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Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

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

Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:48 pm

Who or What caused the fires in Sinjar?

And how safe are the Yazidis forced to live in such terrible conditions?


Click to enlarge:
1179

If anyone has any news about the current conditions in Sinjar PLEASE share with us :ymhug:
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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 » Sun Jun 02, 2019 7:41 pm

'My life is very beautiful': One year on, Yazidi refugee Nihad's Australian journey

Nihad was determined that Australia would be her final home, having fled her native Iraq, where she was kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery by Islamic State fighters when she was just 15 years old

She has still not heard from two of her brothers who were captured from the village where she lived outside Sinjar before Islamic State wreaked its murderous havoc on her life and genocide on her people.

She was captured and sold as a sex slave twice. She managed to flee from Mosul but was forced to leave behind her baby, Issa, who will turn four this year.

Growing up in Iraq, she hoped to study and be a teacher, and that remains her dream in Australia.

But it means learning a new language, integrating with a new culture and establishing a life far away from her parents and her homeland.

When visited at her home in Queensland's Toowoomba last weekend, Nihad spoke, without a translator, glowingly of her new country.

"My life is very beautiful and I am so happy in Australia. I find my future in a country where I find humanity and human rights."

Another joy she has found is a job – volunteering with the local Red Cross – which she does one day a week between her studies at TAFE.

She said she had been given overwhelming support by Multicultural Development Australia and the assistance from her teachers and fellow students at TAFE had been overwhelming in helping her settle into her new life.

"When I went to TAFE and saw the teachers and students, they talked to me and they helped me. They were so kind to me.

"MDA helped me rent a house, make an appointment and get to know places like Centrelink and the hospital.''

She said her favourite Australian experiences to date had been a trip with her fellow students and teachers to the Gold Coast and visiting the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

Above all, she is grateful to Australia for her new life and says everyone is friendly and supportive when they hear she is a refugee.

"Thanks to everyone who helped us, especially the Australian government and the MDA, to help us stabilise a new life," she said.

MDA is one of Queensland's largest multicultural organisations and was selected by the federal government to deliver resettlement services – such as helping refugees find accommodation and education, sorting out their paperwork and healthcare – under the Humanitarian Settlement Program. It has helped more than 800 Yazidis in Toowoomba.

Kelly Buckingham from MDA said that despite suffering years of persecution, the Yazidis were incredibly resilient.

"The Yazidi community are keen to find employment and provide for their families and contribute to their new Toowoomba community," Ms Buckingham said.

"The Yazidi people are an extraordinarily social group who have embraced Toowoomba and are keen to share their cultural traditions ... and embrace new customs and traditions."

Since July 1, 2015, Australia has granted protection to 2700 Yazidis, with the government prioritising women, children and families from Iraq and Syria, many of whom have faced significant trauma, including sexual slavery and physical abuse by Islamic State.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/queensl ... 51t5v.html
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Jun 05, 2019 10:55 pm

Family accuse Turkish military of killing Yezidi man near border

Amin Salih, a 20-year-old Yezidi youth, was shot dead near the Turkish border on June 4, 2019

ZAKHO, Kurdistan Region – Relatives of a Yazidi man shot dead in the border area between Turkey and the Kurdistan Region in the early hours of Tuesday have accused the Turkish military of unlawful killing.

Amin Salih, 20, and two of his friends were travelling from the Cham Mishko internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camp in Zakho to an area called Rabanga on the Iraqi side of the river that delineates the border with Turkey.

The three young Yezidis, originally from Shingal, had acquired a plot of farmland there.

As they approached the plot on the Iraqi side at around 4am on Tuesday, they came under fire from the Turkish side. One bullet pierced the windscreen of their white KIA pickup.

“The Turks were firing at us and hitting the vehicle,” Hussein Ali, one of the three Yazidi men, told Rudaw on Tuesday.

“The bullet which went through the windscreen hit [Salih’s] temple.”

The two surviving men hid in the vehicle for an hour as the shooting continued. Unable to escape to find help, their friend bled to death in his car seat.

The young men have farmed this plot of land for two years. Soldiers manning a Turkish outpost across the river had regularly fired warning shots, Ali says.

It is possible Salih and his friends were mistaken for smugglers, who use the secluded spot to move goods under the cover of darkness.

