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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 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:50 pm

How last year's Nobel winner endured

Win the Nobel Peace Prize at 25, become a commodity. How last year's winner endured

Last October, a professor at Harvard University asked Yazidi genocide survivor Nadia Murad if she was excited for the next day’s Nobel announcement. Nadia had been nominated, but we did not expect her to win. She turned to me with tears in her eyes and said, “But I don’t want it.” After traveling for more than three years to advocate for the Yazidis, she was exhausted. She knew a Nobel would keep her on the road.

The next morning, Nadia woke to discover she had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Over supper she asked if she could give the award back. “No,” I said, “but we’ll help you get through it.” I was referring to our five-person team that had helped her found the nonprofit Nadia’s Initiative to advocate for the Yazidis of northern Iraq.

It seemed to me that Nadia, then only 25, felt the prize was less of a cause for celebration and more of a memorial to what she had lost — in 2014 she was among 6,700 women and girls taken into slavery by Islamic State. The terrorist group murdered her mother, six brothers, many cousins and so many others in her community. The prize was a powerful reminder of how long she had waited for the international community to take action.

In a quest I had started calling the “lost cause,” Nadia’s Initiative had approached governments, queens, billionaires and nongovernmental organizations to help the Yazidis. But the facts we laid out about the genocide — including 12,000 killed, 450,000 displaced, and 90% of homes and schools destroyed — had failed to persuade the international community to provide security and material support, and refer the case to the International Criminal Court that is designed to protect persecuted people such as the Yazidis.

But the Nobel gave us new hope for helping the Yazidis. Nadia represented a particular currency: Individuals, institutions and governments would support the cause so that they could associate with her in what I call the “virtue exchange.” It was my job to persuade the social, business and political elite that supporting Nadia and Yazidis would allow them to project virtue to the world.

At the banquet following the 2018 Nobel Prize ceremony, Asle Toje, a foreign policy scholar and the youngest member of the five-person Nobel committee, turned to me, smiling slyly, and said, “What’s next, a presidential campaign for you?” I knew he was playfully making fun of me for being a salesperson who had helped construct a campaign to promote Nadia and the Yazidi cause.

Our small team had worked to raise Nadia’s value on the virtue exchange by casting her as the face of the genocide. When Nadia won the Nobel Prize, she became a brand and a celebrity. Countries, billionaires and NGOs paid Nadia’s Initiative high fees for Nadia to speak. On a number of occasions, Nadia asked me why people wouldn’t just help the Yazidis without her having to retell her terrifying and heartbreaking story, forcing her to relive her trauma in exchange for support. The responsibility was a strain.

A director of the Malala Fund — Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 — warned me that Nadia had a year to collect money and persuade people to take action before her value on the exchange plummeted.

And that is what we did: We traveled through North America, Europe and the Middle East to collect contributions and commitments to take action on behalf of the Yazidis.

Did our actions help? Through our advocacy and fundraising, we obtained commitments of millions of dollars for farmers, the construction of a new school, a new hospital and other programs, but reconstruction is nearly impossible when the region is not yet secure. What little money that has reached the Yazidis in Sinjar, Iraq, and other communities provides temporary relief and is completely inadequate to rebuild an infrastructure that has been reduced to rubble by the conflict with Islamic State.

As Iraq, Kurdistan, and Iranian proxies wrangle over control of the region, the Yazidis will continue to suffer. If the U.S. withdraws forces from the region, what little progress the Yazidis have made will be endangered.

In a world in which celebrity causes continue to be one of the few ways to help people in desperate need, the Nobel Peace Prize empowers leaders of humanitarian causes who represent people such as the survivors of the Yazidi genocide, many of whom lost all but their lives. All of whom wait for what may never be restored. Friday’s announcement of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner may put another worthy cause in the spotlight, but so much more than a spotlight is needed.

Over the last four years, a number of people we approached to support our cause privately asked me why the Yazidis mattered. After all, there were so few of them, less than a million worldwide, and most are in northern Iraq. The answer is simple: If the Yazidis don’t matter, no one matters. If one refugee made stateless by tyranny is rendered “superfluous,” in the words of German-Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt, then we are all superfluous.

Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown is a co-founder of Nadia’s Initiative and Uncommon Union, a public affairs and advisory firm

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2 ... adia-murad
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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 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:55 pm

They Were The Worst

Yazidi Refugees Outraged That ISIS Women Want to Return to Europe: 'They Were The Worst!'

Victims of ISIS in the Yazidi community now living in the Netherlands are outraged that a serious discussion is taking place in that European country about the possible return of ISIS women. Last Wednesday, two women, who traveled to the ISIS radical caliphate several years ago, visited the Dutch embassy in Ankara. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that they told personnel they want to "return home."

Another group of ISIS women and their children went to court in an attempt to force the Dutch government to "take them" from a Kurdish prison camp in Northern Syria.

Dutch public channel the NOS (link in Dutch) reports that this news has the Yazidi community in the Netherlands up in arms. They are utterly dismayed that the plans of the ISIS Brides, as they are known, are actually taken seriously. "The ISIS women were worse than the fighters," 21-year-old Parween Alhinto told the public broadcaster. "They regularly used violence against the imprisoned [Yazidi] women and helped the fighters rape them."

Parween knows of what she speaks. Male ISIS terrorists took her captive and held her for four long months, during which they raped her regularly. Her ten-year-old sister was sold as a sex slave to someone in Syria. "She lived there in a house with ISIS women," Parween says. "My sister told me afterward that the women were even worse than the fighters."

The entire notion that European countries may be forced to take back ISIS women is, of course, horrendous, but what makes this even worse is the fact that a Belgian court already ruled this week that the Belgian government had to go and get an ISIS bride and her two children from a "prison camp." The government has 75 days to do so. And earlier this summer, a German court forced the German government to take back an ISIS woman and her three children.

