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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:12 am
Author: Anthea
Hoping for her husband

The former Yazidi ISIS sex slave hopes for her husband's return

Forty seven kilometres from the beautiful city of Duhok, it is a picturesque drive to the foothills of Sinjar district. It is the northern region of Kurdistan guarded by Peshmerga, the military forces of the autonomous region of Kurdistan Iraq. In Kurdish, Peshmerga means ‘those who face death,’ and the word is heavy with historical importance.

At dusk, an eerie silence mixed with a sense of foreboding prevails as the temperature plummets to four degrees. A few men are out on the road, near a municipality office, conversing with each other. Every day, the local municipality office in the foothills of Sinjar gets crowded as people wait for information on their loved ones.

A year after the fall of the Islamic State, the Yazidis in Kurdistan are still in the grip of fear. An uneasy stillness hangs in the air, as the road turns to the house of 27-year old Leyla Telo Khidher. Clad in blue jeans and a black t-shirt, Leyla is thin and pale. She doesn’t smile. Lines of sorrow run through her face. But her eyes are bright and fierce as those of the falcon. Determination to fight and win back life flow out, as Leyla begins narrating her miserable story of kidnap, rape and torture.

For two years and eight months, Leyla was enslaved by the ISIS fighters, sold eight times, raped, beaten and tortured. A year after getting back to her family, she is still waiting to hear if her husband Marwan is alive. Though she knows that chances are bleak, Leyla still expects him to return one day. Her seven-year-old son, who once used to draw only guns and say that those who don’t follow Islam should be killed, now goes to school, normalcy returning slowly to his life.

Born in a family of farmers and shepherds, Leyla, a mother of two fell prey in the hands of ISIS fighters, when the deadly Islamic State men, captured Mount Sinjar. As a child, Leyla who was living with her brothers and her sisters in Mount Sinjar and working on her family farm.

After a spate of sheep theft, the family decided to move to Kojo, a village in the foothills of Mount Sinjar. In 2003, her brothers joined the Peshmerga forces after the US-led invasion of Iraq. Leyla and her brothers were happy and lived a peaceful life. Leyla was always happy as a child and even after her marriage, her life was peaceful.

But it all changed in 2014 when the ISIS came to attack Siba Shiekheder, the Yazidi town on the Syrian border. On August 2, 2014, some of Leyla's family friends from Siba Sheikheder called on her brothers for. This was also the time when Peshmerga fled from Kojo. The family did not know was clueless and so with some of the other villagers, Leyla and her family decided to flee the place, as they thought ISIS might come to Kojo also.

The other shocker came in when Leyla’s sister who was living in Siba Sheikheder called, on August 3, 2014, to say that ISIS was coming.” Leyla and her family decided to go towards the North of Sinjar, leaving back one of their old uncles at home.

When they wanted to come back to Kojo the next day, ISIS had already reached there. So, Leyla, her husband and two children had no option but to be where they were. “We ended up in scrubland on the outskirts of Sinjar. There was no way out for us.” Leyla was very nervous. Her children— son Salar and daughter Sara, were crying non-stop. By then ISIS had already taken over. They asked the people for their money, jewellery and whatever valuables they had. A man with a red face and red beard, called Emir, which means Prince in Arabic, instructed his men in black to take away everything the Yazidis had with them.

Soon Leyla and her family were made to board a van and taken to an office where ID cards are usually made. When Leyla reached there, her husband was taken away. Before her, there were more than 1000s of Yazidi women and girl children all shivering in fear. Women and girls were picked up by numbers and names by the ISIS fighters at gunpoint. At dusk, the remaining women and children were crammed into a small space in the building.

At around 9 pm, the ISIS fighters came in again. This time with a lantern to look at the faces of the Yazidi women. When a fighter came near her, she fainted and so she escaped that night. The next day again, when the ISIS men came, she cuddled to protect herself. But all in vain. She was taken away by a fighter and was transported to a school, a makeshift prison in Tel Afar, 50 km from Sinjar.

She was again kept in a cramped room with other women, where there was just a ray of light. Every time, the men in black with guns would come, pick beautiful girls and go. Each time, the names and ages of the girls in the room was made into a list. One day, an ISIS fighter picked her and her children. They were taken 200kms away from Tel Afar, into Iraq. She was then made to sit in a market place in Iraq only to be sold to a man called Muhammed in Mosul. Leyla seeing Muhammed had a sigh of relief thinking that he would save her because he was known to her family. “He was our family friend. But he did not show any courtesy,” recalls Leyla.

Three days later he took her to the market place in Raqqa, the then de-facto ISIS capital. In the market, as the merchants walk down, the women were made to sit with dirty clothes with a price fixed for each of them. Leyla was sold by Muhammed to another man in Raqqa. “It was the month of Ramadan. I was forced to go on fast. I would do all the household work, fast, only to be tortured and harassed by my captor,” recalls Leyla.

She recounts the days when she was forced to convert to Islam. A month later, this man again sold Leyla to a doctor. When Leyla asked him to sell him back to her family and that she would get him money as much as he wanted, he refused. This time she was sold to a cosmetic surgeon. “I was with this doctor separated from my kids, in the same apartment, for six months. Everyday she would wash the clothes of her children, change their clothes and leave them in a room. His name was Abdallah Al-Hashemi,” recounts Leyla. She was constantly beaten and raped by the doctor captor.

This was also the time when her son was sent to an IS school and to the nearby police stations and made to watch videos of beheading and guns. After his return, he would say, “I will slaughter you,” looking at his uncle and other men who did not follow Islam.

“My son is eight now. But I have undergone the most difficult times even after we were rescued. My son would only draw pictures of guns, he will call all of us, including my brothers and Yazidis as infidels. He would say Islam is right. He is changing slowly now,” tells Leyla, as rays of sorrow run through her face.

After eight months with the doctor, Leyla was sold again and again, to men from Iraq, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Leyla who was at the first instance given as a gift to a fighter was later sold to each man and the price varied. And when Abu Hani, a Lebanese came, he said, he would marry her as he did not want to do anything Haram. It was a religious marriage at an Islamic State Court. It was then she tried to find a way to reach her family. In Raqqa, she came in touch with another woman, who helped her by giving her access to a phone. She reached her brother over the phone, who got in touch with a smuggler, who smuggled her out for a ransom, in April 2017.

Leyla gets nightmares even now. She has not slept peacefully and she waits for information about Marwan. “I don’t know if he is alive or dead. But I want him to come home alive,” she says. Leyla, like other Yazidi women, doesn’t want to cover her face as she narrates her horror story. “I want to help other Yazidis who have been affected like me. I want to be an inspiration to them, to fight all odds in life,” tells Leyla.

Like Leyla, when ISIS attacked Sinjar, more than one lakh Yazidis fled the place to save themselves. And those could not flee the place were rounded up. Many Yazidi men were massacred, while the women and children were captured. Many men were thrown into pits, many died of dehydration, torture and harassment. According to the Sheikh, at the Mala Ezidiyan Li Herema Centre in Hasakh, that works to rescue Yazidi women and children captured by ISIS, at least 6,383 Yazidi women and children were enslaved by ISIS, transported to their prisons, military training camps and forced to convert to Islam.

The Yazidis are a majority Kurdish speaking people who live in Mount Sinjar bordering Syria and Kurdistan Iraq in Northern Iraq. With a population of just one million people across the globe. Considered to be infidels by the Muslims, they have always been forced to convert. The Yazidis worship fire and their temple Lalish, 47 kilometres from Duhok, is almost similar to the Hindu temples. They participate in baptism and feasts. They sing hymns and narrate stories of historical and mythical battles like the Hindus. Visiting sacred places is considered as a religious practice.

Muslim rulers have always forced them to convert to Islam. When Saddam Hussein was ruling Iraq, the Yazidis faced displacement. It was then in 2003 when the US-led invasion took place, that Peshmerga was founded and many Yazidi men joined Peshmerga. But since then, there have been displacements and most Yazidis fled to Europe, Germany and many other neighbouring countries. Only 50,000 Yazidis live in Sinjar.

