Justice for Yezidi / Yazidi Survivors of Genocide

by Free Yezidi Foundation
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Justice for Yezidi / Yazidi Survivors of Genocide
Justice for Yezidi / Yazidi Survivors of Genocide
Justice for Yezidi / Yazidi Survivors of Genocide
Justice for Yezidi / Yazidi Survivors of Genocide
Justice for Yezidi / Yazidi Survivors of Genocide

 

SUPPORT THE FREE YEZIDI FOUNDATION THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

As 2021 comes to a close, there is so much for which we are grateful! FYF has made continued progress this year: opening the new Sugar is Sweet cafe, expanding our educational training for women and girls, continuing our fight for justice, and more.

As a women-led organization, our projects in Iraq are staffed almost exclusively by Yezidi women – women like Shaima from Khanasor. Shaima signed up for FYF’s bakery training program after taking classes at our Women’s Center. She excelled in her bakery and finance courses and was selected to join our Sugar is Sweet team. Our programs are not only helping Shaima; they continue to inspire and empower other women to learn new skills and earn their own income.

“I see that I’m encouraging other girls to go to classes and training,” says Shaima. “My friend never used to go out and now she is asking me about sewing classes. I’m the eldest in my family and have encouraged my sister to go to classes after school so she can find work, too.”Support us as we support the Yezidis

We can’t do our work without your essential support. In this season of giving, please consider a donation to FYF. Consider becoming a monthly sustaining donor or making a year-end financial gift. Every dollar counts! 

Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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NOVEMBER 2021 NEWSLETTER

 

Dear friends,

Please find below FYF news and the latest developments in the Yezidi community for the month of November.
 

FYF presentation alongside UNITAD, ICC, and Iraqi officials at Iraq's Embassy in Netherlands

 

FYF conducted a series of high-level meetings in the USA and the Netherlands this month. 

In early November, we met with the US State Department's Senior Official for Global Women's Issues, highlighting efforts to rescue missing Yezidi women and children, and the dangers posed to Yezidis by ongoing Turkish airstrikes on Sinjar and the threat of another Turkish incursion into northern Syria. 

This was followed by a successful trip to the Netherlands, where FYF participated in a special event titled "Collective Action Towards Accountability for ISIL Crimes" co-hosted by UNITAD, the ICC, and the Iraqi Embassy in The Hague. FYF also met with a number of Dutch politicians and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss support for Yezidi civil society, women's rights, missing Yezidis, and the ongoing crisis on the Belarus-Poland border, where many Yezidis have been stuck while migrating to Europe.

It was important to reconnect with supporters of the Yezidi cause in the Netherlands, and we hope we will continue to work closely together to advance Yezidi rights. 

FYF held a series of meetings with Netherlands Members of Parliament and government officials

On 30 November, ISIS member Taha A.J. was convicted of genocide and other charges for his role in the Yezidi Genocide. FYF issued a statement marking the conviction.

"How many ISIS members guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity, slavery, rape, and murder are yet to be prosecuted? We call upon law enforcement authorities, particularly in Europe, to accelerate investigation and indictment of their citizens who participated in these crimes. We also call upon Iraqi authorities to immediately pass legislation criminalizing international atrocities such as genocide and crimes against humanity, so that a specialized court or hybrid tribunal can be established to try the many thousands of ISIS members in Iraqi custody for their crimes against Yezidis. FYF is grateful to Germany for its efforts in prosecuting this case. We hope this will lead to further efforts, in Germany and elsewhere, toward justice and accountability in the aftermath of the Yezidi Genocide."

FYF statement and Taha A.J. in court (photos AFP)

 

Yezidis are among the many migrants stuck on the borders between Belarus, Poland, and Lithuania, where they have suffered the most horrific conditions and are stranded without shelter, food, or water. FYF has raised this issue with several senior officials and media outlets in recent weeks. With most Yezidis living in IDP camps, our community is particularly vulnerable. FYF calls on the relevant authorities to provide shelter and protection for migrants in Belarus or a safe, dignified, voluntary return for migrants repatriated to Iraq. 

FYF staff members also participated in a training event on raising awareness of the Yezidi Survivors' Law, passed by the Iraqi government earlier this year. FYF will continue to work with survivors to ensure they are informed of their rights and can advocate for their needs. 

FYF is delighted to see our cafe, Sugar is Sweet, is being used as a venue for celebrations in Khanke. A special congratulations to staff member Gulistan, who celebrated her wedding anniversary at Sugar is Sweet last week. 