If this doesn't prove that Europe has gone completely insane, I don't know what does. Judges are so politically correct that they are willing to use the law against society itself in order to repatriate radical, extremist crazies who hate and despise everything Europe stands for and believes in. European courts are literally importing terrorists.

https://pjmedia.com/trending/yazidi-ref ... the-worst/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:00 am

USCIRF Condemns Turkish Air Strikes on Sinjar

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 7, 2019

USCIRF Condemns Turkish Air Strikes on Sinjar

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemns recent Turkish air strikes(Opens in a new window) near civilian areas in Sinjar, Iraq. Turkey claims that these air strikes, the most recent in a series of similar operations that it has conducted in the Sinjar area since 2017, are targeting Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters who have remained in northwestern Iraq since participating in anti-ISIS operations. However, these indiscriminate strikes have taken place in close proximity to towns and camps in which displaced Yazidi families have taken refuge since the 2014 genocide at the hands of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters.

USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins said, “USCIRF calls on Turkey to immediately cease its brutal airstrikes on Sinjar, Iraq. Despite Turkey’s claim that its successive military operations in the Sinjar area are targeting PKK positions, they are in fact victimizing Yazidi genocide survivors who remain displaced in and around Sinjar.”

“Iraqi Yazidis have already suffered immeasurable trauma over the last several years, beginning with the 2014 genocide and continuing with their unheeded calls for justice; their ongoing, mass displacement; and now their helplessness in the crosshairs of Turkey’s cross-border air strikes.” said Commissioner Anurima Bhargava. “Neither Turkey nor any other regional power should continue to victimize this long-suffering community with impunity.”

Since 1984, Turkey has waged an intermittent war against the PKK, an organization of Marxist Kurdish separatists that the U.S. has also designated as a terrorist group. As part of that long-running conflict, historically centered in eastern Turkey, the Turkish military has frequently sought to destroy PKK positions—or those of groups directly or indirectly tied to the PKK—in neighboring Iraq and Syria. However, it has repeatedly carried out such operations with disregard for vulnerable religious and ethnic minorities who live in, or have been displaced to, those same areas.

In its 2019 annual report, USCIRF placed Turkey on its Tier 2 list.

###

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF(Opens in a new window)) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov or call 202-523-3240.

https://www.uscirf.gov/news-room/press- ... kes-sinjar
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:08 am

Local funding helps Yazidi
refugees overcome past traumas


A London woman who was enslaved by Islamic State (ISIS) fighters in Iraq for more than two years says she’s thankful to be in Canada, but can’t forget those she left behind

“It’s hard to be here when my family is back there,” said Ramzya Issa, 23, who was enslaved for two years and four months before she escaped in 2017.

Issa is one of about 300 Yazidi Kurdish-speaking refugees, members of a religious and ethnic minority long persecuted in Iraq, who arrived in London in 2016 and 2017 after escaping an ISIS genocide in northern Iraq where several thousand Yazidis were killed and half a million became refugees.

Another 100 Yazidi settled in London after coming from other Canadian cities, such as Winnipeg, said Valerian Marochko, head of the Cross Cultural Learner Centre, a London agency that helps immigrants.

Because of their years of living in horrific conditions, many of the refugees suffer from complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Marochko said.

“Complex PTSD that is associated with prolonged trauma like exposure to mass killings; other people being killed; injury to themselves; torture; shelling; rape,” he said. “Some of the women still don’t know if their partner is alive or dead, and we hear some of our clients have been sold multiple times into slavery.”

Issa, who grew up in an agricultural family near Sinjar Mountains, is one of those who became a slave.

She remembers her life was normal before the massacre by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that devastated the Yazidis in 2014. Then came guns and bombs, and her former friendly Muslim neighbours began rising up against the Yazidi.

“They didn’t like that we belonged to a different religion and a different culture,” Issa said.

After she was captured by ISIS she was kept captive for 15 days in August 2014 in a school, before she was given as a slave to an ISIS fighter. The fighters, who drew names for the girls, could do what they wanted with them, including giving them away to friends or selling them.

“We didn’t have any choice; we had to be with them,” Issa said.

She endured horrible conditions and humiliation, as well as having to cook and clean for dozens of people. Eventually, a Yazidi man named Hamad, a friend whom ISIS believed was Muslim, plotted to help her and 16 other women escape.

To this day, she doesn’t know what happened to the man who saved her.

To reach the Kurdish-controlled town of Zamar, they slept during the day and crept over a mountain at night.

From there, they made it to Dohuk, in Iraqi Kurdistan, and finally to Canada, through the U.S. nonprofit Yazda.

Today, Issa is studying English and working at a local restaurant.

“I will never forget what happened, but I have to continue life,” she said.

Issa doesn’t like to talk about how her ordeal continues to affect her, but she often thinks about her parents and eight brothers and sister who are still in Iraq.

Omar Khoudeida, a Yazidi settlement worker at the Cross Cultural Learner Centre, who came to Canada from Iraq in 2000, said many of the mostly female immigrants are single mums. They lost their husbands or aren’t sure if they’re still alive.

“All were in captivity and experienced a horrible nightmare,” he said. “Most of them still have children missing.”

The Cross Cultural Learner Centre is receiving a $232,000 community vitality grant from the London Community Foundation during two years to develop a mental-health, peer-support program to help traumatized Yazidi refugees heal from the horror of ethnic cleansing.

About 1,300 Yazidis have settled in Canada since the genocide, and London is home to one of largest communities in the country.

About 70 per cent of those who arrived in London are younger than 30, the majority are children.

Marochko said the peer support program is a partnership involving CMHA Middlesex and Merrymount Family Support Crisis Centre, as well as the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre at Western University.

The funds will be used to build a network and establish programs to help the Yazidis overcome cultural and language barriers, he said.

“We hope it will have a big chance for success,” Marochko said. “Peer support models have been demonstrated to be effective in research we’ve seen. We’re trying to build on what works.”

