Thursday, December 31, 2015


According to various reports, ISIS is not the only one who mistreats the Yazidis. It is claimed that Kurdish militias barred the Yazidis from fleeing Mount Sinjar and have abused Yazidis in refugee camps. Also the Turks mistreat the Yazidis. Additionally, Canada and the US are not giving priority to Yazidi refugees who seek political asylum. Due to this, recently a Yazidi family drowned at sea while trying to move to the free world and the mainstream media has ignored the incident.

Dec 31, 2015, 12:15PM  Rachel Avraham Tags: 

Arab Spring

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Northern Iraq, which was home to over 400,000 Yazidis. After ISIS occupied the area, the UN confirmed that 5,000 Yazidis were executed with many of them being beheaded; the women and children were abducted. From that point, ISIS sought to target Yazidi men for annihilation and Yazidi women for sexual slavery. The children were designed to be indoctrinated to become Islamists. The fate of the Yazidis has been recognized by the US Holocaust Museum as a genocide. However, recent revelations reveal that perhaps part of the humanitarian disaster could have been averted.

Mirza Ismail, chairman of the Yazidi Human Rights Organization, told recently a hearing in Washington, DC on the ISIS genocide that over 10,000 local authority forces were in the Sinjar region in order to protect the Yazidis: "In the early hours of the evening, the Yazidis tried desperately to flee for their lives to Mount Sinjar but the local militia would not allow it. At about 10pm, these same local forces who promised to defend us began to withdraw from the Yazidi villages on the southern side of Mount Sinjar without notifying the Yazidis. They escaped back to the KRG region. The Yazidi men begged the local forces for weapons and ammo so that we could defend ourselves from ISIS but they refused. They would not spare even one weapon, not one round of ammo to the Yazidi men, women and children whom the local militia had trapped in what was a waiting room of death and carnage at the hands of ISIS. And several Yazidis who begged and pleaded for weapons to save themselves and their people were killed like dogs by the Peshmerga."

Ismail claimed that these Peshmerga were associated with the KRG. According to Israeli scholar Mordechai Kedar, who wrote an article on the subject in Arutz Sheva, "The only power located anywhere near the Yazidis is the Kurdish militia in Iraq, the Peshmerga, but the real tragedy is that in Northern Iraq, there is an understanding perhaps even an agreement to the effect that as long as the Kurds do not defend the Yazidis, they can live in peace. The Yazidis relate that the Kurds are no less cruel to them than the Islamists." Rananah Goldhar, co-founder of Canadian Jews and Friends of Yazidis, added: "It was the local Kurdish forces. It was not all the Kurdish forces. It was only the Kurdish forces that were there that were protecting the Yazidis. The Yazidis knew ISIS was coming closer. They tried to go to Mount Sinjar and were stopped by the Kurdish forces. A family tried three times to get out and were stopped by the Kurdish forces. Somewhere around midnight on August 3, all of these Kurdish forces disappeared and at 2am, ISIS came in and the massacres and mass kidnappings began."

However, Geoffrey Clarfield of the Human Rights organization has a different take on the situation: "The Kurds of all the Muslims in the Middle East are the most enlightened via the Jews, the Yazidis and the Christians. They are not in a holy war to destroy Jews or to slaughter Yazidis. However, that does not mean that the well-being of the Yazidis is at the top of their agenda. The Kurdish Regional Government have militias, not trained armies. Because the US is dedicated to a unified Iraq and the Iraqi military fell to pieces, many of the arms that the US sent to Iraq got to ISIS. ISIS is better armed than the Kurds. They retreated for they could not hold onto the Sinjar. Therefore, they just pulled out. According to Islamic tradition and theology, non-Muslims cannot bear arms. The Muslim protector should bear the arms. The Jews in Kurdistan used to be clients of a sheikh, who used his armed forces to defend the non-Muslims. This tradition of Muslims at best being the protectors of their non-Muslim clients played out there. At a deeper level, people take care of themselves. They retreated from the Sinjar for they felt that they were not up to par to the ISIS weapons. What happened is that the Yazidis were exposed and thousands of Yazidis were killed and thousands were made slaves. That is why the Yazidis are bitter for they see it as a major betrayal."

