Yazda and Center for Peace and Human Security at The American University of Kurdistan warmly invite you to the screening of the documentary film “The Voice of Yazidi Women”, on Wednesday 25th October, starting at 3:00 pm, in the Auditorium of the American University of Kurdistan.
The documentary will be followed by a small debate where YAZDA’s members will address the audience’s questions. Refreshments will be offered by the organization after the event.
This film was made possible through the collaboration of Yazda, the Norwegian People’s Aid and the Human-Etisk Foundation.
The event is free and OPEN TO ALL. We look forward to seeing you there.
The Voice of Yazidi Women
On 3rd August 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacked the region of Sinjar (Kurdish: شنگال Şingal.) In their attacks, they targeted with particular cruelty the Yazidi and other minorities, with ISIS leaders openly advocating for the complete destruction of the Yazidi culture and people. ISIS members forced Yazidis to convert threatening their families, committed mass murder against innocent civilians and traded women and children as sex slaves.
In this documentary, Yazidi survivors including men, women and children, share their tragic stories as victims of a terrible genocide; but also show their strength as survivors who didn’t give up and today they look at their experiences with great dignity.
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Twenty-One Activists Getting Media training as a part of Yazda Education Project
As part of Yazda educational program in Sinjar (Shingal), 21 participants received training course about Media and journalism, in the way that qualifies them to work in different fields of media through the information that they received from the trainers.
The two-month training course in Dohola complex, northern Sinjar focused on teaching the photography, writing media reports, as well the basics of media fieldwork.
At the end of the course, certificates signed by Yazda were distributed to the participants. Four of them were nominated to participate in additional intensive courses in the Sulaimania city, and two video cameras were awarded to two participants, who earned their excellence through the training they received.
Nadia Murad, a Yazidi human rights activist and UNODC GoodWill Ambassador, and Yazda President Haider Elias spoke at the annual Stanford Global Studies student dinner on April 17.
As a part of our mission to help the Yazidi victims Nadia Murad and Yazda organization continue to supporting a cause of Yazidi community and bringing their issues to the attention of the international community. We continue to focuses on advocacy and raising awareness of the nearly half million of men, women, and children from this minority.
Speaking to Stanford, Ms. Murad and Elias mentioned that one of their current priorities is to persuade the United States and other world governments to create a protected zone with a peacekeeping force in the area of northern Iraq that the Yazidi people and other minority communities have called home for thousands of years
During the event Ms. Murad explained the Importance of bringing ISIS members to Inter National Criminal Court. If we do not bring ISIS to justice, she said, we legitimize them as a force and as warriors. Bringing the ISIS senior leaders deemed most responsible to be tried at the ICC would feel like justice and we want to see them in the court as criminals. She also mentioned “We want the world to see them talk and confess what they were doing so the entire world can watch and listen to them as criminals, not as warriors”. And we don’t believe defeating ISIS by bombing alone will exterminate them, because the ideology is still there. We have to fight the ideology
In the early morning hours (around 2am) of today, April 25, 2017, several airstrikes took place in the Yazidi homeland, Sinjar (Shingal). It is believed that Turkish jets are targeting mainly PKK and YBS positions.
Yazda sources on the ground in Sinjar reported that multiple airstrikes took place on Chilmera, Karse valley entrance, Bara, among other locations. Our sources also confirmed flight activities in the region.
Yazda has no further details at this point, however, as the situation develops, we will put forward a more detailed statement about the situation.
As an international Yazidi NGO, Yazda’s main concern is the threat to civilians. More than eight thousand Yazidi families have returned to Sinjar mountain and Sinone Municipality towns and villages. The majority of civilians there live within a few kilometers from militants’ positions. Further, no fully-equipped emergency medical facilities exist in this area to help with any casualties.
Since August 3, 2014, Yazidis continue to endure an ongoing genocide perpetrated by the so-called ‘Islamic State’, which had one target – the total annihilation of Yazidi identity and existence. Since the beginning of this genocide; celebrations and joyful events have been almost entirely absent from our community which remain in mourning. Yazidis have tended to cancel almost all of their traditional social and religious ceremonies.
On Wednesday, April 19, 2017, we will be welcoming the Yazidi new Year “Çaršama Sarî Salî”. This is a unique celebration to the Yezidi community, a commemoration of the day in which the creation of the universe by the angels was completed and life and nature began, and also to mark the beginning of fertility on earth.
Yazidis start their prayers by asking God “Xuda” to bring peace and protection to all nations including Yazidis. Yazda’s staff, members and volunteers would like to send their most sincere wishes for peace and protection to everyone in every corner of the world, including our Yazidi people.
Yazda affirms the fortitude of our people in face of many genocides endured over the years. Yazda calls on our people to continue to observe their religious events to preserve the ethno-religious identity and heritage of one of the most ancient peoples, the Yazidis.
