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Thousands of Yazidis 'Left to Their Fate' in Clutches of Isil

Published: 11th August 2015 09:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th August 2015 09:20 AM   |  A+A-

A Year after thousands of Yazidis were murdered around their historic homeland of Mount Sinjar by Isil jihadists, the woman who drew attention to her people's plight has accused the world of abandoning them to their fate.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph to mark the anniversary of the killings and the capture and mass rape of Yazidi women, Vian Dakhil, Iraq's only Yazidi MP, who made a tearful plea to parliament to save the minority, said refugees were being forced to sell their few possessions to buy back girls from Isil's "slave markets".

But thousands of women, girls and children remain captive, despite the aerial bombardment of Isil (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) positions by the US-led coalition, including Britain. "The world has forgotten us," she said at her family home in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Her own home in Sinjar town was seized and

destroyed by Isil.

"I know Sinjar was not the first town attacked by Isil, but it was the first to have a mass kidnap," She said. "We have a thousand people that no one knows where they are. And yet we are totally forgotten."

Ms Dakhil said that when 250 Nigerian girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram, there was a worldwide campaign to "Bring back our girls". But when she wrote to Michelle Obama to ask for help for Yazidi women, she received no reply.

 "I have been to the United Nations security council three times and spoken there," she said. "Some people were crying. They applauded, then they said 'sorry', and 'goodbye'.

"I have been to the European Parliament six or seven times. 'Oh my God', they say, 'what a terrible story'. And then they do nothing."

The Kurdish-speaking Yazidis are regarded as infidels by Isil for their religion, which is derived from Zoroastrianism and involves worship of a "Peacock Angel". They were driven from Sinjar, on the borders of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region (KAR) and the rest of Iraq, in the first week of August last year in a wave of attacks that subsequently took in Christian areas.

In total, two million people fled, and an estimated 450,000 Yazidis remain living rough in building sites or in primitive refugee camps.

Aerial photographs of thousands of Yazidis stranded in the summer heat last year on top of Mt Sinjar, where children and old people died of dehydration, shocked the world.

A YouTube video of Ms Dakhil weeping in Iraq's parliamentary chamber also spread across the internet. "There is now a campaign of genocide being waged on the Yazidis," she said, as the speaker tried to interrupt her. "Please, Mr Speaker, my people are being slaughtered just as all Iraqis were slaughtered.

"I speak here in the name of humanity. Save us! Save us! An entire religion is being exterminated from the face of the Earth." Isil's attacks, which briefly threatened Erbil, finally prompted US, British and allied intervention. However, without foreign ground troops, the Yazidis remained vulnerable.

Kurdish forces have found 12 mass graves of Yazidis killed a year ago, Ms Dakhil said. Witnesses at the time described to The Daily Telegraph how they saw scores of men being taken out of fleeing convoys, lined up by the roadside, and shot.

Isil openly encourages jihadists to force girls, even in prepubescence, into sexual servitude, justifying it in online jihadist literature by citing the treatment of captive infidel women in early Muslim conquests.

Videos of men bragging about their "purchases", along with price lists rising from a few tens of pounds for older women to pounds 110 for children, have also circulated. Ms Dakhil said she believed reports that a number of women were executed recently for refusing to agree to the jihadists' sexual demands. A decree in the run-up to the fasting month of Ramadan specified that it was now time for the women to "submit". She said that children were also being converted and the boys trained as jihadists.

The Kurdish regional government was originally unwilling to participate in the scheme to ransom women. But Ms Dakhil said it was now helping with money both for payments and to provide social services to the women, who are traumatised, in some cases pregnant, and suffering gynaecological injuries. Some 780 have now been bought back through middle men, at prices of pounds 2,500 to pounds 3,800, and smuggled home but at least 2,000 are still captive.

Money comes from voluntary donations, including from wealthier Yazidis, and by families selling cars, jewellery, and other possessions. Ms Dakhil said the longer-term solution was to increase the pace of the war against Isil, including by providing more weapons directly to the Kurds. Germany has sent MILAN anti-tank missiles and is promising more heavy weapons, but America provides most help via the central government in Baghdad, which she said has done "nothing" for the Yazidis. "There are many ways the world could help," she said.

"More air strikes, they could send the army, or more equipment and arms. We need humanitarian supplies. When the Yazidis do come back from Isil they have nothing."



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