Our cafe is now operating four days a week, with opening hours modified in line with the community's wishes. If you are in the area and wish to visit Sugar is Sweet and the enterprise center, do not hesitate to contact us. More information about the bakery is available on Instagram here.

Thank you all, as always, for your steadfast support of the Yezidi community.Sincerely,

Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi FoundationCONTRIBUTE

In the News

Middle East Eye | Distraught Yazidi Survivors Return From Belarus to Kurdistan | FYF is quoted in this article on Yezidis returning to Iraq from Belarus after a harrowing experience stuck on the border with Poland. 

Amnesty International - Germany | Weltweit Erstes Urteil Wegen Volkermordes an Jesid_Innen | FYF is quoted in this piece by Amnesty International - Germany regarding the genocide conviction of Taha A.J. 

LSE | Increasing Calls To Find Missing Yazidis | Knox Thames, former State Department advisor for religious minorities in the Near East and South and Central Asia, highlights ongoing efforts to find missing Yezidis, including the work of FYF.

Inkstick | Finding Missing Yezidis | In this op-ed, FYF discusses the challenges behind finding missing Yezidis, and the need for international support. 
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SEPTEMBER 2021 NEWSLETTER

 

Dear friends,

Please find below FYF news and the latest developments in the Yezidi community for the month of October.

On 25 October, Jennifer Wenisch was convicted in Germany for her role in the death of a five-year-old Yezidi girl. FYF applauded the German court for this judgment while underscoring the horrific nature of crimes committed against the Yezidi people by ISIS members such as Jennifer Wenisch.

"Like many other women who joined ISIS, Wenisch, who travelled to Iraq in 2014, was not merely an 'ISIS bride,' but played an active role in the enslavement and genocide of the Yezidi people. Along with her husband, Wenisch took a Yezidi woman and her daughter as slaves in Mosul. They later chained the five-year-old child outside, where she died of thirst in the summer heat. It should be noted that the crimes committed by Wenisch and her husband were revealed in Europe when she explained to an FBI informant, who was posing as an ISIS supporter, what she had done. Yezidi women have often said that female ISIS members were among the most brutal."

FYF's full statement can be found here.

Jennifer W in court on 25 October 2021 (photo: Getty Images)

FYF has been operating the Bakery Training Center since the early part of this year. Every few months, Yezidi women graduate with new skills - not only in baking but also basic mathematics and business training. The bakery is now functioning, and the women have worked hard to establish a spectacular cafe for the host and IDP community to enjoy. Congratulations to our October graduates!

We look forward to expanding bakery and cafe operations in the coming months, and we are thankful to Hungary Helps and Hungarian Interchurch Aid for supporting this innovative project.

This month, 62 young people in Khanke graduated from FYF's program, supported by Grand Challenges Canada, designed to provide them with a range of important life skills. Participants benefitted from English language classes, IT, human rights classes and support with writing resumes. Yezidi women also led sessions for the group on social and mental health issues, an important area of concern this year. Congratulations to our graduates, and thank you to the Government of Canada for supporting this important project. 

FYF is scaling up pressure on the international community to mount a serious campaign to identify and rescue the nearly three thousand Yezidi women and children were are still missing. Partly as a result of our efforts, the United States Department of State spearheaded a statement signed by 17 other countries underscoring the necessity to identify the missing. The statement can be found here. One ally in our effort, Fiona Bruce, Member of the UK Parliament, posed a public question to the UK Foreign Secretary, which can be found here.

This month FYF-USA board member Alex Lourie visited the Enterprise & Training Center in Khanke to meet with beneficiaries and staff, purchase some craft items, and support the team. He was also present in Baghdad, on behalf of FYF, to accept a donation from the European Union Assistance Mission to Iraq to the FYF Enterprise & Training Center (pictured below).

Separately, FYF-USA board member Nibras Basitkey appeared on the Today Show, a prominent television show in the United States. Nibras spoke about women's rights and women's education (pictured below). Great job board members!

EUAM-Iraq presents check to FYF (photo: EUAM-Iraq); Nibras on the Today Show (photo: Today Show)

 

Thank you all, as always, for your steadfast support of the Yezidi community.

Sincerely,


Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

 

 

In the News

Forbes | The Missing Yazidi Women and Children Must Be Located and Rescued | This article discusses the effort, co-led by FYF, to mount a serious campaign to rescue missing Yezidis.