“The Yazidis are the most targeted in the whole of the Middle East. This is because we do not follow the Quran or Islam. We are the oldest religion in this part of the world with a 1400-year history. This is why we are targeted,” Sheikh told THE WEEK.

The attack on Yazidis began in 2014, according to him, as the geography of Sinjar is like a square and also because the Yazidis are not people who would fight back. “Between 2014 and 2019, our women and children were moved from Raqqa and Mosul like slaughter animals. Women above the age of 35 were made to work as servants. Girls between the age group of 15 to 20 were enslaved for sex. Many girls killed themselves. I remember how we heard the news of Jailan Bharjaz, who killed herself, fearing ISIS men.”

In the last one year, Sheikh has fought all odds to rescue at least 270 Yazidi women and children. “There are many more Yazidi women in refugee camps. We are still looking for them. Many have converted to Islam and don’t want to return to our religion,” points out Sheikh. Though at least 2,590 women and children escaped with the help of human smugglers out of the caliphate, according to him, 2,900 Yazidi women and children are missing.

But Sheikh is determined to bring all the Yazidi women back home and reunite them with their family so that they can lead a peaceful life like Leyla Telo. ... eturn.html

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:22 am
Author: Anthea
Turkey bombs Yazidi
PKK affiliated militia

Turkey is continuing its push into Kurdish areas of Iraq, now targeting Sinjar, which will be key to controlling the Syrian-Iraqi-Turkish border triangle

The Turkish air force targeted the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), a Yazidi militia, Jan. 15 in Iraq's Ninevah province. Media reports said at least four people were killed, including militia commander Zardasht Shingali, and one person was wounded.

The YBS is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Turkey considers a terrorist group.

The bombing came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Baghdad and met with senior Iraqi officials Jan. 9, leading some observers to suggest Iraqi-Turkish coordination on the strike.

Saeb Khadr, an Iraqi parliament member representing the Yazidis — who are ethnic Kurds — told Al-Monitor that violating Sinjar is tantamount to violating the sovereignty of Iraq, such as when the United States and Iran strike at each other on Iraqi land.

He described the bombing as the deliberate killing of Iraqi citizens on the part of a foreign force, which he said has caused panic and fear among civilians who have returned to their areas since the Islamic State (IS) committed genocide against the Sinjar Yazidis in 2014.

The bombing by Turkey sparked chaos in an area deemed the stronghold of the Yazidi minority. This is especially true as government institutions have been repeatedly calling for the return of those displaced by IS to Dahuk in the Kurdistan Region. Yazidis point out that failure to end such violations impedes this goal.

Also, the incident raised the ire of Yazidis because this is not the first time that Turkey has targeted them in Sinjar, which is quite confusing to them. Yazidis believe the attack should have been officially condemned, given that the victims are Iraqis who belong to an armed Yazidi formation within the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU). In other words, the government’s silence may be interpreted as consent on Baghdad's part and may also imply some Iraqi-Turkish complicity against the Yazidis.

In this context, Ahmed Shankali, head of the Ezidi 24 website, explained the Turkish strategy by saying that Ankara is trying to exploit the gaps left by the US-Iranian conflict on one hand and the conflict between the Iraqi central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil on the other.

He added that Turkey is seeking to contain the PKK and gain a foothold in Iraqi territory. What further supports this point of view is that Sinjar is adjacent to the area of northeast Syria known as Western Kurdistan, or Rojava, which is controlled by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey considers the PKK's Syrian extension — something the YPG denies.

From an internal geopolitical aspect, Sinjar is also the only gateway to reach the adjacent Tal Afar district, which is inhabited predominantly by Turkmens, and then on to Mosul.

Shankali is among many Iraqis who believe Turkey has ambitions to annex Mosul in Iraq, an old dream that has been revived today in light of the current chaos. To achieve this, Turkey would have to eliminate any political or military force close to the PKK ideology.

This is why Ankara opposes the PKK's presence in Sinjar and considers it a threat to Turkey's national security. It also fears the Kurds will form and control a route connecting the Qandil Mountains (the PKK's main fortress) in Iraqi Kurdistan to the Sinjar Mountains, to link with the Syrian Democratic Forces on the other side of the Syrian border. This would create a corridor for transporting fighters, weapons and logistical support against Turkey's interests.

Faris Harbo, head of relations in the autonomous administration in Sinjar, concurred with Shankali. He said Turkey's goal to revive the Ottoman Empire is real and concrete and is targeting Kirkuk and Mosul, but Sinjar will serve as a critical area for controlling the border triangle of Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

Harbo added that the bombing represents psychological warfare against the Yazidis in the YBS, as it assassinated their leaders. The YBS resisted and defeated the brutal IS terrorist organization, and these are the units that resisted and helped to defeat IS.

Hinting that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan supports IS, Harbo said, "This bombing is like a revenge for the caliphate's soldiers whom we eliminated in Sinjar." He said stopping the Turkish intervention in Syria and Erdogan's expansionist ambition is the international community's moral and humanitarian duty.

The YBS annoys Turkey, as the group controls most of the Sinjar lands and does not cave in to pressure. Also, it's a dangerous force given its proximity to and sympathy with the PKK ideology. The YBS is registered with the Iraqi Ministry of Defense as part of the PMU, which means it's an officially recognized organization. However, the YBS is distinguished from the security institutions, the army and the PMU factions in Sinjar, as it includes fighters who are experienced in guerrilla warfare and move skillfully between the Qandil and Sinjar mountains with great knowledge of Sinjar topography.

The bombing is another sign that there is a third player exerting influence inside Iraq besides Iran and the United States. Turkey wants to stifle the power of the PKK and its affiliated YBS while destabilizing the Shiite influence in the Middle East.

Saad Salloum is an Iraqi academic and journalist specializing in Iraqi minorities and human rights. He heads the research department in the College of Political Sciences of Mustansiriya University and is one of the founding members of the Iraqi Council for Interfaith Dialogue. His publications focus on Iraqi minorities and include the books "Minorities in Iraq" (2013), "Christians in Iraq" (2014) and "Policies and Ethnic Groups in Iraq" (2014).

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2020 1:01 am
Author: Anthea
UN report warns ISIS resurgence

ISIS is reasserting under new leader believed to be behind Yazidi genocide

ISIS has begun reasserting itself in Iraq and Syria under a new leader assessed to be an Iraqi operative who was a driving force behind the terror group's genocide against the Yazidi people, according to a report submitted to the UN Security Council which was made public on Wednesday.

The wide-ranging report, compiled by the UN Monitoring Team that tracks the global jihadi terror threat, refers to the group by its alternate name stating the "Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), following its loss of territory, has begun to reassert itself in both the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq, mounting increasingly bold insurgent attacks, calling and planning for the breakout of ISIS fighters in detention facilities and exploiting weaknesses in the security environment of both countries."

It has been clear for some time that one reason for ISIS's resilience is its deep pockets, with overheads reduced now the group no longer administers a large state. The report said that according to one of the more conservative assessments by UN member states, ISIS still has $100 million in reserves.

"The period from July to September 2019 saw an acceleration of the reconstitution of ISIS as a covert network in the Syrian Arab Republic, mirroring what had happened in Iraq since 2017. Freed of the responsibility of defending territory, there was a notable increase in attacks in previously quiet areas held by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic around the country," the report stated.

The report noted: "The borders between Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic remain inadequately secured, allowing some movement of fighters between both jurisdictions. Recent developments east of the Euphrates have led to an increase of ISIL activity in Dayr al-Zawr and Hasakah Governorates and a spike in attacks targeting the United States led coalition and local non-State armed groups."

New leader

The report, which is based on information from UN member states, revealed that several of those states assess the new leader of ISIS is Amir Muhammad Said Abdal Rahman al-Mawla, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's deputy. It cautions the information has not yet been confirmed.

For months mystery surrounded the real identity of ISIS's new leader. A few days after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a US raid in Syria in October, ISIS named its new 'caliph' as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, a jihadi alias not then known among counter-terrorism analysts. In its announcement the terrorist group provided no meaningful detail that might provide clues about his real identity.

