Thousands of Yezidi women remain enslaved by the Islamic State: activist

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Yezidi Kurds in diaspora show support to their peers abducted by ISIS in northern Iraq. File photo

ARA News

Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a Yezidi human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, said that almost no Yezidi women have been rescued from the Islamic State (ISIS) since the Mosul operation started in October.

“While the world is plunged in politics, 3,400 Yezidi women and girls remain [in sexual slavery]. Only a few have escaped since the Mosul operation stated,” Taha said. “I have been receiving calls from Yezidi families who need help to rescue their women and girls in ISIS captivity. It is unbearable.”

“A Yazidi mother told me that her 16-year-old daughter’s rescue from ISIS sex slavery costs $15,000 and she cannot pay,” the human rights activist said. “Even when there is a possibility for [Yazidi women] to be rescued, there is no financial support for the work. Unbelievable pain.”

When ISIS jihadists attacked the Iraqi Yezidi communities in August 2014, they raped and forcibly married the thousands of young women they captured in an orgy of violence. They also converted their female captures to their own brand of Sunni Islam and sold them in slave markets across their would-be Caliphate. ISIS is still holding a significant number of sex slaves, according to Belkis Wille, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

According to the United Nations, as of August, ISIS still held 1,935 Yezidi women, as well as 1,864 Yezidi men. Local activists on October 24 reported that at least 70 Yezidi women and children have been rescued since the beginning of the operation to retake Mosul.

“I have asked human rights colleagues in Erbil what the military plan is for assisting the Yezidi population inside Mosul, in the context of the ongoing operation,” Taha said. “They said this is a conversation that hasn’t occurred yet.”

In August 2014, ISIS extremists took over the Yezidi autochthonal settlement area in Shingal District. Almost 400,000 residents were displaced, fleeing to Duhok and Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. Tens of thousands of Yezidis remained trapped on Mount Sinjar, suffering mass killings, kidnappings and rape, according to local and military sources. 

On November 13, Kurdish forces backed by the US-led coalition, pushed ISIS out of Shingal city. The Kurdish Peshmerga have recently discovered more than five mass graves in the Yezidi region, where hundreds of civilians were summarily executed and ignominiously dumped.

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