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Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

A place for discussion and exchanging ideas about Kurdistan issues here, also a place for sharing article & views and analysis about Kurdistan .

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:50 am

Shingal strike was unilateral Turkish decision
By Wladimir van Wilgenburg

A spokesperson for the US-led Coalition says it was not involved in the Turkish decision to send jets over the Iraqi border to carry out a military operation in Sinjar (Shingal) on Wednesday.

“We are aware that Turkish aircraft carried out strikes in the Sinjar area which was a unilateral Turkish decision,” the Coalition spokesperson told Kurdistan 24 on Thursday.

According to the official, Turkey had “alerted the Coalition of its intention to strike in the Sinjar area, but did not give specific targeting information.”

“Queries pertaining to Turkish targeting and strike operations should be directed to Turkish officials,” he added.

“All Coalition nations are concerned about [the Islamic State’s] attempts to re-establish a presence anywhere, and we will continue to work by, with, and through our partners to achieve a lasting defeat of the terrorist organization.”

On Wednesday, sources told Kurdistan 24 that Turkish warplanes were bombarding west of Baraa village located near the Syrian border in the Yezidi (Ezidi)-populated Shingal District.

Shortly after, Turkish media outlets claimed a commander by the name of Ismail Ozden, also known as Mam Zeki Shingali, had been killed in the airstrikes.

The Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK), an umbrella political group for several parties close to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), confirmed the death of Shingali, who was a member of the Shengal Yazidi Coordination and an Executive Council member of the KCK.

In the statement, the KCK blamed Iraq, the US, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) “for the violation of Shingali airspace.”

“They have been allowing the Turkish state aircrafts to attack Shingal [sic],” the KCK said.

The KDP does not control any airspace in Iraq.

In April 2017, Turkish airstrikes supposedly targeting the PKK-affiliated YBS killed five Peshmerga soldiers and wounded nine others, as well as causing extensive damage to the area, resulting in condemnation from the Kurdistan Regional Government.

In March 2018, the PKK said it withdrew its forces from Shingal, handing over positions to the Iraqi army.

The PKK found a foothold there after coming down from its mountain bases on the Iraq-Iran border to back the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga forces and Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to open a safety corridor for the Ezidis.

http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/f43b ... e087a8dc2a
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Aug 20, 2018 9:58 pm

Murder of Mam Zeki

The Mesopotamian Faiths Platform described the murder of Mam Zeki Şengali as the continuation of the genocide of the Yazidi people.

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980
Mam Zeki Şengali on right

The Mesopotamian Beliefs Platform made up of NAV-YEK, FEDA, CIK, Mesopotamian Peoples' Congress-Assyrians / Syriacs, has released a written statement on the murder of Mam Zeki Şengali.

Şengali, member of the Yazidi Society Coordination and the KCK Executive council, was martyred as a result of Turkish army airstrikes on 15 August after a commemoration for the anniversary of the 3 August 2014 massacre carried out by the Islamic State against the Yazidi people in Kocho village of Shengal.

The statement said that the Turkish state attacked Shengal in cooperation with Baghdad and South Kurdistan government. It was emphasized that the massacre of Şengali was the continuation of the genocide and imperialist polices against the Yazidi people.
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Aug 24, 2018 10:09 pm

U.N. is collecting evidences of DAESH genocide against Yazidis

A U.N. investigative team started work this week
nearly a year after the Security Council created it


The team will collect and preserve evidence of acts by Islamic State in Iraq that may be war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres notified the 15-member Security Council in a letter that the U.N. team, led by British lawyer Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, started work on Aug. 20.

At last September's annual U.N. gathering of world leaders, the council unanimously adopted a British-drafted resolution - after a year of talks with Iraq - asking U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to create the team "to support domestic efforts" to hold the militants accountable.

U.N. experts had warned in June 2016 that Islamic State was committing genocide against the Yazidis in Syria and Iraq to destroy the minority religious community through killings, sexual slavery and other crimes.

Guterres announced in May that he had appointed Khan after the Security Council approved the scope and limitations for the team in February. He said in the letter, released on Thursday, that Khan visited Iraq earlier this month.

Use of evidence collected by the team in other venues, such as international courts, would "be determined in agreement with the Government of Iraq on a case-by-case basis." Evidence is for primary use by Iraqi authorities, followed by "competent national-level courts," according to the 2017 U.N. resolution.