After Baghdadi was killed and before ISIS named its new leader, CNN reported that some analysts believed al-Mawla would likely take over the leadership of the group.

The finding that ISIS is regenerating under a new leader challenges the narrative emanating from the White House. Earlier this month President Donald Trump stated, "Three months ago, after destroying 100% of ISIS and its territorial caliphate, we killed the savage leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi, who was responsible for so much death, including the mass beheadings of Christians, Muslims and all who stood in his way."

But the UN findings parallel the assessment of senior US counter-terrorism officials. "No one thinks that just with the demise of the physical caliphate that Daesh is finished, " Jim Jeffrey, the US Special Representative for Syria and the Coalition to Defeat ISIS stated in a press conference last week, using an alternative name for ISIS. Jeffrey added that there were somewhere between 14,000-18,000 ISIS fighters "active between Syria and Iraq."

"They have shown in the past some reconstitution in Iraq, particularly in the area of Diyala and Kirkuk provinces. And to the south of the Euphrates, in areas where the Syrian regime should be responsible but largely is not, they've been quite active. So we are concerned," he stated.

The coalition's ability to maintain pressure on ISIS has been complicated by the fallout from the January 3 US drone strike at Baghdad international airport which killed the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani and a leading Tehran-backed Iraqi militia commander. In his news conference last week, Ambassador Jeffrey stated that "Coalition operations have been primarily on pause in Iraq as we focus on force protection." because of concern over potential reprisal attacks by pro-Tehran militias.

"Over time, obviously, there is a possibility of a degradation of the effort against Daesh if we're not able to do the things that we were doing so effectively up until a few weeks ago," Jeffrey added.

The UN report makes clear Trump's decision last autumn to draw down forces in Syria has created a greater risk of jail breaks by the thousands of ISIS fighters currently detained by Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

"The reduction of forces of the United States of America has raised concerns among Member States regarding the ability of security forces currently active in the north-east of the Syrian Arab Republic to maintain adequate control over a restive population of detained ISIL fighters, as well as family members."

The report estimated 10,000 male fighters remain in these facilities, including 2,000 foreign terrorist fighters and warns female detainees are playing a leading role in radicalizing those detained in the facilities. The report stated "the current improvised holding arrangement are a recipe for radicalization and despair, especially in the case of minors."

On October 22, during the tumultuous period which followed the Turkish incursion into Kurdish controlled areas of northern Syria and the US announcing it was drawing down troops in the area, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told CNN, "Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were in prisons in northeast Syria, we've only had reports of a little bit more than a hundred that have escaped."

According to the UN report, the number of escapees ended up being higher. "Member States estimate that several hundred individuals associated with ISIL, including fighters, escaped from their accommodations in October, although it is not clear how many were redetained, how many remained at large and whether there was any significant change to the associated threat."

A genocidal Ideologue

If al-Mawla is one and the same as "al-Qurashi" and is the new leader of ISIS, he is likely to become one of the world's most wanted men. In August the US State Department's Rewards for Justice program offered a reward of up to $5 million for al-Mawla's capture, describing him as a "potential successor" to Baghdadi, while listing an alias as "Hajji Abdallah."

This assessment persisted after Baghdadi's demise. The day before ISIS announced their new leader in late October, Russell Travers, the acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, testified that Hajji Abdallah was a potential successor.

The State Department listing further stated that Mawla/Hajji Abdallah, "was a religious scholar in ISIS's predecessor organization, al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI), and steadily rose through the ranks to assume a senior leadership role for ISIS. As one of ISIS's most senior ideologues, Hajji Abdallah helped drive and justify the abduction, slaughter, and trafficking of the Yazidi religious minority in northwest Iraq and is believed to oversee some of the group's global terrorist operations."

Much of the Yazidi community lived in Sinjar which is close to what some analysts believe was Mawla's hometown of Tal Afar in northern Iraq. In 2014, after ISIS had taken Tal Afar and Mosul, the group enslaved thousands of Yazidi women and children and murdered thousands of Yazidi men, in what the United Nations has called a genocide.

The 2019 "testimony" of a former ISIS operative which was archived by the researcher Aymenn al-Tamimi points to Mawla/Hajji Abdallah's involvement in ISIS's oppression of the Yazidis.

"The attack was carried out on the city of Sinjar and it was conquered ... and the Yezidis were brought together and it was said to them: 'All the men who convert to Islam will be spared from killing, and the women will spared from being taken captive' ... And the one who gave them the pact is al-Hajj Abdullah."

The former ISIS operative even included a footnote making clear "al-Hajj Abdullah" was Baghdadi's deputy. Tamimi also points to an internal ISIS document from 2018 in which a member of the group writes to Mawla about an ideological dispute. The letter (which for the record used the alias al-Hajj Abdullah) repeatedly described him as "the deputy" to Baghdadi.

As CNN has previously reported, there are suggestions Mawla is of Turkmen origin. If he is, that may have complicated his path to the top job. Iraqi Arabs have for the most part dominated ISIS's leadership ranks. There were also other hurdles Mawla faced. It is widely believed among jihadis that any "Caliph" must have certain credentials.

One is that he must be descended from the Prophet Mohammed's Quraysh tribe. Another is the requirement to have significant knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence. His track record as a "religious scholar" within the terrorist group may allow Mawla to persuade jihadis of his theological pedigree -- but it's unclear that he has Quraysh lineage.

According to the UN report, Mawla's "Turkmen ethnicity led some Member States to assess that he might only be a temporary choice until the group finds a more legitimate "emir," a direct descendant from the Quraysh Hashemite tribe who could therefore command the full support of the remote provinces."

This brings up the possibility that ISIS are deliberately keeping Mawla's elevation to the top position secret out of concern he may not be seen by jihadis around the world as a legitimate caliph.

But it is not clear how sustainable this will be for the terrorist group. Although pledges of allegiance have flowed into the new leader from fighters purporting to belong to ISIS satellites around the world, ISIS could risk losing support if they do not provide more biographical detail about their new leader.

"ISIL will face a challenge over the longer term to enthuse its supporters, especially those in more remote locations, about the new leader without putting him in danger by having him communicate more directly and confirm his identity," the UN report states.

Global threat picture

The picture the report paints of the global terror threat picture is that it has reduced overall since 2015-2017 when ISIS still controlled significant swaths of Syria and Iraq and launched and instigated a wave of attacks around the world. But there is also significant concern over the resilience of ISIS and its worldwide satellites, as well as the potential threat posed by the al-Qaeda network.

The report stated that "Al -Qaida affiliates are stronger than ISIL in many conflict zones, especially the Sahel, Somalia, Yemen and the north-west of the Syrian Arab Republic."

It warned that in West Africa, the combined efforts of al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates "are threatening the stability of fragile Member States in the region."

The report stated that "ISIL appears not to have regenerated its external operational planning capability, although documents have emerged in the Syrian Arab Republic concerning a plan within ISIS to reconstitute its office to assist operatives in Europe with planning and executing attacks. Despite weaknesses in the current structure, the threat of a planned complex attack in Europe, especially by former expert operatives who have the ability to operate independently, is assessed to persist."

It reported that ISIS "suffered a setback to its ability to inspire attacks in November 2019, with the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) operation with several Internet companies that resulted in the removal of large quantities of ISIL online material, especially from Telegram's instant messaging platform."

In assessing the al-Qaeda threat, the report focused particular attention on Hurras al-Deen (HAD), a group of 3,500 to 5,000 al-Qaeda loyalists currently based in the Idlib province of Syria. "One Member State in the region assessed that HAD, given its size, ideology and the capabilities of its veterans, presented a growing threat to peace and security regionally and globally, and that its leadership plans to revive external operations targeting Western and United States interests wherever possible."

The report noted that "one Member State, however, highlighted Al-Qaida's conservative approach to expenditure and its consistent prioritization of administrative costs and salaries over operations. The ambitions of Al-Qaida affiliated elements in Idlib Province to plan and execute international attacks are assessed to be curtailed both by the military pressure they are under and by Al-Qaida's reluctance to resource such activity."