Salih’s family says the men were there in the dark hours of the morning because it was Eid and they wanted to finish work early before visiting their Muslim neighbors.

The Turkish military has not commented on the incident.

Yezidi women gathered in Cham Mishko IDP camp on Tuesday afternoon to mourn Salih’s death.

“He was such a young boy, such a pity,” said Laylo Sarko, a relative. “Why did they kill him?”

Civilians living in the border areas between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan are regularly maimed or killed in crossfire between the Turkish army and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group fighting for greater political and cultural rights for Kurds in Turkey which Ankara considers a terrorist organization.

The PKK, which began its armed struggle in 1984, uses the Kurdistan Region as a base of operations. Turkey has deployed hundreds of troops deep into the Region and built new bases and outposts on mountaintops with the aim of preventing PKK fighters infiltrating the border.

Both Erbil and Baghdad have called on Ankara to halt its attacks and demanded the PKK withdraw from their territory.

Iraqi President Barham Salih “stressed the need to safeguard Iraqi sovereignty and rejected any unilateral military action beyond Iraq’s borders,” when he met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul last week.

Up to 40,000 people have died in the conflict since 1984. At least 4,397 people have been killed since the short-lived peace process collapsed in 2015, according to the International Crisis Group.

Salih’s body was taken back to his place of birth in Shingal for burial on Tuesday morning.

He had fled alongside his family and several hundred thousand Yezidis in August 2014 when the Islamic State group (ISIS) seized their ancestral homeland, killing thousands and pillaging the area.

“Every day, the Turks shoot at us, the central government and the regional government does not assist the people at all,” said Mirza Omar, another relative. “The people are poor and the family does not even have 1,000 dinars.”

Years after Shingal was retaken from ISIS, thousands of Yezidis still live in poverty in IDP camps across the Kurdistan Region. A lack of security, jobs, and basic services has prevented many from returning.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/05062019
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Jun 07, 2019 10:18 pm

138 Yazidi corpses exhumed for forensic analysis in Baghdad

Some 138 corpses of Daesh victims have been sent to Baghdad for DNA testing after they were exhumed from ten mass graves in the Yazidi district of Sinjar in north-west Iraq, according to Kirkuk Now

“Until now, ten mass graves have been exhumed in Kojo [a village in Sinjar] which contained the remains of 138 victims, most of them were males,” Major Falah Hasan, member of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Board of Investigation and Evidence Collecting, told reporters.

“There are six more mass graves left to be exhumed in the village [of Kojo],” Hasan added.

Families of the victims – worried that rainfall would wash the corpses away – protested at the slow turnaround time for bodies to be exhumed. They have urged for DNA testing to take place so that funeral plans can be made.

“The exhumation process is moving at a slow pace. There’s no doubt that the victims’ families want it to end soon but they should know this is an extremely complicated process”, said Hasan.

Sinjar District was captured by the militant group Daesh in August 2014 before being recaptured in November 2015. According to statistics from the Directorate of Yazidi Affairs, 80 mass graves have been discovered in the town in addition to a number of individual gravesites.

The fate of an estimated 3,000 – mostly women – remains unknown.

Sinjar is a territory disputed by both Iraq and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region but the exhumation is a joint effort, attended by forensic teams from both governments.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190 ... N.facebook
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:53 pm

Years after ISIS genocide, fearful
Yezidis remain on Mount Shingal


Thousands of Yezidis have chosen to remain camped out atop Mount Shingal almost five years since Islamic State (ISIS) militants forced them to flee their ancestral homeland

Exposed to the elements in tents and shanty houses, those living here still fear ISIS reprisals if they return to their villages, where homes remain in ruins, jobs and basic services are few, and landmines litter the landscape.

Although life on the mountain is tough, many prefer its relative safety to the plains of Shingal, where rival militias compete for supremacy and ISIS threatens resurgence.

“We choose to live here on the mountain because it’s safer than the larger villages,” said Rasho Ismail Iqchoo from Til Azir village, referring to Shingal City and Sinune. “Even when ISIS was in Shingal, we were safe here on the mountain.”

Iqchoo, 50, fled Til Azir when ISIS first attacked Shingal in August 2014. He and his family of 14 have now been living at the top of the mountain for nearly five years.

“The first two months we lived here without tents until finally the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) brought some tents and food,” he said. A few months later, local and international organizations donated larger tents and offered assistance to the families who decided to stay in Sardashti.