On 3 August the Islamic State carried out the genocide against the Yazidi people who could only be saved by the prompt intervention of the Kurds YPG forces, as KDP peshmergas had left Shengal.
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Aug 26, 2018 2:46 am

Yazidi husband on how he rescued wife from life as ISIS sex slave

Yazidi husband reveals how he rescued his wife from life as an ISIS sex slave by hiring a hitman to kill her captor – after his sister was also taken but bravely escaped after three months

    Huzni Murad's wife Jilian was taken alongside his sister Nadia, as ISIS sex slaves

    Jilian, 26, was able to steal a phone and contacted Huzni, 37, who hired assassin

    The hitman killed Jilian's ISIS captor and husband and wife could be reunited

    Nadia Murad was kidnapped from Iraqi village at 21 and made an ISIS sex slave

    She escaped by jumping over the garden wall of her captor's home in Mosul

    Murad lives in Germany and is a campaigner on behalf of the Yazidi community

    The Yazidi is set to marry Abid Shamdeen, a former interpreter for the US army
A Yazidi man whose wife was kidnapped and tortured as an ISIS sex slave has spoken of how he managed to free her by hiring an assassin to kill her captor.

Huzni Murad's wife Jilian was taken alongside his sister Nadia, who also escaped and is now fighting for justice alongside Amal Clooney, in 2014 as ISIS attacked their villages in Sinjar, Iraqi Kurdistan, and captured 5,000 women.

The 26-year-old was taken to Mosul where she was held captive by an ISIS fighter, beaten and raped, for 30 months until Huzni, 37, was able to rescue her.

The brother of Nadia Murad, pictured with her fiance Abid Shamdeen, was able to hire an assassin to rescue his wife Jilian, who has also been taken as a sex slave by ISIS

Nadia Murad describes her ordeal at the hands of ISIS fighter

After stealing a mobile phone, she was able to contact Huzni. Having feared her husband may have been among the thousands massacred by ISIS, she burst into tears upon hearing his voice.

'We were crying and crying, then laughing, then crying. We never thought we would see each other again,' she told The Mirror.

'I had lost hope, but he told me, 'You will come back, and you will be loved, and I will be here for you'.'

Huzni hired a hitman to target the ISIS fighter holding Jilian hostage, and the assassin killed him by driving into his car.

The hitman and his associates were then able to smuggle Jilian out of Mosul and eventually back to Huzni.

Ms Murad, who runs a group aiming to rebuild the shattered Sinjar region, is to marry Abid Shamdeen, a former interpreter for the US army.

Murad was abducted at age 21 from the village of Kocho near Sinjar, an area that is home to about 400,000 Yazidis, by hard-line Sunni Muslim fighters who view Yazidis as devil worshippers.

'I had lost hope, but he told me, 'You will come back, and you will be loved, and I will be here for you'.'

Mr Murad's sister Nadia has since become public face of their people's suffering, and is now set to marry the man who helped her overcome her ordeal.

Nadia Murad was repeatedly beaten and gang-raped by fanatics after being kidnapped at the age of 21 from her village in northern Iraq in 2014.

But after a daring escape, which saw her leap over the garden wall of her captor's house in Mosul, she was offered asylum in Germany and has spoken to the UN about her horrifying experiences.

It has now emerged that Ms Murad, who runs a group aiming to rebuild the shattered Sinjar region, is to marry Abid Shamdeen, a former interpreter for the US army.

Shamdeen helped her recover and, taking to Twitter, Ms Murad said of her engagement: 'Yesterday was a special day for @AbidShamdeen & I. We are very thankful and humbled for all the wishes & support from our family & friends.

'The struggle of our people brought us together & we will continue this path together. Thank you for your support everyone!'

Shamdeen added: 'We met during very difficult times in both our lives but we managed to find love while fighting a huge fight.'

Murad has been represented by international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and she became a UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking in 2017.

Nadia Murad is pictured, May 2016, speaking at the Lower Saxony parliament in Hanover, Germany

Ms Murad, now in her mid 20s, was one of about 7,000 women and girls captured by the hard-line Sunni Muslim fighters who view Yazidis as devil worshippers.

Last year, she shared her harrowing experience of being captured, beaten and sold as a sex slave by ISIS militants in a new book.

In 'The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and My Fight Against the Islamic State', Murad recounted her life in a northern Iraqi village, her brutal captivity, tension-filled escape and feelings of betrayal and abandonment by those who failed to help.

Murad is Yazidi, a religious minority who live in an uneasy existence with their Muslim neighbors.

