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




Dear friends,


We hope this finds you and your families safe and healthy. March was a busy month for the Yezidi community and for FYF. Groundbreaking legislation passed the Iraqi parliament, FYF was featured in a number of events and news articles, and high profile visits underlined the continued importance of religious and ethnic minority rights.

Of the highest consequence was the long-awaited passage of the Yezidi Survivors' Bill in Iraqi parliament. This law establishes compensation for Yezidi women and child survivors of ISIS sexual violence and human trafficking after August 3, 2014, also including Turkmen, Christian, and Shabak survivors. The law also stipulates the provision of rehabilitation and reintegration services for affected individuals. FYF warmly welcomed this critical step, but cautions that clear implementation of the law must be prioritized by the relevant parties. In addition, the law must be interpreted as only the first step on the long path towards state efforts to facilitate healing, rehabilitation, and reintegration for the Yezidi community.


From March 5-8, Pope Francis embarked on the first-ever Papal visit to Iraq. Moved by the challenges faced by Christians, Yezidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities, Pope Francis spoke to the need for an inclusive Iraq that values diversity of religious identity in the cradle of civilization.

On this topic of addressing the fundamental needs of Iraq's many minority groups, FYF's Executive Director published an op-ed with the Religious Freedom Institute highlighting the path forward to coexistence and equal rights. The piece highlights concrete legal, educational, and security-focused steps to establish a vibrant, successful, and inclusive multi-ethnic/religious Iraq.



On March 25th, FYF joined the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Society of International Law to celebrate the launch of the Pursuing Justice for Mass Atrocities handbook. This tool is a practitioner-oriented resource designed to assist survivor groups in advocating for justice and their own rights after mass atrocities, and includes FYF materials.

FYF represented the Yezidi voice on a panel, along with Uyghur, Rohingya, and South Sudanese activists, to mark the launch and discuss ways in which survivor communities can ethically pursue justice in the aftermath of atrocities.




On March 8th, FYF celebrated one of our favorite days of the year - International Women's Day! As a woman-led, feminist organization, FYF is proud to advance the fight for gender equality and equity in each of our programs. With over 70% of FYF staff comprised of females - including a majority from the displaced Yezidi community - FYF is committed to lifting up the voices of women as powerful agents of change.


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



Pari Ibrahim
Founder and Executive Director


In the News

Al-Monitor | Iraq passes law addressing women survivors of Yazidi genocide | This article highlights the new bill, discussing broader security concerns and quoting FYF.

Gatestone Institute | Iraq: Turkey Set to Attack the Yazidis? | This article discusses the threat of Turkish incursion into Sinjar, quoting FYF.

Kurdistan24 | Iraq's parliament ratifies survivor law in major recognition of Yezidi genocide | This article, quoting FYF, highlights the recently passed Survivors' Bill, including compensation and pension stipulations.

Religious Freedom and Business Foundation | Call for businesses to raise awareness of modern-day genocide | This campaign highlights opportunities for business leaders to advance FYF's post-genocide reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.

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FYF Monthly Newsletter - February 2021


Dear friends,

We hope this newsletter finds you and your families safe and healthy. February was both a somber and a hopeful month, marked by commemorations, groundbreakings, and community losses. We are reminded at this time of the power of community as we work together to build a better future for the Yezidi people.

On February 4th, a ceremony was held to lay to rest 104 Yezidis murdered in Kocho on August 15-16, 2014 by ISIS terrorists. Following ceremonies in Baghdad, dignitaries and families joined together in Kocho to honor the valued community members lost on those fateful days. FYF mental health paraprofessionals - some of whom are survivors themselves - were present at the burial to provide onsite services to those in need.

FYF issued a statement upon the burial, noting that “FYF has worked with a large number of survivors from Kocho, some of whom have bravely provided their accounts about the systematic nature of the ISIS attacks, executions, subsequent enslavement, and other atrocities they have suffered. FYF and others are working to ensure that those who perpetrated these crimes are held accountable, wherever they are located.”

You can find the full statement here.

FYF turned a new page this month, breaking ground on the Bakery Training Center. Instructors at the center will train Yezidi women in basic business skills (including mathematics) and baking techniques. In turn, this will give trainees better skills to build their own small businesses or secure employment, whether in the IDP setting or upon return to Sinjar. With a recent study in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems indicating that employment plays a significant role in suicide ideation among Yezidi survivors, livelihoods projects like this one are a critical piece of the puzzle for both financial stability and psychological well-being.

