commanders had pledged to end the practice.
'War crime'

The Yazidis and the Kurds have suffered appalling persecution. But in their efforts to protect their people, commanders are committing their own abuses by using children as soldiers. This can cost those children a future, and sometimes their lives.

None of the 29 children whose cases we documented was forcibly recruited, but it is prohibited under human rights law for armed groups to use children, even if they "volunteer". And if the children are under 15, it is a war crime.

The children weren't allowed regular contact with their families. A Kurdish family in Halabja, the town Saddam Hussein attacked with chemical weapons in 1988, said that PKK officials had rebuffed their attempts to contact their 16-year-old son since he left to join the group more than a year before.

As for Daoud, he was shot during fighting in Sinjar. He called home just twice over nine months from Syria where he was receiving medical treatment. He never told his family what happened, he said.

Another Yazidi boy saw a 16-year-old friend killed in battle. Neither had received any psychological support after they had returned to the displaced people's camps where their families are.

Recruiting children as fighters is exacerbating their hardships, not ameliorating them.

Once they joined up, some children were not allowed to leave. In the worst the HRW found, witnesses described the recapture and brutal beating by fighters of a 13-year-old Yazidi girl who had argued with her commander and tried to escape.

In February, residents of Sardashti, a town in Sinjar, told the HRW they found her limping along a road with a broken leg, pleading for help. They tried to help her, but her former sisters-in-arms tracked her down and took her away.

Some child soldiers said they received an informal education from their commanders, but many, like Daoud, dropped out of school and never went back. After missing out on an education, a child's reward for military service is often life-long poverty.

Daoud, who is now back in a camp for displaced people, is looking for unskilled work. A boy in another camp said he joined the Yazidi militia when he was 14 "to kill some ISIL" and fought for nearly two years, but that now, "I have no job. I have no idea what I'll do."
Escaping desperate circumstances

Vengeance aside, children may try to join armed groups to escape desperate circumstances. In the camps, families live in prolonged, aid-dependent temporariness.

In Sinjar, where the economy remains in shambles, it is as bad or worse. Only eight of the 225 former Iraqi public schools in the district were functioning as of September, a school director said.

In one town, Khanasoor, the Sinjar Resistance Units have turned one former school into a barracks. The PKK had sent volunteer teachers to another empty school, but none had a high school education. Last year, the party's militia recruited some of the pupils.

Recruiting children as fighters is exacerbating their hardships, not ameliorating them. In interviews Yazidis in Sinjar repeatedly and spontaneously compared the Kurdish group with ISIL on the issue of child recruitment and indicated that the People's Defence Forces is wearing out its welcome.

A father in Sinjar said his son had left 18 months earlier with a group of 16-year-old boys to join up. The father had asked party officials to bring the boy back, but was rebuffed, and doesn't know if his son is alive or dead.

"He is still a baby," the father said. "He said he wanted to be a doctor, he was very good at school." He said the use of child soldiers risked "starting a war between the Yazidis" and the armed group.

Among the families the HRW spoke to, child recruitment is losing hearts and minds, and it is costing boys and girls dearly. The PKK leadership should clearly denounce it, and affiliated armed groups should demobilise all children in their ranks.

Zama Coursen-Neff is the children's rights director at Human Rights Watch.

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opini ... 18018.html
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:20 am

For a Yazidi woman abducted by ISIS, a tearful homecoming

That was where the Islamic State militants had separated her and other Yazidi women from their male relatives, selling the women into sexual slavery and sending the men to their deaths. Today, the walls are covered with the portraits of those who were killed.

She fell to her knees and sobbed uncontrollably.

Khalaf was just 18 years old when she was captured and sold into slavery, and endured four months of rape, torture and beatings until she managed to escape. She later wrote about her experiences in "The Girl Who Beat Isis: My Story," published in 2016.

The Associated Press does not generally identify the victims of sexual assault, but Khalaf has gone public with her story.

On Tuesday she returned to her village of Kocho for the first time since she was captured, passing rows of homes and buildings destroyed in the battle to retake the village in 2015.

"It was very difficult for me to think that I would come back to Kocho again," Khalaf said later, as she stood inside an empty classroom looking at the photos of the dead.

