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Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:59 pm

Yezidi children six years after genocide

Six years after the Islamic State (ISIS) group tore through the Yezidi homeland of Shingal (known in Arabic as Sinjar), a whole generation of children continues to battle with the psychological effects of the genocide against the minority group

Rudaw’s new documentary “After Disaster” by Nebez Ehmed documents the lives of a number of Yazidi children as they deal with the aftermath of being in the hands of ISIS. Filmed in 2019 between the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Syria, the film shows the children shortly after they escaped from the terrorist group’s hideouts in Baghouz southeast of Syria on the Iraqi border, as well as their resettlement to the Kurdistan Region’s Sharya Camp in Duhok province.

ISIS attacked the Shingal district in the Nineveh Plains on August 3, 2014, abducting and killing thousands belonging to the ancient Yezidi minority. Men were summarily executed or boys were often trained as soldiers, whereas girls and women were subjected to repeated sexual violence and forced labour.

Although the territorial defeat of ISIS has long been declared, the trauma of the group’s iron rule across the region continues to have severe impacts on the Yazidi minority, who largely remain displaced in IDP camps. As of this month, 3,530 Yezidis have been rescued or escaped ISIS, and 2,887 are still missing, according to the Kurdistan Regional Government’s office documenting the genocide.

Many children have lost the ability to speak their mother tongue, and suffer from severe psychological issues, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

“When they came back, they did not speak even a word of Kurdish. They were speaking Arabic. They had gone through too much humiliation. They said ISIS militants beat them, forcibly taught them Quran and prayer,” said Yezidi mother Gule of her sons Dilbrin and Sufyan.

Although elated to be reunited with her sons, Gule says her joy is mixed with anxiety and doubt because she feels the two no longer acted the same towards her.

“When other children see their parents, they become happy, but my sons were not happy like they would have been before. When they were brought back to me, I tried to approach them, but I could barely put my arm around his neck. He barely allowed me to pose with him for a photo where he recoiled from me.”

Yazidi activist Basma Haji recounted to Rudaw how the group abused minors.

“Some of the children were detained and trained at military bases for five years on how to fight, how to convert [to Islam]. They were forcibly converted to Islam. They were forcibly shown terror videos of how ISIS beheads and kills people,” said the Shingal native.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/040820201
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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 » Sat Aug 08, 2020 1:09 am

Sixth Anniversary of Yazidi Genocide

Iraq’s Yazidi community remains overlooked by the international community and Erbil and Baghdad authorities six years on from the genocide, Yazidi survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad said in a conference with UN officials on Monday, August 3

“We have repeatedly pleaded to the governments in Erbil and Baghdad, as well as the international community to rebuild our hometown [Shingal],” Murad said. “But after so many years we feel that the international community and governments in Erbil and Baghdad abandoned us.”

In the summer of 2014, Islamic State (ISIS) extremists swept across swathes of Syria and Iraq. In August that year, they attacked the Yazidi homeland of Shingal in Nineveh province, committing genocide against the ethno-religious minority. Hundreds of thousands of Yazidis fled from the militants, but not everyone escaped. More than 1,000 were killed and 6,417 were captured by the militants, with women and children sold into sexual slavery.

Murad criticized the international community for ignoring the Yazidis, reminding them that international community is helping ISIS to reach its “goal” in failing to help survivors.

“We know Iraq is facing economic challenges,” Murad said. “But there are tangible and sustainable actions that can be taken into consideration to help Yazidis.”

“I ask the governments in Erbil and Baghdad to solve the security issues in Sinjar [Shingal], and keep helping the missing Yazidis,” Murad added. “Yazidis deserve support to rebuild, as they cannot wait for another six years to recover.”

Although Baghdad announced the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq in December 2017, remnants of the group have returned to their earlier insurgency tactics, ambushing security forces, kidnapping and executing suspected informants, and extorting money from vulnerable rural populations, particularly in the disputed territories.

Hearings on Yazidi Case

Advocacy organization Yazda kicked off a two-day conference on August 2 to commemorate the anniversary by hearing from a range of senior officials, humanitarian workers, researchers, and survivors of the attack by ISIS militants.

With security tenuous and swathes of the district’s infrastructure and housing still in ruins and riddled with unexploded ordnance, many Yazidis are reluctant to return despite encouragement from Baghdad, Erbil, UN agencies, and local groups.

While most of the keynote presenters spoke in platitudes, other panelists pointed to the harder edge of the situation, expressing frustration about the lack of progress after so many years and sustained international attention.

The theme of the commemoration, which was jointly organized by Yazda and the Zovighian Partnership, was “Bridging the Gap Between Terror and Humanity.”

“Daesh perpetrated the most horrendous crimes against the Yazidi people to deprive them of their religious rituals and they will be brought to justice,” Iraqi President Barham Salih said in his opening remarks, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

“I call on all political forces to overcome their differences,” he added, referring to the political disputes between the federal government, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and the Nineveh provincial government, which several speakers blamed for the lack of progress.

Falah Mustafa, a senior foreign policy advisor to the President of the Kurdistan Region, called for increased international support for Yazidis in Sinjar and for the KRG, which hosts just under 1 million refugees and IDPs, while US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller announced the allocation of an additional $500,000 in reconstruction funding.

Other speakers focused on the experience and continued suffering of the survivors of the genocide.

“As an Yazidi girl, I experienced this genocide in all of its details,” said Yazidi Survivor Network member Farida Abbas Khalaf, before outlining a number of specific steps that should be taken by governments and humanitarian organizations, including prosecuting the perpetrators of the genocide, passing the draft women survivors’ law, increasing funding for psychiatric treatment and infrastructure reconstruction, and ending political disputes to ensure a stable security environment.

Karim Ahmad Khan, who is the Special Adviser and Head of the UN Investigative Team for the Promotion of Accountability for Crimes Committed by Daesh in Iraq (UNITAD), said that no counties “can be spectators” in seeking accountability for those who perpetrated the genocide and that minority communities in Iraq “must have a right to protection and to justice.

Amal Clooney

The bluntest remarks of the day were made by Saib Khidir, a Yazidi member of the Council of Representatives, who called out all sides for shirking their obligations.

“Every stakeholder is throwing responsibility onto another stakeholder. Erbil says the problem is with Baghdad. Baghdad says the problem is with Erbil,” he said.

“This is not serving the Yazidi community. This is not showing love to the Yazidi community. If I love the Yazidi community, I should provide them with services,” he added.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joey Hood said that he was shocked to see Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) flags in Sinjar during a visit last year and was similarly saddened to hear about Turkish warplanes targeting alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) units in the district.

He called for locally-recruited police to be in charge of security, “not armed groups from some other location.”

In that vein, Director of the Assyrian Policy Institute Reine Hanna called for a local force to be created along the model of the Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU) and criticized the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) for meddling in the district’s affairs.

Nevertheless, Khidir warned that even well-meaning solutions from outside could in fact undermine the very Yazidi governance that most of the panelists argued is necessary for establishing stability in Sinjar.

Armenian Leaders Offer Condolences

Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan addressed the Yazidi community of Armenia on the occasion of the Sinjar Genocide anniversary on Sunday.

He issued the following message:

‘’Dear sisters and brothers of the Yazidi community of Armenia, today we commemorate the anniversary of the genocide against the Yazidi people in Sinjar perpetrated by some terroristic organizations. Indeed, the tragedy that happened with the Yazidi people is a heinous crime against humanity and the civilized world. We share your grief and sincerely express solidarity with you.

“I wish the Yazidi community of Armenia, all the Yazidi families steadfastness and spiritual strength. As a consolation, always realize that in the homeland, in the Republic of Armenia, you have a safe and protected future and a wide field of progress.”

Speaker of Parliament of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan also issued a statement on the anniversary of the Sinjar massacre.

“As a nation that survived genocide, we cannot stay indifferent upon witnessing the same crime being committed against any other people,” he said.

“Today we join the Yazidi community of Armenia to commemorate the memory of their brothers and sisters who died in Sinjar six years ago, Speaker of the Armenian National Assembly Ararat Mirzoyan said in a Facebook post.

In January 2018, the Armenian Parliament unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the Yazidi Genocide.

The National Assembly also called on the international community to track down and prosecute those directly responsible for the killings and “take measures to ensure the security of the Yazidi population.”

https://mirrorspectator.com/2020/08/06/ ... de-marked/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Aug 08, 2020 10:47 am

Tracking Missed Yazidis

Now Increasingly Harder Six Years After ISIS Genocide

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The Yazidi minority this week marked six years since the Islamic State (ISIS) attacked their homeland in northern Iraq.

Their nightmare continues

Even after their territories were recaptured and ISIS was defeated, activists of the religious community say they are still looking for thousands of their members who went missing during the genocidal campaign that began on August 3, 2014.

One of the activists, Ali Hussein al-Khansouri, told VOA that many of the missing Yazidis must be “bought” from their kidnappers who demand amounts that continue to increase. He said that locating and smuggling out the missing Yazidis is becoming more difficult, especially as they seem to be scattered across conflict areas of Syria to as far as Turkey.

Al-Khansouri, 34, who survived ISIS captivity, has rescued 43 kidnapped Yazidis across Iraq and Syria. His first mission in 2017 involved freeing an 8-year-old Yazidi girl from northwestern Syria under the al-Qaeda offshoot the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) group.

“I never imagined that I will be engaged in finding the missing Yazidis,” said al-Khansouri, who in his quest is also hoping to track 46 people from his extended family and relatives.

“As time passed by and thousands of Yazidis remained missing, and because of the network of people I know, I was compelled to take action,” he said.

According to the Kidnapped Yazidis Rescue Office in Duhok, Kurdistan Region, 3,543 kidnapped Yazidis have been rescued with 2,800 still missing.

Pictures of Yazidis slain in 2014 by ISIS militants were found in a room at the Lalish shrine in Iraq. When Yazidis were seized alive by the militants, commanders registered them, and decided where they would be sent.

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ISIS rampaged across Iraq and Syria in 2014 to establish its so-called Islamic caliphate. In August of that year, the jihadist group attacked Iraq’s Sinjar town and district where about 400,000 Yazidis lived. It killed thousands of Yazidi men and kidnapped the women and young boys. The women and young girls were reportedly used as sex slaves while the young boys were trained to become IS fighters and suicide bombers.