Unfortunately, February saw the loss of multiple members of the Yezidi community. In Bersive IDP camp, five tents burned and tragically, four Yezidi lives were lost. This avoidable incident highlighted the desperate need for better housing solutions in Yezidi IDP camps, including pre-fab caravans that don’t require dangerous gas heaters during the cold winter months.

The mental health and suicide crisis is also ongoing, with another young life lost to suicide this month in the Khanke IDP camp. While our Harikara teams were deployed in an effort to prevent the loss of life, the individual at risk was unfortunately no longer at his residence by the time our team arrived. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones. Meanwhile, our team will continue to provide support in the community to the greatest extent possible.

FYF Harikara visits an IDP family

Thank you, friends, for your continued solidarity with the Free Yezidi Foundation and the Yezidi people.


Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

In the News
The Jerusalem Post | Yazidis denounce Syrian ruling requiring them to follow Islamic law  | A recent ruling in Syria strips the indigenous Yezidi population of fundamental religious freedoms. FYF is quoted regarding the dangers of subjecting Yezidis to Muslim religious courts.
Kurdistan-24 | Hopelessness, continued displacement lead to spike in suicides among Yezidis: KRG  | FYF mental health and psychosocial support paraprofessionals are quoted in this article highlighting  increased suicide numbers among the displaced Yezidi population.
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FYF Monthly Newsletter - January 2021

Yezidi IDP camp, IraqDear friends,

We at the Free Yezidi Foundation wish you a Happy New Year and a healthy 2021. This year has brought some challenging developments, but also some exciting new projects and opportunities.

This month, we have unfortunately witnessed a spike in Yezidi suicides and suicide attempts. In addition, Iraq's federal government has closed camps in federal Iraq and may seek to close camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where most Yezidi IDPs currently reside. FYF issued a statement on these two developments:

"Suicide rates have increased among Yezidi IDP camp residents...it appears that the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated an already acute community-wide trauma. There is need for targeted, smart efforts to provide trauma treatment to Yezidis, with a focus on supporting Yezidi-led organizations."

"Forced closures of IDP camps and premature return to Sinjar right now is unsafe and unsustainable for most Yezidis, which is why they choose to remain in the camps...If and when IDPs voluntary choose to return, they should be strongly supported. But IDP camps should not be closed in an effort to force the hand of an endangered, persecuted minority community. Instead, Yezidis should have the right to remain in the relative safety of IDP camps if they choose, while government bodies and international and local aid organizations should deploy wide-scale trauma treatment to address suicide risks. Traumatized or suicidal civilians will not benefit from being made homeless. While IDP camps should not be the permanent future for Yezidis, they do offer basic protection and housing and should not be forcibly closed until their residents freely choose to leave."

Please find the full statement here: FYF Statement on the Yezidi Suicide Crisis and Threat of Camp Closures.

Visit of Netherlands Foreign Ministry to FYF center, January 2021

The Free Yezidi Foundation is grateful to the Netherlands Foreign Ministry for supporting our education, livelihood, and trauma service provision for Yezidi IDPs. In early January, FYF was pleased to host a visit from Netherlands Embassy - Baghdad and Consulate - Erbil officials. The primary focus of this visit was trauma and MHPSS service provision, especially FYF's Harikara model. FYF continues to urge the Netherlands and other governments to invest in trauma treatment and MHPSS service provision, in coordination with civil society organizations that are active within affected communities and can connect with women, men, and children to provide stabilization and coping techniques.

FYF Justice Project Manager Waheeda Omer discussed the Yezidi situation at a virtual presentation with Techfugees.


Combating GBV and Gender Discrimination

The following is an excerpt describing FYF's USAID-funded program, recently completed, to combat gender discrimination and gender-based violence:

"Iraq is a tribal society. When people face problems they often go to traditional tribal and religious leaders to find solutions. This is particularly challenging for women and girls: 'Women face a lot of stigma if they decide to go to the police or authorities. People might talk about them, and sometimes they might think that the woman committed a crime. Many women choose to stay silent rather than seek solutions to their problems,' said Zozan, a Supervisor with the Free Yezidi Foundation (FYF), a USAID partner. When problems involve violations of women's and girls' rights, leaders tend to use traditional solutions that favor men and may result in harmful outcomes for women, such as underage and forced marriages. In extreme cases, tribal leaders can issue decisions that could even lead to an honor killing." (USAID, 21 January 2021) The full piece can be found at the USAID website. We are grateful to USAID for generously funding this important project.


FYF Center in Sheikhan, and GBV team outreach to community leaders and community members


This month, the Free Yezidi Foundation has completed an agreement with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to transform its existing Carpet Factory facility into the Free Yezidi Foundation's Enterprise and Training Center. In the coming months, FYF will begin opening new programs in this facility, including a grand opening event, depending on the COVID-19 situation in the community.