The report said that "Afghanistan continues to be the conflict zone of greatest concern to Member States outside the ISIS core area and suffers by some measures the heaviest toll from terrorism of any country in the world. Al-Qaida and foreign terrorist fighters aligned with it, under the protection and influence of the Taliban, pose a long -term global threat."

According to the UN relations between al-Qaeda (whose fighters are estimated between 400 and 600 in Afghanistan) and the Taliban "continue to be close and mutually beneficial, with Al-Qaida supplying resources and training in exchange for protection." The UN Monitors identified a pressing priority for al-Qaeda in Afghanistan: do everything possible to spoil a potential peace deal in the country. It noted that "Al-Qaida is concerned about the current focus of the Taliban leadership on peace talks. Al-Qaida representatives undertook shuttle diplomacy, persuading various factions of the Taliban and field commanders not to support negotiations with the Government of Afghanistan and promising to increase financial support."

The terrorist attack in the vicinity of London Bridge in November 2019 by a convicted terrorist the year after his release underlined the threat posed by the many terrorist convicts and radicalized inmates who are due to be released from European prisons in the coming years. According to the report, "many of the foreign terrorist fighters who received relatively short sentences upon their return to Europe prior to 2015 are expected to be released in the coming period. Some are still assessed to be dangerous. One member state reported that approximately 1,000 returnees were due for release in Europe in 2020."

The UN report warned that "the issue of foreign terrorist fighters remains acute, with Member States continuing to assess that between one half and two thirds of the more than 40,000 who joined the 'caliphate' (single quotes) are still alive. This is expected to aggravate the global threat posed by ISIL, and possibly Al-Qaida, for years to come."

It has long been clear that identifying and interdicting ISIS veterans should be a key priority for the international community. But the report warns that the "timely detection and identification of foreign terrorist fighters returning to Europe is complicated by their various travel routes and measures taken to avoid detection." ... index.html

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2020 1:26 am
Author: Anthea

Nobody has bothered to help the Yazidis for more than 5 years

Thousands of Yazidis live in leaking old tents without proper heating, enough food or warm clothing

Often the ground is wet and muddy with water getting into the tents

Often little or no medical support or education

Over 3,000 Yazidi sex slaves still missing as are the bodies of countless other Yazidis slaughtered by ISIS


In the refugee camps where often they are forced to share camps with the ISIS murderers

On their traditional land that is occupied by assorted military groups and sometimes bombed by Turkey

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2020 4:15 pm
Author: Anthea
Yazidi choir

Former ISIS sex slaves come to Oxford to save threatened culture

Of all the victims of the wars in Iraq and Syria, few suffered more than the Yazidi people.

A distinct ethnic group with their own religion, the roots of which can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia, they have long been victims of attempts to assimilate or even exterminate them.

They suffered genocide under Turkish-Ottoman rule, were brutally treated by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and targeted by Al-Qaida car bombs. But worse was to come at the hands of the murderous Jihadi thugs of Islamic State.

Driven from their strongholds on Mount Sinjar, thousands – including hundreds of children – were slain by the extremist Islamists. Others were abducted – with girls and young women raped or forced to become sex slaves. Many remain in exile, living in refugee camps.

In an attempt to raise awareness of their plight, girls from the Yazidi community have formed a choir to keep alive their folk tradition and, on Tuesday, perform in Oxford.

The choir includes nine girls from the camps – some of whom were raped by ISIS fighters. They will be joined by religious musicians, or ‘Qawals’.

While in Oxford, they will hand over musical archives of Yazidi religious and folk music for archiving in the Bodleian Library - the second-largest library in Britain after the British Library and a recognised 'deposit' library.

The AMAR Foundation, a British education and healthcare charity in Iraq, recorded the material at the Lallish temple, the centre of the Yazidi faith, in Iraqi Kurdistan, and at refugee camps in Kurdistan. Funding came from The British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund.

Oxford Mail:

They will then perform at New College Chapel, alongside three members of the Yazidi spiritual council.

They will also perform at Westminster Abbey and Parliament.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Chairman of the AMAR Foundation, said: “AMAR is bringing a Yazidi girls’ choir to the UK as part of a larger project we have been carrying out in Iraq.

“Almost all the girls in the choir have been victims of ISIS. Indeed, five were kidnapped and held as sex slaves by various men before escaping after months or even years of captivity. One of the girls was just 10 when she was captured.

“The choir was created to help them deal with the psychological trauma they suffered at the hands of these thugs.

"It is one of a number of projects designed to help the mental health in general of people living for years in the sprawling IDP camps in northern Iraq.

“AMAR is also teaching music to hundreds of people and is recording and archiving ancient Yazidi music played by their specially trained musicians, or Qawals.

“On Tuesday we formally hand over the archive of Yazidi music to the Bodleian Library. This will be followed by a performance at the new wing of the library and then at New College.”

The AMAR Foundation is a British charity founded and still chaired by Barones Nicholson, and has been delivering award-winning health and education programmes and emergency relief in Iraq since 1991.

She added: “We are almost unique amongst NGOs in that we employ only a handful of international staff in London to oversee the operations. The vast majority of our team are locally trained and educated professionals and volunteers.

“After the ISIS invasion of north west Iraq in 2014, much of our attention and resources was shifted to help some of the 3.1million internally displaced people (IDPs). We built, staffed and operated six state-of-the-art public health care centres in some of the biggest IDP camps.

“We also introduced psycho-social support programmes for the women and girls left traumatised by their experiences at the hands of ISIS

“Last year, as part of our efforts to support the Yazidi people, we applied and received funding from the British Council for the music project. We wanted to record, notate and preserve both their religious and folk music in Iraq. As part of the project, we brought together a choir of young Yazidi women and girls, several of whom were direct victims of the Islamic State’s violence and barbarism.

"They were trained and are still being taught by fellow Yazidi musicians. The group were invited to sing and play their drums at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office conference on the Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict in November. Sadly that was cancelled at the last minute because of the General Election.

"However, we were determined to bring the women to the UK, and now it's all happening."

The Yazidi Choir and religious Qawals will perform at Blackwell Hall in the Weston Extension of the Bodleian Library from about 12.30pm. There will also be an official handover of the music recordings.

The choir are then expected to join choristers at New College for a ‘jam’ performance at New College Chapel.

More from ... e-culture/

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:17 am
Author: Anthea
Yazidi music comes to Britain

A choir of displaced people is part of a British Council initiative to protect heritage in conflict zones – and a healing process for participants


When Islamic militants were overrunning towns in northern Iraq in 2014, killing Yazidi men and abducting women, the very survival of a people and its culture seemed in the balance.

These days Isis is the group fighting for survival. And the Yazidi aretaking steps to ensure that their culture is preserved in perpetuity, whatever happens next in the region.

A group are in Britain this week to perform their distinctive choral works and hand over a musical archive to the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Audiences with Prince Charles and MPs in parliament will follow later in the week as the culmination of a music project designed to record and protect the Yazidis’ unique art form.

But the project, delivered by the Amar foundation as part of a British Council initiative to protect heritage in conflict zones, is about more than just cultural preservation: it is therapy for people who have been through a collective trauma. Many Yazidi still live in camps.

“When you are enjoying music with other people, or making it in particular, you have to be absolutely present and forget about the past and the future and that is a healthy way of living,” says Michael Bochmann, a virtuoso violinist and the music principal for the project.
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Bochmann’s work in the camps celebrates the power of music to bring participants together, “to the here and now”. Music has gradually encouraged young women, in particular, to leave the isolation of their tents and to sing, dance and support one another. Students in five camps are learning to play the tambour, a sacred instrument, and the daf (a kind of drum).

“We are nothing without a future and dreams,” says Rainas Elias, 19, who was literally sold down the Euphrates river by Isis, and held captive until her family paid $12,000 for her release. Even then, she had to leave her daughter with Isis.