‘Even when ISIS was in Shingal, we were safe here on the mountain,’ says Rasho Ismail Iqchoo, 48. June 7, 2019. Photo: AC Robinson

Sardashti is an area on top of Mount Shingal, 25 kilometers from Shingal City. Most of the 2,300 families living here have been fortunate enough to receive tents donated by various organizations.

However, this assistance has almost come to an end and many families have cobbled together homes out of any scrap materials salvaged from ruined houses in other villages.

Sardashti is more or less a collection of shanty towns.

The mountain is inhospitable. Bitterly cold and rainy winters with temperatures barely reaching above freezing are followed by scorching summers where temperatures can reach up to 45C (113F). This is made worse by limited humanitarian aid and a shortage of paid work.

“We can’t live here forever because the life is too difficult and harsh,” Iqchoo said. “We have no work. We want to return to our village but it’s too dangerous.”

Residents of Sardashti endure bitterly cold winters and scorching hot summers.

He and other camp residents are calling on the international community to provide security and a strong border for Yezidis to protect them from the numerous militias which patrol the area.

Amr Ismail, another Sardashti resident from Til Azir, is a trained nurse and pharmacist who previously volunteered with Medecins Sans Frontieres.

“When we first came here in 2014, after four months we received donations of medicine from organizations,” Ismail said. “In that time, ISIS was still surrounding the mountain. I was voluntarily distributing the medicine to people who needed it.”

When these organizations left and donations dried up, Ismail opened his own pharmacy in his district.

The 30-year-old now purchases medication and supplies from Snune or has them delivered from Mosul. This allows him to continue providing basic medical care and medication to residents for a small fee in order to support his family.

“If a person’s illness or injury is serious, I refer them to a hospital in either Shinagl City or Snune,” he said.

To further supplement his income to feed his family, Ismail also works one week each month as a nurse at the Shingal City hospital.

Most people want to return home, he says, but this is impossible due to destroyed infrastructure, no jobs or availability of food and water, along with security concerns.

The camps urgently need schools and teachers to provide education, and existing health facilities do not meet the needs of the sick and injured, he said.

Security remains a pressing concern

“We are safer here [on the mountain] but not 100 percent, as there are many different military groups coming here,” said Ismail. “For the most part we feel that the military groups won’t protect us, so we are responsible for protecting ourselves.”

The 2,300 families residing in Sardashti are divided into 42 different camps or districts, each led by a local mukhtar, or district head.

One such mukhtar, Khadir Barkat Hassan, 45, from Til Azir, says there are 159 families living in his camp. Sixteen are from the north side of the mountain near Snune village, while the rest are from Til Azir or Gir Zerik – the first Shingali village brutally attacked by ISIS in 2014.

“For a long time we are living in the tents. We have no life here. It’s very difficult, as you can see,” he said. “The jobs are zero.”

Agriculture is the main source of income for Yezidi families living in Sardashti. June 7, 2019. Photo: AC Robinson

One organization came in 2017 to dig a well for the residents, he says, but it is too far away for those without a means of transport.

“Before that, my children would bring water from the springs at the bottom of the mountain, carrying it in buckets back to our home,” he explained. “Other families in this sector have no access to well water and must bring water from the springs.”

Although public electricity is available, but there isn’t enough to go around, he explains.

During the summer months, each district receives maybe four or five hours of electricity. In the winter months this can fall to just two hours per day, forcing residents to travel to Snune to get oil for their heaters.

“We had many things before ISIS came, but they took everything from us,” Hassan said. “Sometimes we don’t even have one piece of bread to eat.”

“We ask the international community to help the Yezidis restore our villages so that we can return home,” he added.

Residents of Sardashti who did not receive tents have built houses out of any materials they can lay their hands on. June 7, 2019. Photo: AC Robinson

Hassan also said the international community should provide military training so the security of Sardashti and Shingal can be completely controlled by Yezidi forces.

“If the international community can’t train Yezidi forces to protect us, we want to belong to Kurdistan,” Hassan said. “We trust the Kurdish government more than the Iraqi government.”

“We must tell the truth. ISIS took Mosul before they came to Shingal so the [Kurdish] Peshmerga had no way to protect us and had no choice but to leave,” he said. “But the Iraqi government also ran away and took guns and trucks when they went, even those with the Nineveh governorate.”