First steps in the program would be for each person to undergo an assessment and begin to help them “feel safe.”

“It’s a young community, very eager to learn English and to help other people,” Marochko said.

Community vitality celebration:

The London Community Foundation is hosting its annual celebration Wednesday at the Hellenic Community Centre. Five community vitality grants will be announced, as well as the recipients of the foundation’s vital people award given to individuals who work for charities in London and Middlesex County. They will receive funding for professional development.

Other community vitality grant recipients:

Indwell: Hamilton-based non-profit creating affordable housing in London will receive $320,000.

Youth Opportunities Unlimited: Agency that provides temporary accommodation for youth while creating a path to permanent housing will receive $187,500.

ReForest London: Non-profit creating the Westminster Ponds Centre for Environment and Sustainability that will act as a hub for environmental advocacy receiving $190,000.

Forest City Film Festival: Receiving $53,600 to hire part-time staff to expand the event focused on Southwestern Ontario cinema.

https://lfpress.com/news/local-news/fun ... st-traumas
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Nov 11, 2019 2:59 am

Lack of schools in Sinjar

A serious shortage of schools available to families living in displacement camps on Iraq's Mount Sinjar (Shingal) is preventing hundreds of Yezidi (Ezidi) children from getting an education and leading to high numbers of new dropouts

Poverty is an important factor as well since many of the families within the Ezidi religious minority do not have money for transportation that would take their children to schools located elsewhere.

Salam Hassan, a 16-year-old living in Sardasht Camp, told local news agency Kirkuk Now that he dropped out of school last year.

“I want very much to go back to studying, but I am unable to pay the extra money,” said Hassan. “I cannot walk 15 kilometers to get to the high school, nor can I pay 35,000 IQD ($29) for transportation.”

In the majority of the camps, schools are available only at the elementary level. If students in Sardasht Camp, for example, wish to continue past sixth grade, they must somehow get to a school in Sinuni sub-district.

Iraq's Ezidis suffered heavily at the hands of the Islamic State following its emergence in Iraq in 2014. The occupation of the Ezidi-majority city of Shingal led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of their community, considered heretics by the terror group. Islamic State militants subjected women and girls to sexual slavery, kidnapped children, forced religious conversions, executed scores of men, and abused, sold, and trafficked women across areas they controlled in Iraq and Syria.

Murad Alyas, the principle of the elementary school inside Sardasht Camp, said that the one elementary school in the camp, which serves 400 students, "has only four teachers who are volunteers.”

“With the beginning of the new school year, 50 students have dropped out already.”

Camp manager Ali Shabo said, “Education is at risk in both camps on Mount Shingal,” adding that 300 students between the ages of 7 and 16 from both camps have so far quit school. Most of them, he said, were from the poorest families.

On Nov. 2, local officials in Nineveh province, where Shingal is located, announced plans to build 37 new schools to replace those destroyed since 2014.

Shingal was not listed as one of the locations where the schools were to be built.

https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/eab ... 3944a34836
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:05 pm

Inside the world's biggest
Yazidi temple in Armenia


Yerevan, Armenia - Armenia may be best known for its medieval-era monasteries, crumbling hilltop churches that feature in postcards and travel posters

But as of this fall, the small, landlocked nation of three million has a new religious landmark: the world's largest Yazidi temple - Quba Mere Diwane.

Image

"I'm proud that finally the Yazidis have somewhere in Armenia where they can come and pray," said 27-year-old Pakizar Salmoyan, who wandered with her mother through the gold-toned atrium on a recent Saturday.

The pair had driven down from Gyumri, a few hours by car, to see the new temple in person, and now posed for Snapchat photos in front of the altar.

Just an hour outside the capital city of Yerevan, the gleaming, seven-domed temple crowns the quiet, poplar-lined village of Aknalich.

The temple is dedicated to Melek Taus, one of seven angels in Yazidi theology, who takes the form of a peacock.

Peacock motifs are etched onto the wooden doors

Golden suns - symbols of a higher power - adorn each white dome.

An elaborate, colourful stone carving of Melek Taus, special-ordered from Russia, is backlit to appear mystically luminescent.

A humbler, single-domed temple, which opened in 2012, sits alongside the new addition.

It displays a turquoise-feathered taxidermy peacock on a wooden pedestal and adjoins the local Yazidi cemetery.

Image
Property manager Mraz Sloyan is pictured in the Armenian-Yazidi friendship memorial complex [Ariel Sophia Bardi/Al Jazeera]

Both temples were commissioned and financed by Yazidi-Armenian property developer Mirza Sloyan, who passed away this month.

They are two of very few Yazidi places of worship outside the mountains of the northern Kurdish region, home of the community's most sacred shrine, Lalish.

"In Iraq, we have a lot of holy places," said 57-year-old Mraz Sloyan, Mirza's nephew and the temple's property manager.

Armenia, officially home to 35,000 Yazidis - with an unofficial count of 50,000 - had none.

During Soviet times, Yazidis were counted on census forms as Kurds, eroding their distinct culture and religion.

They petitioned to be recognised as a separate group. After the fall of the USSR, a Yazidi radio station was established, and schools now offer classes in Yazidi language and culture.

    Since we don't have the opportunity to go to Iraq, now we have one just nearby and we go there.

    Rustam Hasanyan, Armenian Yazidi
In 2014, when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) forces swept through the Yazidi homeland in Sinjar, killing men and subjecting women and girls to brutal sexual assaults, the older Sloyan wanted to begin construction on the new temple, giving Armenia's Yazidi minority community more visibility and support.

"It played a role," said Sloyan, the nephew. "Before that, we were told that we were Kurds, we were Zoroastrians. But no, we are Yazidis, and we can be beheaded for our religion," he said. "We should have a place for worship."