“We hope one day those that committed these heinous crimes against us will be brought to justice,” she says. “We now deserve a decent life outside Iraq. Our home in Shingal is still a battleground and there is no security. We can never live in peace there.”

Elias now lives with her father and mother and two younger brothers in a camp for displaced people. “The standard of living is very difficult,” she says, “and my father cannot work because he is sick.” There are few employment opportunities. To this day, Elias has no news about what has happened to her sister, and to her two older brothers, who were 18 and 22 when they were separated.

Chief among her hopes is that one day she will hear that they have been “liberated”. Until then, she finds some comfort in the ancient music which is central to the Yazidi life and monotheistic faith.

“The project is part of our healing process,” Elias says. “I feel very happy joining the choir with my sisters. It has helped me a lot psychologically, I can process a lot more.”

For Emma Nicholson, who as the founder of the AMAR foundation is hosting the tour, music is “a source of life”. Given that the average time people typically spend in a refugee camp is now 11 years, “life for displaced people cannot just be queuing for food,” she says. “Music and culture must be in every camp.” ... to-britain

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:28 am
Author: Anthea
Yazidi Family Reunites in Germany

A Yazidi family from Iraq who survived the Islamic State (ISIS) massacre in Iraq in 2014 has finally reunited in Germany after five years of separation

Naem Halef Yusuf, 46, a mother of seven, has been stranded with six of her children in Turkey since October 2014, following the ISIS capture of large swaths of land in Syria and Iraq. Her husband, Berekat Omar, and son Gazi are living in Germany. They had been unable to bring the family back together despite several efforts.

But five years of painful separation ended in December when Yusuf and her six children left Turkey for Germany through the German government’s family reunion visa.

“It’s great to be a family. We are away from one another for five years. It is hard for kids, mom and dad. Now we will get together after five years. A family will reunite. This is great for my kids. They will go to school, be able to plan their future. Their lives will change. They will forget about what they had to go through,” Yusuf told VOA before departing for Germany.

Life in Iraq

Before the ISIS attack on her village, Girzerik, Yusuf was a stay-at-home mom who was taking care of her eight children. Her husband was a construction worker in a village on the outskirts of Sinjar, a province predominantly inhabited by the Yazidi religious minority group.

After Islamic State rampaged through Sinjar and its villages in August 2014, Yusuf and her family fled to Sinjar Mountain, where they dwelled for seven days in a temperatures up to 50 degrees Celsius and with almost no access to food or drinking water. Her 2-year-old child died under the scorching summer sun as a result of hunger and dehydration. Her husband was unable to walk because of an illness.

Like thousands of other Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar, Yusuf and her family thought their options were to die on the mountain or go down and be massacred by IS.

Yazidis are an ethnoreligious minority of about 550,000 people, mostly residing in northern Iraq with a substantial number in northern Syria. IS considered Yazidis “devil worshipers” whom they forced to convert to Islam or die. As such, the group destroyed their communities and killed thousands of their men while taking their women and children as sex slaves. Thousands remain missing.

The August 2014 Mount Sinjar siege created a humanitarian crisis, forcing the U.N. to declare a Level 3 emergency — the most severe classification of its kind. The trapped Yazidis were able to flee a weeklong siege to Syria after U.S.-backed Kurdish forces opened a safety route across the border

Omar, still unable to walk, sent Yusuf and their children to Syria while he stayed in Iraq. At that point, the family’s paths diverged for five years, with Omar fleeing to Germany while Yusuf and the children ended up in Turkey. One of their sons, Ghazi, later moved from Turkey to Germany to join his father.

Settling in Turkey

“We didn’t bring anything else other than what we wore,” Yusuf told VOA, describing her family’s tough journey to Turkey. “People helped us when we came here. They found us jobs. With our savings, we could only send two of us away.”

After living in several refugee camps in Turkey, Yusuf and her children settled in Midyat, a town in southeastern Turkey. To make the ends meet, Yusuf worked as a cleaning worker to feed her children and save money for their Germany resettlement costs.

“We needed a lot of money. We are a big family, and we had nothing,” Yusuf said.

Yusuf and her children did not have Iraqi passports, which prevented them from obtaining a German visa. After months of postponement, the Iraqi Consulate in Istanbul offered the family their passports and the German Foreign Office issued them reunion visas, eventually enabling the family to travel.

Returning to Sinjar

Yusuf and her family now live in Berlin in an apartment complex provided by the German government. The family will be eligible for German citizenship after five years of residency in their new host country.

Yusuf told VOA that she is hopeful that life in Germany will offer her family a new chapter after the trauma they suffered because of ISIS attacks. Returning to Iraq anytime soon is not an option for them, she said.

More than 85,000 Yazidis from Iraq and Syria have sought protection in Germany since the ISIS attacked their community.

Unstable homeland

Since the recapture of Sinjar from Islamic State in 2015, different armed groups are present in the area, including the Yezidi Shingal Protection Units, the Iraqi army, the peshmerga, the People’s Protection Units and Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces.

Around 80,000 Yazidis currently live in Sinjar, but several Yazidi organizations said the situation in the town is not entirely safe for the Yazidis to return. They say the memory of the ISIS attack remains fresh in the minds of most Yazidis and they do not trust authorities to protect them.

“The Yazidis lost trust in the government, in security forces and the military. Therefore, many Yazidis prefer to immigrate to other countries, searching for safety and security away from political confrontations and recurring violence that erupts in the areas where Yazidis live,” Saad Babir, a spokesman for the Yazda Organization, told VOA.

“Almost 350,000 Yazidis are currently living in refugee camps in [Iraqi] Kurdistan and other areas, and if the situation in Sinjar improves, then they would return. The main issue in Sinjar right now is the security situation that remains unstable,” Babir added. ... separation

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2020 1:26 am
Author: Anthea
Germany indicts man
over death of Yazidi

The man has been accused of letting the 5-year-old die of thirst after keeping her as a slave in Iraq. The suspect and his wife, German national Jennifer W., allegedly left the girl chained up before she perished

German prosecutors said on Friday they had indicted an Iraqi man for allegedly leaving a Yazidi girl to die of thirst.

He and his wife kept the 5-year-old as a slave in Iraq and his spouse, a German convert to Islam, is already on trial over the case.

The Iraqi male, who goes under the name of Taha A.-J. due to German privacy laws, faces charges of murder, membership of a terrorist organization, genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and human trafficking.

Prosecutors allege that A.-J., who joined the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2013, bought the Yazidi girl and her mother as "slaves" and held them captive while living with Jennifer W. in then IS-occupied Mosul, Iraq, in 2015.

Their conduct was aimed at "destroying the Yazidis, their religion and their culture in keeping with the aims of ISIS," a statement from the prosecution said.

The married couple are alleged to have forced the mother and daughter to convert to Islam, deprived them of food and water and physically abused the pair. Taha A.-J. finally chained the five-year-old girl to a window outside in searing heat of up to 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit), leading the child to die of thirst.

"The accused thought it possible that the girl would die and recklessly took that into account," prosecutors added.

Jennifer W. subsequently went on trial in her homeland, in Munich, in April 2019, with a charge sheet that included murder, a war crime and membership of a terrorist group.

Jennifer W. stands in between her lawyers Ali Aydin and Seda Basay-Yildiz at the first day of her trial in Munich, in April 2019

Taha A.-J. was arrested in May 2019 in Greece and extradited to Germany a few months later. The indictment was filed February 14 at the state court in Frankfurt. As yet, no date has been set for the trial. ... a-52467142

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2020 11:10 pm
Author: Anthea
Yezidis protest
death sentence

Yezidis in Shingal and in camps around Zakho have decried a Nineveh Criminal Court decision that sentenced one of their own to death. Many Yezidis claim the trial was unfair and assert the innocence of the accused

Farees Nawab Mohammed, a 25 year old Kurdish Peshmerga soldier from Zummar in Nineveh, was shot and killed in Shingal on February 3, 2017. One of his relatives was also injured.

The shooting took place in Khansour compound, in the Snune sub-district of Shingal. Shingal is the traditional homeland of Iraq’s Yezidi population.