The United Nations has called the attacks a campaign of genocide.

Al-Khansouri was a Kurdish language teacher and a wedding photographer in Khana Sor village, north of Sinjar Mountain, when ISIS attacked. He was hiding with 34 members of his family at his uncle’s house when the terror group found them and transferred them with other captured Yazidis to Tal al-Shaer school near al-Shaddadi in Deir el-Zour governorate in eastern Syria.

“They told us that they were waiting for the Caliph orders to determine our fate. After a few days, they told us that the orders came and they will not kill us if we convert to Islam and perform the Islamic worship and rituals. We agreed because we wanted to live,” he said.

After spending one week in Syria, he was taken with a group of Yazidi men and boys over 9 years old in a bus back to Iraq where they were placed in Tal Banat village near Sinjar, close to an ISIS training camp. While at the training site, he and four other men escaped when a fighter jet targeted the group.

“We reached Kabara village in southern Sinjar where hundreds of Yazidis had fled to. There was a force of armed Yazidis defending the fleeing families,” he said.

Now in safety at Sharia camp in Kurdistan Region’s Duhok province, al-Khansouri said his community lives with the trauma they experienced during the ISIS conflict.

“Yazidi families just want to know if their loved ones are still alive or dead,” he said.

Layla Taloo visited the grave of a Yazidi woman who took her own life after she was captured by ISIS

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Finding closure

Iraqi and Kurdish officials say they are doing their best to help the Yazidi community reunite with their missing members.

Nineveh governorate authorities say they have found 83 mass graves, consisting mostly of Yazidis in Sinjar.

The search for mass graves and the exhumation of victims’ remains comes as part of a joint effort between a national team of Iraqi officials and the United Nations Investigative Team to promote accountability for crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

But some Yazidis say that the efforts to identify the victims must be accelerated.

“More than 70 mass graves were discovered, and until now these graves are open, and documenting the identities of the victims is going in a very slow pace,” Tahsen Shikh Kalo, a Yazidi journalist, told VOA.

Kalo lost his 32-year-old sister, Sarah, when ISIS attacked their village of al-Adnaniah in 2014.

He said his sister and her 6-year-old daughter were separated from the Kalo family and fled ISIS with neighbors. They were caught by the militants when the neighbor’s car broke down in the middle of the road to safety.

A few months into the kidnapping of Sarah and her daughter, the Kalos in a phone call were informed she was killed. Her daughter was rescued in April 2015 by another fleeing Yazidi family in Tal Afar, Iraq.

“Till now we don’t know where my sister is buried. My sister has no grave,” lamented Kalo.

The sun sets over Sharia Camp, where Yazidis displaced by Islamic State militants are housed near Dohuk, Iraq.

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Persistent insecurity

Tracking the missing family members and identifying bodies in mass graves are not the only causes of anguish for the religious minority, however.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis in Iraq are living under harsh conditions in refugee camps where they lack access to basic services. Those who wish to return to their homes in Sinjar are unable to because of mass destruction from war and persistent insecurity.

Kalo said that his village is contaminated by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted by ISIS. The struggle of demining teams to clear the village, the existence of different armed militias who are competing to control the area after IS, and Turkish ongoing airstrikes mean the locals have no hope they could return in months to come.

“We need protection, and we want to live in peace. Sinjar is free now, but till now Sinjar is considered a disputed area under article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, which makes life hard for the Yazidis living there,” Kalo said.

Disputed areas in northern Iraq are defined by article 140 of the Iraqi constitution as regions inhabited by a mix of religions and ethnicities that went through demographic change and Arabization under the Baath regime. Both the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan regional government in Erbil claim those lands.

Yazidi youth, dressed in traditional clothes, take part in a program to reacquaint them with their religion and culture at Khanke IDP Camp, northern Iraq.

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Supporting Yazidi community

While Iraqi and Kurdish authorities continue to bicker over who should rule in the area, Yazidi representatives are questioning how long it will take before they can see some progress in the reconstruction of their areas and the provision of services.

“Yazidis are part of the Iraqi nation, and the Iraqi government must allocate funds to support local projects, rebuild the infrastructure in Sinjar, and compensate the families who lost their homes and businesses,” Dawood Jundi Shikh-Kalo, a Yazidi leader and member of the leadership council of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, told VOA.

Shikh-Kalo, who led Sinjar Protection Units during the battle against ISIS, said different parties in the country need to support local initiatives from the Yazidi community to help it stand on its feet.

Iraqi President Barham Salih in March 2019 referred the Yazidi Female Survivors Bill to the Iraqi parliament, which could address many social issues agonizing the Yazidis, including helping them find their missing members. The law is still waiting an approval vote by the Iraqi parliament.

https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/tra ... r-genocide

I read everything I post and find it heartbreaking that the world ignores the plight of these innocent people :((
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:24 am

Children abused by ISIS urgently need help

Many have been liberated from captivity but not from their trauma: Yazidi children, kidnapped, enslaved, abused by "Islamic State," urgently need help

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The genocide of Yazidis by "Islamic State" (ISIS) will have repercussions for generations to come. The memories are there to stay, not least for some 2,000 children who were freed from ISIS captivity and returned to their families.

These children urgently need help to come to terms with their experience of abuse, humiliation, and indoctrination, Amnesty International wrote in its recent report "Legacy of Terror: The Plight of Yezidi Child Survivors of ISIS," published on the sixth anniversary of the genocide.

In early August 2014, ISIS fighters attacked the Yazidis, a heterodox ethnoreligious group of Kurdish heritage and language. Nearly 10,000 people — mainly men and boys over 12 — were murdered. More than 70 mass graves have been discovered in the region. About 7,000 Yazidi women and children were abducted, sold as slaves, abused and raped.

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Trauma specialist Jan Kizilhan admits that the plight of the Yazidi children has been overlooked

"So far we were focused on adults rather than youths," says psychiatrist Jan Ilhan Kizilhan. "We were overwhelmed by the pictures of slavery, rape, mass executions and so the plight of the children was more or less ignored."

Kizilhan is a psychiatrist and heads a center for intercultural psychosomatics in southern Germany. He has interviewed thousands of ISIS victims, and works with psychotherapists in northern Iraq "because there are simply not enough qualified psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and doctors to cope with the huge number of traumatized adults and children," says Kizilhan.

Kizilhan and his team have spoken with dozens of boys and girls who were abducted by the IS, tortured, exploited or forced into armed combat.

A slave — sold and resold

Fourteen-year-old Randa survived five years as a slave in ISIS captivity. She was sold over and over again until she was forced into marriage. When she was finally freed by Kurdish fighters after the battle of Baghouz she initially didn't want to go. "The ISIS told us over and over again that we can't return to our families, because they would kill us because we are Muslims now," she said.

Randa is one of 1,041 Yazidi girls who were freed from ISIS-captivity in February 2020, according to the Kurdish regional government in Dorhuk.

Most of them suffered violent sexual abuse resulting in post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression. "These girls have been broken, and they're now afraid of men in general, even their fathers and brothers," psychiatrist Kizilhan says.

Fight for ISIS — or die

Boys are as equally traumatized as girls. Most of them were forced to fight as child soldiers. Amnesty tells the story of Sahir: He was beaten continually with cables and plastic pipes, he was starved and forced to fight. "I fought to survive," he says.

After his liberation, Sahir got no support at all, he says. "What I need is someone who cares about me and supports me and tells me 'I am here for you,' but I haven't found that yet," he says.

Others need help too. Many child survivors have debilitating long-term injuries, some have lost limbs, others still have bullets stuck in their bodies.

"While the nightmare of their past has receded, hardships remain for these children. After enduring the horrors of war at an extremely young age, they now need urgent support from the national authorities in Iraq and the international community to build their future," said Matt Wells, Amnesty International's Crisis Response Deputy Director

Amnesty has put together a list of concrete recommendations for Iraqi and Kurdish authorities as well as the international community, stressing the need for the children to get identification papers and receive education. The children born to Yazidi women who were raped need to be accepted into the communities and criminal investigations need to be launched to bring perpetrators to justice.

Caught in no-man's land

Düzden Tekkal, a Yazidi activist based in Germany and founder of the aid organization Hawar.Help, travels regularly to her old home in Northern Iraq and speaks to survivors from ISIS captivity there.

The perpetrators need to be prosecuted to "soothe the victims' souls," she says. Although they have been liberated from captivity, they "do not really feel free, and definitely not protected," she explains. "We are talking about children who live in refugee camps. They are being shoved around and their future is insecure," Tekkal explains. "They are caught in a no-man's land."

Dangerous return

Some 350,000 Yazidis live in Northern Iraq today. Many of them dare not go back to their homeland, the Sinjar mountains. It is not safe there. ISIS fighters are still hiding in the region, Kurdish and Shi'ite militias are fighting there, and the Turkish military has come into play. In late June, Ankara attacked militias there with fighter planes." One hundred and fifty families had just then decided to leave the camps and return to their villages. One day later everything had been turned to rubble," says Ilhan Kizilhan.

Activist Tekkal is calling for a safe zone protected by the United Nations. "We need a special region where Yazidi life is protected and reconstruction can start," she says Tekkal. She means the city of Shingal, which was completely destroyed, and the villages in the area, where water and electricity and other basic infrastructure need to be restored.

This, she believes, is the basis for helping children and other victims fight the physical and mental health crisis.

Yazidi women and girls stretch in lines after their cardio warm-up in preparation for a two-hour boxing session in Dohuk, Iraqi Kurdistan

The "Boxing Sisters" program was launched in late 2018 by Lotus Flower, a British NGO in Iraqi Kurdistan. Five days a week Yazidi women and girls gather for a two-hour training session in the Rwanga IDP camp. Many of these women were subjected to physical, emotional and sexual violence while held captive by the "Islamic State" (ISIS) before arriving at the camp.

https://www.dw.com/en/yazidi-children/a-54417617
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:55 am

Hungary Supports Repatriation of Yazidis

The Hungary Helps humanitarian scheme supports the return of Iraq’s Yazidi refugees to their homes, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement

The solidarity shown by the Hungarian government manifests not just in words but also in the actions it has taken to help the Yazidi community,

The Hungarian government’s actions will enable “the members of the community that have been a victim of genocide to remain or return to their homeland”, Azbej told the conference marking the memorial day for the genocide of Yazidis by the Islamic State militant group.