While Clarfield does hold the KRG responsible for not doing enough to help the Yazidis and to protect them from the ISIS threat, he also emphasized that the West never offered the KRG the option of supporting the recognition of a Kurdish state on the condition that the KRG did more to protect the Yazidis and other minority groups. He honestly believes that if the West gave him such an offer and the logistical support needed to protect minorities in the face of ISIS, the KRG would do more to help the Yazidis as their leadership is practical and many of them are Western-educated people who are thus more willing to abandon local prejudices in the name of enlightenment. Clarfield noted that the Kurds are like the Lebanese Christians in this sense.
Yet, according to Kurdish rebel Mohammed Alizadeh, the KRG did not have anything to do with preventing the Yazidis from fleeing, mistreating the Yazidis, or preventing them from bearing arms to fight ISIS. According to him, it was the PKK who did these things to the Yazidis and they have a long history of persecuting Yazidis as well as others that oppose their group: "Please tell the Yazidi people that if the KRG didn't help, ISIS would kill everyone. The PKK wanted to make the Sinjar like Syria. They wanted it be a Kurdish place, where Yazidis could live but they wanted to force them to support them."

However, Alizadeh noted that the PKK forces active in the area have a policy of turning against Yazidis who refuse to support their group by having their children join PKK training camps. He emphasized that the PKK abandons these Yazidis and lets ISIS do as they please with them. He believes that this is probably what happened on Mount Sinjar; PKK who also call themselves Peshmerga prevented the Yazidis from fleeing and bearing arms, thus leaving them to ISIS domination due to the fact that the Yazidis there were not PKK supporters. Alizadeh denied that the KRG was anywhere near Mount Sinjar at the time of the ISIS invasion in 2014, so he stressed that they could not be responsible for these atrocities. He emphasized that the KRG supports minority rights including for the Yazidis and that it is the PKK who mistreats them.

 Regardless who was to blame for the disaster, whether it was the KRG, the PKK or the West, the results of the ISIS takeover was devastating for the Yazidis. "On August 6, 2014, ISIS attacked the Yazidis and the Chaldo-Assyrians Christians in Nineveh Plain," Ismail related. "The resulting genocide took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Yazidis, Chaldo-Assyrians, and Shia minority refugees. There are thousands of young Yazidi women, girls and even children, who as I speak have been enslaved and forced into sexual slavery.  These girls are subjected to daily, multiple rapes by ISIS monsters.  According to many escaped women and girls whom I talked to in Northern Iraq, the abducted Yazidis, mostly women and children, number over 7,000.  Some of those women and girls have had to watch 7, 8 and 9 year old children bleed to death before their eyes, after being raped by ISIS militia multiple times a day."

"I met mothers, whose children were torn from them by ISIS," Ismail stressed. "These same mothers came to plead for the return of their children, only to be informed that they – the mothers – had been fed the flesh of their own children by ISIS, children murdered, then fed to their own mothers!" When asked to confirm whether ISIS has forced Yazidi women to eat their own children and thus to engage in cannibalistic behavior, Clarfield noted that he heard such reports and that they might be true but he could not say for sure: "It is quite possible just because ISIS claims to be acting within their fatwas on raping women in a certain way that doesn't stop people from behaving barbarically. The Nazis comparison is relevant. When you go down that route towards pure evil, crazy things start happening just like in the Holocaust." During the Holocaust, Jewish women were raped even though the Nazis barred sexual relations between Aryans and Jews; in the same manner, he noted that ISIS could have slaughtered Yazidi children in some instances and forced their mothers to eat them even though such behavior is considered inhumane even by ISIS guidelines on how to treat sex slaves.

Regardless, no one can deny the genocidal depth of ISIS's savagery against Yazidis. "ISIS militia have burned alive many Yazidi and Christian girls for refusing to convert and marry ISIS men," Ismail proclaimed. "Young Yazidi boys are being trained to be jihadists and suicide bombers.  The entire Yazidi population was displaced in less than one day on August 03, 2014! The Yazidis and Chaldo-Assyrians Christians face this genocide together.  Why?  Because we are not Muslims and because our path is the path of peace.  For this, we are being burned alive for living as men and women of peace. ISIS has wiped from existence the most culturally diverse areas in the Middle East."