Yazidi men and older women, including five of her eight brothers and her 61-year-old mother, were killed. The younger women and girls were held in captivity for sex.

'It never gets easier to tell your story. Each time you speak it, you relive it,' Murad wrote in her book.

'[But] my story, told honestly and matter-of-factly, is the best weapon I have against terrorism, and I plan on using it until those terrorists are put on trial.'

United Nations investigators estimate more than 5,000 Yazidis were rounded up and slaughtered in the 2014 attack, and UN experts have said ISIS was committing genocide against the Yazidis in Syria and Iraq.

Murad was registered as a slave and even had a photo ID that would be dispersed among the fighters if she were to run away. Her new owner was a high-ranking ISIS judge named Hajji Salma. Pictured: Murad cries as she visits her village for the first time since being captured

In September 2016, the UN Security Council approved the creation of an investigative team to collect, preserve and store evidence in Iraq of acts by ISIS.

International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, wrote the foreword to 'The Last Girl', is campaigning for the Islamist group to be prosecuted through the International Criminal Court.

Murad was abducted at age 21 from the village of Kocho near Sinjar, an area that is home to about 400,000 Yazidis.

'Our Sunni neighbors could have come to us and tried to help,' she writes. 'But they didn't.'

Murad was registered as a slave and even had a photo ID that would be dispersed among the fighters if she were to run away.

Murad's book 'The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and My Fight Against the Islamic State'

Her new owner, a high-ranking ISIS judge named Hajji Salma, told her: 'You're my fourth sabiyya (sex slave). The other three are Muslim now. I did that for them. Yazidis are infidels - that's why we are doing this. It's to help you.'

Recounting the seemingly endless rapes by men who bought and sold her was clearly difficult for Murad.

'At some point, there was rape and nothing else. This becomes your normal day,' she says in the book.

'You don't know who is going to open the door next to attack you, just that it will happen and that tomorrow might be worse.'

Murad detailed how she tried to escape by wearing abaya, the robe-like covering that devout Muslim women wear, and crawling out a window.

She was caught by a guard. Hajji Salman whipped her and let his sentry made up of six men gang-rape her until she was unconscious.

Over the next week, she was passed to six other men who raped and beat her, before being given to one who planned on taking her to Syria.

Murad then saw a fleeting opportunity to jump over the garden wall of her captor's house in Mosul. After wandering the streets cloaked in an abaya, she made a daring decision to knock on the door of a stranger's house and ask for help.

That was a huge risk, and she later learned her niece, also enslaved, had been turned in six times to ISIS by people she had asked for help.

'Families in Iraq and Syria led normal lives while we were tortured and raped. They watched us walk through the streets with our captors,' she writes. 'They let us scream in the slave market and did nothing.'

Murad was lucky that the strangers she found in Mosul helped smuggle her to a refugee camp.

With the publication of her memoir by Tim Duggan Books, Murad said she wanted to see Yazidis in captivity released, the resettlement of survivors, the removal of landmines in the Sinjar region and prosecution of ISIS extremists.

But more than anything else, she said: 'I want to be the last girl in the world with a story like mine.'

She now lives in Germany and has become a campaigner on behalf of the Yazidi community. In 2017, she became a UN Goodwill

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... itman.html
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:50 pm

Yazidi say ISIS supporters returning to northern Iraq
Locals say Baghdad is not ensuring the protection of survivors


Yazidi activists accused Baghdad of allowing people who “took part in the 2014 genocide” to return to villages near Sinjar in northern Iraq. On Tuesday, video and photos were posted online showing a long line of trucks and cars waiting near a checkpoint to return to a village east of Sinjar Mountain.

“Yazidis concerned over return of families involved in Islamic State Shingal massacre,” tweeted one activist. “The return of these people will become a threat to the lives of people in Shingal, and bad things may happen which we do not accept.”

In August 2014, Islamic State attacked the area around Sinjar mountain where hundreds of thousands of Yazidis, members of a religious minority, live. ISIS captured more than 10,000 people and systematically separated women and men, murdering the men and selling women and children into slavery. The horrific crime has been called genocide by international organizations. More than 3,000 Yazidi women and children are still missing.

Since Sinjar was liberated in 2015, many Yazidis have not returned due to an unstable security situation and changing control of the area from Kurdish Peshmerga to Iraqi federal forces. However, since Iraq’s federal government and Shi’ite militias took control in October 2017, some Arab families who fled the area have returned. The Shi’ite militias are called Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU).

