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

 

FYF Statement - ISIS Burn Crop Fields in Sinjar

 

 

Dear Friends, 

Please see the FYF statement regarding ISIS terrorist operation to burn crop fields in Sinjar. To obtain the PDF file, please click here. This morning we received the news that two Yezidis died after trying to extinguish the fire. We are very saddende by this news. We remain saying that it is not yet safe for our people to return. 

 

We are hearing that our people that tried to go back to Sinjar are now once again fleeing the area. This means that the overcowded camps will have people waiting for a tent to sleep in. The suffering of our people continues, as ISIS continues insurgent, sleeper cell attacks.


Sincerely,

Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation


 

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Yezidi Children Born from Rape; Rights of Yezidi Women 

 

The Yezidi Spiritual Council, the supreme body charged with binding religious decisions for Yezidis, has in the last days addressed the very difficult issue of children born to Yezidi mothers from the rape of Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) members. This is an incredibly difficult matter for Yezidi civilian and authorities alike. 

Generally, both mother and father must be Yezidi for a child to be considered Yezidi. It appears that the Yezidi Spiritual Council initially decided that these children, though born from Daesh fathers, could be accepted into the Yezidi community with their mothers. This was the interpretation of many of us when reading the initial decision. However, largely due to outcry among the Yezidi population, a clarification was issued days later. The clarification stated that such children would not be welcomed as part of the Yezidi community. 

The atrocities committed by Daesh make it extremely difficult for Yezidi civilians or leaders to accept their children into the community. Yezidis will feel that ‘Daesh blood’ should never be accepted. However, the Yezidi women who were captured, raped, and gave birth to such children are now faced with immense difficulty and further trauma. FYF has treated a number of women with children born from Daesh rapists. In some cases, Yezidi mothers have chosen to leave the children behind and return to the Yezidi community. In other cases, Yezidi mothers wish to remain with and protect their children. These mothers find themselves facing serious challenges. Often, their families will not accept the children born of rape. The mother herself bears the burden of the trauma of enslavement and rape, along with stigma and shame of wishing to care for her ‘Daesh’ child. 

The Free Yezidi Foundation neither agrees with nor rejects the Yezidi Spiritual Council’s decision. These are difficult cultural and religious matters. But the primary concern is the manner in which such decisions are made. 

Like many other Middle Eastern societies, Yezidi society is dominated by male decision-making. In this case, Yezidi men have decided whether or not Yezidi mothers should be allowed to remain with their children. The Yezidi community suffers from intense, prolonged trauma, and the presence of the children of Daesh members in the community would certainly be troubling. However, the trauma facing the Yezidi mothers themselves is far greater. The impact of such decisions on Yezidi mothers is not heavily considered, and that is because of rampant discrimination and sexism against women within Yezidi society. As a traditional, insulated ethno- religious minority, Yezidis have developed our own ways of surviving. Unfortunately, one negative aspect of our social structure is the subjugation of the rights of women. 

The Yezidi Spiritual Council appears ready to test social norms through forward looking practices. This included the attempt, now failed, to accept the children of Yezidi mothers conceived through

the rape of Daesh fighters. This also includes the decision to ‘accept’ Yezidi women back into society even after they have been raped by Daesh members. But we as Yezidis must also think carefully about that decision. Should such a decision even be necessary? Without such a decision, would it have been acceptable for Yezidi families to reject their own daughters, wives, or mothers because of the horrors inflicted upon them by Daesh? This could only be possible in a society where the value of women is extremely low, in comparison to international standards. We as Yezidis must urgently and forcefully improve the treatment of women in our society. 

There are other instructive examples of religious and cultural oppression of Yezidi women. In many cases, Yezidi women will marry upon the decision of their parents. In some cases, the woman or girl will participate in the decision making. In many other cases, the woman or girl will have no choice. This has been a problem prior to the Daesh genocide perpetrated against Yezidis. Currently, early marriage and forced marriage are of great concern in the Yezidi community, including in the IDP camps. There are some unfortunate cases where young Yezidi women have burned themselves to death rather than live a life that is forced upon them by their parents. This trauma did not come from Daesh, it came from inside our own society. Therefore, this is something we Yezidis can and should fix. 

We Yezidis have rightly appealed to the international community for aid and assistance during the attempted eradication of our people and the horrific crimes of sexual violence committed against Yezidi women. When young Yezidi women are forced to marry much older Yezidi men in the camp, we as Yezidis must think carefully about the image and the reality of our own traditions and work very hard to modernize our culture. If not, those who rallied to support Yezidis as an endangered, surviving community will notice the maltreatment and abuse of women existing within our own society. 

Relatedly, in many cases Yezidi women are restricted from education at an early age. In the Yezidi community, there was and remains a great challenge for Yezidi girls to attain an education beyond primary school. Some families do not wish this for their young girls. This archaic practice should end. We Yezidis must begin to treat girls and boys as equals and help provide basic skills and rights to all of our children. 