‘The mountain saved our lives. That’s why we feel safe here,’ says Mukhtar Khadir Barkat Hassan, 45. June 7, 2019. Photo: AC Robinson

“Kurdistan helped the Yezidis more than the Iraqi government. After ISIS took Shingal and many Yezidis came to the mountain, most of them went to Kurdistan and the government helped them by giving them houses, making camps for them and gave them food. That is why I say Kurdistan helped the Yezidi people more than the Iraqi government,” he added.

Until the security situation improves, it is safer for the Yezidis to stay on Mount Shingal, Hassan insists.

“The mountain is not like the other place. This mountain saved our lives. That’s why we feel safer here.”

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/08062019
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jun 11, 2019 3:00 pm

ISIS attack on YBS position in Shengal repelled

The Turkish-backed terrorists have attacked a position of Shengal Defense Units

According to reports from the ground, ISIS gangs attacked a position of Shengal Defense Units (YBS) near the village of Hellus in Madiwan town at around 05:45 local time this morning.

The attack was carried out with 4 bomb-laden vehicles.

Fighting erupted after YBS fighters retaliated the gangs. The attack was repelled and a bomb-laden vehicle was destroyed before reaching its target location.

Facing fierce resistance, the ISIS gangs had to retreat from the area. Details about the confrontation were not immediately available.
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:30 pm

Nobel Prize winner warns wildfires threaten Iraqi mass graves

Murad, a survivor of sexual slavery, said the fires had burned some of the 79 mass graves in the Sinjar region where victims of Islamic State (ISIS) atrocities - possibly including members of her own family - are buried

The militant group rampaged through Sinjar in 2014, slaughtering and kidnapping thousands of people from the Yazidi minority, in what the United Nations has called a genocide.

Murad told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that five years on the genocide was continuing because most Yazidis were stuck in camps, unable to return to their homeland, and about

3,000 women and girls are still in captivity

U.N. investigators have begun exhuming the mass graves to gather evidence but Murad said they were not properly protected, and were now at risk from the fires.

“There have been wildfires, including in my hometown Kocho, and some of the mass graves were burned. We don’t know how many,” she said late on Tuesday.

“All these innocent people were killed, and for the past five years we’ve failed to bring justice for them. Now that the mass graves are burned, our fear is that the evidence will disappear.”

Murad is working with human rights lawyer Amal Clooney to bring IS leaders to trial for crimes committed against the Yazidis, whose beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions.

ISIS, which considers them heretics, killed more than 3,000 Yazidis and kidnapped nearly 7,000, selling many into sexual slavery, as it seized swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Murad, who was captured with her sisters, several nieces and friends, was held in Mosul, where she was tortured and raped before managing to escape.

The militants also killed many family members including her mother and six brothers.

HOSPITAL

Murad and Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege were joint winners of the Nobel Peace Prize last year for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

The Yazidi activist is donating her $500,000 share of the prize money to build a hospital in Sinjar.

Murad said she hoped to work with Mukwege on setting up a unit at the hospital to help sexual violence survivors.

Mukwege runs a hospital in Bukavu in eastern Congo which has treated tens of thousands of victims of conflict-related rape.

Murad said the hospital in Sinjar, which is being built with support from the French government, would treat everyone, regardless of ethnicity or religion.

She anticipated its construction would provide vital jobs in the region - once home to 400,000 people - where economic opportunities are limited.

Although ISIS were driven out of Iraq in 2017, Murad said few Yazidis had been able to return home because everything from farms to infrastructure had been destroyed.

Her non-profit, Nadia’s Initiative, is helping Yazidis to start businesses such as farms, bakeries and tailors’ shops.

“My goal is to make sure (our) community does not disappear from Iraq. My goal is to help (displaced Yazidis) rebuild their ancestral homeland. They do not have any future in these camps,” she said through an interpreter.

Murad was speaking ahead of a London event in support of Vietnamese women raped by South Korean soldiers during the Vietnam war, and their children born of rape.

She later told the audience it was hard for survivors of sexual violence to speak out but crucial to break the silence.

“What happened to us in 2014 is a reminder that we too often fail to protect women from sexual violence. Sexual violence was used as a weapon of war against Yazidis,” she said.