Local Yazidis accuse some of the local Arab tribes of having supported ISIS and think that the government hasn’t screened the returnees. They are also angry that Yazidis have not been given infrastructure in Sinjar and security, even though these other groups displaced by the fighters are able to return.

The recent statements came after Amy Beam, a human rights advocate for Yazidi survivors of the 2014 genocide, posted a video on Facebook Tuesday showing more than 35 cars and trucks waiting at a checkpoint on a road that leads from Tal Afar to Snune in northern Iraq.

“Video of Sunni Arabs returning August 28 to Gholat village on the east end of Shingal mountain,” she wrote on Facebook. “Residents of Gholat are accused by Ezidi [Yazidi] neighbors of participation with ISIS to attack them August 3, 2014.” She says that she is hoping for “peace and justice” and would try to speak with some of the returnees. “Shia and Sunni Arabs also suffered from Daesh and lost their family members and houses. How will the innocent Arabs be separated from the guilty Daesh,” she wrote.

YAZIDIS EXPRESSED concern when they heard of the return. One man noted in reaction to the video that he had also passed the same convoy of vehicles. “They were waiting for their names to be checked on the security forces’ computer.”

But others wondered why the US and UN were not doing more to revive life in Sinjar. Dawood Saleh, author of a memoir on the genocide called Walking Alone, said that the government was allowing these residents to return to land “taken from Yazidis in the time of Saddam Hussein’s regime.”

Under Saddam, many Yazidis say their villages were forcibly collectivized, Sunni Arab tribes settling from Sinjar to Mosul as a way for Saddam to cement his control of northern Iraq. “For more than 4 years... Yazidis fled their homes to refugee camps and yet no one helps them to clear their homes from bombs or return them back safely,” Saleh wrote.

ISIS destroyed many Yazidi villages in 2014 and laced them with mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during its occupation of the area. This makes it difficult for Yazidis to return, whereas ISIS did not carry out the same systematic destruction of Arab villages.

The concern in Sinjar is that the government is not checking the returnees sufficiently. Nasir Pasha Khalaf, a member of the Yazidi community, says that many Yazidis who live in Sinjar were prevented from carrying weapons for self-defense after the Iraqi government and Shia militias arrived last year. He says that measures like this and the road closure from Sinjar – and Dohuk, where many Yazidi IDPs live – have prevented his own people from returning.

“We ask the United Nations, the US and the Government of Iraq and people of conscience all over the globe to not allow criminals to return to their places of residence while victims are being tortured under the tents of the displacement.”

In the last seven months, the area of Sinjar has been rocked by many controversies. Visitors say that there are more than 30 checkpoints to get from Mosul or Dohuk to Sinjar, which makes it difficult for people to travel. There is also a network of different militias controlling the checkpoints.

In recent weeks the PMU said it wants to reorganized the control of Sinjar into a new command and withdraw some of its forces. However, Iraq still lacks a new government three months after elections and areas around Mosul and Sinjar have become part of political negotiations between the parties that back the PMU, the Prime Minister’s office and the Kurdish parties. The PMU’s allowing of some Sunni Arabs to return may be in the context of getting a coalition agreement with Sunni political parties.

Only three Yazidis – despite numbering around 500,000 in Iraq – were elected to parliament this year, and their concerns are often ignored or subverted to the political whims of the larger parties.

Beam says many Yazidis now feel a lack of hope and express interest in moving abroad. However, a recent report from Germany says that Yazidis who escaped there are being denied asylum and risk being sent back to Iraq where they can’t return to their homes.

https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Yazid ... raq-566096
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Sep 05, 2018 3:31 am

The 'forgotten' people of an unforgettable story

    In the ancestral land of the Yazidis, a sacred mountain looms large

    A persecuted people has long seen it as their protector
"Sinjar mountain saved me, and many other Yazidis, four years ago," says Hade Shingaly as we sit on thin mattresses covered with bright geometric patterns in his family's elongated tent.

It is perched in a tidy cluster of tarpaulin shacks on a mountain plateau in this remote corner of Iraq.

Through a window of plastic sheeting, we can see Sinjar's rocky brown slopes speckled with scruffy green shrubs.

Four years after the IS invasion,Hade Shingaly, a Yazidi man, his family and many others still live on the slopes of Sinjar mountain

Hade's family fled their village in 2014 to take refuge here, along with tens of thousands of other Yazidis fearing for their lives, when fighters of the Islamic State (ISIS) group swept with shocking cruelty across vast stretches of Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

Four years on, Hade's family, and many others, still live on these slopes, even though the extremist group no longer controls this area.