The aid Hungary provides to persecuted Christian communities via its Hungary Helps Programme covers both the protection of human life and restarting the local economies, allowing the communities in question to remain in or return to their homelands, Azbej said.

He said Hungary will also support setting up a centre focused on the reintegration of Yazidi women who were victims of sexual violence by jihadists or sold as sex slaves into society.

“The projects will be carried out in line with the basic principle of the Hungary Helps Programme,” Azbej said. “We believe that help should be provided at the point where it is needed instead of bringing trouble over here.”

The conference was also addressed by Samuel Brownback, the US ambassador for religious freedom, and Jan Figel, the European Union’s former special envoy for freedom of religion, among others, the PM’s Office said.

https://hungarytoday.hu/hungary-helps-y ... atriation/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:55 am

Hungary Supports Repatriation of Yazidis

The Hungary Helps humanitarian scheme supports the return of Iraq’s Yazidi refugees to their homes, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement

The solidarity shown by the Hungarian government manifests not just in words but also in the actions it has taken to help the Yazidi community,

The Hungarian government’s actions will enable “the members of the community that have been a victim of genocide to remain or return to their homeland”, Azbej told the conference marking the memorial day for the genocide of Yazidis by the Islamic State militant group.

The aid Hungary provides to persecuted Christian communities via its Hungary Helps Programme covers both the protection of human life and restarting the local economies, allowing the communities in question to remain in or return to their homelands, Azbej said.

He said Hungary will also support setting up a centre focused on the reintegration of Yazidi women who were victims of sexual violence by jihadists or sold as sex slaves into society.

“The projects will be carried out in line with the basic principle of the Hungary Helps Programme,” Azbej said. “We believe that help should be provided at the point where it is needed instead of bringing trouble over here.”

The conference was also addressed by Samuel Brownback, the US ambassador for religious freedom, and Jan Figel, the European Union’s former special envoy for freedom of religion, among others, the PM’s Office said.

https://hungarytoday.hu/hungary-helps-y ... atriation/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Aug 10, 2020 12:40 am

Yazidi suffers one crisis after another

In 2014, the Islamic State (ISIS) group swept through the Sinjar region mounting what Yazidis, a religious minority mainly living in north-west Iraq, refer to as a ‘genocidal’ campaign against them

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on the Yazidi community in the Sinjar district of northwest Iraq. Although there are not many cases recorded in the area, the restrictive measures adopted in Iraq (as in many other countries worldwide) to curb the spread of the virus are burdening the daily lives and wellbeing of an already vulnerable community.

The IS militants slaughtered thousands of men and abducted an estimated six thousand women and children, either selling them into servitude or forcing them into sexual slavery. More than six years on, and after the city was taken back from IS in 2015, many families have been left with mental and physical scars. Some people are still looking for loved ones who went missing or mourning those who died, and many are fighting to rebuild their livelihoods.

The spread of COVID-19 has brought strict movement restrictions between the cities across Iraq. In Sinjar, these restrictions have immensely affected the economic situation and daily lives of local people, and in turn, their mental wellbeing. Most people in Sinjar were already living well below the poverty line, with widespread unemployment. Following the arrival of COVID-19, those who once had jobs are forced to stay at home, unable to work and provide for their families.

Aeed Nasir has been working with MSF in the Sinuni General Hospital as a nurse supervisor since 2018. Aeed is married with four children and lives in Chamshko camp for internally displaced people in Dohuk governorate. Aeed hasn’t seen his family in five months as he is unable to go back to Dohuk under the current movement restrictions.

“The majority of people in Sinjar are either farmers or do temporary labourer jobs outside the city lasting for one or two days at a time,” said Aeed.

“The coronavirus has stopped all the businesses, and people can’t travel outside the town for work. The farmer’s harvest is not even close to yielding the efforts and money spent on it by the farmer, and merchants from other governorates can’t come to buy the products and take them to the other governorates. Hence the crops and vegetables end up rotten. Before the coronavirus, people had very little income. Now there’s none.”

For many people, losing the ability to provide enough for their families, alongside having too much free time, living with uncertainty about what the future might bring, and not being able to visit family members, have caused feelings of frustration and stress. This has particularly adverse consequences for people who are already trying to overcome traumatic experiences from their past.

“We have seen an increase in domestic violence; men are sitting at home without work and they are forced to spend a lot more time with the family than they are used to,” said Phoebe Yonkeu, MSF’s mental health activity manager in Sinuni.

“After the easing of curfews, we received many women who said their spouses had become aggressive towards them and their children. Aggressive behaviour and anger towards family members is a way to channel/vent their frustrations and anxieties. We have also observed a surge of people suffering from depression in Sinjar, and we believe the lockdown has played a big role in that. Over the last few months, we have received many patients with suicidal thoughts and attempts, which are severe symptoms of depression.”

With the imposed movement restrictions, access to healthcare is another big challenge the people in Sinjar struggle with.

“Before the curfews were imposed, people who needed specialised medical services used to be referred to the hospitals in Duhok governorate in Iraqi Kurdistan,” said Shanna Morris, a doctor with MSF in Sinuni.

“Now, people can’t travel to Dohuk and the only destination available for them is Mosul. To access Mosul for medical needs, they must travel by ambulance so they’re allowed to cross checkpoints. On average, it takes four hours before a patient reaches the hospitals in Mosul. Many Yazidi people also have reservations about going to Mosul either due to the events of 2014, or because many of them don’t speak Arabic and it’s hard for them to communicate.”

For many people living in the villages in Sinjar, Sinuni General Hospital – where MSF provides emergency and maternity services – is the only option for healthcare services. But fewer women are coming because they are not allowed through the checkpoints to get to the hospital.

“Our outpatient department numbers have greatly decreased,” said Adelaide Debrah , a midwife working for MSF in Sinuni.

“Women are not coming for antenatal or postnatal care and family planning because they cannot cross the checkpoints; they are not considered an emergency. After some recent easing of movement restrictions, we received more women with unwanted pregnancies who told us that they ran out of family planning items and medication.”

Fear of instability

On top of COVID-19, recent airstrikes in the region and ongoing military campaigns against groups affiliated with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) are causing further mental stress and people fear the area will become a warzone again.

“The day the fighter jets bombed the Sinjar mountain, I was in Sinuni. The first rocket terrified me; I didn’t know what was going on. The first thing that came to my mind was that IS was back in Sinjar.” said Aeed.

“After some phone calls, I learnt that it was Turkish bombings of PKK-affiliated groups. The house I stay in is very close to one of their bases and out of fear of the base being bombed, I left the house. I wandered around Sinuni and heard women and children screaming. People were carrying their children and trying to move far away from the bases. Now, people have stopped visiting the mountainous areas completely, out of fear of being targeted by warplanes.”

As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc, many people have lost what little hope they had left.

“The Yazidi people still haven’t forgotten what happened to them in 2014,” said Aeed. “The consequences of the carnage still dominate the area, with mass graves still being found. I see hopelessness in people’s faces. Some don’t even have enough money to buy food. It happens many times that we – the hospital staff – collect donations ourselves for some patients. There is nothing in Sinjar, even the water is not suitable for drinking sometimes. How do you think people feel when they have nothing?”

MSF in Sinuni

MSF began supporting Sinuni General Hospital with emergency and maternity healthcare in August 2018, and quickly realised that mental health was a huge unmet need in the area. Since then, the team has increased mental health activities to cover psychiatric and psychological services in Sinuni General Hospital, as well as group sessions and mental health activities for displaced people in the Sinjar mountain.

Serving more than 90,000 people, the MSF project in Sinuni provides health services for all communities in the area. In 2019, MSF treated 14,581 patients in its emergency room in the Sinuni General hospital. The team also assisted 755 births, provided 8,702 sexual and reproductive healthcare consultations and 1,434 mental health consultations.

https://reliefweb.int/report/iraq/yazid ... er-another
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Aug 16, 2020 12:26 am

Heroes of Shengal:

Nûjiyan Erhan’s interview with Zekî Şengalî

On August 3rd, the so-called Islamic State attacked the Yazidi (Êzîdî) people of Sinjar (Şengal),

Nûjiyan Erhan, a young journalist, was based on Mount Sinjar for years, reporting about the war against ISIS and documenting the political developments and social transformations in the Êzîdî society stranded on the mountain, with particular focus on the liberation of women.

She trained young Êzîdî women and men to work in the field of press and media. On March 3, 2017, she was cowardly attacked by those who sort to provoke military escalations incited in the interests of the Turkish state, which is currently occupying majority Kurdish territories in Iraq and Syria. Weeks after, she lost her life due to her heavy injuries.

Zekî Şengalî, member of the KCK Executive Council and member of the Êzîdî Society Coordination, was a veteran of the Kurdish liberation movement. Especially since the ISIS massacre, he had been involved in all efforts to help build an autonomous military, social, and political system for the Êzîdî people in the vein of Democratic Autonomy.

On August 15, 2018, on the 4th anniversary of the ISIS genocide, he was assassinated by the Turkish state in a targeted airstrike, after he had attended a commemoration ceremony in Sengal.

Both, Nûjiyan Erhan and Zekî Sengalî were thus killed as part of a vested effort by the Turkish state to suffocate the Êzîdî people’s self-determination and to annihilate the very same Kurdish freedom movement that liberated the Êzîdîs when the entire world watched the genocide unfold. The killing of a free Kurdish woman and a revolutionary, popular Êzîdî leader are seen as a continuation of the mentalities and tactics of ISIS.

The following interview with Zekî Şengalî was conducted by Nûjiyan Erhan and published in Kurdish on 12 December 2015:

Nûjiyan Erhan – Şengal

12 December 2015

With the 73rd massacre on the Êzîdîs, the world has heard about the existence of the Êzîdî people by way of yet another genocide. August 3rd, 2014 went down as a day of darkness in the pages of the general history of the Kurds. But the suffering of the Êzîdî people is not limited to the last massacre.