In 2018, Armenia made news by declaring the attack on the Yazidis of Sinjar as a genocide.

"Armenians are a community who have seen genocide themselves," said Rustam Badasyan, a Yazidi member of Armenia's parliament.

"I don't think any other nation would understand our pain as much as the Armenians did."

While Armenians describe the 1915 mass killings allegedly by Ottoman forces as genocide, Turkey has rejected this label and said the number of people who died is close to 300,000, rather than 1.5 million as claimed by Armenia.

Image

The adjacent Yazidi cemetery [Ariel Sophia Bardi/Al Jazeera]

The new reformist government - led by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - has emphasised the importance of Yazidis and other minority groups to Armenia, which is still 98 percent ethnically Armenian.

During the construction of the temple, the government waived taxes on imported materials, such as marble from Iran and relics from Iraq. "The place in the world where Yazidis feel themselves the safest is Armenia," said Badasyan.

In a new statue park facing the temple, a middle-aged man walked briskly down the line of monuments, stopping to kiss and touch his forehead to each.

One depicts Nobel Prize winner Nadia Murad, towering in broken chains.

A horseback statue honours Andranik Ozanyan, an Armenian military commander who fought the Ottomans.

Another one features an apostolic cross intertwined with the Yazidi sun, an ode to religious harmony.

"I'm impressed that the Yazidis have our heroes in their holy place," said 26-year-old Anna Alaverdyan, an ethnic Armenian visiting with her brother after they had seen news of the opening on TV.

They explored the grounds as multiple wedding parties arrived for blessings and portrait sessions, a swift succession of caged doves, buzzing drone cameras, and hired dhol drummers.

Image
A souvenir stand in the temple [Ariel Sophia Bardi/Al Jazeera]

A small gift shop sells images of the temple flanked by white-capped Mount Ararat, a sacred symbol for Armenians.

Yazidis have had a presence in Armenia for centuries, seeking refuge from the Ottomans.

Outside the temple complex, Yazidis live along a long village road aptly named Barekamutyan Street - the Street of Friendship.

A blue truck loaded with sheep rumbled down an intersection. Yazidis in Armenia work primarily in agriculture.

A group of farmers stood smoking, idling as their livestock grazed. Their grandfathers and great-grandfathers had come to Armenia after 1915, they said.

"We are very free here, like one nation. We are the same country, the same people," said 54-year-old Suren Avdoyan. The temple "brought unity to the community," he added.

"Since we don't have the opportunity to go to Iraq, now we have one just nearby and we go there," agreed 28-year-old Rustam Hasanyan.

Inside his cheerful, yellow-walled house, over a spread of pomegranates and tarragon soda, Avdoyan elaborated: "For us, Armenia is one of the best places for Yazidis to be. We have our temple, our radio station, our schools."

"We were born here, we've been fed here, and it's our motherland." Above him hung a glittering portrait of the Virgin Mary.

"She's the mother of God," said Avdoyan. "We respect all the religions."

Every day at sunrise, he said, "we ask God to give happiness and wellbeing to all the people of the world - and lastly, for us"

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/featu ... 13743.html
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:13 pm

Abducted, Trained
and Forced to Fight


As Islamic State militants lost their territorial holdings in Iraq and Syria, VOA chronicled the events through the words of the victims, in a 12-part series called "Life Under Islamic State."

Image

Now we bring you voices of victims who were silenced until recently. Officials estimate nearly 3,000 Yazidi people remain missing after being captured and enslaved by ISIS.

When Daoud was 15, he was kidnapped, trained and forced to fight for the militant group. He was imprisoned after the final battles. These are his words, told to us in the tent where he lives with his brother in an informal refugee camp. They are are translated into English and edited for clarity.

It was August 3, 2014 and we were preparing to flee when the militants captured us. My sister, mother, father and five of my brothers are still missing.

The ISIS fighters told my father and older brothers that they must convert to Islam. Then, they took my family away and sent me to a school in Tal Afar, Iraq. It was called the Sharia Institute, and it mostly taught religion.

But there were other classes. One class was called "The Aim of Jihad." It was lessons in terrorism. They taught us who to kill, how to kill and how to identify infidels that should be killed. They taught us what the punishment is for non-Muslims and what the punishment is for people who abandon Islam. We learned how to use weapons, like the BKCs and AK-47s.

There were 200 students, but only 11 were, like me, Yazidi captives.

Some of the boys were true believers but I don't think all of them. No one could openly say, "I don't believe in this," but when the training was over, some of the boys went home and didn't join ISIS.

Of course, we, the Yazidi boys, didn't have that option.

After the training, they took us to one of their bases near Raqqa, Syria. This was the first time I saw my brother since I was captured. We kissed and hugged and felt joy.

Fighting unit

The group I was with grew, and became a unit of 33 Yazidis living together. We had one ISIS member living with us in the base. He cooked. They moved us around Syria, first to Homs, then to Der Ezzor. We took turns fighting on the front lines. In Der Ezzor we were fighting Syrian government forces near the airport.

You know, not all the fighters believed in the ideology. Some just wanted the salary. They got $100 a month for fighting. It was $200 if they were married, and $50 extra for each child. We, the Yazidi boys, were paid the same.

We only knew that some people were faking their beliefs toward the end. When ISIS stopped paying monthly salaries, some of the fighters said, "We were only here for the money," and left.

In five years, I never forgot I was Yazidi or believed in ISIS. They would try to tell us to conduct executions in public places, but we would refuse. They would then kill the accused in front of us.

During this time, some of the Yazidi boys got married. Some grew to believe in ISIS's ideology 100 percent. I know five boys that blew themselves up as suicide bombers.

Most of the Yazidi population of Iraq — hundreds of thousands of people — are displaced, living in formal camps or in towns clustered with tents and makeshift encampments.

Image

Escape

The first time I tried to escape was from the school in Tal Afar. They caught me and put me in jail for 17 days. The second time I tried, my brother and I tried to hire a smuggler. But we were caught and spent three days in prison.