    They are terrified ISIS will return

"We don't trust our neighbours," he tells me as we sip traditional cinnamon tea and sample fresh figs. "When ISIS came to our village, they didn't know anything about the Yazidis. Our Muslim neighbours told them 'the Yazidis don't believe in God, that we aren't Muslim'.

"ISIS killed the men, and sold women into slavery in markets in Iraq and Syria," he recalls bitterly.

A rooster's crow pierces the late afternoon quiet, and an old generator to provide electricity clatters into action - a far cry from homes they had proudly built in their village.

In 2014, heart-rending images of Yazidis struggling to survive on this forbidding massif alerted the world to their desperate plight.

It helped push the United States to join the military campaign against ISIS extremist rule. Western helicopters dropped food and water on Sinjar mountain amid alarming reports Yazidis were dying of dehydration and hunger.

Crumpled clothes discarded in panic by people on the run still litter the mountainside - chilling mementos of a painful past.

Now the Yazidis feel they have been abandoned by the world SO TRUE =((

The main town of Sinjar, at the foothills of the mountain, still lies in utter ruin. Bombs and booby traps laid by ISIS are still strewn in the rubble.

One date - 3 August 2014 - is daubed on some walls still standing.

For a people who feel forgotten, it is impossible for them to forget all that has happened to them since ISIS smashed into their lives.

Bahar Dawood, mother of three children, still has flashbacks and sometimes faints 30 times a day

"I still have flashbacks and sometimes faint 30 times a day," explains Bahar Dawood in a quiet monotone voice as her three young children huddle next to her. A short time later, she falls to the ground.

Like nearly 7,000 other Yazidi women, Bahar was enslaved and brutalised by ISIS fighters

    3,000 women and children are still enslaved by ISIS

Her children show the scars of violent beatings inflicted on them.

"This child sometimes cries for two hours asking for her father and brother," she says as her daughter, Ramzya, wraps her small arms around her mother's neck to hold her even closer.

"We haven't heard anything from them in two years."

With no men to provide for them in this traditional society, the 33-year-old mother and her children found refuge in an orphanage set up by a local Yazidi family, with some assistance from a German aid agency.

Hundreds of thousands of Yazidis now live in displacement camps scattered across Iraq's northern Kurdistan region.

Tents and containers sit in long neat lanes, flanked by newly planted trees, and tiny patios - efforts of a proud people to try to ease their hardship.

"Yazidis feel betrayed by their neighbours, forgotten by their government, and the provision of aid is dwindling," says Kris Phelps of the British charity War Child, one of the few international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) still working in Yazidi camps.

"It's really striking to see the surge and ebb in attention the Yazidis have received," Ms Phelps remarks.

Disputes between the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq and the central government in Baghdad have also complicated relief efforts and security arrangements in a region which includes Kurds and Arabs.

"What's your dream?" I ask a Yazidi teacher playing games with children in one of the few spaces to help displace painful memories with positive moments.

"We need more aid agencies to come here and help us, " he replies, without a pause. "If they don't come here, the world needs to help all of us to leave."

    'We harmed nobody'

This ancient sect, one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions, has survived for centuries by living apart in a tight-knit community. There are less than a million Yazidis worldwide, and most are in this Iraqi heartland.

Now they see their fate inextricably linked to the wider world.

Yazidis speak of surviving 74 genocides throughout their tormented history the horrific ISIS campaign to eradicate their faith and culture, recognised by the United Nations as genocide, may have dealt the most brutal blow.

    Yazidi leaders call for international help and protection

At one of the largest Yazidi temples, which escaped the wrath of ISIS, the priest invokes a long list of Western countries by name when he catches sight of a rare group of foreign journalists.

"All humane countries of the world must see our situation," Sheikh Ismael Bahri intones loudly as worshippers encircle a pillar of flickering candles in the temple's inner sanctum.

"We've not harmed anyone. All we want is help and protection."

The Yazidis' plight has moved some countries, including Australia, Canada and Germany, to offer refuge to a limited number of Yazidi victims, with a particular focus on women brutally enslaved by ISIS.

'They just shaved their beards'

A makeshift visa application centre on the top floor of an Iraqi hotel is packed. Some people, including elderly grandparents and toddlers, step nervously into the lift - something they've never used before.