FYF envisions a bustling facility where Yezidis from the IDP and host communities can learn, grow, attain skills, identify job opportunities, and strengthen their personal and community-wide economic positions. Much more will be shared in the coming months on this and other targeted initiatives to facilitate economic empowerment in the Yezidi community.

Thank you, friends, for your continued solidarity with the Free Yezidi Foundation and the Yezidi people.


Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

In the News
Lawfare Blog | Negotiating Peace in Iraq's Disputed Territories: Modifying the Sinjar Agreement | This article includes the Free Yezidi Foundation's comments on the inclusion of the Yezidi community on decision-making processes related to Sinjar.

USAID | Advocating for Gender Sensitive Negotiation in Northern Iraq | This article describes a USAID-funded project implemented in Sheikhan by the Free Yezidi Foundation.

Rudaw | 'We Need Help': Suicides Spike at Duhok's Camps for Yazidis | The increase in suicides and suicide attempts among the Yezidi community is reaching a crisis point; this article includes FYF comments and analysis on trauma treatment and recovery.

The Media Line | Techfugees Data Hub Live Session - Rebuilding Cities in Iraq | Techfugees hosted FYF in an online session about the experience of Yezidis in Iraq and next steps in rebuilding the community.

Kurdistan-24 | Some Yezidi Survivors Still Fear Returning Home to Sinjar  | The Free Yezidi Foundation is quoted in this article regarding the need for support to Yezidi survivors returning from ISIS captivity, including those with children born from rape.
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FYF Monthly Newsletter - December 2020

Yezidi child celebrating the holiday, December 2020 (photo obtained with informed consent of child and legal guardian)


Dear friends,

We at the Free Yezidi Foundation wish you a happy and healthy holiday season. Yezidis also celebrate an important holiday in December: Ida Ezid. According to tradition Yezidis fast for three days and then celebrate the holiday. Despite the suffering of the community, families do their best to mark this holiday occasion, even from tents in the IDP camps or from the huts or unfinished buildings where they live. At the same time, we wish those celebrating other religious holidays in December a pleasant holiday season.

December 9th marked the International Day of Commemoration & Dignity of the Victims of Genocide. FYF issued the following statement: "On the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of Genocide, FYF points to the promises made a long time ago that appear to have been forgotten. We need to ensure and reiterate that never again means never again. Justice for survivors of a genocide brings back some hope that they had lost in humanity. Around the world, there must be action, so survivors can believe in a system that will protect the most vulnerable. The lives of the next generation depend on decisions and actions that take place now. Impunity today will have deleterious consequences tomorrow."


Yezidi genocide survivors in August 2014 (photos Sebastian Meyer)


As the year comes to a close, FYF is wrapping up its 2020 trauma portfolio and preparing for service provision in 2021. Similarly, new elements of justice efforts, including continued and expanded collaboration with UNITAD, will be forthcoming in the new year. Operations will be continuing at the FYF Women's and Children's Centers, at our base of operations in Sheikhan, and through our mobile team in Shariya. FYF remains concerned by the spread of the COVID-19 virus not only in the camp but also in areas of Shingal which are still lacking adequate health and service provision for civilians. FYF and many other Yezidi and international actors are putting forth best efforts to warn all members of the community about the danger of COVID-19 and share prevention measures that can be taken.

FYF courtesy visit with Ido Baba Sheikh, who died recently due to COVID-19 complications. He and his late brother, the former Baba Sheikh and Yezidi religious leader, were pillars of strength and wisdom in the Yezidi community. FYF urges all Yezidis, especially in the camps, to wear masks for protection against the COVID-19 pandemic.

FYF is beginning to recruit trainees / beneficiaries for its Bakery Training Center, to begin classes and operations in 2021. The purpose of the Center is to provide the trainees with business and basic math courses, bakery training, and on-site practice working in and establishing a functioning business. The skills to be taught are transferrable to other locations and other businesses. If and when beneficiaries return to Sinjar, they will have gained some skills and tools to improve their economic opportunities in the future.

FYF Women's Center Graduation on 7 December 2020


On 7 December, FYF Women's Center beneficiaries graduated. This was the reaction from one graduate, Almas*: "My life has changed a lot after attending classes at FYF's Women's Center. I did not know how to sew and knit before, but since attending classes [here] I have been able to produce many different garments. Attending those classes helped me a lot: psychologically, mentally, and financially. In addition, I opened my own business. It is small, but it makes me feel happy and strong."