"I will never forget the day Daesh came and they gathered us in the school and separated us from our families, that will never leave my mind," she said, using the Arabic acronym for the extremist group.

The militants swept into Sinjar, the ancestral homeland of the Yazidis near the Syrian border, in August 2014, after capturing the northern city of Mosul and declaring an Islamic caliphate in large areas of Iraq and neighboring Syria. Tens of thousands of Yazidis escaped to Mount Sinjar, where most were eventually rescued by U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.

Those who stayed behind met the fate of Khalaf and her family.

The Yazidis are an ancient religious minority, falsely branded as devil-worshippers by Sunni Muslim extremists. IS, adopting a radical interpretation of ancient Islamic texts, declared that Yazidi women and even young girls could be taken as slaves.

Khalaf was taken to the schoolhouse and separated from her father and older brother, who were killed. She and her mother were among thousands of women who were bused from Sinjar to the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the caliphate.

In the book, co-written with the German journalist Andrea Hoffmann, she describes how they were bought and sold like cattle. She says the men would kneel and pray before raping her, convinced that it was sanctioned by religion. She fought back — which often triggered her epilepsy — and tried to kill herself.

She eventually escaped when her "owner" left the door to her room unlocked, and her mother escaped five months later. Khalaf spent time in a camp for displaced people in northern Iraq before eventually relocating to Germany, where she lives now.

Ahmed Khudida Burjus, the deputy director of Yazda, a U.S.-based Yazidi rights group, says around 7,000 women and girls were captured and sold into slavery, with nearly half eventually escaping. In Kocho alone, at least 500 men and boys were killed, and 800 women and girls taken away.

The group has documented at least 54 mass graves of Yazidis, but says a lack of resources has delayed the exhumation of the remains, and that there may be more graves yet to be discovered.

Over the past three years, Syrian and Iraqi forces have gradually driven IS out of nearly all the territory it once held. But the group still maintains a presence in the Syrian desert and remote areas along the border.

At least 3,000 Yazidi women, girls and children are still unaccounted for. Khalaf says their fate is never far from her mind.

"I was in their captivity and I know how difficult it is to be there, a day feels like a year," she said. "We prayed every day that the day would pass without beating or torture or rape."

https://www.kob.com/news/for-a-yazidi-w ... g/4977567/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Jul 08, 2018 1:19 am

Recognise Yazidism as a religion, charity urges other faith groups

YAZIDISM should be recognised as a world religion by other faith groups to stop future persecution, a new report has said.

The report The Third Windsor Conference: The final chapter was released after the third annual conference hosted by the international charity AMAR. Faith leaders from around the world, including the Bishop of Derby, Dr Alastair Redfern, contributed to it. It is supported by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and the educational charity Cumberland Lodge.

The report says: “Recognition of Yazidism as a world faith will be critical to not only preventing the persecution of the Yazidi community, but also helping transform attitudes amongst the world’s other great religions towards communities persecuted because of faith.”

It builds on the recommendations that followed from the second conference (News, 15 September 2017): that the United Nations and the international community must prioritise the mental health and well-being of refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons), especially the Yazidi community, and recognise the rehabilitating part played by faith and music.

The report says: “The third and final Windsor Conference aims to deliver a short report and methodology that can be used by persecuted communities to develop their own agency and leverage the support of the United Nations and international community in a timely and effective manner.”

Using case studies of persecuted and marginalised groups, such as the LDS, Native Americans, Ahmadis, and Huguenots, the report suggests ways that persecuted groups can be helped in the future.

The methodology is based on elements such as: “Active participation with communities affected by persecution, conflict, and displacement”; drawing upon the support of formerly persecuted communities; convening ‘intense and insightful’ meetings; benefiting from the support of the C of E and Lambeth Palace, and of the founder and chair of AMAR, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne; and using the leaders of the communities for the discussion.

Lady Nicholson said that something needed to be done to tackle “the horrors” of religious persecution: “AMAR’s all-Iraqi teams of medical professionals have witnessed the terrible consequences of religious persecution against the poor Yazidi women and girls, who were kidnapped, tortured, and held as slaves by the monsters of Daesh (IS). Thousands of Yazidi men were murdered, and their women raped, beaten, and humiliated.