However, the Yazidis who managed to escape ISIS areas also are in a dire situation. According to Ismail, there are over 25,000 Yazidi refugees who are languishing in Turkey and Syria: "They are abused by the Muslim authorities in charge, denied food and medicine.   Or they can't get into UN refugee camps at all since the Muslims who dominate the camps do not want them there." He emphasized that while the UNHCR is not helping the Yazidi refugees get to Europe, America, Canada or Australia, where they can live in peace and have their human rights respected, the situation is horrendous for the Yazidi refugees stuck in the refugee camps, whether they are dominated by the Turkish government or by the PKK. Aside from the lack of food and medicine, there is a lack of security in the refugee camps in Turkey due to the crossfire between the PKK and the Turkish military.

Alizadeh confirmed that the conditions in the PKK dominated refugee camps are very bad for the Yazidis. He stressed that the PKK cusses at them and even uses force against them, stressing that they persecute anyone who does not support them. Goldhar added the following about the refugee camps where Yazidis live presently: "In the camps, when the delegations come to visit the camps, they are escorted by the Kurdish forces, the Muslims in charge of the camps, and they do not see what happens. If the Yazidis tell the truth, they are punished and threatened.  A girl that was part of a protest asking for international intervention was beaten by the Kurdish forces. She was near death afterwards." However, Ismail also claims that the KRG abuses Yazidis in the refugee camps who speak out against them whenever international observers' visit and that it is not just the PKK, an accusation denied by Alizadeh, who stresses that the only Kurds that abuse the Yazidis are the PKK, who are recognized as a terror group in many different countries. 

Clarfield has a different perspective about the condition of Yazidis in the refugee camps. According to him, the root of the problem with the refugee camps is that the UN relies upon locals to manage them on a daily basis rather than foreign UN workers: "The UN camps have local people hired. They may have a head admin from abroad but most of the staff are local. In Turkey, it will be mostly Turks or people from other Muslim countries largely. So the prejudices play out which the Yazidis experience in their own society, where ISIS has earmarked the Yazidis for slavery and everyone else for conquest. Christians can pay the jizya, but for the Yazidis, it is conversation or death. This prejudice that is widespread in the Islamic world is reproduced in the camps. That is the sociology of it."

According to Clarfield, "The UNHCR decides who is a refugee and who is not. They are their own bureaucracy. The UNHCR has a lot of autonomy and control, especially in the countries they are operating it. When you arrive as a refugee if you make it, if you are a Yazidi or a Kurd, they will give you a letter saying that you are refugee. They may or may not be able to help you. They put you in a line and they have to process you. The Yazidis are given secondary interviews years into the future. At best, they languish in the camps. At best, they are treated the same as the Muslim refugees." He added that since the UNHCR decides who is a refugee and they rely heavily upon local workers, this affects how many Yazidis receive approval to move to the West: "The Yazidi are at the bottom of Canada's list. Countries like Canada and the US are mirroring the prejudices of these home countries and the UNHRC. You have a persecuted people in the Middle East that are the object of ISIS and somehow, the North Americans and Europeans put Muslims at the top of the line. That was one of the election promises of the new Canadian government." 
Goldhar concurred regarding Canada's Yazidi policy: "We had a fair amount of involvement over the last year with the previous conservative government and they said they were making efforts. Harper spoke about helping the refugees that were the neediest, namely the Bahais, Turkoman, Chaldeans, Yazidis, and Mandeans. They are all in trouble. We asked for help for all these groups. We met with all of the significant political and non-political leaders in Canada over the last four months. It seemed that they were serious about helping the Yazidis and these other groups. It did not go further with this new liberal government despite trying to be in touch with them numerous times. We have no planned meetings. We have written many times. They may have called back but they did not proceed more. In the previous government, we had many meetings. We presented two times in the parliament. They seemed to be serious about wanting to help the Yazidis. With this new liberal government, we did not get a response."
According to news writer Doris Stub Epstein, Obama too is focusing only upon Syrian refugees even though minority groups like the Yazidis, Christians and others are the ones facing a genocide and not the Syrian Muslims, although their situation is also not good. She noted that this is problematic not only because it neglects those that are most in need but also because it endangers the West due to the fact that ISIS has announced that they hid 5,000 terrorists amongst the Syrian refugees immigrating to the West. In Lebanon, where one in five people is a Syrian refugee, it is said that there are 20,000 jihadists among them. She emphasized that it is impossible to screen the Syrians as their institutions are no longer functioning and thus potential criminal background cannot be checked.