Three, sometimes four, generations sit around tables to document their family's history to consular officials and NGO volunteers tasked with taking all their details.

Every family who makes it to this centre has gone through some preliminary vetting but across the Yazidi heartland, everyone has a story of suffering.

"We feel threatened here, we don't have a future here," insists Tuli Bahri Evo, whose family crossed the border from Syria where the Yazidis' presence is also dwindling.

Alarmed by a potential exodus which could endanger the very survival of this tiny community, Yazidi leaders are begging the world to help them stay here.

"We need our own Yazidi force so we can protect ourselves," the Yazidis' religious leader, Baba Sheikh, tells us in a hushed tone as the white-robed wizened old man receives Yazidi well-wishers at his home. "The world is only talking about Yazidis but doing nothing."

Others call for Western militaries to send forces - an option unlikely to be accepted by the Iraqi authorities, even if it was considered in Western capitals.

Yazidis fear ISIS fighters are still hiding in plain sight and will one day return.

"They've just shaved their beards and changed their clothes," Hade insists as we walk through the settlement on Sinjar mountain where some tents are fashioned from the same tarpaulin dropped by Western helicopters four years ago.

"Nothing has changed. Why doesn't someone do something?" Hade asks, knowing there is no simple or easy answer.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-45406232
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:50 pm

The Beekeeper of Sinjar by Dunya Mikhail — mountain hero

A harrowing and timely account of the rescue of Yazidi women from ISIS terror

Nadia’s nightmare began when she was captured by ISIS militants as she fled her Iraqi village with her husband and three children. She was sold as a sex slave to a Chechen jihadist, who raped the 28-year-old in front of her children. “Sometimes his friends would pass us around for a day or two, like presents being borrowed”. The children were beaten and Nadia’s five-year-old daughter was forced to tie detonator wires for bombs.

After months of torment, the Chechen was sent off to fight. Nadia seized the opportunity to rush to a nearby shop to call her cousin, Abdullah Shrem, who dispatched a driver to smuggle her and her children and another ISIS captive to safety.

Nadia’s enslavement is the opening testimony in Dunya Mikhail’s harrowing account of the horrors inflicted on women captured by Isis. The Beekeeper of Sinjar focuses on the experiences of Yazidi women taken and sold as sex slaves, or “sabaya”, after the jihadi group stormed the Sinjar district in northern Iraq in the summer of 2014. The Yazidis, who follow an ancient monotheistic religion, are branded as infidels by Isis. Thousands were captured and killed, and The Beekeeper of Sinjar is the story of the suffering Yazidi women endured and their immense bravery.

The book’s central character is Abdullah, a heroic figure who used a network of drivers and cigarette smugglers to help women escape. Before Isis’s blitz across Iraq and Syria, he was a beekeeper in the Sinjar mountains who marvelled at the queen bee, which “made me profoundly appreciate all the women in my life”. When the Isis onslaught forced him to flee, he focused on rescuing Yazidi women, working “like in a beehive, with extreme care and well-planned initiatives”.

Abdullah is the conduit through which Mikhail, a US-based Iraqi poet and Arabic lecturer, hears the women’s stories. Many of the testimonies are told in the women’s own words, taking the reader on personal journeys. The accounts make for grim reading.

One example is Badia, who did not wash for a month in an attempt to scare off potential buyers, but was eventually sold to an American jihadist along with nine other women. She was bound by the hands and feet, drugged and repeatedly raped. She tried to run away four times until finally she was able to make the life-saving call that brought one of Abdullah’s drivers to her rescue.

Death and despair are never far away: men lined up and shot in large pits that become mass graves; ISIS fighters brandish the severed hands of a water-tanker driver who smuggled cigarettes to an enslaved woman; loved ones lost.

Yet it is the courage and resilience of the women that shines through. There are also examples of Muslims putting themselves in danger to help Yazidis, including a seamstress who hid a mother and child on the run.

The book serves as a powerful reminder of the brutality of Isis amid concerns there are signs of a resurgence. Local and international coalitions drove Isis from its strongholds and Iraq declared victory over the group in December. But thousands of militants are estimated to still be active, and Isis cells remain a deadly threat.

