Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Yezidis of Mesopotamia Cry for Help. Letter to Honourable Chris Alexander, Canada

                                                          The Yezidis of Mesopotamia                         September 16, 2014

Honourable Chris Alexander, P.C., M.P.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

365 Laurier Avenue West

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 1L1

Your Excellency,

You may be aware of the crimes that are taking place against the Yezidis and Chaldo-Assyrians in Northern Iraq.  In all respects it is a genocidal campaign that began August 3, 2014.

Today, we Yezidis need your urgent and immediate help and support.  Over our six thousand year Yezidis have faced 74 different genocides in Middle East, which includes the present one, just because we have a different culture and religion. The Yezidis are an ancient and proud people from the heart of Mesopotamia, the birth place of civilization and the birth place of many of the world's religions. Unfortunately, today we are on the verge of total annihilation and extinction. The wand the World is remains silent.

The Yezidi are largely based in Iraq but there are Yezidis also in Syria, Turkey, Iran, Russia, Georgia and Armenia. Many have been forced to flee their ancient homelands and many reside in European countries, especially Germany.  There are many Yezidi families also in the US, Canada and Australia.

The Yezidi religion is the third largest religion in Iraq after Islam and Christianity. The Yezidi religion developed in Mesopotamia during the Sumerian period four thousand years before the birth of Christ. It is one of the oldest religions in the world. Ancient religion developed along with many other religions such as Mithraism and Zoroastrianism.

 Historically, Yezidis have been exposed to policies of expulsion and assimilation.  That is why we fled to the mountains and then many migrated to the European countries in the last century. We Yezidis were then followed by other Yezidis from Syria and finally from Iraq. As a result of the Iraqi Baath government policies; which aimed to replace Yezidis with Arab Muslims of on Yezidi farmland, we were driven from our Yezidis homes, shops and farms.  This campaign severely affected social and economic situation, and the Baath government's cleansing of Yezidi lands was largely ignored.

Since 1991, when the Iraqi Kurdish Region began to enjoy its own autonomy and since 2003 after the fall of the previous dictatorial Baath regime, the "Kurdish Question" has over-shadowed our people.  The fact is that the Kurds have been trying to assimilate the Yezidi into a Kurdish identity. In other words, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has taken over Saddam Hussein's unfinished work.  Where are our cultural rights as a people?  We ask the United Nations and all other members of the international community to put pressure on the KRG respect the rights of the Yezidi and to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Our Current Situation:

Around 12:10 am on Sunday, August 03, 2014, the KRG quietly pulled its militias from Sinjar and the surrounding region before ISIS attacked us. They did not notify the Yezidis of their plans. They also refused to give weapons and ammunitions to local Yezidis there to fight against the ISIS and defend their homes and families.  The Kurdish forces melted back to safety. 

Hours later, ISIS forces attacked the Yezidis in Sinjar.  The Yezidis in towns and villages of the South side of the Sinjar Mountain had some light weapons, such as AK-47 rifles with a small amount of ammunition. They fought against ISIS forces for four to five.  While this minimal defense was proceeding, many Yezidi fled to Sinjar Mountain.  Finally, the defenders ran out of bullets and our positions were overrun.

ISIS took control of villages on the south side of the Mount Sinjar.  The ISIS militias slaughtered hundreds, killed thousands of innocent Yezidi men and raped thousands of innocent Yezidi women teenage girls.

The lucky few Yezidis who made it to Mount Sinjar stayed on the mountain for several days without any foods or water. Hundreds then died from starvation and dehydration, especially babies, young children, sick people and our elders.

On August 6, 2014, the ISIS then attacked the Yezidis and Chaldo-Assyrians in the Nineveh Plain.  The result is tens of thousands of Yezidis, Chaldo-Assyrians, Shabaks and Turkomen refugees and the erasing of one of the most culturally diverse areas of the Middle East.  Now these tens of thousands have taken refuge in the Iraqi Kurdish Region, in cities and towns such as Dohuk, Zakho, Erbil and Sulaymania.  They need urgent assistance.

The next day the Yezidis from across the United States and Canada protested in front of the White House, demanding support to save the Yezidis in Sinjar and Nineveh Plain.  We greatly appreciate President Obama's decisive action to send humanitarian aid and authorize limited air strikes.

Humanitarian aid, while necessary, is not sufficient. Much humanitarian aid distributed by the Kurdish Regional authorities and the Iraqi government never gets into the hands of those who need it, due to skimming, corruption, and politics.   Some outside observers say that as much as 90 percent of humanitarian assistance has been diverted away from displaced persons.

And there are hundreds of thousands of Yezidis and Chaldo-Assyrians who are not willing to leave their ancient homeland.  Therefore, we ask you in the name of humanity and respect for human rights to lend us your help and support to save our most indigenous people in the Middle East and Iraq in particular.

On August 6, while ISIS forced flushed other Yezidi and Chaldo Assyrians from their Nineveh Plain homes ISIS also advanced towards Mount Sinjar.  Then the Yezidis had no choice but to flee to Kurdistan by foot, a journey that took days.

