Vian Dakhil speaking at the UN.
UNITED NATIONS – Vian Dakhil, an Erbil-based Kurdish Yezidi politician, has urged the UN Security Council to better help Kurdish officials and others protect minority religious groups and tackle Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Iraq and Syria.
“We are slaughtered, we are killed, our women are being raped, our girls are being sold, our children are taken to places … we are bought and sold like goods in the market,” Dakhil, an Iraqi parliamentarian, told the UN’s top body on Friday.
Some 420,000 Yezidis have been displaced in northern Iraq’s self-governing Kurdish enclave, she said, while thousands more were scattered across Syria and Turkey by an IS blitzkrieg advance into Iraq last year. Some 3,000 girls are traded in markets for $18 each.
“I also convey to you the greetings and position of the government and the people of Kurdistan region in Iraq in favour of any resolution that helps them serve the purpose of the Iraqi people,” she told the UN’s top body, during a debate on protecting minorities from ISIS.
The politician, who survived a helicopter crash but broke a leg in August while delivering aid to Yezidis on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, has pledged to continue her campaign to save the Yezidi people who are trapped by IS, a sectarian Sunni Muslim militia.
Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, from the Chaldean religious minority, which has also suffered at the hands of IS, called on world powers to ensure that displaced groups would eventually be entitled to return to their homes.
The UN should support “Kurdistan towards the liberation of all cities and for us Christians, Yezidis and Shabaks … providing an international protection for their inhabitants who were forced to be displaced from their homes, and promulgating a real estate and property law that ensure their rights in their lands,” he said.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces were overpowered by ISIS militants last August as they attacked and captured the town of Shingal (Sinjar) near Mosul.
Hundreds of Yezidis were killed and thousands captured and enslaved by the militants, who overran the northern city of Mosul in June and proclaimed an Islamic caliphate spanning Sunni-majority areas on either side of the Iraq-Syria border.
Tens of thousands fled to the Kurdistan Region, where they are living in camps alongside other ethnic and religious minorities as well Sunni Muslims displaced by the jihadists. The Peshmerga have been regaining ground in northern Iraq over the past months, backed by coalition airstrikes.
“There is strong evidence that members of a number of different minorities have been victims of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other very serious violations and abuses of human rights. This is especially true for women and girls,” UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said.
“We must also remember that violent extremism in Iraq precedes Daesh’s advance. The underlying conditions must be addressed,” he added, using an alternate name for IS.