About 50,000 Yazidis have returned to Sinjar, but an estimated 400,000 have yet to go home. Meanwhile, the nightmares will continue. “You won’t find a single family here who hasn’t had someone disappear,” Abdullah tells Mikhail. “Our mountain has melted from the tears and pleas of the families.”

https://www.ft.com/content/4ee0d2da-ad0 ... a20d67390c
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Sep 09, 2018 7:57 pm

Only bones remain: shattered Yazidis fear returning home

A generator sputters into life and men in farmers’ trousers spray water on muddy tractors as the sun slips from a late summer sky. On this most ordinary of village days in a northern corner of Iraq, 20-year-old Bafrin Shivan Amo perches on a metal cot bed to speak of the most hellish of times.

“They raped me every day, twice or more,” she recounts with remarkable composure. “I was just a child,” she says in her soft steady voice. “I can never forget it.”

Bafrin shares her story, as hard as that is, because she wants the world to hear what happened to her and nearly 7,000 other Yazidi women enslaved for years by the fighters of the barbaric Islamic State group. The world, her tiny community believes, has forgotten them.

Four years ago, when Isis fighters swept into the furthest reaches of Iraq, images of desperate people stranded on a mountainside in the Yazidi heartland, dying of dehydration and hunger, sparked alarm and compassion for an ancient culture few had heard of. Helicopters were dispatched to drop food and water on the barren slopes of Mount Sinjar and to pull to safety the small number of people who managed to scramble on board.

Now a stubborn scar stains the cluster of towns and villages in the foothills of the Yazidis’ sacred mountain. Streets lie in ghostly silence, broken hulks of houses are still peppered with the bombs and booby-traps laid by Isis before they were pushed out of this area three years ago by Kurdish forces backed by US-led airstrikes. Hundreds of thousands of Yazidis are now scattered in displacement camps across this northern region, unable and unwilling to go home, and uncertain where to turn for help.

Few aid agencies are on the ground here and Yazidis are left in limbo, caught in disputes between the local Kurdish administration and the central government in Baghdad. That affects the delivery of aid as well as security for a population still profoundly fearful that Isis will return.

“I cannot go back to my own village,” Bafrin says as we sit in the farmyard in the baking heat, a dark blue scarf with a sparkling trim framing her broad face. She chooses not to hide her face, or her name, as she tells a story which, like the accounts of many Yazidi women, is beyond anyone’s imagination. “There is no hope there will ever be life in my village. There are only bones of the dead.”

Her village is Kocho, only a short drive away. In the vast catalogue of Isis’s war crimes, Kocho set a new bar for brutality. About 400 men, the entire male population, were rounded up, shot or beheaded. Old women were killed and dumped in mass graves, younger ones sold in markets as sex slaves, boys turned into child soldiers.

In that fateful summer of 2014, Bafrin was outside Kocho and tried to make her way to Mount Sinjar, along with the tens of thousands of others who fled there in a blind panic to escape Isis’s assault on a people it scorned as “devil worshippers”.

Yazidis believe Mount Sinjar, a massif spanning the border area between Iraq and Syria, has always been their only protector. They see it as the guardian of their long-persecuted faith, a monotheistic religion with Zoroastrian roots, which also draws on Christianity and Islam.

Isis fighters captured Bafrin and her three brothers on the road, just south of Mount Sinjar, and locked her away, initially with several of her young female friends from Kocho.

In her pain, there was also strength and a sense of purpose. “Every day I was held captive, I grew stronger,” she says. “I took every chance I could to try to escape and promised myself that I would never give up, because, in the end, either I would be killed by my captors or be free.”

When the second fighter who enslaved her was killed in a suicide bombing, she wrapped herself in black clothing, scrambled over a wall, and found her way to a house in the Iraqi city of Mosul, which was also then in Isis’s choking grip. Strangers opened the door to a frightened woman on the run, kept her for days, then sold her back to her family.

Thirty-five members of her extended family are still missing. “My brothers are probably dead,” she admits reluctantly. “But we still live in hope.

“Once I was free, I felt reborn. But I can’t feel free while 3,000 Yazidi women and children are still in captivity, in a situation far worse than mine.”

While Isis fighters have been pushed from the cities that once formed their vaunted caliphate, some are still at large, on the edges of villages and in the desert expanses.

One by one, after years of torment, some Yazidi women are coming home as Isis discards some of its slaves – usually for the payment of large sums of money arranged through smugglers.

“I didn’t believe it would ever happen,” a visibly exhausted Gazal says, on her first day at home after her family raised tens of thousands of dollars from relatives and neighbours to free her from captors who had sequestered her in Syria.