“We have been providing medical care and psychiatric and psychological support for many thousands of these poor, peaceful people, but we are also absolutely determined to prevent this genocidal behaviour ever happening again.

“The Yazidis have been subjected to 74 genocides over the centuries, purely because of the mistaken belief that they are devil worshippers. Utter nonsense of course, but it was used as a justification to try and wipe them out.”

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/ ... ith-groups
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:32 pm

More Help Needed for Yazidis Struggling to Rebuild in Sinjar

As millions of Iraqi returnees grapple with post-conflict realities in areas devastated by war, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) has provided more than 600 Yazidi families with non-food items in villages around the town of Sinjar, about 120 km west of Mosul.

IOM distributed essential household items such as mattresses, blankets, cooking stoves, hygiene kits, rechargeable lights and fans with the financial support of the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance.

For the first time since the end of the conflict, IOM last week was able to access Hardan, a village located about 30 km east of Sinjar town. The local Mukhtar (community leader) of Hardan, Qolo Qasem Elyas, explained that about one fifth of families have returned to the village.

“More than 300 families, around 2,100 individuals, used to live in Hardan but to date only about 60 families have returned,” said Elyas. “On 3 August 2014, when ISIL militants attacked and overran Sinjar district, including Hardan, 70 people were killed and 376 kidnapped, many of whom are still missing.”

ISIL executed hundreds of Yazidi men and enslaved thousands of women and children. Escaping widespread violence in 2014, hundreds of thousands of Yazidis and other minorities from the district fled to Mount Sinjar.

Today, thousands of people are still too afraid to leave the mountain, preferring living in tents on Sinjar’s plateau, rather than returning to their villages.

Rebuilding their lives has brought immense challenges for the trickle of families who chose to return. Many have nothing at all; their savings have been depleted, their homes looted and destroyed, and their livelihoods, wiped out.

Where they are available, essential services in these villages are only partially functioning, and the area remains heavily contaminated with the explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices. Communities are often a fraction of what they once were and, as people have begun to return, the absence of thousands of family members is palpable.

The Mukhtar of Hardan village explained that neither the school nor the health clinic are functional because the community has no piped water due to infrastructure damage.

Families who invited IOM staff into their homes said that there is little support available to help them cope with their psychological and physical trauma, and they expressed great anxiety about the future.

Over the coming months, IOM will help to improve conditions across multiple sectors in communities of return, repairing essential infrastructure, such as the public water network, supporting the local government to deliver healthcare and other essential services, and facilitating access to livelihoods through cash-for-work projects.

“IOM is providing critical humanitarian assistance to the population in Sinjar, and we expect to scale up this assistance soon,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. “After more than three and a half years in exile, Yazidis deserve the chance to be able to return and re-establish their lives and communities. Given the scale of damage, much support is needed.”

According to IOM Iraq’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), in the year since the area was fully retaken from ISIL, most Yazidi families remain unable to return to Sinjar town and surrounding villages; of the 52,158 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have returned to Sinjar district, less than one fifth have returned to areas south of Mount Sinjar.

For more information please contact Sandra Black at IOM Iraq, Tel: +9647512342550, Email: sblack@iom.int

https://reliefweb.int/report/iraq/more- ... r-iom-iraq
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:35 pm

ISIS Still Holding Nearly 3,100 Yazidi Slaves

A Kurdish official estimated that nearly 3,100 Yazidis abducted by ISIS still remain hostages of the Islamic State.

It's been nearly four years since ISIS, in their slash-and-burn campaign across northern Iraq, committed the Sinjar massacre in a genocidal campaign that saw mass executions upon the Yazidis' refusal to convert and atrocities including burying people alive, starvation, torching of villages, kidnapping women and girls for use as sex slaves, and kidnapping boys as child soldiers.

Nearly 6,500 Yazidis are believed to have been kidnapped by ISIS. Many have been liberated in the campaign by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which includes Yazidi fighters. Rojda Felat, the Kurdish commander who led the SDF forces that took back Raqqa from ISIS, declared at the beginning of the offensive that her goal was to free women enslaved by ISIS, and she reported success in that mission throughout the battle.