Fifteen days after Farees was killed, 21 year old Khalid Shamo was arrested in relation to the homicide. On February 4, 2020, Shamo was sentenced to death by the Nineveh Criminal Court.

Shamo’s family asserts that their son was never at the crime scene to begin with.

“On the day the incident happen, my son was at Kadya camp in Zakho. In that afternoon [when the killing happened], we were distributing charity bread and tens of our village neighbors were in our house and saw my son,” claimed Shamo Qayrani, the father of Khalid Shamo.

Kadya camp and the crime scene are at least a hundred kilometers from each other.

The victim’s father, Nawab Mohammad, seems to agree that Khalid Shamo may well be innocent.

According to his father, Farees traveled to Shingal on February 2, 2017 to buy several tons of onions and then returned to Zummar. On February 3, Farees went back to Shingal with his relative. “He was killed in [that] afternoon,” stated his father.

According to Mohammad, the relative who was with Farees has asserted that he and Farees were stopped by four armed men who opened fire.

“According to what my relative says, this Yezidi youth [Shamo] was with [the armed men], but we don’t know who the actual criminal is,” Mohammad stated.

He added that he thought the possibility that Shamo was the perpetrator is low, and posited that the real perpetrators may still be at large.

On Monday, Yezidis protested in Shingal, demanding fairness for Shamo and claiming his innocence. They carried posters depicting Khalid Shamo behind bars along with phrases like “Rescue me” and “Freedom for the oppressed Khalid.”

“We call on all honorable Iraqis to intervene now to rescue the young Yezidi from this plot and unjust decision on part of judges,” read a statement by a spokesperson for the protesters in Shingal.

Khalida Khalid, a Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) MP and one of the two Yezidi MPs in the Iraqi Parliament, has already met with Iraqi judiciary and justice officials in an effort to help Shamo. Last Wednesday, she met with Fayed Zedan, the head of Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council. He is the highest judicial authority in Iraq with oversight over the case in question.

On Monday, she met with Farouq Ameen, Iraq’s Minister of Justice, in a bid to address the case.

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 5:40 am
Author: Anthea
Yazidis Push for
Reparation Bill

The Yazidi religious minority in Iraq is seeking to gain enough support in the Iraqi parliament for a draft law that provides support and rehabilitation for the community, particularly the female members who escaped Islamic State abduction

The Yazidi Female Survivors Law was referred to the Iraqi parliament by the Iraqi President Barham Salih in March 2019, and was seen by the Yazidi leaders as an important step toward a secure future for the survivors, and so they could move on and rebuild their homes, which were destroyed by IS fighting.

Almost a year later, the Iraqi parliament is still debating the controversial draft law because critics say it focuses only on the Yazidis and not other Iraqi communities, which were also affected by ISIS.

Affected communities

Saib Khidr, a Yazidi lawmaker and a member of the legal committee that drafted the law, told VOA the Yazidi community agreed the law needed to be more inclusive of other ISIS victims, particularly other minority groups in Iraq. He said naming the law after Yazidi female victims, however, signifies the plight of the women who were taken as sex slaves by ISIS militants.

“We want at least to name the law the ‘Yazidi Female Survivors Law’ as a moral support to Yazidi women who faced atrocities by ISIS,” Khidr told VOA.

Khidr said the law aims to provide financial compensation for female survivors while also addressing other more sensitive issues, such as dealing with children who were the results of ISIS rape.

“While the bill is debated inside the Iraqi parliament, we will be holding workshops with Yazidi survivors and activists to improve different articles of the law,” he said.

If approved, the draft bill would provide Yazidis who survived the ISIS massacre with financial support, health care, work opportunities, education, rehabilitation, and reconstruction in their villages and towns. With the establishment of a special governmental department for Yazidi affairs, the bill would represent the first recognition in Iraqi history of the minority as a distinct group.

Yazidis are an ethno-religious minority of about 550,000 people, mostly residing in Sinjar, in northern Iraq. ISIS in 2014 attacked their communities, killing thousands of men and taking thousands of women and children, in an atrocity the U.N. said amounted to genocide. ISIS reportedly used the women and girls as sex slaves and brainwashed the boys to become suicide bombers.


Following the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October 2019, Yazidi female survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad urged the world to hold ISIS extremists accountable for their crimes against different communities, specifically atrocities against Yazidis and Christians.

Murad called for the creation of tribunals similar to the Nuremberg tribunals after World War II that brought Nazi war criminals to justice. However, Yazidi activists say no progress has been made in Iraq to establish such special tribunals to hold ISIS accountable. They say such an action faces obstacles such as legal implications for Iraq in dealing with the alleged war crimes committed by ISIS against Yazidis.

“The Iraqi law is not fully equipped with all the legal tools to deal with crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide,” Hussam Abdullah, executive manager of the Yazidi Organization for Documentation, told VOA.

Abdullah’s organization is collecting evidence of ISIS crimes, and works with legislative, executive and judicial authorities in Iraq to find a way to properly address the ISIS attacks against Yazidis and other minorities. In order to overcome the shortcomings in Iraq law, he said the best approach forward was to create an international mechanism to protect the dignity of the victims and their families.

“We document survivors’ testimonies to ensure justice in the future and to support the Iraqi government’s work, while protecting this file from being torn apart between political disagreements,” Abdullah said.

Finding the missing

ISIS's physical caliphate was defeated in March 2019 after the terror group lost its last stronghold in eastern Syria. The defeat was seen as a hope by the community that they will finally be able to reunite with their missing relatives and loved ones. However, rights organizations say about 3,000 of the kidnapped Yazidis remain missing.

Yazidi Female Survivors of ISIS Massacre Seek Protection Through Iraqi Parliament

For most Yazidis, the issue of tracking the missing is a top priority they hope the Iraqi draft bill can address. The religious community hopes the Iraqi government can bring home the missing people if they are still alive. If the missing are dead, for the government to retrieve their bodies and give them a proper burial.

Nesrin Murad, a female survivor currently living in Shariya camp in Duhok province in Iraqi Kurdistan, is one of the Yazidis still waiting to know about the whereabouts of her missing brother.

“My brother has been missing for five years. I still don’t know what happened to him. I want to know his fate,” Murad told VOA.

Murad was kidnapped during the ISIS attack on Sinjar in 2014. She was held captive by members of the terror group for almost four years.

She said many of the survivors want to know the fate of their relatives. She requested officials in Iraq also help rebuild the homes of thousands of survivors who are still living in the harsh conditions of refugee camps.

Empowering Yazidis

Yazidi activists say the draft law, if approved in the Iraqi parliament, would be a significant step to empower the displaced Yazidis in refugee camps. The activists said it is crucial to spread awareness among Yazidis in the camps and those who have returned home of their rights in post-ISIS Iraq.

Saeed Allo, executive director of the Springs of Hope Foundation, said it was important for Yazidi activists to closely work with their community to educate its members as the draft law enters the next stage at the Iraqi parliament. He said increased awareness among them on how to work as individuals and as a community will help enforce the minority group's rights.

“We can work on raising awareness among Yazidis; we can help female survivors get legal and social educations on their rights. Yazidis must understand the law and their rights so they can demand them,” Allo said. ... parliament

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2020 4:05 am
Author: Anthea
Young Yazidi Undergoes
Heart Surgery in Armenia

Surgeons at Yerevan’s Nork Marash Medical Center successfully completed a 10-hour congenital heart defect surgery on February 25 on a 3-year-old Yazidi girl who was brought to Armenia for the procedure


The hospital said in a news release that after the successful surgery the child is currently in the intensive care unit and is breathing without assisted ventilation.

Arzinda was born to a family of Yazidi refugees. She was 6 months old when her family found out about her heart condition. Arzinda already had one operation to stabilize her condition before her recent surgery.

The more complicated heart surgery for her could not take place in Iraq.

The 2019 Aurora Prize laureate Mirza Dinnayi and his Luftbrücke Irak (Air Bridge Iraq) organization (where he serves as director and co-founder), and support from the Aurora Prize, Arzinda was transported to Yerevan few days ago to be treated at the Nork Marash hospital. She underwent a comprehensive examination before the surgery.