“We have about 4,000 Yazidi survivors ready to testify, some have already testified. But to date we have not seen one single perpetrator in court for crimes of sexual violence against women.”

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq ... SKCN1TD0U5
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:33 pm

UAE charity pledges Dh800,000 to Yazidi cause

Dubai: UAE-based charity The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) has signed an agreement with Nadia’s Initiative to support their efforts to rebuild the Iraqi town of Sinjar, enabling the safe return of internally displaced Yazidis back to their homes

TBHF has pledged $216,000 (Dh793,371) to the Sinjar Action Fund, which is run by Nadia’s Initiative, founded by Nadia Murad, a co-recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The agreement was signed by Mariam Al Hammadi, TBHF Director, and Nadia Murad.

Yazidis continue to suffer from Daesh’s genocidal campaign, with 3,000 Yazidi women still in captivity and 300,000 living in camps for the internally displaced. With their homeland uninhabitable, the Yazidi community remains on the verge of collapse.

“Yazidis living in camps want to return home,” said TBHF director Mariam Al Hammadi, “but the lack of safety and necessary infrastructure remain the biggest obstacles.

“Through our financial support to Nadia’s Initiative, which we consider a humanitarian duty, TBHF aims to not only help reconstruction efforts being undertaken by SAF, but to also support Nadia’s efforts in garnering global support to stop Daesh’s genocidal campaign against the innocent Yazidis.”

Murad, who is herself an Iraqi Yazidi, has been using her global recognition to secure SAF funding. She was a keynote speaker at the Investing in the Future Conference (IIFMENA) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last October and shed light on how Mena youth can overcome challenges posed by war and conflict, sharing her own personal journey after being held captive by Daesh for three months.

TBHF was established in 2015 following a range of humanitarian initiatives and campaigns launched by Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of TBHF and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugees. TBHF aims to protect children in need and their families. Although it concentrates on the Arab world, it provides support internationally.

NAT 190612 BIG HEART-1560343143119

The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) has signed an agreement with Nadia’s Initiative, founded by Nadia Murad, co-recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, to support the Initiative’s global advocacy efforts to rebuild Sinjar and enable the safe return of internally displaced Yazidis back to their homes.

The UAE-based global humanitarian charity has pledged a USD 216,000 financial grant to grow the Sinjar Action Fund (SAF), which was established by Nadia’s Initiative to advance advocacy and reconstruction efforts in the region. The funds will be mobilised by SAF until October 2019.

NAT 190612 BIG HEART3-1560343145211

The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) has signed an agreement with Nadia’s Initiative, founded by Nadia Murad, co-recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, to support the Initiative’s global advocacy efforts to rebuild Sinjar and enable the safe return of internally displaced Yazidis back to their homes.

The UAE-based global humanitarian charity has pledged a USD 216,000 financial grant to grow the Sinjar Action Fund (SAF), which was established by Nadia’s Initiative to advance advocacy and reconstruction efforts in the region.

https://gulfnews.com/uae/uae-charity-pl ... 1.64555982
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jun 13, 2019 10:00 pm

Yazidi woman details her captivity, escape from ISIS

A young Yazidi woman who was rescued on May 30 by joint Iraqi Special Forces- Coalition during air raids in Anbar desert, has given details on her capture and escape

Hwayda Ilyas, now 19 years old, was held under the Islamic State (ISIS) for five years, and sold into sexual slavery 12 times. Her captors moved her from Baaj, to Mosul, to Tel Afar, and Raqqah among other places, far from her homeland of Shingal.

Hwayda told Rudaw on June 8, that she had been brought to Anbar from Dashisha, in the southeast of Syria’s Hasakah province, trekking on foot through the vast desert.

“We remained there for nine months. Then there was an American and Federal Police air-borne raid,” said Hwayda.

Hwayda was kidnapped alongside thousands of Yezidi women and children as ISIS overran the Yezidi homeland in 2014.

Some 6,417 Yezidis were abducted by ISIS in 2014 as it swept across northern Iraq. Many Yezidi women endured years of sexual slavery.

Ministry of Interior spokesperson Saad Maan confirmed that Hwayda had been rescued by the Intelligence Directorate of the Federal Police in an interview conducted with her after her rescue.