Finally, we ask our friends to bear in mind the forthcoming winter and the difficult conditions facing Yezidis living in and out of IDP camps, those who returned to Sinjar, and those living on Mount Sinjar. The bitter cold, danger of tent gas-fires, lack of basic goods and services, and COVID pandemic will make the next months extremely challenging. This is all the more reason to ensure that Yezidis have access to training, education, job opportunities, and a better chance to grow and participate in the modern economy. FYF will be addressing some of these systemic problems in the coming year. In the meantime, we wish strength, resilience, and health to our people through the harsh winter.


IDP camp residents struggle through harsh winters (photo courtesy @Ezidi2)


Finally we have nearly reached our goal for our end of the year fundraising! If you want to make a donation via GlobalGiving, please click here.

Thank you, friends, for your continued solidarity with the Free Yezidi Foundation and the Yezidi people. We wish you a Happy New Year and a prosperous and safe 2021.



Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation


In the News
RED | De Free Yezidi Foundation probeert hoop te bieden | This article (in Dutch) outlines the Free Yezidi Foundation activities and its impact on its beneficiaries.

Kurdistan-24 Prominent Yezidi Activist Ido Baba Sheikh Dies from COVID-19 | This article quotes Yezidi leaders and organizations, including the Free Yezidi Foundation, in lamenting the passing of Ido Baba Sheikh.
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FYF Monthly Newsletter - November 2020

FYF hand-knitted items, fall / winter 2020Dear friends,

This month our staff members and beneficiaries have been preparing for another winter ahead in the IDP camps. As last year's winter was very cold, our women's center beneficiaries have been making winter products for their family members or for sale in the community. We are anticipating the opening of a formal storefront in the coming months, where FYF will sell hand-crafted items by Yezidi women. Stay tuned for more developments in 2021!

FYF has also been producing thousands of masks and PPE for free distribution in the camps to combat COVID-19. Through a generous grant, FYF has been able to employ local Yezidi women to produce and distribute masks in the IDP camps. We remain extremely concerned by the prospect of COVID-19 spread through the camps and in Sinjar. In both locations, health provisions are low and the risk of spread and danger to vulnerable individuals is very high. We call on all organizations and leaders within the Yezidi community to emphasize the importance of adhering to WHO safety and health guidelines.

Toward the end of November, FYF participated in marking the global effort to highlight the importance of combating gender-based violence, sexual violence, and promotion of women's rights and women's equality. Organizations all over the world are taking 16 days of to highlight activism in this important field, which is also part of all FYF projects. As a women-led organization working with countless survivors of sexual violence and gender-based violence, we call for protection of women in every community in the world, including our own.

FYF Harikara discuss justice and women's rights in an IDP camp


The Free Yezidi Foundation also participated in two discussions hosted by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum this month, highlighting the situation facing Yezidis six years on from the ISIS genocide. FYF's Executive Director and Justice Project Manager participated in the two events.

This month, Samantha Elhassani was sentenced to more than six years in Indiana, United States, for her role in providing material support to a terror organization. The full US Department of Justice press release can be found here.

The Free Yezidi Foundation has been advocating for appropriate criminal charges for all members of ISIS, male or female, in all relevant jurisdictions in response to the genocide perpetrated against Yezidis. The role that all forms of financial, material, and human resource support that were extended to ISIS to help it achieve its ghastly aims - especially the sale, purchase, and rape of Yezidi 'slaves' in the ISIS caliphate - should be prosecuted.

In the News
Al-Monitor | Indiana Woman Gets 6 Years in Prison after Smuggling Cash for the Islamic State | This article quotes FYF comments on the Elhassani case.

Kurdistan-24 Yezidis Suspicious over Syrian Opposition Leader Visit to Town in Afrin | This article includes comments from FYF on the situation of Yezidis in Afrin.

El Periodico | la Lucha del pueblo Yazidi seis anos despues del genocidio  | This article (in Spanish) includes excerpts of an interview with the FYF Executive Director on post-genocide recovery.

Kurdistan-24 Yezidis Official in KRG Responsible for rescuing Yezidi Awarded with Sergio Vieira De Mello Prize | This article includes the FYF position on continued efforts to rescue kidnapped Yezidis.


Finally, as we enter the Giving season, we again ask you to consider supporting the Free Yezidi Foundation.

Please donate to one of the FYF projects on GlobalGiving. To donate on GlobalGiving click here

Thank you, friends, for your continued solidarity with the Free Yezidi Foundation and the Yezidi people.


Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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Organization Information

Free Yezidi Foundation

Location: Duhok, NA - Iraq
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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