As we rejoice with the liberation of Şengal, our Êzîdî people express their sensitivities. The people on Mount Şengal do not view the events as the city’s liberation yet. They say: “As long as our political will is not accepted and recognized, Şengal will not be free”. Behind this backdrop, the councils and organizations on Mount Şengal issued a joint statement.

What do the people of Şengal want? What do they need and what is required for the reconstruction of the city? We asked Zekî Şengalî, member of the Êzîdî Society Coordination, for his opinion.

The liberation of Şengal was great news for all Kurdish people. But what is the meaning of Şengal for the Êzîdî people?

Şengal has a very different meaning to the Êzîdîs. Şengal is both, a historical site and a sacred region, as well as a strategic space for Kurdishness. The liberation of Şengal carries great importance.

But we cannot yet speak of a genuine liberation of Şengal. Liberation must also take place in the realm of politics, ideology and psychology. Now a certain degree of comfort has been obtained, as the threat of ISIS no longer lures over the people as it did previously. However, some of our surroundings are still under the siege of the gangs.

On October 8th, the Şilo operation started. After the liberation of Şengal, the efforts began to liberate the surrounding villages. These are ongoing. Many villages have been liberated, but many are still in the hands of the ISIS gangs. But the problem is not only the liberation of territory.

Clearly, Şengal has been liberated territorially. But the city was hit hard. Many places have been looted. What is needed for the reconstruction of Şengal?

Şengal has been destroyed. On one hand, the gangs of ISIS haven’t left anything behind, on the other hand, the war and conflict have greatly devastated the city.

People must immediately start working on the reconstruction of the city. For this, a commission must be formed, but it mustn’t be determined by decisions from outside. On the contrary, it must be elected with the will of the people. People, who are specialized in reconstruction-related work, should also take part in it. It is important to work on these problems.

All Kurdistanî forces ought to unite and collectively extend their helping hands to Şengal. The issue of Şengal is both, a national as well as international affair. For Şengalîs to live in freedom, all national and international forces must assist. Şengal was liberated, but the families have not yet returned.

As long as the issue of reconstruction is not solved, people will not be able to return. Likewise, there is no status for Şengal yet. Therefore, the will of the people of Şengal must be recognized. The people of Şengal ought to be able to administer themselves. They must be given the opportunity to do so.

The trust of the people here is broken now. We must never underestimate what happened to these people. The previous status is unable to cure these wounds inflicted on the people or to solve issues. The people cannot and do not accept it, because they saw that the old order was not able to protect them. That is why people must rush to assist the situation of Şengal.

Nobody should fall into the trap of petty calculations, partisan, familial, tribal or individual interests. The situation of the people of Şengal has international significance and must be defined by the needs of these affected people.

How should Şengal be approached?

Above all, people must cease to see the distinct aspects of the Şengalîs as a threat, but view it as an enrichment instead. The Ezdayî faith is the most ancient of all in these lands. In this sense, we can say that it constitutes the foundation and roots of Kurdishness.

The entire region ought to show their respect to this belief and allow it to live according to its own ways and manners. This in turn is possible with the recognition of the autonomy of Şengal. This is the most legitimate right of these people.

According to article 125 and 116 of the Iraqi constitution, every region can determine itself autonomously. If this right is supposed to apply for all of Iraq, why shouldn’t the Êzîdîs benefit from it? The autonomy of Şengal, as well as the regional administrations set up by the Êzîdîs themselves, must be recognized.

Why are there city councils for all regions of Iraq, but there shouldn’t be one for Şengal? Our people of Şengal established their own council now. Likewise, the autonomous women’s council has been formed. This does not mean that Şengal is seceding; this autonomy will strengthen Şengalê and with this strength, they could in turn be part of the Kurdistan region. The existence of a strong Şengal means a strong Kurdistan.

What does the administration of Şengal look like now?

The Kurdistan Regional Government wants Şengal to be run like in the past. But this era is over. Before, a central administration was sent to govern. The willpower or recognition of the people were not involved.

The administration before the massacre has no legitimacy left. The people that had been employed as district governors have not been here in the past year and four months. How can a person, who is not even among their people, claim to govern them?

The people don’t recognize such governance issued by the centre. Those who claim to constitute the administration of Şengal issue statements from time to time, but nobody pays attention to these words because they have no legitimacy.

In January of this year, the regional government [KRG] established an administration, which created a conflicting situation. There was an administration for Şengal before already. The governor is member of a party.

People like that cannot respond to the needs and problems of society. What must be considered most essentially is the will of the people. The people created their own council and committees. That is what is legitimate.

Without a doubt, one of the most crucial aspects to consider for reconstruction is the issue of defense. What are the requirements of the people in Şengal in terms of security?

Just as we say that the administration cannot be continued as in the past, it is clear that the same applies to the realm of defense. That is the greatest fear of the people anyway. Defense must not operate like it did in the past.

Today a defense force of Şengal has been established with the willpower of these people, through the participation of the children of these people. They know their needs and requirements better than anyone else. Even if the whole world wants to run them over, they will defend themselves.

No matter how many attacks are launched, they will not surrender their defense, because its organization was founded and built on all this suffering and difficulty. Above all, the military will of the Êzîdîs must be recognized. Likewise, the people cannot simply trust everyone like in the past. The internal security forces must also be recognized. One must radically reconsider the issue of Şengal’s defense.

From now on, nobody can force the people to wear the clothes of the past. The approaches will become clear with time and in light of concrete needs. For instance, several battalions have been formed in the area, but there is no formality to these battalions. In fact, the formation of battalions fragments the united force of the Êzîdîs.

Thus, no unity comes about, which in turn harms national concerns. Indeed, concerning the reconstruction of Şengal, the matter of defense is the most important aspect. They must let the Êzîdîs organize their own defense.

What is required for the recognition of the Êzîdî people’s will?

Above all, the institutions and organization of the Êzîdî people must be recognized. Êzîdîs can raise their consciousness, create their existence. There are many particular issues that affect children, youth and women. There is the issue of education. Many efforts are being led to these ends, but they do not suffice.

Autonomy would guarantee a free and democratic life, but if autonomy does not get recognized, there will be discrimination against some groups in society. Democracy always strengthens society. People must approach the Êzîdîs with this in mind.

The efforts to reconstruct Şengal are ongoing. What sort of aid is needed? Many people are collecting aid in the name of the Şengalîs; does this aid reach the people?

Until now, no humanitarian aid was issued that would embraces all the people. The aid that does arrive comes in a fragmented way. This in turn does not relieve the people’s needs. There is the Foundation Council of Şengal, where all the humanitarian aid should be sent to for distribution But because everyone is acting on their own and in a fragmented manner, the intended aid does not adequately fulfil its purpose.

Cooperation is required in this area. Certain parties take the aid and distribute it according to their own interests. Our people generally send aid for the Şengalîs, but the stuff often ends up in the hands of certain parties. These either reserve the aid for themselves or distribute it among the people close to them. In the past year and few months, we have been distributing things as the Êzîdî Coordination, but we never discriminated between people when doing so.

According to our means, we shared the stuff among all people. Those, who send humanitarian aid, should always make sure to check whether or not their items actually reach the people. That is another reason for why we need a commission that could conduct research to see how many Êzîdî camps exist and how many people inhabit them.

In relation to the topic of defense, Turkey has sent soldiers to the Bahşîqa region. How do the Êzîdî people assess this?

Who really believes that these soldiers that have been sent came here to fight against ISIS? Nobody believes that, everyone knows that the state that helped ISIS rise the most is Turkey.

Has ISIS not based all of its logistics, manpower and general existence on Turkey? If that is the case, who could possibly believe that the Turks arrived in Bahşîqa region to fight against ISIS?

If they really wanted to fight ISIS, they could start in Dîlok (Gaziantep), which is full of ISIS gangs. Why not start by arresting them? Their ultimate aim in Bahşîqa is to annihilate the presence of Êzîdîs. Bahşîqa is a region of the Êzîdîs, but the Turkish state wants to settle Turkmen in the area. At the same time, the policy to displace the Êzîdîs from their homeland is an ongoing effort, led above all by Turkey.

The presence of Turkish soldiers in the region is like a threat to the Êzîdîs. We don’t accept it. If the KRG has military capacity, why don’t they assist the Êzîdî forces of the YBŞ (Şengal Resistance Units) to obtain experience in the war against ISIS, instead of calling up another state? All this has been consciously planned by these two forces; it is a systematic policy to remove Êzîdîs from this region.

Do you wish to say some last words or to make a call?

Our people of Şengal ought to maintain faith in their future. Much suffering and pain has been experienced. A genocide happened. Nevertheless, they should believe that the times have changed.

National and international aid is not small, but a great duty falls on the shoulders of the Êzîdîs to re-create themselves, to return to their lands, and extend their hands to each other to re-establish a new Şengal. Êzîdî boys and girls should take part in the defense of Êzîdxan. In these lands, it is obvious that we cannot wait to surrender our protection and defense to others.

Comrade Berîvan Şengal, as young Êzîdî girl, increased her belief and her dreams after the big massacre and went to participate in the freedom ranks. Despite her young age, she took up great duties and responsibilities. Berîvan was a forerunner for Şengal. As a young girl, she rose up with the duty to avenge her people for the genocide. Today, Berîvan Şengal is a symbol of resistance on these lands. She did not abandon her lands or her faith. On the path to defend the values of her lands, she sacrificed her life along the way. The Êzîdî youth must look up to her.

We must take lessons from history and accordingly fulfil all the duties that fall on our shoulders until we are able to gift a free county and beautiful days to the children of the future.
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Aug 18, 2020 11:21 pm

1,000 people stranded in
Shingal due to coronavirus


Nearly 1,000 people have been struck in the disputed district of Shingal due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions, forcing many to pay hundreds of dollars to be smuggled into the Kurdistan Region

A senior official from Shingal, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Rudaw on Monday that 975 people who live as internally displaced people in the Kurdistan Region visited Shingal during the last six months, mostly for work, but have been unable to return to the Region.