In 2018, I made my third attempt as we retreated with ISIS. The militants were losing towns they once held and I tried to hire a smuggler again. But it did not work.

The fourth time was from Baghouz, the last ISIS stronghold. People were packed into tents and tunnels. It was so crowded that one day thousands of militants and their families were killed by airstrikes in a single night. In only one night!

I was told the Kurdish and collation forces would torture and kill me if I surrendered. They would see me only as another ISIS militant.

But then we were surrounded and I was shot in the shoulder. I joined the women and children who were fleeing for their lives.

This was in March 2019. I told the Syrian Democratic Forces I was a Yazidi captive, not an ISIS fighter by choice. They handcuffed me, blindfolded me and took me to prison.

Road to freedom

The first weeks in prison were the worst. There was no air inside. Dozens of people died in the crowded cell. If they took someone away to investigate, they had to be dragged back in because they couldn't walk on their own when they returned.

Four months later, they took me to another prison and investigated me for two days. They believed me and took me to the Yazidi House in Syria, a transit center for rescued captives. That was in August.

At first, when I came back to my family, I was nervous. I thought everyone would look at me with suspicion. They would know I fought with ISIS. Would they think I wanted to?

But they don't think like that. They don't blame us. So I am okay here except my gunshot wound was never treated. I cannot work. I cannot even sit in a car for more than an hour.

I do take English classes from an NGO on weekends. And there is a girl who I met in the Yazidi House who takes the same class. I brought a necklace for her.

https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/lif ... rced-fight
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:19 pm

Child Slaves

As Islamic State militants lost their territorial holdings in Iraq and Syria, VOA chronicled the events through the words of the victims, in a 12-part series called "Life Under Islamic State."

Now, three years later, we bring you voices of victims who were silenced until recently. Officials estimate nearly 3,000 Yazidi people remain missing after being captured and enslaved by ISIS.

Maher was 6 years old, Fadya was 5, and their mother, Basse, was pregnant when they were all taken. In recent months, the children were rescued in Syria individually and brought back to Iraq. The family tells their story in their own words, translated into English and edited for clarity.

Basse: When my children were returned to me they didn't recognize anyone in the family. They had been taught by Islamic State militants that Yazidis are infidels. My daughter, Fadya, said, "You are not my family. I don't know you."

But she did remember my name.

Image

When Basse's daughter Fadya was rescued and returned to her family a few months ago, she initially did not recognize her siblings and parents,

Fadya: I also remembered how to speak Kurdish. At first with ISIS, they would tell me to come and pray in Arabic and I wouldn't understand. Then I learned.

Now me and my brother Maher speak Arabic to each other when we don't want other people to understand us. We talk about what it was like living with ISIS.

Maher: I remember a lot of what happened when I lived with ISIS. When people asked me who I was, I told them I was the son of my owner, Abu Jaber.

My job was to bring groceries for his wife. But then during the final battles in Baghouz there was a water shortage, so I had collect water. My job was to carry a 20-liter can of water to the house after morning prayers.

If I stayed awake after the prayer ended at 5 a.m., I would carry only one can of water. If I fell asleep, Abu Jaber would beat me and then make me carry two or three.

Image

Maher plays video games as his brother looks on, in Khanke, Kurdistan

One time one of his friends took me with him to the countryside, saying he had four infidels. They shot the four men in their heads. Then they cut their heads off while they filmed it for their publications.

But I was not scared, even when they cut the heads off. I'm not afraid of blood.

I was only afraid of the man who owned me, Abu Jaber. He beat me if I didn't pray. He beat me if I broke something or didn't do a task. He never beat me without a reason but he did beat me every day for three years. How can a person not be afraid of such a man?

I wanted to tell him to sell me, but I was afraid it would make him beat me more. And when he finally did tell me that he was going to sell me, I cried.

If he didn't beat me so often, I would have loved him. Sometimes I really did love him.

Image

Officials are still searching for more than 2,900 Yazidi men, women and children who they believe to be alive after being captured by ISIS.

Fadya: I didn't have friends because I stayed in the house, just cleaning and cooking. My first owner called me Nour. Then he was killed in an airstrike and I was sold to a man who's wife had left him. That man called me Robar.

I met two other girls, Marin and Hayat who were Yazidi. They had been trained by IS and told me never return to Yazidis because they are infidels who will kill us.

Hayat died from an airstrike and Marin died later. When I was brought to the orphanage, I told them I was Tunisian.

Basse: The children were all given different names by ISIS. They named the baby I had in captivity Zainab and sold her. She was rescued and brought back to me only a few months ago. I named her Mukhaban. It means "sorrow."

Image

When ISIS took child slaves, they re-named them. This girl, pictured in Khanke, Kurdistan, was born in captivity. Her mother later gave her the name Mukhaban, which means "sorrow."

https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/lif ... ild-slaves
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Nov 17, 2019 8:06 pm

Turkish warplanes
strike Shingal


Turkish warplanes reportedly bombed the Yezidi village of Khanasor, northwest of Shingal

"A warplane, who our friends say is from Turkey struck a base of our YBS [Shingal Protection Units] friends," Khalaf Khudeda, former head of the Khanasor Local Council confirmed to Rudaw English, referring to Shingal Resistance Units.

"The bombing has resulted in wounds but we do not know how many are wounded or if anyone has died," Khudeda added.

The YBS is a Yezidi militia active in Shingal, believed to be affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group fighting for greater Kurdish political and cultural rights in Turkey and designated a terrorist organization by Ankara.

The PKK has said that while it played a part in the establishment of the YBS, the units' members are solely local Yezidis.

The YBS was established to protect the Yezidi community in Iraq in 2007, playing a crucial role in the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) after it exacted genocide on the ethnoreligious minority in and around the Shingal region in 2014.