As we celebrate this holiday, we remember the more than 3,000 Yazidi women and children who are still in ISIS captivity where the most heinous crimes are being committed against them. We also remember the thousands of widows and orphans who are facing enormous difficulties on a daily basis after the genocide. The majority of the Yazidi community in Kurdistan Region, Iraq, Syria and Turkey are in a very difficult situation. Most Yazidi areas in Iraq are still either under the control of IS or unsuitable for Yazidis to return to because of insecurity and devastation.
Yazidis have not received justice or had their rights vindicated by means of legal tribunal holding ISIS perpetrators accountable for the genocide. These terrorists still enjoy universal impunity, as there is still no legal mechanism to hold them accountable. Additionally, Yazidis’ needs have not been met by the international community, regional and local governments, including their demand to establish a safe zone under international protection, or the creation of a new administrative area that would guarantee full civic rights for Yazidis and other persecuted religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.
The situation in the Yazidi areas is one of increased instability and threat, especially Sinjar, which have become a battleground for local and regional conflicts between many competing political and military groups. This situation has resulted in creating the greatest danger facing the Yazidi community, which may ultimately be more dangerous than the ongoing genocide itself.
On this occasion, Yazda calls on the international community (the United States, the member states of the European Union, the permanent members of the United Nations and other concerned countries) to:
1- Establish an accountability mechanism to hold ISIS criminals legally accountable for genocide and other crimes against the Yazidi.
2- Establish safe zones or provide international protection for Yazidis and other persecuted religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.
3- Rescue more than 3000 Yazidi women and children from ISIS captivity and provide more support to ISIS survivors such as psychotherapy and humanitarian assistance.
4- Continue to provide Yazidis with opportunities to relocate to safe countries through specific immigration programmes such as the Canadian, German and Australian programmes.
Yazda board of directors
(Attched picture: Yazidi women at Lalish temple making wishes for the Yazidi new year (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)(Credit: AP) ))
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for welcoming me once more among you here at the UN.
For over a year and a half now, I have been travelling around the world to give testimony on ISIS’ brutality and the crimes they committed against me personally, and against my people.
I am physically and emotionally exhausted. Just like Farida, Lamia, Shireen, and many other Yazidi girls who have decided to speak up about ISIS’ crimes, I have put my life on hold to seek justice, rather than focusing on my own recovery and trying to build a future in my new country, Germany. Our decision to speak up came at a great personal cost.
Since I last spoke here at the UN, a few months ago, German authorities decided to implement additional security measures for my safety. While I am deeply grateful to Germany for this decision, it is also a constant reminder that my nightmare with ISIS is far from over, and that ISIS terrorists are still a serious threat to me because of my public role.
More importantly, I know that my speaking publicly has put the surviving members of my family at great risk.
My sister is law, Jilan, was captured by ISIS just like I was in August 2014. After many failed attempts, she finally managed to escape and return to freedom last December, after almost 30 months in ISIS’ hands. Her husband, my brother, who only escaped the mass execution of all men from my village by sheer coincidence, worked tirelessly to rescue her from captivity. When Jilan returned, she was pale, weak and traumatized by months of torture and abuses. I have been too scared to ask her the details of what happened to her for all this time. And I am haunted every day by the knowledge that thousands of Yazidi women and girls like Jilan remain in ISIS captivity.
Among them are two of my sisters-in-law and four of my nephews and nieces, including Nodam who is not even 3 years old. She was only a few months old when ISIS captured her and her mother in August 2014. We haven’t received any news of them since, and it is excruciating to imagine the abuse they are enduring.
I worry every day that, because of my decision to speak publicly, I have put in danger all of my relatives, both those in captivity and those who have escaped.
I wish I could say this was worth it.
My words, tears, and my testimony have not made you act. I wonder whether there is any point in continuing my campaign at all.
15 months after I first spoke at the UN Security Council, not a single ISIS militant has been brought to justice for committing genocide against my community or for the war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated against all sectors of the Iraqi people.
In the meantime, ISIS crimes continue unabated. Entire communities are being wiped out from their homeland, including Iraqi Christians, Yazidis, Sabeans, Shabaks, Kakaians and many other minorities that were the very fabric of this region.
Only last month, ISIS released a video showing two Yazidi brothers, Assad and Amjad. They were 12-year old schoolboys when ISIS captured them, in August 2014. They were separated from their family and sent to be trained and brainwashed in ISIS’ camps. The video released last month shows them driving explosive-laden vehicles and blowing themselves up in suicide attacks in Mosul.
Hundreds of Yazidi families have boys who – like my nephew Malik – are still in captivity, being trained in ISIS’ military camps. Many will be sent on suicide missions, like Amjad and Assad.
In the face of this, the Government of Iraq and the international community seem to be paralyzed. I am told that the United Nation is awaiting a formal letter from Iraq before it can start to investigate these crimes. For over two years now, the victims of those crimes have waited patiently for an investigation to begin; for the remains of our loved ones to be examined and buried.
I cannot understand what is taking so long. I cannot understand why you are letting ISIS get away with it, or what more you need to hear before you will act. So today I ask the Iraqi government and the UN to establish an investigation and give all victims of ISIS the justice they deserve.