He said that 205 civilians have been affected, as well as 500 members of the Iraqi army and 270 members of the Peshmerga forces.

Sheikh Ajaj lives in a camp in Duhok province. He returned to Shingal six months ago for business but has been stranded since, and has called on both Erbil and Baghdad to help him return to Duhok.

“I call on the Iraqi and Kurdistan governments to reopen the roads for us and solve our issue. I have been struck here for [six] months,” he told Rudaw on Monday, adding that he has exhausted all options for returning to Duhok.

Thousands of people fled to the Kurdistan Region from Shingal, the Yezidi heartland, after the Islamic State (ISIS) attacked in 2014. Most fled to Duhok province. Some have returned home but most still live in camps across the Kurdistan Region.

Travel between the Kurdistan Region and Iraqi federal provinces has been restricted since the outbreak of the pandemic in March. The Kurdistan Regional Government currently only allows people to return permanently to Shingal, not to visit and return to the Kurdistan Region.

Smuggling

Most of the stranded work in Shingal as members of the security forces, or in small businesses. Despite their low incomes, some have had no option but to pay hundreds of dollars – equivalent to a month’s wages for some - to return to the Kurdistan Region.

Fahd Hamid, de-facto mayor of Shingal, and Khudeda Chuke, mayor of Snune, confirmed to Rudaw English that some people pay hundreds of dollars to be smuggled into the Kurdistan Region.

One of those who returned to the Region illegally told Rudaw English that he had to pay $200 dollars to return to a camp in Duhok – almost all of his $240 monthly wage. He spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.

“I went back to my home in Khanke Camp one month ago and yesterday I returned to Shingal again. I paid smugglers $200 for the trip to Kurdistan through illegal routes,” he said, adding that another person was also smuggled with him.

He works as a shopkeeper in Shingal for $240 a month, but had no choice but to pay the eye-watering smuggling fees: “I really missed my family.”

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/170820201
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:17 am

6 years on only 1 ISIS jihadist has been prosecuted

Why has only 1 ISIS member has been charged with genocide or sexual violence for crimes against Yazidis

In August 2014, the world watched in horror as ISIS operatives swarmed Yazidi villages in and around Sinjar Mountain.

Thousands of men were slaughtered on the spot and thousands of girls and women were carted off into sexual slavery.

Yet more than six years on – and in spite of a U.S. formal designation of Yazidi genocide – only 1 ISIS members has been prosecuted or tried for a crime.

So what has gone wrong?

“The Iraqi court system basically prosecutes suspected ISIS members based on their association with the group and on membership to a terrorist organization and gives long and death sentences as a result," Anne Speckhard, adjunct associate professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University and director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE), told Fox News.

"The Iraqi justice system is overwhelmed with these cases and does not see a need to also prosecute for rape, which would require investigative work, calling witnesses and showing evidence when they have a good terrorism conviction easily obtained.

“The Yazidi have suffered unspeakable horrors at the hands of ISIS but there has been no specific justice meted out to them in response to the mass genocide and mass rapes.”

The head of Iraq's forensics administration said Sunday, June 9, 2019, that his office will begin DNA testing to identify the remains of 141 bodies found in mass graves, believed to contain the Yazidi victims of the Islamic State group's campaign of massacres five years ago.

The ancient Yazidi community, falsely portrayed by the Islamic extremists as being “devil worshippers,” is regarded as one of the most brutally impacted by ISIS' reign of terror in Iraq and Syria – with girls as young as 8 bought and sold multiple times to ISIS men from all pockets of the planet.

RADICAL ISLAMIC CLERIC ACCUSED OF RECRUITING FOR ISIS EXTRADITED TO NYC ON TERRORISM CHARGES

For survivors, the lack of accountability only compounds the pain and confusion.

“I was only 14 when Da’esh jihadists attacked my village and destroyed my home," recalled Iman Elias, who is living in limbo in a camp in the Kurdish region. "I was kidnapped with my mother, 12-year old sister and my baby brother. I have been enslaved, sold in public markets three times, spent 12 months in captivity, was beaten, forced to convert to Islam, and reduced to a sex slave.

“I'm overwhelmed by constant fear; fear of being attacked again, of being kidnapped, tortured, enslaved, flooded in winter and burnt in summer. I'm still woken up regularly by nightmares screaming and calling for help.”

Human rights attorney Amal Clooney, who represents Yazidi victims, also lamented that “no progress” has been made in efforts to create or empower an international court to put ISIS members on trial for their grave crimes.

“None of the pathways to a court have been studied, pursued or seriously discussed at the United Nations, or by the Security Council,” Clooney said in a taped address earlier this month. “No conference of foreign ministers has been convened. No government proposals, or counter-proposals, have been put forward and analyzed. No state has offered to host international trials

Yazidi survivor Nadia Murad (L) takes part in an interview with international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney at United Nations headquarters in New York, U.S., March 9, 2017.

Yazidi survivor Nadia Murad (L) takes part in an interview with international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney at United Nations headquarters in New York, U.S., March 9, 2017. (Reuters)

In remarks commemorating the somber six-year anniversary of the Yazidi genocide this month, Pramila Patten – the United Nations' special representative of the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict – pointed out that the Security Council has enacted two important resolutions that directly bear on the issue of recovery, but without concrete action.

“In Resolution 2331, the Security Council acknowledged that sexual violence and trafficking in persons was used by ISIS as a serious international crime. Last year, in April, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2467, in which it spells out the importance for all member states and the United Nations to adopt a survivor-centered approach to addressing sexual violence in conflict,” Patten said. “These resolutions cannot and are not intended to be mere words on paper.”

The matter has continued to fall through the cracks even though two years ago, the United Nations established an Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by ISIS, known by the acronym UNITAD. Team members have commended a draft law introduced in Baghdad last November that would allow Iraq to prosecute acts committed by ISIS as genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes, which includes sexual violence.

Hussein Kassim Hasoon, an adviser to Nechirvan Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, explained that the Iraqi penal code does not currently recognize such crimes, but that Barzani’s office is working closely with UNITAD – and that UNITAD has put the investigation of sexual offenses at the core of its operations – on the quest for change.

He pointed out that the investigative team has compiled a considerable amount of evidence, but they are unable to share it with Baghdad because the death penalty is still in use in Iraq, which runs counter to U.N. mandates.

YAZIDIS SEEK RESCUE OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN ENSLAVED, MARRIED OFF TO ISIS

Further complicating the issue is a provision of Iraqi law related to rapists and perpetrators of sexual assault. Mariana Katzarova, founder and chair of the London-based human rights group RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in War), said criminal actions against such men are null and void, and any sentence already passed is quashed, if the perpetrator has lawfully married the victim.

“In many cases, ISIS members married Yazidi women and girls to avoid having to purchase them, and many survivors of ISIS abductions referred to rape as ‘marriage,’” she explained. “Yazidi women were also raped when they refused to marry ISIS fighters or were forced to marry them and were subsequently raped. This exception in the law allows Iraqi courts to potentially exonerate ISIS members from the thousands of rapes they committed, including in the context of forced marriages. This also violates international law, which does not permit a marital exception from prosecution for rape.”

Over the past centuries, the Yazidi community, one of Iraq's oldest religious minorities, has repeatedly been subjected to brutal attacks leaving thousands of its members dead. One of their worst subjugations occurred six years ago with the rise of the extremist Islamic State group.

Statistics provided to Fox News this week from the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Office of Kidnapped Affairs, which was established by then Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani to help facilitate funding and rescue missions for Yazidis, showed that the total number of kidnapped stands at 6,417, among them 3,548 females and 2,869 males. Since then, 3,530 – 1,199 women, 339 men, 1,041 girls and 951 boys – have been returned to a decimated life.

“While tens of thousands of ISIS militants are in custody in Iraq, only a handful of them have been put on trial, and all under the anti-terrorism law,” echoed Talal Haskany, a Yazidi activist and internally-displaced person living in a camp near Dohuk. “In short, there has been no justice when it comes to sexual violence. The systemic rape of Yazidi girls and women, probably one of the largest cases of collective rape since WWII, has gone unpunished, and I am afraid, will go unpunished.”

With respect to Syria, he noted, more than 22,000 ISIS militants are in the custody of the Syria Democratic Forces, and currently, there is no path to bring them to justice at all.

“Our people are concerned they may never face justice,” Haskany asserted. “For these reasons, Yazidis are demanding a tribunal court in Iraq to process cases from both Iraq and Northeast Syria. The world cannot risk thousands of ISIS members being freed. We need to move quickly before they become the seed for ISIS 2.0.”

But the mourning that comes from having so many missing loved ones – unable to let go, yet unable to move on – is only one of many pains the Yazidis continue to face, some three years after ISIS was officially declared defeated in Iraq. Most still cannot return to their ancestral homeland of Sinjar, which remains contested terrain between the Erbil and Baghdad governments.

The decimated Yazidi town of Sinjar, whereby thousands of Yazidis were kidnapped by ISIS militants and remain missing (Fox News/Hollie McKay)

The dusty tracks are still littered with ISIS-implanted mines and strewn with reminders of the ISIS invasion. There is limited medical care for the estimated 100,000 living in tattered tents in camps – an existence made all the more brutal by the wave of coronavirus infections further depleting the survivors. Basic services such as water and electricity are luxuries and piles of rubble still rot in the searing heat. Education is something of a distant memory, with most schools having been destroyed and Yazidi students continuing to fear for their safety amid ongoing persecution.

Signs of reconstruction are few and far between among the deteriorating camps scattered across the country’s north. The overwhelming majority of the beleaguered religious and ethnic community exist in an enduring state of displacement, with no sign of it being stable enough to go home anytime soon.

Several armed outfits maintain a strong presence in the region, including Turkey, which is waging its own visceral battle against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas throughout the area. While the PKK played an active role in rescuing Yazidis and pushing back against ISIS when it overran Sinjar, it has long been considered a terrorist organization by both Ankara and Washington.