At the end of May, the Kurdistan Regional Government counted 3,275 Yazidi rescues, including 2,083 women and girls and 1,292 men.

On Friday, Hussein Qaidi, head of the Yazidi Abductees Affairs Office, told Kurdish NRT TV that nearly 3,100 Yazidis remain in ISIS captivity, roughly split between female and male hostages.

“The main reason that we could not rescue all the abductees is that the Iraqi government has not helped us in this matter. This is a reason why there are still our families in ISIS captivity,” he said.

ISIS calls followers of the ancient gnostic Yazidi faith devil worshippers.

Despite the Iraqi government declaring victory over ISIS several months ago, the security situation and the remnants of war have kept Yazidis from returning to Sinjar.

Al-Arabiya reported that one Yazidi who escaped before ISIS attacked said it's impossible to return because Sinjar is "completely destroyed and full of diseases resulting from corpses left unburied." ISIS also left behind land mines.

https://pjmedia.com/homeland-security/i ... cials-say/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jul 24, 2018 1:47 am

'ISIS Is Not Dead'
Says Priest Who Documented Ongoing Genocide Against Yazidis

For more than a decade, a French Catholic priest has investigated the murder of some two million Jews in mass shootings during World War II.

Father Patrick Desbois has devoted his life to researching the Holocaust, fighting anti-Semitism, and furthering relations between Catholics and Jews.

In recent years, Desbois turned his attention to Iraq's Yazidis, a religious minority that has been ruthlessly attacked and targeted for genocide by ISIS. Desbois says ISIS uses the same tactics the Nazis used against the Jews during the Holocaust.

Desbois is the author of The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews, Winner of the National Jewish Book Award, and the recently released The Fabrication of Terrorists: Into the Secrets of Daesh, based on his investigation of the Yazidi genocide in Iraq.

"They Know Us. We Don't Know Them."

"ISIS will know our enemies, but we know much less about them. They know us, we don't know them," said Father Desbois. "That's why we have to wake up. We have to have open eyes, we have to believe in God, to see the reality in front. Otherwise, we can be any day a victim."

Father Desbois is President of Yahad-In Unum, a global humanitarian organization he founded in 2004 dedicated to identifying and commemorating the sites of Jewish and Roma mass executions in Eastern Europe during World War II.

Evidence ISIS is Not Dead

He has interviewed nearly 300 Yazidis who recounted stories of rape, executions and other vicious crimes.

Father Desbois said, "Everyone says ISIS is dead. But with my team, when we go to Iraq, we still meet Yazidis who just escaped from them. Recently, we met a girl, she has been sold 25 times to 25 persons."

Father Desbois says ISIS is an efficient "killing machine," operating almost scientifically, much the way Hitler did when the Nazis methodically killed Jews during the Holocaust.

He and his team interviewed nearly 6,000 witnesses, reconstructed thousands of massacres and identified nearly 2,500 previously unknown execution sites.

ISIS Uses Nazi Tactics Against Yazidis

He says ISIS uses Nazi tactics, such as public executions and enlisting local help in their murders.

Father Desbois said, "They arrive in the morning to a village let's say in Russia or Ukraine. They say to the Jews 'don't worry, don't worry, we go to Palestine. We deport you to Palestine.' They arrive in a Yazidi village say, 'don't worry, don't worry, convert to Islam, put a white flag, nothing will happen.'"

But he says like the Jews at the hands of the Nazis, the Yazidi victims often end up that same night in mass graves, many times buried alive.

Father Desbois said it's the same system, the same methodology, the same evil.

Training Children to Become Terrorists

But what makes ISIS more dangerous is that boys from ages seven to 11 are sent to camps to be turned into terrorists.

He says their days are filled with Islamic prayers, terrorist training, and learning the Koran.

He adds each night they're exposed to videos of beheadings and crucifixions.

"They Stole My Brain"

"They say to the children we will all die. We will die in Mosul, we will die in Iraq. But you, the small children, will survive and you have a mission," said Father Desbois. "One boy told me, 'they stole my brain.' I never heard anyone say that: they stole my brain."

Father Desbois' organization is now helping the kids find their souls at the Yahad Center in Kurdistan, Iraq.