Forbes | How Activists, Including Nobel Winner Nadia Murad, Are Advocating For Missing Women And Children | FYF's advocacy for missing women and children is mentioned in this article.

The New Statesman | Massacred by Islamic State, Yazidis Now Face Turkish Airstrikes | Turkey has repeatedly bombed Sinjar in the past year. FYF is quoted expressing the impact this has on the Yezidi community.

US Institute of Peace | Why Is There No Global Effort To Find The Missing Yezidis? | |n this article, Knox Thames, former State Department advisor for religious minorities in the Near East and South and Central Asia, argues the international community needs to do more to find missing Yezidis. 

Kurdistan24 | Yezidis Welcome Statement Of 'Great Concern' By 18 Nations On Missing Captives | FYF is quoted in this article, published following a joint statement from 18 countries on missing Yezidi women and children.

Kurdistan24 German ISIS Wife Sentenced to 10 Years in Jail | FYF is quoted in this Kurdistan24 piece on the Jennifer Wenisch case in Munich. 

Rudaw | Yazidi Organisations Welcome German Court Sentence of ISIS Woman to 10 Years | FYF was also featured in Rudaw's article on the Wenisch case. 
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SEPTEMBER 2021 NEWSLETTER

 

Dear friends,

The Free Yezidi Foundation continues its focus on providing sustainable solutions, training, and development to the Yezidi community. At the same time, we are focusing on the priorities of the community in the aftermath of the Yezidi Genocide, including efforts to identify and bring back Yezidi women and children. 

This month, FYF has helped lead an international campaign to prompt a serious search and rescue effort for those Yezidis still missing and unaccounted for seven years later. A joint letter, co-written by the Free Yezidi Foundation, was signed by more than 80 organizations and individuals in this regard.

"Seven years after the genocide, it is a travesty that the Yazidi women and children remain missing and their fate unknown. If they are alive, they continue to be enslaved and subjected to daily abuse. Despite findings of genocide and repeated pronouncements expressing concern for Yazidis, the international community has failed to organise any effort to locate these kidnapped individuals."

The letter was delivered in person to 10 Downing Street in the United Kingdom, and FYF participated in several meetings to highlight this issue in September. A press releaserelated to this letter was issued as well.

The FYF team was very pleased to congratulate Mr. Christian Ritscher as the new head of UNITAD, the UN body responsible for investigating ISIS crimes. FYF has worked closely with Mr. Ritscher over the last years, including meetings in Germany and regular communication. Furthermore, Mr. Ritscher has graciously appeared in both of FYF's virtual commemoration events in the last two years. FYF is grateful for his steadfast work pursuing justice and accountability in Germany, focusing on winning cases rather than media attention or self-promotion. Our team personally and publicly congratulated Mr. Ritscher, and we look forward to working with him closely.

The FYF 2020 annual report is now published on the FYF website in English and in Dutch. Please feel free to review this report for facts, figures, and anecdotes about the organization's activities and successes.
 

"Despite challenges, FYF continued efforts in the field to promote education, livelihoods tools, employment, justice, and women’s rights."

Thank you all, as always, for your steadfast support of the Yezidi community.Sincerely,

Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

In the News

Coalition for Genocide Response | Join the Initiative to #BringBackYazidis | The letter to world leaders, co-authored by FYF, is featured here.

UN Women | Learning from Practice Brief Series: Issue No. 4 | This is a policy brief from UN Women that includes the experiences and lessons learned from a number of UN grantees, including FYF.

De Morgen | Hoe de IS-genocide op jezidi's positie van de vrouw heft veranderd. 'Nu ben ik de kostwinner'. | This is an article in a Belgian newspaper (in the Flemish language) featuring the FYF Enterprise & Training Center and the challenges facing Yezidi women.

Kurdistan24 | UN Appoints New Head of Investigative Body for ISIS war crimes | FYF is quoted in this article regarding the new Head of UNITAD.

Kurdistan24 | 80 Organizations, Experts Urge Rescue of Yezidis Still Missing after Being Kidnapped by ISIS | FYF is featured in this article regarding the effort to prompt rescue for missing Yezidis.