There are now hundreds of thousands Yezidis are in all areas of the regions of Dohuk and Erbil and the Turkish-Iraqi border. To date, thousands of those displaced Yezidis and Chaldo-Assyrians in Dohuk and Erbil regions have not received any "Humanitarian assistance from the United Nations or others."  There are some facilities hosting our displaced persons, such as schools in Zakho and Dohuk, where there are four to five families sharing one classroom.  There are still thousands of families sleeping in parks, in streets and in open fields.  We are grateful for the support of some local Kurds who have provided help, but there are other Kurds who insult those who are seeking food and shelter, withhold help, and discriminate against us because of our faith.

For example, on Friday, August 15, Kurdish intelligence paramilitaries went to one refugee encampment at a school in Dohuk.  They asked the Yezidis gathered there if they consider themselves Yezidis or Kurd.  When they replied what they are in fact Yezidi, the Kurdish officers told them they should break their camp and leave the school.  The next day, Kurdish authorities requested registration of the group as a pre-requisite for expelling them.

The same day, more than 210 Yezidi families in Kocho village, which is just South of Sinjar city that they received an ISIS order to convert to Islam or be killed.  In that village The ISIS militia beheaded more than 70 young men, killed hundreds and took all women, girls and children to Badosh prison near Mosul.  The women and children are now being sold for as "sex slaves by ISIS commanders."

Some may ask how other groups in Nineveh are coping with the ISIS invasion.  Sadly, many have joined ISIS.  Local Arabs, Kurds, Sarhoky and Khatoni quickly joined up with ISIS at the time of the attack.  There are several reports of former neighbors and are looting the possessions of the displaced Yezidi, from jewelry to farm equipment to automobiles.

 A further note on our neighbors:   our long-battered faith in the Kurds has been betrayed in dozens of new ways since the arrival of ISIS.  First, the Kurds abandoned the very Yezidi they were allegedly protecting and in some ways at least had advance notice of the ISIS offensive against the Yezidi.  Secondly, they have refused to support Yezidi efforts to defend themselves, and most notably, there are reports of Kurdish Peshmerga killing armed Yezidi husbands and fathers as they fled the battlefield.

I mentioned the treatment of women just a moment ago.  Right now there are more than 2,000 Yezidis women and teenage girls are in Badosh prison near Mosul; more than 900 in Talafar airport; more than 1,500 in Baaj city near Sinjar; more than 700 in Hol village over the Syrian border under ISIS control.  Currently, these women and girls are being raped, forced to convert to Islam and forced to marry ISIS militia members.  One of those young teenage girls called her family from a secret mobile phone at one prison, telling them that she was forced to have sex with four to five ISIS militia men.

This is only one story.  There are hundreds.  Those women and girls are screaming for your help to save them or be killed – death is much better that what they live in now.  We estimate that there are approximately 5,000 women and teenage girls who are being raped and sold as slaves, and we know their locations.  This barbarity must be addressed and all of us should take a stand.  We need your help to save these innocents.

Urgent Demands:

1.      The international community should directly engage ISIS.  They should be forced back over the Syrian border and destroyed.  Yezidis and Chaldo-Assyrians need their homes and livelihoods in the Sinjar region and Nineveh Plain.  Put simply, the world cannot stand by and acquiesce to ethnic cleansing and genocide.
2.      Humanitarian aid must be sent directly to those internally displaced in Northern Iraq, on an urgent basis, Sinjar Mountain in particular, where there are still more 1400 families live and about 4000 Yezidi fighters, who are fighting ISIS to protect the Yezidis there.  There is a real threat of starvation, dehydration and disease.   To the extent possible, this assistance should come from neutral, non-governmental sources to mitigate diversion of food and water.
3.      Concerned nations, including the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, NATO and EU member states, and the United Nations should make a concerted effort to liberate ISIS detention centers.  As mentioned, we estimate at least 5,000 are currently held young married women with children and teenage girls in Badosh prison, Mosul city, Talafar airport; Baaj town, Kocho village and al-Hol village in the Hassakeh province in Syria, west of Sinjar.
4.      Provide arms and weapons to Yezidi and Chaldo-Assyrian-militias that have been established since ISIS began marauding across Nineveh.  There are men and women under unified command structures who are capable and willing to defend their ancient homelands, religion, culture and ancient history.  They need US help now.
5.      We ask the United Nations, US, UK, Turkey, EU, NATO and other members of the international community to intervene with the new Iraqi Government, supporting-creation of an "Autonomous Region" for the Yezidis, Chaldo-Assyrians other minorities in the Sinjar region and Nineveh Plain.
6.      We ask our sympathetic Canadian government to develop refugee policies that can work quickly and effectively to provide new homes for needy refugees, not just for the Yezidi but for Chaldo-Assyrians, Mandaean, Bahai's, Shebak, Turkomen, and others who urgently need a new beginning, far from the carnage we have just witnessed.
In the name of my organization, Yezidi Human Rights Organization-International, we urgently need your immediate assistance in the name of humanity and human rights!  The innocent need your urgent support so that was can all live in peace and freedom!

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.  We need your urgent help.  We are hopeful that a peaceful way forward for our people can somehow be the result of so much death and destruction.

Best regards,
Mirza Ismail                                                                                                


Yezidi Human Rights Organization-International


Robin Ticker
Activist emails sent to my list  are L'Ilui Nishmat Yisrael ben David Aryeh ob"m (Izzy - Kaplan) and Howard Chaim Grief great activists and lovers of Eretz Yisroel, Am Yisroel and the Torah. Yehi Zichronum Baruch.  May their memories serve as a blessing.

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