Volunteers teach the children about Jesus, along with His love and forgiveness.

While the women learn skills such as sewing to support themselves.

Father Debois says it's important to not just prove murderous acts took place, but to prove such killings are not an unstoppable, global force and with God change is possible.

Father Desbois is also a Professor at Georgetown University, where he is on the faculty for the Center for Jewish Civilization.

He also served as director of the Episcopal Committee for Catholic-Judeo Relations from 1999 until 2016, under the auspices of the French Conference of Bishops.

He is the grandson of a WWII French prisoner held in the Rawa Ruska camp on the Poland-Ukraine border.

http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2018/ ... st-yazidis
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:34 am

'They have no idea how much danger I'm in'

A Yazidi's fight for asylum in the UK

Passing by the red brick houses of Stoke-on-Trent, Majhor Abdullah Hagi heads to his English-language class. The quaint English city, known for its pottery and landscape gardens, is a far cry from the genocide he escaped four years ago. But on Tuesday, a UK court ruling could catapult him back to a life of fear and persecution.

Hagi, 30, is a Yazidi from Sinjar in northern Iraq. He belongs to one the world's smallest and oldest religious minorities but Majhor had big ambitions. He dreamed of becoming a biologist and was the first of his relatives to attend university. But on August 3, 2014, these dreams ground to a halt.

"We had no idea that ISIS would attack us and our life would become a living hell," Majhor explains. "Hundreds of children and old people died. Many of my family, my relatives and friends were captured and killed by ISIS."

Along with many other Yazidis, he fled to Sinjar Mountain. They walked for 10 hours. With no food or water, many did not survive the journey.

The United Nations later recognized the events of that day as genocide, committed by ISIS against the Yazidi people. As adherents to an ancient faith that predates Islam and is viewed by many Muslims as Satanic, the Yazidis were some of the worst victims of ISIS violence. The world watched with horror as ISIS enslaved Yazidi women and conscripted children to fight.
Majhor also remembers feeling betrayed. He says that old Muslim friends and neighbors, coerced by ISIS, turned against his family.

"That was really painful," he recounts. "If you don't feel safe with your friends and your neighbors how can you feel safe with other people, with other religions?" he asks. "You'll never be."

Despite international condemnation of ISIS' atrocities, few countries welcomed those fleeing the violence. Majhor joined over a million people attempting to reach Europe in 2016 and as refugee numbers swelled, European altruism wore thin. Anti-immigrant slogans flooded the UK after it voted for Brexit, and a string of terror attacks in Europe ignited further hostility toward the refugees.

Majhor ventured to France and ended up in the Calais Jungle, a sprawling makeshift camp on the edge of Europe. Once again, he found a less-than-friendly welcome: The UK was building a wall blocking entry to the English Channel and French authorities were starting to dismantle the camp.

On top of the restrictive measures, persecution appeared to have followed Majhor across Europe as he suffered what he says was abuse from fellow migrants.

"When a group of Kurdish people found out that we were not praying in the mosque, they captured us, they took us to our small caravan and they beat us up badly, really badly," he says. "They locked us in, saying, 'We will come back to you, to kill you later.'"

Majhor managed to escape the caravan that night with fellow Yazidi Adel Omar Hassan. A large fire broke out in the camp, distracting his attackers.

With the help of Scottish volunteer John, who requested his surname not be disclosed because of safety concerns, both men were moved to the nearby Dunkirk camp. John wrote a statement on the incident to justify their transfer to Dunkirk titled "Interrogation, abduction, assault and subsequent escape of two Yazidi men from The Jungle."

Majhor's companion Adel, 27, is from Khana Sor, a village just a few miles from Majhor's hometown in northern Iraq. "He was talking on the phone and I recognized the accent," Adel says of the moment he met Majhor in Calais. As ISIS arrived at his village on that August day, Adel also headed toward Sinjar mountain. "I wasn't at home that night, I was with friends, so I went to Sinjar mountain by car," he explains. As he sped towards safety, he had no idea that he would never see his family again.

