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,

In the United States, today is a special Tuesday, dedicated to Giving.

We ask for your help to raise $100,000 to fund FYF’s work with Yezidi women by the end of the year. Your generous contribution will go towards providing Yezidi women with skills to make them productive members of the workforce and help them to rebuild with dignity and strength.
The Free Yezidi Foundation's spaces are known as safe havens for women and children who come seeking support and kindness. To reach this point, it took a team of very strong women who are dedicated to supporting the beneficiaries through compassion and strength. One of those women is our Country Director, Hewan Omer. 

Country Director Hewan and FYF graduates

Hewan was born in Sinjar, where she was raised with her 3 sisters and 5 brothers. As a little girl she always dreamed of studying English language and literature. In 2013, she enrolled in Duhok University, Department of English and Literature.
During her summer vacation of 2014, she returned to her village to visit her family. When ISIS began its genocidal campaign against Yezidis, Hewan's immediate family managed to escape from Sinjar. Unfortunately, other family members were captured by ISIS.

Despite the sorrow and pain of losing family members and friends, Hewan graduated in 2016, with her father's encouragement. She took a job as an English-language interpreter, helping to provide for her family. In June 2017, Hewan explored the possibility of a greater leadership position with a non-governmental organization. The Free Yezidi Foundation offered her a job in a leadership position. She decided to take this chance to use her language skills and commitment to her people to better support Yezidis. As she grew in ability and confidence, Hewan found her voice, building her confidence and rising to the position of Country Director. She now represents the Free Yezidi Foundation in Iraq, with support from local and international staff members.

FYF Country Director Hewan leading a meeting

Hewan has earned the respect of members of the community and is a beacon of light and hope for beneficiaries interested in seeking FYF services. Her work ethic and the care she provides Yezidi women, girls, and children is extraordinary. Along with her duties as FYF Country Director, Hewan makes an effort to spend time with beneficiaries, staff members, and men and women in the community. She is a leader at FYF and in the community, and will continue to contribute to Yezidi society.
Thank you for all the support over the last couple of years. I hope we can count on you again!



- Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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Dear Friends,

We’re one week away from Giving Tuesday and our organization has set a goal to raise $100,000 before the new year to create positive change for Yezidi women in Iraq. It’s true that it takes a village to ignite real change, so we’re excited to have you rally with us to create a lasting impact through giving.

The Free Yezidi Foundation’s mission is to implement programs to support vulnerable Yezidis who fled their homes following the ISIS genocide in August 2014.

Five years of hard work has brought FYF to where it is today! As an example: we have a Women’s Center in Khanke Camp that offers trauma treatment and jobs skills courses to women in an effort to help them rebuild their lives and start anew. As FYF grows we have seen the beauty and resilience of the women we work with, like Shaha.

Shaha sewing in the Women's Center


Born in Sinjar, Shaha fled along with her parents and eight siblings to Mount Sinjar to escape ISIS in 2014. Fleeing from the horror, Shaha and her family arrived with nothing in Khanke village after a week-long journey. Her family was assigned to a tent outside the official IDP camp, as it was already at capacity. Lacking in basic aid and assistance, Shaha struggled from economic challenges, isolation from the host community, and discrimination. As a result, Shaha never received education, health or social services, and struggled to reestablish herself and build a new life. After two years in destitute conditions, lost in thought about the suffering of her friends and family she had lost, Shaha joined the Free Yezidi Foundation to attend English and Arabic language courses as well as computer, sewing, knitting, and women’s rights classes in the Women’s Center. Eager to start something new, Shaha came to the center where she gained valuable skills and trauma treatment. For the next two years, Shaha was a fixture in the center. As she learned and healed, she felt confident enough to look for a job in Khanke village. As of January 2019, she has been employed in a local tailoring shop. Shaha is a success, inspiring the women around her to improve their own lives and economic opportunities.

Women's Center sewing room


FYF’s mission is to empower women and children in Khanke IDP camp, like Shaha, and teach them the skills necessary not only to survive but thrive, providing income for their families and working to overcome the trauma they have endured. FYF is a woman-led organization that is driven to empower Yezidi women through tailored educational course, psychological treatment and advocacy. 

