‘Survivors of Yazidi genocide & sex slavery denied justice in Iraqi trials over ISIS’
“This community has suffered so much throughout this genocide…,” co-founder of the Yazda humanitarian organization, Murad Ismael said. “Roughly 12,000 Yazidis were killed or enslaved. We’ve found so far more than 45 mass graves, that have the remains of thousands of people.”
“We still have roughly 3,000 who remain in captivity or who remain missing, even though there have been a lot of areas recaptured from ISIS,” Ismael said. “We’ve been able to bring some of them back, but roughly 3,000 are still missing… They are mostly women and children, and we don’t know where they are at. We know that a lot of the children have been brainwashed and they can no longer even speak their mother language and they have been assimilated in some cases into families and they have been taken in some cases to other countries like Turkey.”
While Iraqi and Kurdish authorities have been undertaking significant efforts to find and rescue those enslaved by IS (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), the survivors are yet to see any justice served against their abusers, said Belkis Wille, senior Iraq researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“In the process of the battles against ISIS, of course, thousands of civilians were killed and among them surely also Yazidis... Yazidis that were being held as prisoners by ISIS,” Wille told RT. “The Kurdish authorities and the Iraqi authorities made efforts to get those Yazidis still alive and under the control of ISIS out of their control. There were many ransoms that were paid by government officials, but also by personal individuals.”
“But what you have not seen is any serious efforts by the Kurdish or Baghdad government to ensure that Yazidi victims get their day in court and get justice for what has been done to them,” Wille pointed out. Such injustices, she said, may force part of the community to take matters into their own hands and seek revenge.
“You have thousands of men and boys being held and charged for membership with ISIS in Iraq. And yet not a single one of them has yet been charged for specific abuses against the Yazidi community. Even when some of these men and boys admit to judges during the trials against them that they held Yazidi sex slaves. But Yazidis are not being invited in courtroom, are not being invited to these trials, and are not being granted real access to justice,” she said.
“The Iraqi authorities have been very adamant that they do not want the international community getting too involved in the ongoing trials. They have said in meetings with me and also publicly many times, ‘the victims were Iraqi, the crimes happened in Iraq and therefore we’re the only government that has jurisdiction over these crimes.’"