Minister of Healthcare Arsen Torosyan, Member of Parliament Rustam Bakoyan, Armenian Ambassador to Iraq Hrachya Poladyan and the Nork Marash Medical Center have also greatly assisted the child and her mother in traveling to Armenia and receiving the necessary treatment. ... n-armenia/

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2020 1:06 am
Author: Anthea
No transfer of ISIS
families to Zummar

The Iraqi Ministry of Immigration and Displacement has announced the suspension of the transfer of Islamic State (ISIS) families to Ninevah province's Zummar district in northern Iraq, according to an official statement by Sinjar District Administrator Mahama Khalil

Sinjar is the home to many Yazidis, who saw their ranks decimated by ISIS in 2014.

The ministry suspended the transfer Feb. 13 after residents of the district warned of security and legal consequences that might lead to sectarian strife and provoke families of Zummar residents who were killed by ISIS.

Sherwan al-Duberdani, a Kurdish member of parliament for Ninevah, told Al-Monitor that the process of transferring ISIS families from Syria to Iraq has been halted after he collected signatures of Ninevah's members of the national parliament and voiced their objection to the speaker of parliament and the commander of joint military operations.

Duberdani said that the Omla camp in Zummar district had been selected to receive these families, and that this raised the ire of the province's residents.

The Kurdish legislator, dozens of district residents, a number of members of parliament, politicians and Ninevah leaders had taken part in a protest held in Zummar on Feb. 20 to reject the transfer of ISIS members from al-Hol camp in Syria to Omla.

A press conference was held by members of parliament to clarify the background and reasons of the decision and express their categorical rejection of the transfer.

Duberdani said the camp was established by the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration for this purpose, and more than 50% of it has been completed. The overall aim is to accommodate 4,000 tents.

He added that only 4,400 people out of a total of 31,400 people in al-Hol camp are from Ninevah province, and that most of them are women and children.

Jahoor Ali Bek, a Yazidi religious leader, told Al-Monitor that transferring IS families to a region near the city of Sinjar has been rejected and that Yazidis will not accept the transfer because they were the ones to suffer the most from ISIS.

He said that ISIS families pose the same threat as that from ISIS members themselves because the family members have the same ideas, and that the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government must find a solution to this issue and keep the ISIS families away from Yazidi areas.

He said the return of these families would somehow contribute to the return of the terrorist organization, thus posing a threat to the entire population, especially Yazidis.

Duberdani wondered about the reason behind the insistence on transferring so many of these people to Ninevah province, particularly considering that around 18,000 at al-Hol are from Anbar province and 5,000 from Salahuddin province. The rest hail from Baghdad, Kirkuk, Diyala and Babil.

He said the federal government should transfer many of the people who are not from Ninevah to other regions, as there is a large desert in western Iraq where they could be monitored as well as rehabilitated by the Iraqi government and the United Nations to winnow out extremist ideas.

Duberdani said the Iraqi government had attempted last summer to transfer these families to Omla, but it failed due to popular and political pressure.

Ali Gawan, a professor of political science at International Cihan University, told Al-Monitor that Ninevah will not serve as a dumping ground for Islamic State families. He said Ninevah's young people also are opposed to this transfer.

He seconded Duberdani and called for organizing a psychological and humanitarian rehabilitation program to rid the IS family members, particularly children, of extremist ideas.

However, Gawan said that the public opinion is not fully informed about the matter. Residents, he added, believe that the families that the Iraqi government will transfer include foreigners, but these are Iraqis, and according to international laws, the Iraqi government is forced to receive them, be they terrorists or not.

Duberdani, however, sees no need for outsiders to be received in Ninevah, which is already suffering from problems due to the presence of similar camps for ISIS families in the south of the province. These families were transferred there after security forces took control of Mosul, Ninevah's capital, in 2017. These camps are dangerous because of the extremist ideas that need to be eradicated, he said.

Gawan said the camps in the south of the province raised the ire of residents there in part because of the numbers of detainees from other provinces and maybe other countries.

He said the reason behind the Iraqi government’s insistence on using Ninevah province might be that many international organizations that provide services for people in camps are close by in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. He said that locating a camp for Islamic State families in the Anbar desert would complicate the organizations' work and that most such organizations might refuse to go there.

Of note, in October 2018, the largely Kurdish autonomous administration of northeastern Syria called on all countries of the world to receive their ISIS citizens and families because these constitute a great burden for the administration. While Iraq chose to receive its citizens at the Omla camp, this sparked reactions within Ninevah province, thus repeatedly delaying the transfer process due to public rejection. ... -camp.html

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2020 9:55 pm
Author: Anthea
Rescuers scour Syria for
Yazidis still enslaved

Seated in the back of a dimly lit fast-food restaurant in a mall in Iraqi Kurdistan, Ali Hussein scrolls through WhatsApp messages on one of the two phones he keeps with him at all times

He cautiously looks around before leaning across the booth to play a voice memo sent to him by one of his Islamic State (ISIS) informants in Syria.

“Look, I don’t want to sell this girl to Turkish side because I don’t have any interest in that. Each organ could be sold for $60,000-$70,000, but I won’t do that,” the low, raspy voice says.

    'Each organ could be sold for $60,000-$70,000'
“Ali, it is better to buy her with this price - $45,000 - because I’m positive that another Yazidi girl was sold for more.”

Purchasing the girl at this price was a bargain, the man argued. Her organs, after all, could be trafficked on the black market for much more.

Over a series of WhatsApp voice memos, Hussein’s contact would later claim that the young girl, originally captured by ISIS at age four, was now living with an emir of an al-Qaeda affiliated group in Syria.

The communication continued on and off for more than two years, and included several proof-of-life videos. In one clip seen by Middle East Eye, a small girl dressed in a pink hijab and red sweater quietly identifies herself and mumbles the names of her parents before her captor stops recording.

After a daring rescue operation that involved his original ISIS contact, a series of middlemen and local brokers, Hussein managed to return the girl to what remained of her family. They paid $18,000.

Based in the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, Hussein is among a handful of so-called liberators in the Yazidi community. Originally a schoolteacher, he turned to this line of work after his own escape from ISIS in the summer of 2014.

Using the names and phone numbers he obtained during his 15-day stint in captivity, Hussein was able to gain entry into a private Telegram account for ISIS fighters. From there, he made his pitch.

“Whoever was interested in selling their girls would contact me,” Hussein said. “After receiving photos and videos, I would discuss with them the price.”

Since 2016, he has rescued 49 Yazidi women and children, including four from non-ISIS captors. Their rescues bring some much-needed hope to the Yazidi community, a long-suffering ethnic and religious minority considered devil worshippers by ISIS.

Sold by ISIS to others

In August 2014, the militant group overran the Yazidi ancestral homeland of Sinjar, killed thousands of men and enslaved the women and children in what the United Nations would later call a genocide.

Roughly 2,800 Yazidis are still missing, according to the Yazidi Rescue Bureau in Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government. Most are feared dead - perished in coalition air strikes on former ISIS territory or killed by their terrorist captors.

But Yazidi advocates and rescuers say a significant number of the missing women and children are now in the hands of other militant groups and trafficking rings, abandoned by their original abductors as they fled the last ISIS outpost in Syria.

“The girls were sold to various factions and fighters when [IS] was defeated in Deir Ezzor and many fled the area,” said Ziyad Rustam, an official with Yazidi House, an organisation in northern Syria which reunites rescued Yazidis with their families in Iraq.

Of the 250 women and children who have passed through Rustam’s safehouse, most were discovered in al-Hol camp, the Kurdish-run facility in northern Syria housing IS wives and their children. Roughly a dozen survivors were found elsewhere in northeast Syria, according to Rustam.