Shaded space at the FYF Women's Center


If you haven’t done so already, please visit our website, www.freeyezidi.org, and tell your friends and family about our campaign. Spreading the word gets our voices heard and amplifies your impact! If you would like to make a contribution, please go to our Global Giving Projects: https://www.globalgiving.org/donate/27995/free-yezidi-foundation/


I would like to thank you, our Foundation's friends and donors, and I hope we can count on your support for the coming year.


- Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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Group Session
Group Session


Since early September, FYF made some major changes in the schedule of provided classes and hours, which had a positive impact our work. Previously provided sewing, knitting, IT and English language classes lasted for 45min for approx. 18-20 women per class. Now we classes run for 90min with approx. 10 women. FYF’s goal is to concentrate more on quality of provided service rather than quantity. The intimate setting has seen improvements in the skills of the women, which is a huge success.

During the reporting period, FYF’s leadership worked on more regular communication with staff and teachers, which gives them an opportunity to communicate their concerns, ideas and challenges, which increased motivation and creativity in conducting their work. 

The outcome of the aforementioned improvement in communication was changes have also been made in the Children’s Center, reducing the number of children attending classes in order to provide better quality education rather than having more kids than what the space allows. This has led to more children showing improvement in homework and presentations. 

On September 7 through 9, FYF staff and 15 Harikara, attended a workshop provided by National Democratic Institute. The Harikara representatives were trained on basic concepts of democracy, definition, parties, institutions, elections, citizen rights, while FYF staff received training on community dialogue, facilitation, training methodology. This training will be integrated into the work of FYF staff and the Harikara.

FYF has also continued to utilize the garden at our facility to support 14 FYF beneficiaries. Women had their own plots of garden to tend, overseen by FYF senior staff members. Beneficiaries were able to successfully grow a significant quantity of crops, providing both food and a sense of accomplishment. Gardening has given the beneficiaries an outlet that gives them a sense of purpose and meaning. Many of the gardening beneficiaries had serious psychological problems, and some have attempted suicide before. The women were even coming on the weekends, because it helped them physiologically, to have some time for themselves. 

The third week of October, FYF’s 20 Harikara representatives started their work inside of Khanke IDP camp. They are going to work in pairs providing basic phycological support for the families, which starts with a session of normalizing trauma, followed by techniques, such as breathing techniques, butterfly hug, healing light and emotional support. They will also provide extra support if they encounter more demanding cases which include one on one sessions. 

Positive stories

During the reporting period FYF received several international visitors who made small purchases of 4 crafted items women created during their classes. The total of this purchase was 75,000IQD (62.50$) which was distributed amount the ladies (beneficiaries). 

FYF Centre in Khanke became, in a sense, a "safe haven" for not just FYF beneficiaries, but everyone who is in a need to be heard, because it became known in the Yezidi community that FYF staff treat beneficiaries with most utter respect, unparalleled with any other organisation or foundation. Occasionally we would see people sitting in the shade of FYF Centre who would tell us they are not attend classes, but they just feel safe being in the circle of FYF Centre. 

Khanke Camp as Winter Approaches

During the winter season daily life in Khanke Camp becomes harder due to heavy rains,  leaking tents, electricity and wiring becomes more dangerous to handle, which leads to a lot of accidents and deaths. Moreover, shortage of gas is causing problems for the majority of families who cannot afford  to buy it.
Additionally, distribution of cash by various organizations to all IDPs in Khanke Camp was reduced from 20,000 IQD to 11,000 IQD (every 40 days), which cannot provide for a lot.  

Unfortunately, Camp Management cannot do a lot about all these issues as they have stated that funding was cut, and they just need to work with what they were supplied. 

FYF is currently unable to provide necessary financial support or maintenance of the tents as are mandate only provides phycological support services. 

Future activities: 

During the month of December, FYF is planning to organise Children Centre Graduation, of approx. 134 kids. For this occasion FYF is planning to decorate the centre, prepare certificates for the children as well as small gifts. 

During the month of November and December, FYF Harikara representatives are planning to conduct their usual visits to the families of Khanke Camp providing basic phycological support. 