Her fetching nine-year-old daughter Dalia shadows her in silence; a bewildered little girl’s staring eyes tell of her horror. “They beat me around the face, and they beat my little girl. They beat all my four children. I was so scared for them,” Gazal says.

The beatings have frozen one side of her face, a paralysis which extends down her arm. But even with tired eyes drained of any sparkle, her relief is palpable. She had thought her ordeal would never end.

“Isis lied to me,” she recalls, her voice more trenchant. “They said our families would kill us if we tried to come home so I was scared to come back. But I was so surprised at the welcome I got.”

In a mobile phone video of their first moments together, a sobbing Gazal is enveloped in the tight embrace of her mother and sisters. Her knees give way and she drops to the floor, overwhelmed by the emotion of reunion and relief.

She had waited for what must have seemed an eternity before trying to reach her relatives: another Yazidi girl had secretly kept a phone, and Gazal finally summoned the courage to send voice messages to her family, who then contacted smugglers.

Within days of coming home, Gazal travels to the holiest Yazidi temple in Lalish, a cluster of shrines with distinctive conical roofs, nestled in a mountain valley. Like all women enslaved by Islamic State fighters, she is showered with water in a ritual seen as washing her clean of her past in the eyes of her community. Without this, she would not have been accepted back.

Concern for the plight of Yazidi women, and the need for expert counselling, led some countries, including Australia, Germany and Canada, to offer refuge to a limited number of women, as well as family members.

Every Yazidi family speaks of wanting to leave, and everyone is looking for loved ones. At the small Office of the Kidnapped, set up by the community in the nearby Iraqi town of Duhok, the director, Hussein al-Qaidi, speaks in a voice that booms loudly like a megaphone, as if to broadcast to anyone who will listen.

“No one is helping us,” he says. “If this was happening somewhere else, all the world would be helping. Aren’t we human too, don’t we deserve better than this?”

Aid came at first from the Kurdish prime minister’s office to help pay the hefty ransoms that are often demanded, but those funds are drying up. Bigger agencies, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations, are making some effort to help trace people, particularly children, who have been lost in camps or orphanages, or sold to families, but it is a sensitive and complex business.

“It’s been four years and we haven’t seen our parents,” say Adiba and Asia, two women in their 20s who escaped captivity. They have lost eight family members in all – parents, grandparents, two aunts, two brothers. We meet in a tidy lane in a Yazidi displacement camp – a well-tended warren that the families have tried to make their own by planting trees, lush green gardens of mint and other herbs, even striking yellow sunflowers.

This family came to the attention of Sally Becker, the British charity worker who made a name for herself in the 1980s during the Bosnian conflict by crossing front lines and circumventing bureaucracies to rescue injured children.

Using her contacts in the Yazidi community, she is now on a mission with her small charity, Road to Peace, to make the search for Yazidi children a greater priority.

“This is my first lead out of about 1,700 children still missing,” she says, sharing a photograph of four-year-old Sabir, the two young women’s nephew, who was taken from his mother into Isis captivity when he was only nine months old.

Adiba and Asia’s six-year-old sister Sylvana sits with them. She narrowly escaped the clutches of organ traffickers who smuggled her to neighbouring Turkey. “They tried to take my kidney but a doctor stole me from the hospital,” she whispers, in a child’s hesitant account of a journey that finally took her back to Iraq, where her sisters managed to find her.

Becker warns: “If more isn’t done more quickly to locate missing children in camps and orphanages, more children could end up being trafficked like Sylvana.”

There is a sense of urgency and impatience. Yazidi families know that some of the answers they need lie buried in the shallow mass graves that litter these blighted lands.

In Kocho, only a few soldiers, and flimsy strands of mesh fencing, stand guard over the killing fields there. The silence is broken only by the whistle of the winds, which have already exposed some bones and bits of tattered clothing. A year ago, the UN security council unanimously passed a resolution, spearheaded by Britain, authorising a team to gather evidence of Isis crimes, including the exhumation of mass graves.

“People are losing hope,” says Farhan Dakheel of Yazda, a global organisation that has been helping to document what the UN is calling a genocide. “So many Yazidis tell me that if nothing happens this year, they will dig for the bodies themselves.”

Last week, the first UN team was on site with an Iraqi medical unit, taking blood samples from survivors of another village close to Mount Sinjar.

“It’s just the beginning,” Farhan says cautiously, in a tone that underlines the Yazidis’ fear that they will never be anyone’s priority.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/ ... rning-home
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