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.