Kurdistan24 | Petition Calls on Germany to Formally Recognize Yezidi Genocide | This article quotes FYF in highlighting the importance of genocide recognition as a necessary first step toward recovery and justice.
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AUGUST 2021 NEWSLETTER

Dear friends,

August is an important month for Yezidis, as the entire community marks the Yezidi Genocide commemoration on 2-3 August. We are grateful to our friends and allies for standing with us as we remembered those we lost and supported survivors and families striving to rebuild.

The full videos of the panel discussions are archived on the Free Yezidi Foundation's YouTube channel (Day One & Day Two) and can also be viewed in Arabic on FYF's Facebook page. We were very grateful for the participation and the strong words of sympathy, solidarity, and substantive ideas for action and progress shared by our friends and allies, and for the strength and resilience of the many Yezidi speakers who shared their thoughts, concerns, and hopes on the commemoration day.

The Free Yezidi Foundation issued a statement on 3 August calling attention to six themes:

- Bring back Our Women and Girls!
- Just Implementation of the Sinjar Agreement
- Equal Opportunity for Yezidis
- The Yezidi Survivors' Law
- Better Conditions for IDPs
- Justice & Accountability

In addition, FYF contributed to several articles around the world to bring attention to the specific challenges facing recovery and reconstruction for the Yezidi community after seven years, as well as areas of opportunity and progress.  Outlets include the Washington Post, Guardian, Telegraaf, Independiente, Newsweek, and others. The articles and corresponding links are listed below.
AFGHANISTAN

The Free Yezidi Foundation has observed the developments in Afghanistan with great sorrow. The military takeover of cities and villages by an Islamic fundamentalist militia poses enormous risks to religious minorities and to women and girls. The Yezidi population has direct experience with this. While FYF cannot deviate from its mission to protect the Yezidi population and advance community recovery, all individuals and organizations have a moral obligation to affirm solidarity with those who face or may face grave danger in Afghanistan, just as we appreciated global support to our community during the course of the Yezidi Genocide.
15 August - Kocho Massacre Commemoration

On 15 August the Yezidi community remembers the massacre and enslavement at Kocho, one of the worst crime scenes of the Yezidi Genocide. FYF has worked closely with many survivors from Kocho, and one survivor who has resettled in Germany (appearing in the photo below) asked us to share her quote: "Every day is difficult for us, but the commemoration reminds us of the day, hours, and the exact minutes when we were separated from our fathers and mothers."

To mark seven years since the Kocho massacre, FYF participated in a virtual event hosted by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. The event has been recorded and will be available online in due course.

Survivors and Yezidi community remember the Kocho massacre in ceremony in Stuttgart, Germany, 15 August 2021

This month, only days after the Yezidi Genocide commemoration event, the Turkish military conducted airstrikes on 16 and 17 August in Sinjar city, including the destruction of a hospital. The airstrikes are highly destabilizing, both threatening Yezidi civilians in Sinjar and frightening Yezidi families in IDP camps considering a return. FYF has been outspoken on the humanitarian danger posed by these airstrikes. The attacks killed ten people including seven Yezidis, all of whom had survived the Yezidi Genocide, only to have been killed in Sinjar in August 2021.

In more optimistic news, FYF has begun implementation of a new project designed to bolster resilience, tools, and hope for Yezidi youth living in IDP camps. This program, funded by Grand Challenges Canada, includes extensive training and mentorship for young Yezidi men and women. The first 58 beneficiaries graduated from the course in August 2021, some of whom are pictured below. Congratulations and best of luck to our young graduates!

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation invited the Free Yezidi Foundation to participate in the Dare to Overcome conference. FYF was invited to participate in the sessions, the RFBF and generous donors organized a virtual auction, with 100% of the proceeds going to FYF's Enterprise & Training Center. We are very grateful for the support, as the auction raised more than $20,000! Thank you to those who donated items for the auction and to all of you who bid!

Thank you all, as always, for your steadfast support of the Yezidi community.Sincerely,


Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi FoundationCONTRI

BUTE

In the News

Washington Post | Seven Years After the Genocide, Yezidis Are Still Waiting for Justice | This is an op-ed by FYF's Pari Ibrahim and Sinjar Academy's Murad Ismael to mark seven years since the Yezidi Genocide.

NRC Handelsblad | Geef Yezidi Slachtoffers van IS-terreur Gerechtigheid | This is an op-ed in the Dutch newspaper NRC by FYF's Pari Ibrahim and FYF advisor Simon Minks on justice and the importance of prosecutions in the aftermath of genocide and mass atrocity crimes.

