THE future of Iraq’s Yazidi community was discussed at the American University of Iraq Sulaimani, in Kurdistan, last week, 18 months after images of the community’s flight from Islamic State (IS) shocked the world.
Yazidi survivors joined people working to document the atrocities perpetrated against them, practitioners offering various forms of support, and international experts, to “create an in-depth understanding of — and generate action on — one of the 21st century’s worst crimes against humanity”, the university website said.
Advocates are campaigning for the attacks by IS to be recognised as a genocide.
About 3400 Yazidi women remain in the hands of IS, and a 500,000 Yazidis are living in camps in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region with “scant psychological and medical care”, Thompson Reuters Foundation reported from the conference.
“They were killing people in front of us, raping eight-year-old girls,” one Yazidi woman in the audience said. “I was nine months in their hands. There is nothing they didn’t do to us.”
“There is no cure for the survivor, no support,” another survivor said. “We’re asking the international community, the United Nations, and America: please help us, save us.”
This month, the European Parliament unanimously passed a resolution that labelled as “genocide” the systematic killing and persecution of religious minorities by IS.
Timothy Waters, Professor of Law at Indiana University, said, however, that a bid to have the massacres defined as a genocide at the International Criminal Court in The Hague was unlikely to succeed. “It’s not enough to think only of the moral consequences and outrage,” he said.
Fox News reported last week that former Yazidi sex slaves had joined ranks with the Kurdish Peshmerga to liberate Mosul from IS, and rescue women trapped there. The brigade has become known as the “Force of the Sun Ladies”.