One-on-One Session
One-on-One Session
Women's Center
Women's Center
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Heat, Dust & Hope - Report from Khanke IDP Camp


Khanke IDP camp


Dear Friends,

For five years, the Yezidi community has been highlighting the plight of our displaced people in Iraq. FYF has brought to you many stories from the Khanke camp for internally displaced people. Khanke is not the typical place one might choose to spend an afternoon, let alone years. Yet for 28,000 Yezidis, this is a temporary refuge. Tents, huts, and makeshift shelters stretch as far as the eye can see. Nestling on a dusty stretch of plain, the temperature regularly reaches 108 F (42 C) in the summer. Now in September, the heatwaves of August are beginning to subside, leaving a scorched feeling behind. In the camp, residents already start to worry about the coming winter months. Floods, cold, and the dangers of tent fires will worry Yezidi IDPs in the coming months. The protection against the heat and the cold is a thin fabric tent. Those who use gas heaters take serious risk in their efforts to combat the cold, and the tents easily catch fire.
To the north of Khanke, one can see the mountains that separate Iraq from Turkey. Along that ridge the flames of oil wells and the shapes of Yezidi temples dot the skyline. Battles have been fought for millennia for control of this and neighboring lands, hardly a comfort to the Yezidis, who are the original inhabitants and have struggled to find safety and security here.
Thirty minutes’ drive away is the bustling city of Duhok, with its shopping malls, restaurants, and traffic jams. In Khanke, the pace of life is slower, and residents wait to find out if, when, and how it will be safe to return home to Sinjar. Without stability, economic opportunity, and, most importantly, security, return to Sinjar is a hope for another day.
Significant numbers of women and girls who escaped from ISIS captivity are living in tents and huts like these ones in Khanke. The Yezidi boys who escaped captivity were brainwashed and indoctrinated by ISIS. They struggle to overcome trauma and confusion now that they have returned to the community. Most of the population fled Sinjar, just in time, in August 2014. All who live here carry with them the memories of the unspeakable medieval acts of barbarism and horror they or their family members endured at the hands of ISIS. Yezidis have survived another attempt of eradication.
Still, in this inhospitable place, there are glimmers of optimism and determination. Among the tents, families and communities discuss the daily news, opportunities and challenges, how to manage in the short term and what to hope for in the long term.


Free Yezidi Foundation Center in Khanke


In the Free Yezidi Foundation center, you can hear the children laugh and women smile again. In a cabin near the playground, the FYF yoga teacher is leading a class and helping women and girls to relax. The staff have been trained in psychological first aid. The 26 FYF ‘Harikara’, or ‘helpers’, are lay workers trained in mental health and psycho-social support. These Harikara are all women. They can be seen throughout the camp, in tents, in huts, and walking the dirt roads, speaking to camp residents. The community respects them, and they help men, women, and children to cope with nightmares and panic attacks. The network reaches across the camp and into the non-camp areas, connecting with families. It is an exercise in kindness, empathy, solidarity, and support. It is also an iron will to deny ISIS its aim of destroying the Yezidi community.

The needs in this camp and the many other camps are immense. FYF and other NGOs play important roles in rebuilding lives, one at a time. Lives change, hope can regrow, and individuals and families can learn to love life again.
Thank you, supporters, for your help in backstopping our work and making sure Yezidi women are able to come to our center, feel safe and heard, and study English, Arabic, ICT, women’s rights, and basic livelihood skills. The courses help women to find jobs, start their own businesses, and improve their chances at economic success. And our children's center also serves as a daycare center so that mothers have a chance to learn, heal, grow, and care for themselves too.
One day, our people will return to Sinjar. Until that time, the best the humanitarian community can do is to provide sustainable, transferrable skills so that our people will have better opportunities, capable of living in dignity and prosperity anywhere they go.
Thank you. 


- Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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FYF Statement - Five Year Commemoration of the ISIS Genocide Against Yezidis