A report released by Amnesty International last month illuminated the extent to which Yazidi survivors are battling severe psychological scars and an unpredictable future, prompting a sharp rise in suicides.

“I dream of going back home, of living in a proper house, having a room to myself, being able to take a shower in the morning, being able to see a doctor when I'm ill, of going to school in a proper building and reaching university to study international law,” Elias added. “I might be a powerless teenage girl in a refugee camp, but I decided to share my story with the hope of establishing truth and justice.”

Link to Full Article - Photos:

https://www.foxnews.com/world/why-no-is ... of-yazidis
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Aug 23, 2020 7:10 pm

Seven days on the mountain

Survival on Mount Shingal

A new Rudaw documentary sheds light on the hardship of two former employees who survived the brutal Yezidi genocide in August 2014.

Former Rudaw reporter Barakat Issa and cameraman Faris Mishko sought refuge on Mount Shingal as the Islamic State (ISIS) tore through the area, killing and enslaving thousands of Iraq’s Yezidis in what many have recognized as a genocide. ‘Seven days on the mountain’ documents their fight for survival for the world to see.

ISIS attacked the Yezidi heartland of Shingal, in Nineveh province, on August 3, 2014, killing and enslaving members of the ethnoreligious group.

Hundreds of thousands of Yezidis sought refuge on nearby Mount Shingal, where they spent over a week without food or water.

“I haven’t eaten anything since yesterday lunchtime, when I had a small amount of rice without bread or water,” Issa told Rudaw from the mountain.

“I thought I would never drink water again,” Mishko told the filmmakers.

In the documentary, both men describe failed attempts to deliver aid to displaced Yezidis on the mountain.

“It was only for about 100 people. A helicopter came and threw four bottles of water and some cans of milk powder,” said Mishko.

“I saw a helicopter come and throw some water from a very high height. The water bottles were damaged and we couldn’t use them...When the helicopter came and threw the bottles of water, they hit an old woman and she died immediately.”

Along with other Yezidis, Issa and Mishko managed to leave the mountain through a safety corridor created by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), entering the Kurdistan Region through northeast Syria, known to Kurds as Rojava.

Both men left the Kurdistan Region four months after the genocide. Issa now lives in Germany and Mishko has returned to the Kurdistan Region.

Link to Article - Documentary:

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/230820202
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Aug 25, 2020 9:38 pm

Turkish airstrikes return to Shingal

Turkey has resumed airstrikes on northern Iraq’s Shingal (Sinjar in Arabic), in the first attacks on the Yezidi heartland since the onset of their latest operation in mid-June

Khudeda Chuke, mayor of Sinune town, says a vehicle belonging to the Shingal Protection Units (YBS), a Yezidi armed group affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was hit in the vicinity of Bahraviyan village, seven kilometres west of the town of Khanasour.

"Gladly, there were no casualties in the bombing," Chuke said, adding the airstrike struck the vehicle at a YBS base.

"There were only minor materials damages," he noted.

In a statement, the YBS acknowledged the airstrikes, but said they would publish details of the Turkish airstrikes at a later time, according to PKK-affiliated Rojnews.

Along with the Kurdistan Region's mountainous areas, Turkey occasionally targets Shingal and its surroundings on the grounds that it is seeking out the PKK in the area. Shingal is a disputed or Kurdistani area that is claimed by Erbil and Baghdad. Since October 2017, Shingal has been in the security portfolio of Iraq, and is controlled by numerous different armed groups and security forces.

Turkey launched air and ground operations against alleged PKK bases within the Kurdistan Region and disputed territories in mid-June. At least eight civilians have been killed during the operations. Shingal was one of the first site to be hit in Turkey’s latest offensive, enduring a number of bombardments on June 15.

Turkey has pursued the PKK in the Kurdistan Region for decades, but its campaign this summer is pushing into populated areas kilometres away from major urban centers.

The PKK is an armed Kurdish group which has fought Turkey for rights for that country’s Kurdish minority for decades.

Tens of villages have been vacated in the mountainous areas of the Kurdistan Region since Turkey launched its offensive.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/250820203
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:28 pm

Imprisoned Yezidi woman freed

After six years of separation, a Yezidi woman held in an Erbil prison after Islamic State (ISIS) captivity was reunited with her family on Sunday

Hela Mahlo, 23, from Gir Ozer in Shingal was one of thousands of Yezidi women taken captive by ISIS militants in August 2014 when the terror group overran the area, launching a genocide against the small ethnoreligious community.

"I am starting a new life and want to forget the past misery," Mahlo told Rudaw on Sunday. "All I want is to live with my family."

In 2019, she was arrested by Kurdish security forces in Kirkuk and held for one year and seven months in an Erbil prison. Authorities say they did not know she was Yezidi.

“She had denied that she was even a Yezidi in the beginning and had not given her real name," said Khairi Bozani, the Yezidi representative for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministry of Religious Affairs.

"Therefore, no one from the security authorities even knew that she was a Yezidi woman because she only knew Arabic," he told Rudaw's Shayan Tahseen.

"I did not remember anything about my family. After I was arrested by the [KRG], I slowly started to recover my memory," Mahlo said.

Mahlo’s case rose to prominence last week after the family of Kurdish hostage held by ISIS said he would be released in exchange for Mahlo, who like many other Yezidi captives, was said to be married to an ISIS militant.

Kurdish authorities have consistently said they do not negotiate with terrorists and that no prisoner exchange has taken place between the Region and ISIS or any other similar extremist group.

Before Mahlo was released, the family of the Kurdish policeman had urged the KRG to accept ISIS’ terms, which they hoped would save the life of their son.

"I want Jalal back," Baban’s distraught mother told Rudaw last week.

Mahlo’s brother Dakhil said their family is “thrilled” about her release.

"Yezidi or Muslim, whoever made us happy and released this girl to us, we are thankful for them," he said on Sunday.

Mahlo later visited the Yezidi holy site of Lalish to meet with spiritual leaders.

Now that she has reunited with her mother and brother, they hope they will soon reunite with their missing father and three brothers.

According to data from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, 2,885 Yezidis remain missing. Bozani believes "many of them are at al-Hol Camp and others are still in areas that ISIS had once ruled."

Many Yezidis are afraid to reveal their identity for fear of being harmed by ISIS families.

"We cannot say they are missing, but that we cannot find them and they exist. Many of them have Hela's problem. They are brainwashed, so they do not dare reveal their identity or are threatened by their captors that if they return to us, their families may not accept them or kill them."

ISIS first swept across Iraq in 2014, capturing cities across northern and central Iraq including Mosul, Iraq's second largest city and the capital of Nineveh province. At the height of its power, ISIS controlled an area equivalent in size to the United Kingdom. During their occupation of Iraq and Syria, ISIS subjected as many ten million people to an extreme and violent interpretation of Islam.

Although Baghdad declared the territorial defeat of the group in Iraq in December 2017, its remnants have since reverted to insurgency tactics; ambushing security forces, kidnapping and executing suspected informants, and extorting money from vulnerable rural populations.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/24082020
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:53 am

US wants Shingal cleared of militias

The US on Tuesday suggested Turkey, Iraq and the Kurdistan Region should work together with the support of the US-led coalition to clear Shingal of militia groups following Turkish airstrikes in the area on Tuesday night

The call came hours after Turkish warplanes resumed airstrikes on Shingal in the second attack on the Yezidi heartland since the onset of their latest operation in mid-June. The attack targeted a vehicle belonging to the Shingal Protection Units (YBS) according to Snune Mayor Khudeda Chuke.

The Iraqi Security Media Cell said late Tuesday on its Telegram channel that two civilians were killed in the attacks, contrary to Chuke's reports of no casualties.

"If you could have the Kurdistan Regional Government, the federal government in Baghdad, and Turkey working together with advice and support from the United States and other coalition countries, you could see where maybe a place like Sinjar (Shingal) could be cleared out of militias, including the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party],"the US State Department's Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Joey Hood said on Tuesday when briefing reporters about the second round of the US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue.

Along with the Kurdistan Region's mountainous areas, Turkey occasionally targets Shingal and its surroundings on the grounds that it is seeking out the PKK and its affiliates in the area.

The PKK is an armed Kurdish group which has fought Turkey for rights for the country’s Kurdish minority for decades, and is designated a terrorist organization by Ankara. Eight civilians have died in Operation Claw-Eagle, Turkey’s current aerial campaign in the Kurdistan Region and disputed territories.

Shingal is a disputed area that is claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad and was the site of a genocide against the Yezidi ethnoreligious community by the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014. It is controlled by numerous different armed groups and security forces including groups associated with the PKK and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, or Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic).

The PKK took part in operations to expel ISIS from Shingal in November 2015 and subsequently remained to provide security and train local forces. Despite the KRG, the Iraqi government and neighboring Ankara objecting to the presence of the PKK in the region, the group has said it will leave Shingal only once the Yezidi population has control of their own administration and security.

The KRG has said the PKK is hindering reconstruction of the area and the return of the displaced Yezidi population.

"You could put a civilian administration in there that would work for the people and be accepted by the people," Hood said, adding such moves will pave the way for "Yezidi IDPs, victims of genocide" to "go home".

"They can’t do it safely and voluntarily right now," he added.

The presence of multiple armed groups in Shingal has widely been cited by Yezidis as a key barrier to returning home, as well as a lack of services.

In the same briefing, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq David Copley echoed the sentiment that Turkey and Iraq should "work closely together to address concerns about the PKK’s presence in northern Iraq."

Copley deemed it "important" to "recognize that Turkey has legitimate security interests" in northern Iraq.

"We think the best way to solve these problems is for both parties to work together, and hopefully maybe we can play a role in potentially making this happen in a way that’s good for stability and for both parties," he explained.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/260820201
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Aug 27, 2020 3:33 am

German Program to Help Yazidi Women

When Hanan escaped from Islamic State captivity, there wasn’t much to come back to

She and her five children had survived a year in a living nightmare. After her husband finally managed to arrange their rescue in the summer of 2015, they joined him in a dusty camp in Iraq where he lived in a tent. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) still controlled the territory they called home, and they were unsure if they could ever go back. And Hanan was unsure if she could ever escape the darkness she felt inside.