He says Yazidi House has also sheltered five from Idlib, the rebel-held province in northwest Syria where the Syrian government and its Russian allies have been waging a deadly offensive. Idlib is home to several rival opposition factions, including Turkey-backed rebels and the dominant Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, which was once affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Both Hussein and Abdullah Shrem, a beekeeper-turned-rescuer, say they’ve rescued several Yazidis from militants affiliated with various groups across Syria and are convinced many more will turn up with non-IS actors.

Search for the missing

In March 2019 - nearly five years after ISIS declared its self-proclaimed caliphate - the group lost its last shred of territory. The US-led coalition and the Syrian Democratic Forces declared victory over the group in Baghouz, a small Syrian town located on the border with Iraq in the Deir Ezzor countryside.

“We were expecting that after the fall of Baghouz and other ISIS areas, the operations would be easier,” said Shrem, the former beekeeper who has freed nearly 400 Yazidis since 2014.

“The geographic region that they are in has expanded, and it became harder to find the captives,” he said.

Following the group’s territorial defeat, negotiators say the remaining Yazidis are now scattered across Syria, Iraq and even neighbouring Turkey, where some fled with their captors after ISIS’s final stand in Baghouz.

“ISIS is not active on the ground as it was before, so it makes it difficult to locate them,” said Hussein. “This is making my mission harder and harder.”

Under ISIS captivity, Yazidi women and children were bought and sold like livestock. Some women were traded into sexual slavery via messenger apps or Facebook, and others bought in-person at slave bazaars in ISIS-controlled cities.

No such slave trade exists for the hundreds of Yazidis that advocates believe are still alive and want to be rescued. Hussein says this has forced him to start from scratch, creating an entirely new list of contacts inside Syria and Iraq. It took him more than a year to gain their trust.

Post-ISIS slave trade

These days, Hussein says the new captors are demanding as much as $20,000 per person. In some cases, they’re asking for even higher sums - once $50,000 - to fund their own escapes to Turkey or Europe.

    'We’ve known families who’ve had to beg to collect money to rescue their family members'
The cost is out of reach for most Yazidi families still languishing in camps across northern Iraq, afraid to leave the relative safety of their tents for their homes in Sinjar.

“This places a big toll on the families,” said Murad Ismaeel, the co-founder and executive director of Yazda, an advocacy group. “We’ve known families who’ve had to beg - to go door-to-door - to collect money to rescue their family members.”

But the families know the more time that passes, the worse their chances of bringing their loved ones home. Some brainwashed children may not even want to return.

“They don’t even know who they are,” said Ismaeel. “Everything has been lost over time.” ... zidis-sold

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2020 11:22 pm
Author: Anthea
Iraq court sentences
ISIS rapist to death

An Iraqi court on Monday sentenced to death a former Islamic State militant who repeatedly raped a Yazidi captive. The case marks a landmark transition for the prosecution of Islamic State in its prominent advocacy for an individual victim and its specific acknowledgment of the Yazidi minority treatment under Islamic State

Ashwaq Haji Hamid Talo, a 20-year-old Yazidi woman, testified before the court about her experience as a captive of Islamic State and specifically as a victim of the defendant. Hamid was abducted by Islamic State militants in 2014 from the Sinjar mountain region of northern Iraq when she was only 14 years old.

She and her sisters were then given as gifts or sold to Islamic State militants. The Yazidi minority’s religious beliefs and practices contain a unique amalgamation of more prominent religions and include aspects of Zoroastrianism, Islam and Judeo-Christian traditions. As a result of these differing beliefs they faced especially harsh treatment under the Islamic State regime.

The defendant, Mohammed Rashid Sahab, is a 36-year old Iraqi national. He was found guilty of participating in a terrorist organization as well as in the rape and abduction of Yazidi women. Including the repeated rape of Ms. Hamid, whom he then forcibly married under Islamic law, which does not recognize marital rape. As a result of his conviction, he has been sentenced to death.

The case is exceptional in both how it focused on an individual victim and how it charged the defendant. Iraq’s prosecution of Islamic State militants has often been viewed as broad and rushed. Most militants are charged with general terrorism charges rather than specific crimes. Advocates of these practices cite concerns of judicial efficiency and opportunity for discovery. Its detractors have noted that those cases limit the opportunity for due process, for victims to find closure, and for the gravity of specific crimes to be publicly identified.

This case markedly departs from this tradition as it not only charged the defendant with the specific crime of rape but it also prominently noted the role that the victim’s status as a Yazidi played in the crime. Many victims of the Islamic State are still afraid to testify publicly about rape charges as Iraqi culture places a sharp stigma on rape that may even put some victims in danger. By having Hamid face her attacker and testify, more victims may be inspired to come forward and seek justice through the judicial system. ... -to-death/

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:07 am
Author: Anthea
Nadia Murad’s Call to Action
Against Human Trafficking

Nadia Murad, a Yazidi survivor of genocide, spoke out about systematic genocide and the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war

As a Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 2018 and the United Nations’ first Goodwill Ambassador for human trafficking, Murad calls on people around the world to act. Speaking at a World Oregon event at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on March 4, she asserted that “collectively, as a global community, we must commit to change…to actively seek change, because it is the responsibility of all of us, not just some of us.”

The Yazidi people, an ethnic and religious minority in Iraq, were a peaceful community of farmers and poor families cultivating the land for others in their village with limited access to education, water and electricity. “We didn’t have too much independence, but we were happy with what we had and [we] lived a life with dignity,” Murad said.

On Aug. 3, 2014, ISIS interrupted that peace when they stormed Kocho in the Sinjar District of Iraq, committing genocide on Yazidis because they would not convert to Islam. The Yazidi men were murdered and put into mass graves, while the boys under age 14 were taken to military camps. More than 10,000 women and children were abducted to be sexually abused and used as slaves, according to Murad.

Murad was eventually able to escape to a refugee camp and was offered asylum in Germany. She lost her mother, six of her brothers and two nieces in the massacre. Nineteen of her nieces will grow up without their fathers. Murad’s story is only one of many experienced by Yazidi families who are still feeling the lasting effects of what happened six years after the genocide.

Murad spoke of the support—and lack thereof—from the United States government. While she has worked with the U.S. to provide security in Sinjar, in 2018, only five Yazidi refugees were granted U.S. asylum, with the number increasing to 20 in 2019.

Murad asked the audience “what it will take for a more welcome approach to refugees [in the United States].” When asked what she would say to others wanting to help, her response was “for people here, with access to education and the freedom to speak, [to] be a voice for the voiceless…for those that cannot speak for themselves.”

Murad said that she “has tried hard not to be the face of the cause, because it’s not one specific cause…[I planned] to deliver a message and not be the face, which turned out to be the case, but not [her] choice.”

She has since begun focusing on projects to redevelop Sinjar. She created Nadia’s Initiative to raise money for schools, medical clinics, temples and wash (water, sanitation and hygiene) services with local partners and support from France, Belgium and other countries.

Shannon Doyle, a high school student who attended the event, was grateful to hear Murad’s story.

“I often attend literary arts events with the English department at the [high school] and was excited when my mom bought the World Oregon packet of events,” Doyle said. She added that this was the first one she was able to attend, and she enjoyed the event.

When Murad was asked what she would say to survivors of sexual violence to help them move through the trauma, she said, “It is a difficult one, to deliver that message…I lived with my sister for the past few years, I have never heard her story, and she was taken too.”

She said that survivors deserve to “feel safe, not taken advantage of, feel respected and heard because some have difficult stories and it is not easy to talk about them publicly.”

When asked the question of how to create a stronger sense of tolerance and teach peace, she used ISIS as an example: “If we look at ISIS’ success in spreading their ideology, why can’t we, with access to more resources, promote tolerance like ISIS spreads hate?” she said.

Yousra Fathi offered her opinion on Murad’s answer, saying that “when people are suffering and impoverished, it is much easier for terrorist groups like ISIS to persuade them to join their cause.”

For ISIS to be brought to justice and held accountable for the genocide of the Yazidi people, Murad said, “They must be prosecuted in an international court, and not in Iraq.”

    Murad’s words for the future are simple and clear:
“Our homes, and our dreams were destroyed…never again.” ... afficking/