The Guardian | 'Still Going Through Hell': the Search for Yazidi Women Seven Years On | This article quotes FYF on the efforts to identify and rescue the missing Yezidi women and girls and the psychological impact on families with missing members.

Newsweek | Yazidi Genocide Survivors Still Suffering 7 Years Later | This opinion piece cites FYF's 3 August 2021 recommendations and the need to identify and rescue missing Yezidis seven years later.

El Independiente | El Incómodo Silencio de España en el Genocidio Yazidí a Manos del Estado Islámico | This article in Spain's El Independiente addresses the importance of genocide recognition by national parliaments, such as Spain, and quotes FYF.

Telegraaf | Nederlandse Jezidi's Jagen op IS-vrouwen: 'Ze Maakten Slavinnen Klaar Voor Verkrachting' | This article in the Dutch newspaper is an exclusive interview with FYF's Executive Director to mark the seven-year commemoration of the Yezidi Genocide.

Religious Freedom & Business Foundation | Auction Supporting the Free Yezidi Foundation's Enterprise & Training Center | The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation created this auction to benefit FYF in August to remember the Yezidi Genocide seven years ago.

Grand Challenges Canada | UK and Canada Team Up to Support Youth Mental Health Projects Worldwide | FYF has received a grant from Grand Challenges Canada to help provide mental health support and skills training to Yezidi youth in IDP camps, as highlighted in this announcement.

Algemeen Dagblad | Zeven Jaar na Genocide op Jezidi's: 'Breng Nederlandse Daders voor de Rechter' | This article in the Dutch newspaper overviews the crimes committed against Yezidis and the need for justice, with quotes from FYF.

Office of the SRSG - Sexual Violence in Conflict | Belgian parliament committee recognizes Yezidi genocide | This is the statement of UN SRSG Pramila Patten that was presented at the FYF seven-year commemoration on 3 August 2021.

Telegraaf | Aandacht voor Krokodillentranen van IS-vrouwen Gaat Maar Door | This article in a Dutch newspaper focuses on female European ISIS members, and their 'crocodile tears', with reference to FYF's research into female ISIS members.

URI Europe | Webinar "After Genocide - the Yezidis Recovery from Religious Persecution" | FYF Country Director Hewan Omer participated in a virtual discussion about the situation facing Yezidis and next steps toward recovery.

Ms. Magazine | Ms. Global | This global recap highlights the FYF effort to draw attention to the missing Yezidi women and girls on the commemoration of the Yezidi Genocide.

International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism | Five Years of Airstrikes: Turkish Aggression and International Silence in Sinjar, 2017-2021 | This article focuses on Turkish airstrikes in Sinjar and its destabilizing impact on the Yezidi population.

Zoryan Institute | Seven Years On: Commemorating the Yazidi Genocide | This article is a series of three interviews about the Yezidi Genocide, its aftermath, and what needs to be done for the Yezidi people.

Stand League | When a Fashion Leader Reaches Out to Stop Religious Genocide | This article features the efforts of Kathy Ireland to promote religious tolerance, including reference to FYF's 2-3 August event.

SBS Australia | Seven Years since ISIS' Attack on Yezidis, over Two Thousand Women, Girls Still Missing | This audio interview with FYF reviews challenges, progress, and next step for Yezidi recovery, as well as the importance of commemoration and solidarity on 3 August.

Rudaw | Yazidis Criticize Government Inaction on Eve of Genocide Anniversary | This article reviews the issues raised by Yezidi organizations, highlighting the lack of progress for Yezidi recovery since the genocide.

Kurdistan24 | Yezidis Call for Mission to Find Missing Women on 7th Anniversary of Genocide | Yezidi organizations, including FYF, call for international mission to help rescue missing Yezidi women.

Kurdistan24 | Few Yezidis have returned to Sinjar since 2014 ISIS takeover, 2,736 remain kidnapped: KRG  | This article highlights the missing Yezidis and the need to conduct a rescue mission.

Kurdistan24 | Dutch Looking to Improve Agriculture in Sinjar: Ambassador | The Netherlands articulated its interest to help support agriculture in and around Sinjar, as mentioned by the Dutch Consul at FYF's panel event.
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Organization Information

Free Yezidi Foundation

Location: Duhok, NA - Iraq
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @free_yezidi
Project Leader:
Pari Ibrahim
Duhok, NA Iraq
$32,179 raised of $100,000 goal
 
221 donations
$67,821 to go
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