File photo of Yezidis in Shingal.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The Iraqi Human Rights Committee (IHRC) says that more than 3,500 Yezidi men and women have been captured by the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq since it began attacks on the religious minority in early August.
The committee, which is associated with the Iraqi parliament, says that 441 Yezidis, including 280 females, have so far been rescued.
“We have confirmed knowledge of 1,597 females and 1,986 males who are still in ISIS captivity and who are identified as Yezidis,” said Boshra Ubaidi, an IHRC spokeswoman at a press conference in Baghdad Monday.
Ubaidi called on Kurdish and Iraqi authorities to “reincorporate” the Yezidis into their communities, saying they had suffered “severe physical and psychological traumas.”
Kurdish lawmakers say they have developed a compensation package that will help affected Yezidi families “back to normal life.” Maryam Samad, a member of the Kurdish parliament in Erbil, says the package includes both economic compensation and also the possibility of asylum in Germany, where an estimated 100,000 Yezidis already live.
Authorities in Kurdistan fear for the social stigmatization that could haunt the women in their communities after ISIS captivity and alleged sexual assaults.
“We have been in discussion with the German authorities regarding the traumatized Yezidi women and they have accepted to grant them asylum,” Samad told Rudaw.
Some Kurdish officials maintain, however, that victims have been treated affectionately by their communities, “with no risk of stigmatization.”
“I am overwhelmed by the way fellow Yezidis have shown extraordinary respect for these brave women,” said Nuri Osman, special coordinator for Yezidi refugees in the Kurdistan Regional Government, who in an earlier Rudaw interview indicated that 234 Yezidis had been freed from the clutches of the Islamic State, 150 of them females and many as young as 12.
“They are respected and warmly accepted back into their communities. They are not being stigmatized, and it’s a moment of pride and joy,” added Osman, himself a Kurdish Muslim from Shingal.
Kurdish MP Samad maintains that, according to their investigations, more than 3,600 females alone are still in ISIS captivity and those who have been freed are in “dreadful shape.”
“We have met with 200 of the 343 rescued women and noted that they are in great despair and suffer from severe psychological traumas,” Samad said.