On Monday evening, a correspondent for Yezidi news outlet EzidiPress also confirmed a Turkish airstrike had taken place in Khanasor.

The Shingal area was subject to repeated Turkish airstrikes in 2018. Ankara justified its strikes by claiming Mount Shingal (otherwise known as Sinjar) is host to a number of PKK positions.

Turkey killed prominent local PKK commander Zaki Shingali alongside four YBS fighters in an airstrike in August 2018.

As well as the YBS, other militias and forces including the Iraqi Army, provincial police, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Peshmerga-linked forces, Ezidkhan, and Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF) are currently present in Shingal, complicating its security situation.

Murad Ismail, a Yezidi activist and former head of Yazda said his hometown of Khanasor does not want the presence of foreign troops.

“We don’t want Sinjar to become a regional conflict. This is why we ask all armed groups not from this region to leave, let them be PKK, let them be PMU, let them be anyone. We want locals to protect their areas. Enough. We don’t want this genocide to result us not have a homeland,” he said.

Unconfirmed reports about the injury of Mazloum Abdi, commander of Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), by the Turkish strike on Shingal were denied by force spokesperson Mustafa Bali, who described the reports as a “psychological war” against Kurds.

Turkey is fighting the PKK and other forces it claims are offshoots of the group, including the SDF and YBS, at home and inside Iraq and Syria.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/041120192
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Nov 18, 2019 6:42 pm

Working with the
farmers of Sinjar


Sinjar province in northern Iraq became synonymous with the plight of the Yazidi people in late 2014 when it fell under ISIS control

As members of the community started to return to Sinjar province, Welterhungerhilfe (WHH), as part of the EU MADAD-funded consortium led by ACTED, is helping farmers return to their fields and pastures since June 2019. The beneficiaries involved were happy to participate in the activities and share their experiences.

Escape to the mountain and back

Shaman, 40 year-old Yazidi men from Kani Sarki, a small village southwest of Sinjar town, learned sheep-keeping from his father at an early age. Despite having joined the army, Shaman continued to take care of his 70 sheep to provide a stable income for his family. Shaman lost everything in 2014 when ISIS seized Sinjar district. Shaman and his family numbered among the 40,000 displaced Yazidis who fled to Sinjar Mountain.

After three years relying on airdrops of water and food, Shaman and his family returned to Kani Sarki to restart their lives. However, the family's return is overshadowed by the specter of ISIS elements whom they suspect remain active in neighboring areas. As the images in this article show, the conflict had erased much of the village.

Improving existing capacities

To bring the area's pastures and fields back into production, the communities of Kani Sarki clearly needed support.

With the help of experts from the Ministry of Agriculture and recently graduated agriculture engineers, WHH, as part of the ACTED-led consortium, oversaw the development of a curriculum covering animal husbandry, bee-keeping, open agriculture and home gardening, in addition to guidance on dietary diversity. The organizations selected the topics based on prior house visits during which WHH registered those families interested in taking part in trainings, and noted their preferences.

Helping family businesses grow

Before long the community had totally bought into the project, happily providing hosting spaces for the trainings in their homes, due to a lack of communal spaces.

WHH is providing generators, water and refreshments, and is also establishing demonstration plots next to farmers’ homes for the practical trainings on improving farming techniques. These will also serve as plots for farming over the longer term.

After the completion of the training, WHH provides participants with grants to ensure they can put their new knowledge into practice immediately. Farmers use the assistance for: buying vaccines or medication, increasing the number of animals, purchasing storage and processing tools.

Shaman participated in an animal husbandry training in August 2019. Shaman often re-reads the education material that WHH distributed during the training and proudly informed the monitoring team that thanks to the vaccinations and care tips he received, his herd was growing in number.

https://reliefweb.int/report/iraq/worki ... ers-sinjar
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Nov 19, 2019 1:11 am

Yezidi woman killed by
Turkish-backed group


Nergiz Dawoud, a 23-year-old Yezidi woman from the northwest Syrian district of Afrin, was allegedly killed on Sunday by suspected Turkish-backed Syrian fighters, according to several sources

Afrin fell under the control of Turkish forces and their Syrian militia proxies in early 2018 following Operation Olive Branch.

A source inside Afrin, who must remain anonymous to protect them from reprisals, confirmed the woman’s identity in a series of voice messages sent to Rudaw, claiming she was killed by a group of armed men on Sunday in the village of Kimare.

Rudaw’s source inside Afrin said it has not yet been confirmed who was responsible for the killing.

Ezidi 24, a local news outlet focusing on the Yezidi community, also reported Dawoud’s death and accused Syrian proxies backed by Turkey of killing her.

Dawoud was reportedly working for Afrin’s Civil Defense Organization. She was allegedly attacked while carrying a large sum of money to pay the salaries of the organization’s employees, according to Rudaw’s source.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based war monitor, said another individual was killed alongside Dawoud.

Hawar News, a media outlet close to Kurdish authorities in northern Syria, identified the other person as Ali al-Shaghouri, an Arab man from Eastern Ghouta, who had settled in Afrin following Turkey’s invasion of the Kurdish enclave. He was also a member of the Civil Defense Organization.

Their bodies were discovered early on Sunday morning on the Gumrik village road in the Mobata sub-district in Afrin, the outlet said.

The Kurdish-majority region of Afrin is isolated from other Kurdish towns and cities by a Turkish-controlled zone in northern Aleppo.

Turkey launched its Afrin offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in January 2018 to force the group back from its border.

Ankara accuses the YPG of fostering ties with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed group fighting for greater political and cultural rights for Kurds in Turkey.

Turkey’s Syrian proxies were accused of looting Kurdish homes and businesses, vandalizing Kurdish cultural landmarks, and resettling Arab families in vacant homes left by fleeing Kurdish families.