Toronto immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann added also that no criminal records doesn't eliminate the possibility of terrorists infiltrating: "The 9/11 hijackers had no criminal records, nor did the Boston Marathon bombers or the San Bernardino shooters. These are not anti Muslim statements; they're facts.  Not all are bad, but some are.  We are asking our border officials to do the impossible, to try and figure out what's inside someone's mind and to figure out what a person is going to be thinking tomorrow."

To the contrary, there are no security issues associated with accepting the Yazidis and other minority groups within the West. As a result, Clarfield strongly disagrees with this policy in both the US and Canada: "The Yazidis lived in peace with the Jews till they made Aliyah. They are not only not anti-Semitic but they are sympathetic to Israel and the Jews. It would be nice if they would throw every dollar to help Yazidis get to the US and Canada. . There is nothing anti-Jewish in Yazidi culture. There is no theological issue with Judaism like in Christianity and Islam. That is why they should go to the top of the immigration list."

However, due to the conditions in the camps described above and the difficulties Yazidis face in moving to the West, Yazidi refugees are daily risking their lives in order to flee to Greece via the Aegean Sea on boats and by foot to Bulgaria. The same can be said for Chaldo-Assyrian Christians, who also have been forced to renounce their religion or die, and who also face enslavement, rape and the destruction of their churches as part of the ISIS genocide against non-Muslims. Since December 10, over 40 Yazidis have drowned while trying to reach free countries.

According to Ismail, in one of the tragic incidents, Majid Abdal and his family that included nine members that recently immigrated to Canada noted that his cousin who had a family of seven decided to travel from Turkey to Greece like many other refugees and as a result, drowned in the Aegean Sea. Only the father survived the boating accident. Yazidi activist Khaled Khalef added: "These are all Yazidi children that drowned but no media gave them attention because they are of the Yazidi faith. These pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago. These kids and their family were fleeing from Turkey to Greece for a better, safer and more promising life but no media has given any publicity to this horrifying news."

Iranian human rights activist Shabnam Assadollahi noted: "The plights of Yazidis has been forgotten and ignored by the UN, the liberal government of Canada, the mainstream media and the rest of the world but when Alan Kurdi's photos went viral, it helped the liberal government of Canada win the election by a landslide which prompted the acceptance of over 50.000 Sunni Muslim Syrians to this country which according to the experts, vetting would be impossible. The Kurds, Christians and Yazidis are facing massacres and yet are being ignored. Did the liberals and their media including ISIS have an agenda showing Alan Kurdi, the drowned Syrian boy?"

In conclusion, Epstein proclaimed: "For Jews, these persecuted peoples, abandoned by the world, strikes a painful, familiar chord.  It evokes the anguish of the Jews of the 1930's threatened with the Nazi genocide. Then too, the world was silent. Many in the Jewish community say the situation of Syrian refugees is similar to the plight of the Jews in WW11. But Jews were never a terror threat; there is evidence terrorists and radical Islamists are hiding among the Syrians.  Jews were singled out for persecution by the Nazis; it is the Yazidis, the Christians and other non-Muslim minorities who are being hunted down by ISIS.   The situation of the homeless Syrians is dreadful and heart wrenching.  But choices must be made; priorities established.  On humanitarian grounds, the Yazidis and other minority groups should receive priority because they are the most persecuted in the Middle East and have nowhere else to go. They present no social adaptation or security problems and face daily genocide and imminent extinction." Dr. Catherine Chatterley, Director of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism, added: "Special priority should be given to the orphans, especially girls and young women, who are the most vulnerable to sexual assault and exploitation in refugee camps and the victims of ISIS's rape culture of sexual slavery."

image descriptionPhoto Credit: Rananah GoldharYazidi child refugee drowned at sea for no country wanted her Photo Credit: Rananah Goldhar
image descriptionYazidi child refugee that drowned at sea trying to reach the free world Photo Credit: Rananah Goldhar

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