Adel's journey took him from Sinjar to Syria by foot, then on to Turkey. After he had walked for days without food or water, he was exhausted and his health began to deteriorate. He traveled on to Germany via Greece. "The journey to Germany was good, we got food and water but the journey from Iraq to Greece was so bad, that I was just so tired by this point," he explains.

Majhor and Adel are both now in the UK after being smuggled across the English Channel in trucks. Courts rejected Majhor's initial request for asylum on the grounds it was safe for him to return to Basra, a predominantly Muslim city in Iraq that Majhor argues would be hostile to Yazidi refugees.

"They [the Home Office] have no idea how much in danger I am in in Iraq," he says. "They said there are safe places in Iraq. I said, not for Yazidi people, there are no safe places in Iraq for Yazidi people," Majhor says. "If the international communities rebuild and provide protection for Sinjar, I would love to return to Sinjar and be with my people," he continues. "But in this moment, Sinjar is like a destroyed city. Destroyed people, no future, no hope. It's insane to go back there."

Since Majhor's application was rejected, Adel is not optimistic his own application will succeed. "I did an interview [with the Home Office] on 13th March but I have a strong feeling I will be rejected like Majhor," Adel says. "I still have a feeling nobody knows who the Yazidis are ... nobody knows what we've been through, nobody cares."

Adel was assessed by medical professionals upon his arrival in the UK and was diagnosed with depression. He says he has tried to commit suicide several times since arriving. "I remember dead children and old people in Sinjar mountain. It makes me really sad. I still can't sleep at night," he says. Adel was placed in government housing in Manchester but says he had to be moved after his Kurdish neighbors attacked him. "I feel like I will die here in the UK," Adel says. "Nobody cares about me, nobody knows about me." The thought of calling his mother, who is living in a migrant camp in Germany, seems unbearable. "I don't want her to know I'm not OK, she would know from my voice," he says.

The plight of Yazidis has caused ructions in British politics before. In April 2016, several high-profile UK members of Parliament wrote to the then-Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, and then-International Development Secretary Priti Patel demanding that the UK provide more help for Yazidis, but none came.

To this day, asylum laws in the UK do not distinguish between Yazidis and other Iraqis.Their suffering at the hands of fellow Iraqis goes unrecognized on asylum applications. "There is no country guidance on Yazidis in Iraq," says Anne Norona, a humanitarian activist focused on Yazidis. "They need to be treated as a separate ethnic minority at risk, and hugely at risk of persecution in their own country."

As the Yazidi plight fades from news headlines, Majhor and Adel hope for a miracle.

On Tuesday, Majhor will learn the news of his appeal, while Adel waits for the verdict on his initial application. The Home Office declined to comment on individual cases. For both of them, reaching the UK was the last stop in their journey to find safety. If their asylum cases fail, they fear they will have nowhere left to go.

"The Yazidi people never hurt anybody," Majhor says. "So I think we didn't deserve this fate."

Help for the Yazidi

    AMAR International Foundation: Beyond providing food, clothing and medical treatment inside refugee camps, the organization has put in place longer-term assistance programs that provide vaccinations to prevent epidemics, medication to treat chronic health conditions and access to schooling for children.

    UNICEF has worked with local humanitarian groups to provide tents, medical care, hygiene kits and clothing to Yazidi refugees.
Link to Article - Photos:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/14/midd ... index.html
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:38 pm

Help is on the way, at last, for religious minorities in Iraq

Delegates wait for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to speak at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom at the State Department in Washington

The United States will soon begin its first directly funded rebuilding projects for Iraqi Christian and Yazidi communities devastated by Islamic State militants, a U.S. official said Thursday.

Plans are being finalized for 10 modest reconstruction projects for Christian communities in the Nineveh Plains and for Yazidi villages around Sinjar in northern Iraq, said Mark Green, administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

The long-delayed projects will focus on small infrastructure jobs to help restore water and electrical service in towns populated by religious minorities that were targeted by the Islamic State, which has lost most of the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria.

“They’re individual projects that create the context for which people, if they so choose, can return to those communities, or not leave those communities,” he said.

The Trump administration is steering humanitarian aid funding in Iraq to Christian and other religious minorities, directing to them more than a third of the money allocated for “stabilization” projects aimed at rebuilding areas liberated from the Islamic State. Previously, the money went through the U.N. Development Program.