Hwayda was captured by ISIS alongside her aunt, brothers and mother “while on the road to Duhok,” Hwayda told Maan. They were then taken to Baaj, a small town in Nineveh close to the Syrian border.

For fear of being killed, she converted to Islam

She was later taken to Mosul and placed in a room of unmarried girls.

She told that captor that she didn’t want to get married. He beat her and told her she would go with him.

She insisted on being taken back to her mother. Instead, she was taken to a family in Tel Afar, where she stay for four months.

There, she was raped by a member of the family, named Abu Jabir. "They raped me because I didn't want to be married into the family”, Hwayda said.

She was last held captive by a man named Abu Obeida, who headed ISIS treks on foot into the Anbar desert.

Visible scars on her body trace the torture she endured under ISIS custody.

“They injured me here [on my forehead] after I did not accept them raping me. They tied my hands up,” said Hwayda. Having forgotten her mother tongue of Kurdish, she spoke to Rudaw in Arabic.

Hwayda’s return has eased the pain of her mother, Shirin Khidir, three of whose sons are still missing.

She hadn’t seen her daughter for five years. She told Rudaw that news of Hwayda’s rescue “was like a dream”.

“I had no news of her for five years and hadn’t seen her since then. We didn’t know where she had been taken to,” Shirin told Rudaw.

According to the most recent data from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s Yezidi Affairs Office, the fate of 2,992 Yezidis is still unknown

http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/120620192
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:56 pm

The kidnapped Yazidi children who don’t want to be rescued from ISIS

Early last month, an informant offered a tip to one of the Yazidi leaders engaged in tracking down members of the minority faith who are still missing after being abducted by the Islamic State five years ago

Two Yazidi girls, 14 and 11, were said to be living in a tent with a woman loyal to the Islamic State in the al-Hol camp in eastern Syria, where tens of thousands of Islamic State family members are being detained, said Mahmoud Rasho, the Yazidi leader.

A few days later, he headed to al-Hol, gathered a group of Kurdish security guards and went to the tent to rescue the girls.

They didn’t want to be rescued

The girls sobbed and screamed and clung to the woman, insisting she was their mother. The woman sobbed, too, wailing that the girls were her daughters and hugging them in her arms. The Kurdish security forces physically separated them and put the girls into a van for the first leg of their journey back to their real families, in the Sinjar region of Iraq.

Accounts of the wrenching scene, given by both Rasho and the girls, point to a new challenge confronting members of the Yazidi community as they try to trace nearly 3,000 Yazidis who remain unaccounted for after the territorial defeat of the militants. Perhaps hundreds of them are children, who are still being hidden by Islamic State families in camps or homes, Rasho said.

Snatched from their families at a young and vulnerable age, these children now must undergo the trauma of new separations and new adjustments, after spending some of the most formative years of their lives with the militants. The children were given new names, new families and a new faith. Many forgot their native Kurdish language and now speak only Arabic.

They barely remember the circumstances of their earlier lives, and many have embraced the ultra-extremist form of Islam at the heart of the Islamic State’s ideology.

Altogether, over 6,200 Yazidis, an ancient minority viewed as infidels by the Islamic State, went missing when the militants swept through their ancestral homeland in the Sinjar mountains of northern Iraq in 2014.

Many Yazidi men were simply murdered on the spot. The women were taken to be sold as sex slaves, and most of them have returned home, either after their families paid ransom or they escaped. They have brought with them harrowing tales of the conditions they endured in captivity.

The children tell a different story

They endured horrors, to be sure — the relentless airstrikes carried out by the U.S.-led coalition, the deaths of the people they cared about, and the atrocities they witnessed.

But their lives with the militants also brought adventure, friendship and love.

In an interview at Rasho’s home, where she was staying ahead of her return to Iraq, the older of the two girls described the misery they felt when they were separated from the woman they had come to regard as their mother, whom they knew as Umm Ali. They wept all the way back to Rasho’s home, and she said they still cry every day because they miss her.

“I love her more than my own mother,” said the girl. “She treated me better than my original mother. My mother and father divorced and they didn’t care about me. Umm Ali really cared for me, as if I were her own daughter.”

She was among four recently rescued children, the two girls and two boys, who spoke during a series of interviews at Rasho’s home about their experiences of life with the Islamic State. Their names are being withheld because they are minors, and the opinions they express now may haunt them in the future as they readapt to yet another way of life in their original homes — and perhaps change their views again.

