human rights watch

lördag 20 september 2014

In Israel, Kurdish Yazidi activists warn killing won’t stop

In Israel, Kurdish Yazidi activists warn killing won’t stop.
TEL AVIV, Israel,— The international community needs to put soldiers on the ground in Iraq to counter the rise of Islamic State extremists who are certain to target Yezidi minorities again, Yezidi activists said.

Speaking at a conference in Tel Aviv on the plight of the Yezidis, community leaders and Israelis drew comparisons between the persecution of Yezidis by Islamic State (IS) and the Holocaust. 

The keynote speakers from the Yezidi community at the Sept. 10 event, which drew 150 people, included Mirza Dinnayni, a former adviser to the Iraqi President on Minority Affairs who travelled to Israel to participate in the conference despite being injured in a helicopter crash while on an aid mission to Mount Shingal in August. He now works as the coordinator for the Yezidi community in Europe, which along with the US is arming Kurds. France and the US are conducting air strikes on IS positions in northern Iraq.

However, Dinnayni believes air campaign alone will not stop IS in the long-term

“Without international troops on the ground, we will pay the bloody price,” he said.

Yezidi activists said there have been 73 genocidal campaigns against the Yezidis, the latest being the August massacre, kidnapping and rape of thousands by IS extremists, who consider Yezidis apostates.

Elias Kasem, a spokesperson from the American Yezidi Union, warned that the persecution will not end. 

If history can teach us one thing, it’s that this ongoing genocides against the Yezidis will not stop,” he said. “This being the 73rd time, there will be a 74th and a 75th in the future because of where the Yezidis live. Yezidis cannot survive in an area that is surrounded by Islamic fanatics who take joy in killing them.” 

At the conference, he recounted the story of a mother of two children trapped on Mount Shingal “One was disabled, the other was not. When they had to flee their homes, she had to choose to take only one of her children with her. Is this the kind of decision a mother should have to make in the 21st century?” Kasem told the participants.

The conference included several recorded videos of victim testimonies that shed light on the difficult conditions for refugees who were facing hunger, death and severe trauma after having been trapped Mount Shingal. The videos showed everyday life in refugee camps and the struggles faced by the tens of thousands displaced by the extremists’ assault on their community.

Kasem, a 30-year-old Yezidi from Iraq, was displaced along with his family during the first Gulf war in 1991 and settled in the United Sates.

“As an American citizen, I am ashamed at the Obama administration, which has not come to the aid of my people; it was the Kurdish forces that lifted the siege. We teach our children the lesson that we should not allow history to repeat itself. However, I think that we can all agree that in light of these recent massacres, we have failed to do so yet again.” Kasem said.

While Kasem said there are many similarities between the Holocaust and the Yezidi genocides, he maintained that in the current situation “Yezidi women are taken as war trophies … and Hitler did not kill Jews because he was too devoted to any religion like ISIS is to Islamic extremism ideology.” 

The conference was sponsored by a coalition of Israeli NGOs including Dror Israel, the Combat Genocide Association, and The Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention, BlueWhite Human Rights, Israel for Yezidis and Machanot Haolim. Israeli groups including Kurdish-Israeli activists have tried to raise awareness about the Yezidi massacre, with the Combat Genocide Association and the Jerusalem Centre for Genocide Prevention creating the Israeli Committee for the Help of the Yezidi People.

Yaniv Carmel from the Dror Israel movement said, “I think that there is a reason that we, the Jewish people, can relate ⎯ maybe better than other people ⎯ to the Yezidi tragedy. While we were being murdered in Europe the world turned a blind eye although they knew it was happening, as evidence revealed after the Second World War show. So as Jews we have a certain obligation not to sit idly by while our fellow human beings are butchered brutally. We have a moral obligation to cry out to the world and say, ‘We have to stop this genocide

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