According to UN estimates, upwards of 150,000 Kurds were displaced. General lawlessness, arbitrary kidnappings, and assassinations have overrun Afrin.

According to Rudaw’s source from Afrin, the Yezidi ethno-religious minority, who faced genocide in Iraq at the hands of the Islamic State group (ISIS), nowadays face a double stigma in Afrin.

As Kurdish speakers, they are a target of Turkish-backed groups, while their non-Islamic faith has also made them vulnerable to aggression. According to Rudaw’s source, Islamists among the Turkish-backed groups have pressured local Yezidis to convert to Islam.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/18112019
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Nov 19, 2019 1:14 am

No future for Yezidis
in the Middle East


A Germany-based Yezidi activist has thanked the Aurora Initiative for awarding him its flagship award for humanitarian work last month, calling it a diplomatic recognition of the genocide which ripped apart the small community five years ago. However, Yezidis continue to face grave threat in their homeland amid Turkey’s current offensive in northeastern Syria, he warns

"[The prize] is a kind of symbolic, diplomatic recognition of the Yezidi genocide and will help empower the Yezidi issue and strengthen our struggle for Yezidi rights," Mirza Dinnayi told Rudaw English.

The Aurora Prize - established by the grandchildren of Armenian genocide survivors - is the largest in the humanitarian community, and was awarded to Dinnayi for his work with survivors of terrorism.

He added that the prize has given him a responsibility to “spread the language of peace to the world.”

Where he is less optimistic however, is in the future of his community in their own homeland, particularly in light of the ongoing Turkish offensive in northeast Syria.

“There is no future for the Yezidis in the Middle East” he said gravely.

Operation Peace Spring, launched last month, has displaced hundreds of thousands from the Kurdish-held enclave in Northern Syria, including members of the Yezidi ethnoreligious minority. Twenty-three Yezidi villages lie inside Turkey’s so-called safe zone, and over 50 percent of Syria’s Yezidis have left the country since civil war broke out in 2011, according to the activist.

Dinnayi, a Yezidi who has lived in Germany for several decades, has been engaged in fighting for Yezidi rights for over 20 years. He previously served as Presidential Advisor for Minority Affairs under Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Connections made within the Iraqi political scene later proved invaluable in establishing his NGO Luftbrucke Irak (Air Bridge Iraq), which transports Iraqi children to German hospitals for treatment.

The NGO was founded in 2007, after the devastating Al-Qaeda bombing of the Yezidi villages of Siba Sheikh Khidr and Til Ezer. Dinnayi spoke of his commitment to save all Iraqi children from war, regardless of religious or ethnic affiliation. Despite its small beginnings, the charity has made a big impact.

“I brought the first six children to Germany with thanks to the German Embassy...they left Iraq in wheelchairs and came back walking,” he told Rudaw.

“We are a small and quiet NGO. In the last 13 years, we have helped 150 children from different parts of Iraq.” He added that to date, the organisation has only had financial aid from one sponsor.

He then rushed to Iraq to save his people from genocide in August 2014. The Islamic State (ISIS) group was tearing their way through the Shingal region, at the time home to 400,000 members of the ethno-religious minority. Villages were wiped out as men and the elderly were summarily executed before thousands of women and children were enslaved, to be sold across ISIS territory.

While in Iraq, he was on board a helicopter which crashed upon take-off from Mount Sinjar, injuring several and killing the pilot. Dinnayi told of a harrowing brush with death.

“Forty people were on top of me, and I saw death with my own eyes. I couldn’t breathe.”

“Psychology says there are five stages of death, and I didn’t believe it. But then I saw them: I saw my life play in front of my eyes.”

Returning to Germany alive but injured, the aid worker then spent a week in hospital before giving the first speech on the plight of his people at the inaugural session of the UN’s Human Rights Council on Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State) in Geneva. He resisted appeals from family members and took to the podium still in his wheelchair, before returning to meet the first survivors of ISIS captivity in Fallujah.

“As a man, I was completely shocked and ashamed to hear the stories of the innocent girls,” he said.

The trauma faced by his community is immense, and still poses a challenge to NGOs working with survivors of the genocide, who struggle with bereavement, trauma and the continued uncertainty of their own lives in refugee camps and those of family members still held by ISIS. Many families with relatives in ISIS captivity spiral into serious debt in attempts to reunite with their loved ones.

“I can’t solve the plight of the whole community, but I thought I could do something for that one group,” he said, referring to the more than 3,000 Yezidi women and children who have been freed from ISIS captivity.

Following his speech in Geneva, Dinnayi contacted dozens of policy makers in Germany, looking for a safe refuge for the women escaping the terror group.

The enslavement of more than 7,000 women and children led the Yezidi religious leadership to take an unprecedented decision in welcoming survivors back into the endogamous, deeply conservative community - a decision in which Dinnayi was involved. However, returning to a life of tents, with no psychosocial services available, was the unfortunate reality of those who had been freed.

“The best way to help was for them to leave Iraq, for many reasons. Most of them had lost their children, and returned from captivity to live in tents,” Dinnayi explained.

The trauma of supporting survivors of ISIS enslavement took its toll on the man tasked with bringing over 1,000 women and children to safety, following the first round of interviews which would see them start a new life in Germany.

The programme was the first of its kind in the country, and has led to the establishment of similar initiatives for survivors in Canada, Australia and France. With limited places, all interested survivors had to be interviewed by Dinnayi - a grueling process for both parties.

Two hundred interviews passed before he was able to take a break.

“The first set of interviews left me completely traumatised. I couldn’t sleep at night; I was crying all the time and didn’t know what to do. I was completely finished,” he said.

However, the prospect of leaving the survivors in Iraq was a scarier thought for the activist. He now accredits overcoming his trauma to helping others- a phenomenon he has witnessed in female survivors, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad and Sakharov Prize recipients Fareeda Abbas and Lamiya Haji Bashar.