A 15-year-old boy who was recruited into the Islamic State’s “Caliphate Cubs” army for children said he was sure he would not change his mind. Alone among the four children, he volunteered in late May to be rescued, after spending three months in jail with captured Islamic State fighters.

His leg was blown off during shelling last year, conditions in the cell were difficult, and he decided it would be better to acknowledge his Yazidi identity to the guards than to remain incarcerated perhaps for years.

But he did so with regret, he said, sitting in a wheelchair procured for him by Rasho from a nearby family. He misses the camaraderie of the battlefield and, above all, the friend he made on the front lines, a Saudi man called Abu Hassan, who died beside him in the attack that cost him his leg. He cries when he remembers him and says he dreams of joining Abu Hassan in heaven.

“I never cried when I left my mother in Sinjar, but I cried when I left my friends,” he said.

One of the hardest adjustments, he said, has been seeing women with their hair and faces uncovered. It is an adjustment he doesn’t think he will be able to make when he returns to the more liberal Yazidi community in Iraq.

“Maybe there’s a lot of things I won’t like,” he said. “The women where I am going don’t cover their hair. It will be very hard for me if someone comes to my house and sees my mother and my sister not covered. Or if I go to my uncle’s house and see the faces of his daughters. I can’t force them to do something they don’t want. But when I get married I will not allow anyone to see the face of my wife.”

The 14-year-old girl nodded and said that for her, going without her face and hair covered was something she couldn’t get used to.

“Dressed like this now, I’m not comfortable. I feel naked,” she said, pointing to the black lace dress and leggings she was wearing, more goth than Islamist, that were lent to her by one of Rasho’s daughters. Her hair was tied up in a pink scrunchy.

The girl was sassy and articulate and talked animatedly about the lessons her adoptive mother had taught her about Islam. When told she looked pretty in her new outfit, she scowled.

“If I am pretty, men will look at me and it will cause strife,” she responded sternly, echoing the Islamic State’s teachings about why women should cover their faces and hair. She lovingly touched the black abaya that she had on when she was rescued and said she wishes Rasho’s family would allow her to wear it.

“I’m confused. There they tell you to do one thing. Here they tell you another. When I was there I was told to wear abaya and cover my face. Here they tell me not to cover. In my mind it’s chaos.”

When reminded that the Islamic State had committed atrocities, the children quickly dismissed them.

“Why do you hate the Islamic State so much?” asked the boy. “They killed my father and my cousins but still I love them. Why should you be against them when they didn’t do anything to you?”

“It’s true some of the military men were bad, but most of them were really good people,” added the girl.

Rasho acknowledged that the children are facing difficulties adjusting but predicted they would adapt once they got home. He and his family do their best to make them feel welcome. His teenage children befriend them. They teach them about the Yazidi faith. But the traumatized children will need counseling and the support of their families, he said.

Not all of them will find it.

The second boy, 12, seemed somewhat more at ease with his new life. Like the girls, he resisted being rescued from the Iraqi family he was with in the al-Hol camp, but he said that was because he was afraid. The Islamic State had taught him, he said, to believe that the Yazidis would kill him if they found him.

He only dimly recalls the faces of his father and mother, who were abducted alongside him, but said he was looking forward to seeing them again.

Speaking in Kurdish as the boy poured tea for the guests, Rasho told us his parents are missing and almost certainly dead. The boy betrayed no sign that he understood.

“I know in those days I spoke only Kurdish, and I only understood Kurdish, and I don’t know how it is that I speak only Arabic now and I forgot Kurdish,” he said.

Out of earshot of the Yazidi adults, he begged us to take him back to the camp from which he was rescued, saying he missed his friends.

“Maybe in the beginning we are suffering, but maybe, only God knows, we will get used to it,” suggested the 14-year-old girl.

The youngest of the group, the 11-year-old girl, didn’t seem sure. Painfully shy, she refused to speak. She nodded or shook her head to the few questions she was asked, her eyes downcast.

Did she want to be rescued? She shook her head. Was she happy to be here? She shook her head. Does she also miss Umm Ali, like the older girl? She looked up and nodded vigorously.

Then the corners of her mouth drooped, her eyes fell, and she looked as though she was going to cry.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/th ... b5319862d1
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