The switch was heavily promoted by Vice President Pence, who has strong ties to Christian advocacy groups that argued that the UNDP was not doing enough to aid religious minorities on the verge of extinction from a region they have been rooted in for two millennia.

Last October, in a speech at a summit for the organization In Defense of Christians, Pence vowed that the administration would make a strategic shift away from funding “ineffective” U.N. programs and start sending aid directly to persecuted communities through USAID and faith-based partners.

Since then, the United States has redeployed $118 million in humanitarian and stabilization funds. Pence’s dissatisfaction with what he considered the slow pace at which USAID was moving precipitated a shake-up in the agency’s Iraq office, and a trip to Iraq by Green and other senior officials from the State Department and White House.

ISIS is making a comeback in Iraq just months after Baghdad declared victory

On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced an additional $17 million for cleaning land mines in the Nineveh region of Iraq, which he pointedly noted would go to areas “with large populations of religious minorities who were subject to ISIS genocide,” using a common acronym for the Islamic State.

The U.S. aid to religious minorities in Iraq was one of the centerpieces of a three-day conference held at the State Department this week to promote religious freedom. It attracted delegations from more than 80 countries, though many were led by ambassadors and other officials from embassies located in Washington. Pompeo said he will hold the event again next year.

Pence, who also addressed the crowd, said the administration will expand its efforts to help threatened religious communities.

He announced the establishment of a Genocide and Recovery Response Program to direct money to individuals and households that are trying to reestablish themselves after suffering atrocities. Although details are still being worked out, it has an initial planned budget of $10 million. It will first focus on Iraq but eventually expand to other countries.

According to a USAID official, the agency will allow genocide survivors to get medical care, replace damaged property and reestablish livelihoods through small businesses and farms.

No laws bar U.S. government agencies from funding religious groups.

Green said the aid for Iraq will not be used to rebuild churches or as donations to any sect, though faith-based organizations are among the groups that will be partners in the projects it funds.

“We are instead helping to restore geographic communities, as opposed to sectarian communities, which have been disproportionately hit, and also feel distant from recovery that’s taking place out of Baghdad,” he said. “These are communities that are caught between the Kurdish areas, and the more economically powerful areas emanating from Baghdad.”

Frank Wolf, a former Republican congressman from Virginia, applauded the administration’s efforts to provide aid to smaller communities as opposed to reconstruction in more populated areas that are the focus of UNDP projects.

“You go into villages that don’t have K Street lobbyists to fill out their application forms,” said Wolf, who traveled to Iraq last month with Green. “Their homes are destroyed. Their churches are destroyed. What the administration is doing for Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities is very, very important.”

Many Iraqis say that although the UNDP has met their survival needs, they need help moving on.

“The U.N. gave us very small things like blankets and food,” said Mor Nicodemus, the archbishop of Mosul’s Syriac Orthodox Church. “But they cannot rebuild our lives.”

Some Yazidis fear they will be shortchanged from an administration that counts Christians among its staunchest supporters.

Abid Shamden, an Iraqi Yazidi who attended the religious conference at the State Department, said Yazidi communities are still difficult to reach because of land mines in the area. With both Kurdish and Iraqi government checkpoints, a two-hour trip to Mosul can take seven or eight hours, he said.

“If the United States spends money for minorities, it will be easier to spend it in Christian areas,” said Shamden, who visited Sinjar less than two weeks ago.

“All we ask is to rebuild our towns,” he added.

Green, who did not travel to Sinjar for security reasons but met with Yazidis in Christian areas, said he urged Kurdish and Iraqi leaders to ease up on the checkpoints along the roads from Sinjar. And he promised they will get a share of reconstruction aid that will allow returning Yazidis to earn a livelihood and educate their children.

“It’s a land of pain,” he said of Iraq. “It’s very clear what the Yazidi have gone through is as disturbing as I can describe, and is ongoing. They have families that have been broken up and disappeared, as well as murder, rape and torture. We have and will continue to provide humanitarian assistance. And, as we have resources, we will continue to try to invest in projects that create this development context in which communities can be restored to some semblance of recovery.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/na ... f95b853810
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