“I convinced myself that if I left the project, it would fall apart and I would never forgive myself for leaving those children and that project that could save their lives.”

“I treated myself by helping these people, by stopping the consequences of the genocide. I saw the same in the girls- Nadiya, Lamiya, Fareeda - the five, six girls who became excellent voices for other victims. They are speaking up and advocating for female rights, they feel much stronger and they overcome their trauma. I felt the same,” he added.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/17112019
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:23 am

Kurdish children sorting garbage

Kurdish children in war-torn Idlib scrape out living in garbage dumps

The eight-year Syrian civil war continues to be brutal for those stuck in the turmoil as children in northwestern Idlib province are forced to make a living picking garbage dumps – a stark contrast to their peers around the world.

The deaths of family members responsible for earning a livelihood compel Kurdish children suffering from financial problems to drop out of school and work in unhealthy conditions to contribute to their family budget.

The town of Sinjar, which was captured by regime forces with Russian air support, children are trying to financially support their families by working in garbage dumps. One of those children is Muhammed Asmar, who under normal circumstances should have been in the sixth grade.

"I don't like this job at all. I want to learn. There are schools up to the fourth grade in our region. Other schools are far from where we live. There is no vehicle to reach there," Asmar, who has been working for two and a half years to assist his family, told Anadolu Agency (AA) reporters.

Asmar earns 700-1,000 Syrian pounds ($1.60-$2.30) a day by collecting nylon bags, plastics, copper and aluminum pieces from the garbage dump.

Another child worker, 8-year-old Ganim Ahmad, said he earns 600 Syrian pounds a day from this work. Ahmad is illiterate since he never had the chance to go to school. "My cousin and I go to work every day at 10 in the morning," he said.

Living in a camp with his family near Idlib, 18-year-old Ali Hilal is older than the other boys at the garbage dump. He used to sell bread and vegetables. He quit since he was barely making any profit.

"Every day I come here at seven in the morning and collect pieces of steel. On my best day, I earn 1,000-1,500 Syrian pounds. Yet, I can barely afford to buy bread," he said of his current job.

Acknowledging the dangers of the job, Hilal said he has to take care of his injuries by himself at home.

"I am somehow managing the treatment of my injuries by myself at home. What else can I do? I have to work to earn for my family," he said.

Turkey and Russia agreed last September to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the zone.

The de-escalation zone is currently home to some 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces from throughout the war-weary country.

School being built in Idlib

Several humanitarian organizations are building a school in the war-torn province under the name of a former, late prime minister of Turkey, Necmettin Erbakan.

Being built through the joint work of humanitarian organizations South Africa based Ashrafül AID and the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH), the school will have six classrooms to serve a total of 200 students.

Underlining that the children in the region are lacking education due to the insufficiency of schools, Semih Tosun, İHH's Syrian works' media head, reiterated that the organization has been building schools in many provinces in Syria, but the number is still too low.

https://www.dailysabah.com/politics/201 ... bage-dumps
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:37 pm

France takes in
27 Yazidi women


27 Yazidi women arrived in France with their children on Wednesday from Iraq, fulfilling President Emmanuel Macron's pledge to take in 100 families from the ethnic group who were victims of assault by Daesh fighters

The families were greeted at Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris by Eric Chevallier, head of the foreign ministry's crisis management division, according to AFP reporters at the scene.

"Your children are going to go to school, you're going to make friends," Chevallier said, after they arrived from Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Many of the children were still quite young, but others were adolescents, some dressed up in suits and ties for the occasion.

"What we've lived through these past five years is unimaginable. Today France is opening its arms to us, we can only be grateful," 30-year-old mother Turko told AFP.

"The first thing we would like to do is learn the language, send our children to school and learn French culture. Afterward our children will decide what they want to do with their lives."

The government is not releasing the names of the families, as they were long persecuted by Daesh fighters and many still fear for their lives.

Some were held in sexual slavery and struggled to regain a place in Yazidi society, others had to flee their homes as men died while trying to resist the IS advance.

"They have high expectations," said Giovanni Cassani, head of the International Organization for Migration in Erbil, who accompanied the women on their flight.
"On the one hand it was difficult to leave their country of origin, their family, their village, but there is also the excitement of starting a new life in a new country, with plenty of possibilities," he said.

The families were put on buses to be taken to different regions of France, officials said.

With the 27 women who arrived Wednesday, the foreign ministry said France had taken in 102 Yazidi families since last December.

Macron pledged in October 2018 to bring to France 100 Yazidi women who were targeted for sexual assault in northern Iraq beginning in 2014.

The offer came following a meeting in Paris with Nadia Murad after she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her campaign to end sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Murad was one of thousands of Yazidi women captured by extremists before they were driven out of Sinjar and other parts of Iraq, starting with campaigns by Kurdish forces backed by US-led coalition forces.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1587161/world
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:42 pm

Bombing headquarters
of Yazidi militia


An unidentified aircraft on Wednesday bombarded the headquarters of a Yazidi militia affiliated with the Turkish outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, leaving 20 militiamen killed and wounded, the Iraqi military said

A statement by the media office of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) said the unknown plane conducted an airstrike on the headquarters of the Sinjar Protection Units (YBS), also known as Shingal (Sinjar) Resistance Units, in Khana Sor area near the town of Sinjar, some 100 km west of Iraq's northern city of Mosul.

The airstrike totally destroyed the headquarters, killing and wounding 20 of the YBS fighters, the statement said without giving further details.

The YBS is a Yazidi militia formed in Iraq in 2007 to protect the Yazidi community in Iraq, the group is operating in concert with People's Defense Forces (HPG), which is the military wing of the PKK.

The PKK is seen by Turkey as a "terrorist" group, and the Turkish forces frequently carry out ground operations, airstrikes and artillery bombardment against the positions in northern Iraq, especially the Qandil Mountains, the main base of the PKK.

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-1 ... 570036.htm
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