Another matter of concern to Yezidis living in the diaspora, especially Europe, is relationships with members of other communities. In Europe, there are a number of Yezidi men who have relationships, wives, and even children with non-Yezidis. This is generally kept quiet, as it is considered a ‘shame’ to be hidden. However, if a Yezidi woman would have a relationship with a non-Yezidi, she would be executed. This is a so-called ‘honor’ killing. This happened recently in Europe, where a Yezidi woman was shot in the face as a result of her relationship. In other cases, Yezidi women are lured to Sinjar, where they are executed far away from any rule of law. The double standard and the subjugation of women’s rights and the value of women’s lives compared to men’s is stark. We as Yezidis, especially those of us who live in the Western world and understand international law and human rights, must think very carefully about these old traditions and how to change them to fit in with the current times, laws, and norms. Yezidi family members exiling or executing women in the community is never, ever acceptable. 

Of course, many other communities in Iraq face similar problems in terms of oppression of women and gender rights. But we are concerned specifically with the Yezidi community, and the fact that 

abuse and maltreatment occur in other Iraqi communities does not normalize or justify these problems among Yezidis. 

At the same time, we must acknowledge that there are many good, heroic Yezidi men who believe in women’s rights. In such families, women have the good fortune of being treated more fairly and can live better, freer lives. But this in itself exposes the problem – only the presence of more modern, kinder men in the family can ‘grant’ women their rights. Women’s rights in our society is not automatic and inalienable. This is wrong. Yezidi society must move forward into the 21st century, and we must dramatically improve our behavior towards women. 

The Free Yezidi Foundation deals with many women who struggle with the issues of forced or early marriages, mistreatment and abuse, and other serious social problems. We also deal with those Yezidi mothers who have children from Daesh fathers through rape. The decision by the Yezidi Spiritual Council must therefore be seen through a wider, gendered lens. This decision, or shall we say the reversal of the original decision, has been based on the wishes of the larger Yezidi community. And by this, we mean Yezidi men, whether political or tribal leaders, with the exclusion of Yezidi women. Once again, the decision of the community comes at the expense of the wishes and needs of Yezidi women; in this case, Yezidi mothers who must choose between Yezidi society on one hand and their children on the other. 

FYF abhors the disgraceful and inhumane behavior of Daesh members, including Daesh women, who planned and carried out the most unspeakable crimes against innocent Yezidi civilians. However, it is unacceptable to abandon Yezidi mothers because of their will to remain with their children. These Yezidi mothers have the sole right to decide to raise their children. Neither Yezidi society nor the families of these mothers have the right to make such decisions. Whatever choice the Yezidi mother makes, we as the Free Yezidi Foundation will provide her with all support possible. Our women’s center has been and will remain a safe space for Yezidi women, including these Yezidi mothers, regardless of any decisions from community figures or religious authorities. 

The Free Yezidi Foundation calls for the resettlement abroad of Yezidi mothers who have children born from Daesh rapists. These mothers and children will not find safe haven in Iraq. According to Iraqi law, a child born from a Muslim father will be considered Muslim regardless of the mother’s identity. [This is only one of a multitude of discriminatory regulations that adversely affect women and religious minorities in Iraq.] To provide relief and any prospect of a life for these mothers and children, options in foreign countries should be provided as soon as possible. 

 

Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director 

Free Yezidi Foundation 

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Children’s Center - Teaching Kinder and Gentler Parenting to Create Better Generations

 

Dear supporters of the Free Yezidi Foundation,

 

As you all know, we have been working with the Yezidi community since ISIS started a genocidal campaign in August 2014. Through the years we have seen many things that need to be discussed in our own community. Things that in many cases are shoved under the rugs and not talked about. We want to address those things with our community members, make the older generation and the younger generation more aware of how things in society should be handled. One of these subjects is parenting and the treatment of children in general. In the Middle East, there are not adequate protections for children regarding their treatment by family members. Aside from this, we have to keep in mind that displacement children are even more vulnerable to violence, exploitation, and sexual abuse. We are aware of this, and at FYF we try reform outdated cultural practices and dispel myths that parents should use violence against their children to discipline them. We try to educate parents how to be kinder and loving parents, and to discipline their children in a way where they are encouraging good behavior instead of using violence. Not only does this provide immediate benefits for children living in the camp, but it also creates healthier families for the future. This sets a new example for children and future generations to lead lives free of violence. All the FYF Children center staff are trained in basic psychological first aid for children and can identify children who are in great need in our community. Our centers are a safe space where children’s voices are heard and we make sure that they feel comfortable and understand that they need to be treated well.