So when, in the fall of 2015, Germany offered her the promise of safety and a chance to heal from her trauma, it wasn’t a difficult decision. Accepting a place in a groundbreaking program for women and children survivors of ISIS captivity did mean leaving her husband behind in the camp, but she was told he could join her after two years. So she and her children boarded the first flight of their lives, out of Iraq and away from their tight-knit community, in search of safety and treatment for what still haunted them.

Hanan, now 34, was one of 1,100 women and children brought to Germany in an unprecedented effort to aid those most affected by ISIS’s systematic campaign to kill and enslave the ancient Yazidi religious minority. (TIME is identifying Hanan by her first name only for her safety.) Launched by the German state of Baden Württemberg in October 2014, the program aimed to help survivors of captivity receive much-needed mental-health treatment and support. In Iraq, there had been a rash of suicides among the heavily-traumatized survivors, who had minimal access to mental-health care and faced an uncertain future. In Germany, far from the site of their suffering, state officials hoped the women and children could find healing and a fresh start.

But for Hanan, those promises remain unfulfilled. German officials never granted visas to any of the women’s husbands, leaving families, including Hanan’s, indefinitely torn apart. Like most of the women, she’s not undergoing promised trauma therapy. She often thinks about killing herself. The only thing stopping her, she says, is her children.

Not all the women are desperate. Some are thriving in Germany, and others have become global advocates for their community, like 2018 Nobel Prize winner Nadia Murad. She is the most prominent face of a program that was so ambitious and well-intentioned it inspired other countries, like Canada and France, to follow suit.

But Hanan’s experience illustrates how parts of the program failed to live up to their full potential, and shows how difficult it is for refugees to gain access to mental health services, even in a program designed for just that. Michael Blume, the state official who led the program, sees it as a “great success” overall. But he is troubled by the state’s failure to bring the women’s husbands to Germany. “A great humanitarian program should not be sabotaged by bureaucracy,” he says. “But that’s what is taking place.”

Before she left Iraq, Hanan said she was given a piece of paper with information about what awaited her in Germany. “I wish I could find that paper now,” she says, “because the promises they gave us, they didn’t keep all of them.”

By the time ISIS swept across Sinjar, the area in northwest Iraq that is home to most of the world’s Yazidis, Hanan had already endured more than her share of hardship. Her parents were murdered in front of her when she was six. She and her two siblings went to live with their grandfather and his wife, where they were beaten, starved, and forced to work instead of going to school. Her baby sister died soon after.

In her early twenties, she escaped the torturous conditions at home by marrying Hadi. It was the first good fortune of her life, she says; they loved each other. Over the course of about seven years, they had four daughters and then a son, who was just a few months old in August 2014, when ISIS captured Sinjar and unleashed its systematic campaign to wipe out the Yazidis.

In conquered Yazidi towns, fighters executed the men and elderly women. Boys were sent off for indoctrination and forced military training. Women and girls were sold into slavery, traded among fighters like property and repeatedly raped. Hanan and her children were among more than 6,000 people kidnapped. Hadi, who was working as a laborer in a city beyond the reach of ISIS when their village was captured, was frantic when he learned his family was gone.

Within days, President Barack Obama launched U.S. airstrikes on ISIS militants, and U.S. forces delivered food and water to besieged Yazidis trapped on Sinjar mountain. In the following months, as Yazidi women and children started emerging from captivity—some escaped, while others were rescued by a secret network of activists—with tales of horror, Yazidis pleaded for more international action. Former captives were severely traumatized. Mental-health care in Iraq was limited. And because the Yazidi faith doesn’t accept converts or marriage outside the religion, the women raped and forcibly converted to Islam by ISIS members feared they were no longer welcome in the community.

In Germany, home to the largest Yazidi population outside of Iraq, officials in Baden Württemberg decided to act. In October 2014, state premier Winfried Kretschmann decided to issue 1,000 humanitarian visas and earmark €95 million ($107 million) for what became known as the Special Quota Project for Especially Vulnerable Women and Children from Northern Iraq. The state recruited 21 cities and towns across the southwestern state to host the refugees, agreeing to pay municipalities €42,000 ($50,000) per person for housing and other costs, while the state would cover the cost of their healthcare. Two other states agreed to take an additional 100 people.

Program officials interviewed survivors of ISIS captivity in Iraq, selecting those with medical or psychological disorders as a result of their captivity who could benefit from treatment in Germany. The project was not restricted to Yazidis, and a small number of Christians and Muslims also were chosen. That was when the officials told each woman that after two years, immediate family members like husbands could apply for a visa under German rules for family unification.

Read More: He Helped Iraq’s Most Famous Refugee Escape ISIS. Now He’s the One Who Needs Help

The program was groundbreaking. No German state had ever administered its own humanitarian admission program. And instead of waiting for asylum-seekers to make dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean, officials were seeking out the most vulnerable and bringing them to safety. The first plane arrived in March 2015. The last of the flights—including the one carrying Hanan—landed in January 2016.

Hanan, along with 111 others, was sent to a pleasant hilltop town of about 25,000 people at the edge of the Black Forest. (Officials asked that the town not be named to protect the survivors, whom they fear could be targeted by ISIS members.) For the first three years, she lived with about half of the group in an old hospital in the town center that had been converted into a communal residence.

Hanan and her five children occupied two rooms off a central corridor—one they used for sleeping, and the other, with a sink along one wall and a worn leather sofa along another, as a living room. They shared a bathroom and a kitchen with a large family next door.

“The neighbors are worse than Daesh,” she joked with a grimace, using a pejorative name for ISIS. It was May 2017, more than a year after her arrival. She sat on the floor to breastfeed her youngest child, Saber. At three, he was small for his age, but Hanan was small too. Her long dark hair was pulled back, and she wore a long blue skirt and a dark hoodie. Her next youngest, Sheelan, climbed into a wardrobe in the corner, peeking out from underneath thick black bangs. Haneya, her oldest at 10, and Hanadi and Berivan, eight and seven, were fighting with the neighbor’s children, their shrieks competing with the Kurdish music videos blaring from the television. Hanan yelled at them to stop.

Caring for her five children alone was wearing Hanan out. She was often sick, but found it difficult to go to the doctor because she didn’t have help with childcare. She complained about painful and unresolved gynecological issues from being repeatedly raped. She wanted to go back to the doctor, but she relied on social workers to make appointments for her and said they were blowing off her requests. And most days, she suffered debilitating headaches.

A trauma therapist came once a week to the shelter for a group session with the women, but Hanan usually wasn’t able to attend because of the children. And she didn’t want to talk about her experiences in front of the other women. When she slept, nightmares came. One night she dreamed she was back in captivity and an ISIS fighter was trying to take her oldest daughter, Haneya. Hanan woke herself and the children up with her screams. The older girls talked about their time in captivity often and sometimes had nightmares too. “They’re not like normal kids,” Hanan said. “When it’s nighttime, they ask me, ‘Mama, do you think Daesh is going to come to get us?’”

A year earlier, around six months after her arrival, that nightmare had become reality. She was out shopping for food when she spotted him. He had trimmed his hair and beard, and exchanged his tunic for a blue T-shirt. But it was him—the ISIS member who had been her captor for a month.

She stared, frozen in place. He saw her, too: His eyes widened in recognition and surprise. Panic shot through her and then her feet were moving, carrying her out of the store and around the corner. By the time she went to the police, he was gone. She said they treated her as if she had mistaken a random refugee for her former tormenter. But she knew what she saw. “How could I forget the face of the man who raped me?”

Germany was supposed to be a sanctuary. Now, inside the old hospital walls was the only place Hanan felt safe. She rarely ventured out, remembering threats from her captors that they would find her if she ran away.

She worried the man she’d spotted might come back to harm them. The only identifying information she could give police was his nom de guerre. And though police were stationed outside the shelter for some time after she made the report, Markus Burger, head of the department for refugees and resettlement in the town’s social office, said his office eventually received a report stating there was no direct threat. The police referred questions about the incident to the federal public prosecutor, and a spokesman for the prosecutor said the office was aware of the incident but could not comment further. At least one other woman in the program saw her own captor in Germany, and she later returned to Iraq because she no longer felt safe.

Hanan couldn’t understand why the police couldn’t find the man. She began to see threats anywhere she went. Muslim people speaking Arabic terrified her. Once at a park with her children, a bearded man on a bench called out to her. Though she had never seen him before, she was afraid. She gathered the children and rushed back to the shelter.

Yazidis are no strangers to trauma. The religious minority has endured centuries of persecution and attacks, from the Ottoman empire to Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda. Jan Kizilhan, an expert in psychotraumatology and transcultural psychotherapy who was the program’s chief psychologist, was born to a Yazidi family in Turkey and immigrated to Germany as a child. Survivors of ISIS captivity are dealing not only with their own individual trauma from the violence and family separation they endured, he said, but also the historical trauma borne by their people, and the collective trauma from ISIS’s attempted genocide.

But after the women arrived in Germany as part of the program, trauma therapy wasn’t a top priority. At first, most of the refugees were focused on adjusting to life in Germany, said Kizilhan. They were also following the situation back home, where a multinational coalition was wrestling territory away from ISIS. With every victory, Yazidi families waited for news of their missing relatives, hoping they would not be among the bodies discovered in mass graves. Most had family members in camps, and others still in captivity. They weren’t ready to work through past trauma in therapy, because it was still part of their present.

There was another, more basic, obstacle to treatment: Most of the women were unfamiliar with the concept of psychotherapy. “To even help them understand why they would need this or how it would help, it takes time,” said Kizilhan. In many Middle Eastern cultures, including the Yazidi community, psychological trauma is often expressed somatically, he explained — many women complained of a burning liver, headaches, or stomachaches when the root was a psychological, rather than physiological, problem.

In 2017 and 2018, Tübingen University Hospital and the University of Freiburg, which were also involved in psychotherapeutic care for program participants, carried out surveys of 116 of the women in the program. Ninety-three percent of those surveyed fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder during the first survey, and the number remained the same a year later. That makes the fact that just 40% of the women have received trauma therapy, years after their arrival, striking.

