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Yezidi survivor won't return to Iraq for fear of new 'genocide'

By AFP 23/2/2018
"Who will guarantee that genocide will not happen again, by perpetrators using another name?" asked Farida Abbas Khalaf. Photo: AFP
By Nina Larson

GENEVA – Farida Abbas Khalaf, one of thousands of Yezidi women abducted, raped and brutalised by Islamic State group fighters, says the jihadists' departure has not made it safe to return to Iraq.

"Everything is still the same. The same people who joined (ISIS) are still in those neighbourhoods. How can we return and trust them again?" Khalaf said in an interview with AFP this week.

"Who will guarantee that genocide will not happen again, by perpetrators using another name?" she asked, speaking through a translator.

Khalaf was 18 when ISIS fighters arrived in her once peaceful village of Kocho in Iraq's northern Sinjar region on August 3, 2014.

Speaking on the sidelines of a summit for human rights defenders in Geneva, the young woman with long black hair and sorrowful eyes said she and her family never expected to be attacked.

"We hadn't harmed anybody, we hadn't offended anybody... We just wanted to live in peace," she said.

But the Kurdish-speaking Yezidis, who follow a non-Muslim faith, became particular targets of hatred for the Sunni Muslim ISIS extremists that seized Sinjar in 2014 and unleashed a brutal campaign against the minority that the United Nations has called a "genocide."

When ISIS jihadists descended on the village, they gave the Yezidis two weeks to convert to Islam – or risk the consequences.

Khalaf, who has written a book about her experience titled: "The Girl Who Beat ISIS," described what happened when those two weeks were up.

- Taken to slave market -

"They gathered all of us in the village and they asked us to convert. We refused, and they started killing the men," she told AFP.

"That one day alone they killed more than 450 men and boys."

Khalaf's father and one of her brothers were among those killed, and she was abducted.

"When we were taken, they did everything to us. They raped women and girls as young as eight," she said.

Khalaf was taken to one of ISIS's infamous slave markets, where Yezidi women and girls were sold and traded as sex slaves across the jihadists' self-proclaimed and since-crumbled "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq.

"They picked the ones they wanted, just like they were at the supermarket or buying an animal," she said.

In captivity, Khalaf said she managed to remain strong despite undescribable torment, seeking inspiration in her faith and upbringing, and in her desire to provide support to the younger girls held and ravaged alongside her.

She said she never stopped thinking about escape, and after four months, a poorly locked door gave her and several other girls their chance to get away.

After a long and arduous journey, she finally made her way to Germany, which has taken in more than 1,000 Yezidi survivors, providing them with refuge and psycho-social support.

- 'Bringing ISIS to justice' –

Asked what her daily life is like now, she said it was focused on helping ensure recognition of the genocide committed against the Yezidis and "bringing ISIS to justice."

Baghdad declared victory over the jihadist group last December after a years-long battle to retake large swathes of territory the extremists seized in 2014.

But that is far from enough, Khalaf said, insisting: "I want to see ISIS and those who committed these crimes in international court."

She said she was consumed with thoughts of the estimated 3,000 Yezidi women and girls who remain in captivity, and of the thousands who have gotten away but remain stuck in poorly serviced camps in Iraq.

"They need help, they need treatment, and they are not getting that" in the camps, she said, warning that without support, "many will die from suicide."

She hailed Germany, Canada and Australia for taking in many Yezidi survivors, but said there was an urgent need for more countries to do their part.

She also called on the international community to help rebuild the villages destroyed in Sinjar and to provide protection to Yezidis interested in returning home.

"I could only consider going back once I see justice, an international court recognising this as a genocide, and with international protection," she said.

"Otherwise, how can we know we will not face another genocide?"


kurt basar | 24/2/2018
Who can blame the E-Zidies for their fear? once you brainwashed by the religion of the Arab camel attender, who was a predator, pedophile & looter, you are nothing but a savage & Jihad i. Do you think the E-Zidies are going to trust those androids even the Kurdish ones? hell no.
Mohamed | 24/2/2018
She is right, ''how can we know they will not face another genocide?"
Muraz Adzhoev | 24/2/2018
Why and what for is Nina Larson using this absulutely unacceptable in terms of the original ancient Kurdish ethnical, cultural, spiritual and historical identity of the Eezidis phrase "Kurdish-speaking"? What is it, an intentional or simply stupid "mistake"? The fact is that, except for ISIS terrorists, the genocide against the Ezidi Kurds and mass crimes against the Kurdish people and all communities of Southern Kurdistan were and have been committed by the Iraqi authorities, the Iraqi government, prime minister and ministers, especially by anti-constitutional illegitimate military and puntitive administrative means undertaken by Baghdad recently in all occupied “disputed (Kurdish) territories” of Southern Kurdistan. All those Kurdish ministers now still working for the Iraqi government headed by the criminal prime-minister al-Abadi are traitors and the political parties of the Kurdistan Region that they belong to certainly are responsible for the betrayal committed by their members-representatives.
Truth-seeker | 24/2/2018
`They raped women and girls as young as eight'-following their role model, Their so called prophet Mohammad, who raped Aysha aged 9, having started her sexual molestation when she was 6 year old child. `Taken to slave market- - again following the example of Mohammad, who enslaved and sold the women, children of Ib-Qoraida Jewish tribe in the slave market, to buy weapons and horses for his next Jihad battle, after ordering the beheading of all 900 male members of the tribe, including male children aged 12 in the battle of Al-khandaq. The Yazidies are right not to trust any Muslim because they have experience 75 genocides at the hands of Muslims (Arab +Kurds), under the banner of Jihad. Every Muslim, has been programmed to commit Jihad against "infidels"-defined by Mohammad as anyone who does not believe in his blood thirsty ideology of Islam, the cult of `convert or die'- sparing only the people of the book, whose lives are spared only if they pay heavy taxes (as punishment for refusing to convert) and accept living subjugated under Muslim Rule. Every practising Muslim is a potential Jihadist, therefore poses a danger to non-Muslim humanity.
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