Dear Friends,

Five years ago, ISIS militants swept through Shingal and surrounding towns, bent on destruction, murder, rape and pillage. The atrocities, sexual violence, and genocide perpetrated by ISIS or Daesh against Yezidis are now acknowledged by the international community.
It is important that these crimes are not only remembered in terms of numbers or historical facts. The attacks are personal to so many. The horror stories and the sexual violence have left incalculable wounds on individuals and our society as a whole. We in the Yezidi community struggle to provide assistance and rehabilitation to highly traumatized survivors. As of today, the fate of 2,930 Yezidis remains unknown. Already 80 mass graves have been identified and 68 Yezidi religious temples have been destroyed. We must not forget. The world should never forget.
The Free Yezidi Foundation appreciates the attention and contribution from governments, NGOs, and agencies to help Yezidis on the way forward. We also appreciate the efforts of the UNITAD team that seeks to build cases to bring justice and accountability to a place where it is severely lacking. The process takes time, but nonetheless, all parties must press forward, even if justice comes in small doses and over long periods of time.
Five years later, the vast majority of Yezidis remain displaced in Iraq or living abroad – an estimated 360,000 displaced and more than 100,000 emigrated. There is a heavy price to living as displaced person. At the same time, return to Shingal and home villages cannot be prematurely rushed in a way that endangers the welfare and the actual lives of the surviving community.
It is important for friends of Yezidis to realize that the antecedent causes of ISIS atrocities continue to exist in the form of stereotypes, discrimination, and hatred against religious minorities in Iraq. Reconstruction in Shingal moves forward very slowly. Even so, buildings and roads will not bring security and prosperity if we do not have equal rights. For Yezidis to live and succeed in Iraq, it is important to acknowledge that there were already multi-faceted, serious problems facing our communities before ISIS. The military defeat of the ISIS Caliphate does not erase these problems.

Photo: Sebastian Meyer


The following matters are among the cornerstone requisites to address fundamental, systemic problems and improve the prospect of success for Yezidis in Iraq.
1. Diverse religious education. Mandatory changes must be adopted throughout basic and secondary school, throughout Iraq, to ensure that religious education is diverse and acceptable to religious leaders of all Iraq’s minority religion. Many members of the older generation may be too set in their ways to change. But children should learn that all people, of all religions, have equal rights, and not grow up believing members of some religions are inferior. Messages of hate and intolerance that continue to stream from religious institutions in Iraq should be met with serious consequences.
2. Representation. In Baghdad and Erbil, it is essential that minority members of parliament and functional, empowered government actors have voices and can represent their constituencies without fear of reprisal. But further, there must be genuine representation at all levels including governorate, district, and sub-district levels. Local town officials and police officers can have a major impact on whether people feel protected or excluded. There must be enough power devolved to local levels and minority officials so that communities can feel ownership of their progress.
3. Opportunity. For Yezidis in particular, one of the greatest outcomes of isolation and exclusion has been a lack of education and employment opportunities. Traditionally, Yezidis have subsisted and struggled to survive as farmers. Returning to pre-ISIS conditions will not help Yezidis to solve our problems. Rather, every Yezidi, whether in an IDP camp or in villages in and around Sinjar, must have opportunity for basic education and development of skills for better employment. Subsistence agriculture cannot sustain us in the 21st century. We need better access to schooling, universities, job trainings, and job opportunities. Discrimination and acts of hatred or abuse against Yezidis must not be accepted and should be punished by law enforcement according to relevant laws. We do not want any favors or handouts, but we religious minorities demand equal chances.
4. Justice. It is impossible for Yezidis to return home and live comfortably if there is not a successful effort to bring perpetrators to justice. These criminal acts and atrocities must be punished. It is up to all governments, including Iraq and the international community, to ensure that the crime of genocide is not forgotten. Five years later, we fear that perpetrators have committed these crimes with impunity. This cannot stand, and justice must be delivered.
5. Security. The international community should also acknowledge that there will be no return for Yezidis if it is not safe. Now, five years since the ISIS attacks, security is a primary barrier for return, and no force in Iraq is capable or interested in providing security for Yezidis. Furthermore, the resurgence of ISIS is an ongoing, existential threat to Yezidis. It is important to bear in mind that Yezidi IDPs remain in tents primarily because it is not safe for them to go home.
As Yezidis continue to struggle in recovery, the preconditions that enabled our persecution must not be neglected through a focus solely on physical reconstruction. Similarly, we Yezidis must understand that although the international community sympathizes with our plight, it is only Yezidis ourselves who can truly rebuild the community. We Yezidis must learn from others who have overcome persecution. We must strengthen future generations and ensure that we are not dependent on others, whether it is the domestic government or foreign assistance. During a time of genuine sympathy and concern, let us focus on building the skills, the capacity, and the knowledge of our people – not only buildings and roads. This begins with education, modernizing our society with attention to gender equality, and creating economic strength.
August 3rd is a sorrowful day for Yezidis, especially survivors, but we and our friends should mobilize our energies to build a better future through sustainable investments in our people.

This statement is available on the FYF website here. #Remember3August


- 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
$34,038 raised of $100,000 goal
257 donations
$65,962 to go
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