 

 

Aside from educating parents, one of FYF’s top priorities to educate children. Recently we had over one hundred Yezidi children graduate from the Children’s Center. These children have been diligently attending classes there for three months. The FYF children’s center fosters a safe and nurturing environment where children can be children again, despite their challenging circumstances in camp. We prepare children for life after the camp when they return back to their homes. In the future, we will continue our focus on education and the treatment of trauma. In addition, thanks to our children’s center, we were able to ensure that mothers participating in our women’s center program had access to daycare. Providing a safe space for children allows mothers to participate in educational courses and therefore expand their horizons. Those mothers would not be able to participate if there was not a safe place to leave their children while they are in the women’s center. 

 

FYF is guided by the goal of creating long-term change, one person at a time. Together we go Towards a Brighter Future!!

 

Sincerely,

 

 - Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

 

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Free Yezidi Foundation Report: Impact of Potential Withdrawal of US Troops from Syria

Dear Friends,

The Free Yezidi Foundation has written a report outlining the impact of a potential withdrawal or drawdown of United States forces from Syria. This can have serious consequences on the security of minorities, including Yezidis, and the reasonable prospects of recovery and safe, dignified return to Sinjar and other lands. The same is true for other minorities, including Iraqi and Syrian Christians. The report is below attached. You can also find the report on our website here. We cannot overstate the importance of security and stability in Eastern Syria and Iraq if we are every to consider a safe and sustainable place for minorities in the future.
Sincerely,

- Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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Pari Ibrahim, Founder and Executive Director Free Yezidi Foundation.
Credit photo: Ralph Reutimann 

 

Dear Friends,

Last week I participated in the Decade of the Women forum in Iceland to promote gender equity and the Sustainable Development Goals. For me all the SDGs are important, but SDG #5 is of special value.
 

"Gender equality matters. Showing that it matters strengthens those that are living with inequality. Many of the women appreciate seeing women leaders, it shows that in the future equality can be achieved. With this in mind, strength to fight for equality rises."

 
I look every day when I wake up to the peacock I am holding in my hand in the picture above. The peacock is the symbol of the Yezidi religion. It shows me strength and beauty. I grew up in a community where women are not granted equal rights and opportunities. We are all human beings, we all belong on this earth, yet we forget or are not willing to recognize that some people of different religions or genders are not treated with respect and dignity. My peacock has equal feathers. When the peacock opens its feathers, they are all equal in length and beauty. The strength and wisdom of our people and of our gender should be recognised and respected equally as others, and we will fight until it is so.

We were invited to the event by wonderful partners and donors. Please see the information below about a generous and exciting matching campaign, up to $100,000!

 

 

DECADE OF THE WOMEN ANNOUNCES YEAR-END MATCH GRANTS
FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS


Reykjavik, Iceland - December 17, 2018.


As part of the Decade of Women Forum this week in Iceland 5th Element Group PBC and its partner Solver announced a US $1 million year-end matching grant campaign to benefit women and girls.


The first non-profit partner selected for the matching funds award is the Free Yezidi Foundation, founded by Pari Ibrahim, which is responding to the brutal genocide of the Yezidi community by ISIS, trough a variety of strategic support initiatives for women and children, from psychological services to computer skill training, that help these survivors re-enter society.


The announcement was inspired by the story of courageous vulnerability told to the world by 2018 Nobel Laureate Nadia Murad, who was made a sex slave by ISIS but escaped and then spoke out to help end the outrage of sexual violence as a weapon of war, and to secure freedom and basic rights for the Yezidi people. 

 

"Nadia and Pari both remind us that the fight for any cause like this is about a fight for communities, and for the dignity of individual people. The Yezidi people are emblematic of people in captivity, people neglected, all around the world."
- Jim Van Eerden,  President 5th Element


The match donation was directed trough 5th Element Group PBC and its partner Solver to address the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Funding support was provided by Semnani Family Foundation, in connection with the work of the SDG Impact Fund. This year's campaigns all involve projects that uplift women and girls and bring attention to key aspects of the effort to help.

Read full press release here.

 

Nadia Murad, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

 

By supporting the Free Yezidi Foundation, you support Yezidi women to become leaders in our community and to fight for fair and equal treatment. Our community needs this.



If you donate by the end of this year you will double your amount with no extra cost to you. What that means is that if we raise $100, the donors will match it with $100. If we end up raising $80,000, the donors will match it with $80,000.



Every donation helps our community to address trauma and move towards recovery, provide guidance on justice and accountability, and also give humanitarian support to members of our community who are displaced and living in tents once again this winter. 



We are appreciative that you have continued to donate to our cause and your generosity and support is an encouraging reminder of why I began these projects; to help those most vulnerable in a post-genocide setting. I hope you will consider telling your friends and family to support our projects, especially since any donation will be doubled until 31st of December. 


In US/UK/Canada, you can donate to any of the following GlobalGiving links:

Yezidi women's center - programs for 2019
Yezidi children's center -  programs for 2019
Justice for Yezidi Women and Girls


In Europe or elsewhere, you can donate here:

Free Yezidi



I really hope we can, once again, count on your support.

I wish you and your loved ones Happy Holidays and best wishes in the New Year!



Sincerely,

- Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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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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