But Kizilhan insists the figure does not represent a failure. Some women simply don’t want therapy, he says, and it can’t be forced. He expects that an additional third of the women will be ready for therapy in the coming years. “And then we will be there to help them,” he says. “Each person is individual, different, and needs different timing.” The state decided to cover the cost of the womens’ healthcare indefinitely—initial plans were to foot the bill for three years—after it spent only €60 million ($71 million) of the allocated €95 million ($113 million) on the program.

Kizilhan acknowledges the challenges, including finding enough therapists and translators to work with the women. Kizilhan and Blume, who led the Special Quota project, say the program was an emergency intervention, and that a more long-term solution is building capacity for mental health care in Iraq. The state of Baden Württemberg has put resources toward that, too—donating €1.3 million ($1.5 million) to help establish the first master’s program for psychotherapy in Iraq, started by Kizilhan at the University of Duhok in 2017.

Kizilhan and Blume say the program in Germany has been successful despite the challenges. In the Tübingen University study, 91% of the women surveyed said they were satisfied to be in Germany, and 85% said they were satisfied with the program. When asked if they were satisfied with the psychosocial care, the number who said yes dropped to 72%. Hanan was among those who found it lacking.

Her struggle to access medical care and therapy were two of the ways she felt let down by the program. For her first three years in Germany, Hanan received minimal therapy, even though she wanted it. She rarely attended the group sessions, both because she found them unhelpful and because of the ongoing childcare issues. She said she was not offered individual sessions. Burger said when social workers saw some women were unhappy with group sessions, they arranged for individual therapy, and Hanan began talking with a therapist every few weeks. She said it helped a little, but she felt the same after each session.

On a Wednesday in July 2018, Hanan left German class early to shop for food. Before leaving home, she pulled on a fitted black blazer over her beige shirt and leggings. The clothes were new; she had recently cast aside the long, dark skirts and sweaters that she had worn ever since her escape for a more modern wardrobe. Friends had urged her to make the switch, teasing her that she dressed like she was still living under ISIS. Hanan walked to the store, passing traditional timber-frame buildings and window boxes overflowing with geraniums and petunias. She spotted a friend outside the supermarket and stopped to chat before buying chicken legs and vegetables. Managing the family’s budget alone—something she had never done in Iraq—was challenging. Sometimes she didn’t have enough money at the end of the month.

Two years on from encountering her former captor, the town was beginning to feel less threatening, though Hanan still didn’t like going out at night. She attended German language class four mornings a week. She’d never learned how to read or write as a child, so learning German was doubly hard, but she was making slow progress. She was also making a few German friends, and she’d found a way to decipher their text messages even though she couldn’t read. When she received a message, she’d paste it into the Google Translate app and press the audio button. A robotic voice would read it aloud and she’d reply via voice note.

Back at home, she put a pot of rice on the stove and began browning the chicken, preoccupied by the logistics of her upcoming trip to Iraq to visit her husband, Hadi. She’d learned through her social worker that her stipend would be paused while she was away, and Hanan wasn’t sure how she would make it through the month without the money.

It would be the second time she had to travel to see Hadi. (The women were admitted as humanitarian refugees, rather than asylum seekers, which spared them the process of applying for asylum and meant they were allowed to return to visit family in Iraq, unlike asylum holders.) Saber, now four, had spent most of his life separated from his father, and didn’t recognize him. The girls no longer even missed him. He was becoming a faraway memory.

Two and a half years had now gone by since she left Iraq, well past the two years after which Hadi had been promised he could apply for a visa. Hanan’s social worker helped her file papers related to his visa application. But whenever Hanan asked what was happening, she was given the same answer: Not yet.

What she didn’t know was that Germany’s position toward refugees had shifted. The welcoming stance the country adopted when more than a million people poured into the country seeking asylum in 2015 had hardened amid a backlash fueled by far-right anti-immigration parties. When he interviewed the women in 2015, and told them their husbands could apply for a visa after two years, Kizilhan was in line with the rules at the time. But now laws governing refugees and family unification visas were tightened. German courts even began ruling against Yazidis who requested asylum, saying it was safe for them to go back to Iraq.

To date, no husbands of women in the Special Quota Project have received visas. It’s hard to know how many are waiting: Kizilhan says he has identified 18. According to the study, 28 percent of the women surveyed had husbands in Iraq.

Read More: Syrian Women Are Embracing Their New Lives in Germany. But At What Cost?

A spokesman for the Baden Württemberg Ministry of Interior, Digitalization and Migration said that “special rules” apply to family reunifications for those granted humanitarian admission, and may only be allowed “for reasons of human rights, on humanitarian grounds or to protect political interests.” The special rules “must be considered on a case by case basis,” he said, and added the federal authorities are responsible for issuing visas, not the state.

Kizilhan said the ministry could intervene to make sure the family members are issued visas. But the political will behind the creation of the Special Quota Project has evaporated. In January, Kizilhan said he had recently met with state interior ministry officials to ask that they find a way to bring the husbands to Germany, but that they told him the change in federal law made it difficult to do so. “This is ridiculous,” Kizilhan says. “If you can take 1,100 with the special quota, you can take 18 people in one day.”

On trips back to Iraq, Kizilhan said he’s been confronted by husbands demanding answers, and is distressed that the state has not followed through. He notes that bringing the women’s immediate family to Germany would improve their psychological health—the goal of the program—by helping to reduce post-traumatic stress symptoms and easing their integration into society. Hanan often spoke of waiting for Hadi’s arrival to move into an apartment on her own. She was fearful of handling all the responsibilities of living in a new country without him. And she desperately needed help caring for the children, help she thought would be provided in the program. They’d spent a year separated from Hadi in captivity. Now, they were once again separated, once again waiting for their family to be reunited.

After Hanan’s visit to Iraq, months went by with no news about Hadi’s visa. They both began to despair that it would ever materialize, their frustration compounded by a dearth of information about the delay.

In the spring of 2019, after waiting three years, Hadi decided he could wait no longer. He borrowed money and set out for Germany along irregular migration routes. It took him eight months—he was detained in Greece on the way—but eventually he made it to Hanan. Their reunion, though, was far from perfect. After his arrival in Germany, the once-happy couple separated. Hanan would not discuss the details of their estrangement except to say that it took root because of their physical separation and left her distraught. He is now in a relationship with another woman and Hanan said he is not in touch with his children. His future in Germany is uncertain, too—it is unclear whether he will be permitted to stay.

Last summer Hanan moved into a light-filled two-bedroom furnished flat rented for her by the municipality in a quiet residential neighborhood. It’s decorated brightly in orange—a peach wall, tangerine dining chairs, an ochre shag carpet, and a sofa the color of carrots. While there’s a bunk bed in the kids’ room, they usually end up sleeping in Hanan’s king-size bed every night, a tangle of arms and legs. She was finally able to see a doctor to resolve her lingering gynecological health problem, although the daily headaches are still there. She’s no longer afraid of going out at night.

On a Sunday morning in January, she awoke late, groggy from hosting friends the night before. Saber, now six, and Sheelan, seven, plopped on the sofa to watch Tom and Jerry on the television as Hanan made bread in the kitchen. Squeezing small lumps off the dough, she quickly slapped each one from hand to hand, stretching it into a thin disc. In Iraq, she would have baked the loaves in an outdoor clay oven. Here, she used a small metal box oven, heated with an electric coil, placed on the countertop. She placed each loaf on top to let it brown, then baked it inside the oven before stacking the finished loaves on the windowsill.

When she was done, the children gathered at the table, scooping up fried eggs, yogurt, tahini, and cheese with the fresh bread. They chattered together in German; they rarely spoke Kurdish with one another anymore. Saber, impish and sensitive, speaks German with a near flawless accent. After breakfast, the three older girls clear the table, wash the dishes, and sweep the floor unbidden. Hanadi, now 11, and Berivan, now 10, both with round cheeks like their mother, are learning how to swim at school. Haneya, now 13, reads and translates the mail and types messages in German for her mother.

“Sometimes I look at my kids and think ‘OK, I’m all right.’ But I just feel bad,” Hanan said, lowering herself onto the sofa. “It’s a bad feeling inside of me, I don’t know how to explain it. Sometimes I want to hit myself, because of this bad feeling inside, and I don’t know how to deal with it. Many times I thought about killing myself, but then I remember my kids, that they need me.”

The situation with Hadi has her so upset she doesn’t think about ISIS anymore, Hanan said, adding that she doesn’t know what to do or where to turn. She’s spent hours crying with a Yazidi friend, another survivor, who lives nearby. That’s the closest she gets to therapy now.

After Hanan moved into the apartment, her therapy sessions ended. A few months later, social workers took her to an appointment at a new therapist’s office, but she hadn’t gone back. She said the appointment time of 7 p.m. was impossible as there was no one to watch the children at home. But she knows she needs help. “It’s too much for me,” she said. “I can’t hold all these problems alone.”

Burger, of the town’s department for refugees and resettlement, said that as more of the women moved into private apartments last year—all but 10 now live on their own—it became harder to arrange therapy sessions. Some therapists have waiting lists, and there is always the problem of timing, he said. “It’s difficult finding a time when the trauma therapist and the translator both are available, and also when someone can take care for the children, and when the German classes aren’t at the same time. But we are working on it.” He could not give a number for how many of the women in the town were undergoing therapy, saying it was constantly changing, but said therapy was available to all who wanted it. “We can only offer it,” he said. “In the end it is the decision of the women if they want to take part in the programs, and we don’t want to and can’t force anyone to take part.”

Hanan knows it was right to come to Germany. She’s better off than she would be in Iraq, where despite the territorial defeat of ISIS, most Yazidis are still displaced, and their future is uncertain. She feels safe now in Germany, and she can see bright futures for her children here.

But she can’t muster any of that hope for herself, not after losing Hadi. The darkness she had hoped to escape never went away. “Maybe I’m going to go crazy, or I’m going to kill myself. Maybe I won’t find a solution for myself except to die,” she said. “Now I’m 34, and I didn’t see any hope in my entire life. And for the future also, I don’t have any hope. Only God knows.”

https://time.com/5878967/yazidi-woman-germany-program/
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