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#NeverAgain: Justice for Iraqi Christians is long overdue

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Photo Credit: Ewelina Ochab

By Ewelina Ochab

In November I visited Iraq where I met Iraqi Christian internally displaced persons living in Erbil. I met with a number of families from Mosul, Quaragosh, Karamless, and Bartallah that have fled Daesh. I also met with several NGOs helping Christians in the Middle East, including SOS Chretiens, a number of NGOs collecting the evidence of the Daesh atrocities, including Shlomo and Hammurabi Human Rights Organisations, and a number of religious leaders.  Lastly, I visited some of the liberated areas: Quaragosh, Karamless, and Bartallah.

After Daesh took over Ninevah Plains in August 2014, the Iraqi Christians have fled to Erbil and other parts of Kurdistan. Hundreds of Iraqi Christians have left the region for Jordan, Lebanon, and other countries. However, there are still many internally displaced Iraqi Christians living in Kurdistan. There are four camps for Iraqi Christians in Erbil. Families live there in small metal containers. They are provided with some humanitarian assistance. They are reasonably safe. However, many families continue to leave every day.

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        Photo Credit: Ewelina Ochab

Those who stayed the last two years and three months still hope that they would be able to go back to their homes. However, I have seen their homes in Ninevah Plains and it seems that they will not be able to return anytime soon. The three towns I managed to visit: Quaragosh, Bartallah, and Karamless are destroyed. Daesh looted one house after another without leaving any stone unturned. The houses, churches, schools, and shops are looted, burnt down, and some contractually damaged. In every church that I have visited: crosses are broken, the statutes of Jesus and Holly Mary are destroyed, Holly Bibles and books burnt (see: speakupagainstgenocide.wordpress.com/blog/) . These pictures from the recently liberated areas send one and very clear message – Daesh specifically intended to destroy Christianity in the area and everything that Christianity is associated with. This is genocide.

It’s been over four weeks since some of the towns in Ninevah Plains have been liberated, however, there is still a lot of work before people will be able to go back and start rebuilding their lives. The Ninevah Plains Units are checking houses for explosives and Daesh tunnels, and making the safe houses. Some of the houses destroyed by Daesh would need to be checked whether their construction is safe and sound for people to live in. The Daesh tunnels would have to be sealed off. The list of necessary works goes on.

However, Ninevah Plains needs more than only reconstruction of the towns.  The persecuted minorities in Ninevah Plains need a guarantee that the atrocities committed by Daesh will never happen again. They need a guarantee that they will be safe in their homes and will not have to flee in the middle of the night yet again. They also need justice. Recognising the atrocities committed against Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities in Syria and Iraq as genocide is the first step towards the adequate administration of justice, reconciliation, and healing. The Daesh fighters must be prosecuted for their crimes amounting to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The victims deserve justice and this justice is long overdue.

Ewelina Ochab serves as a legal counsel in Vienna, Austria for ADF International. Her interests include persecution of Christians worldwide, ISIS/Daesh genocide in Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram in West Africa and minorities in South Asia. She has presented reports in the United Nations Forum on Minority rights. Ewelina obtained a LL.B degree with honours at Kent university, UK and currently is She is a PhD candidate in International Law and Medical Ethics.  She also published a book on ISIS/Daesh genocide ‘Never Again: Legal Responses to a Broken Promise in the Middle East’

“They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis”

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Report by International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic

ISIS has committed the crime of genocide as well as multiple crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Yazidis, thousands of whom are held captive in the Syrian Arab Republic where they are subjected to almost unimaginable horrors.

The present report, which focuses on violations committed in Syria, is based on 45 interviews with survivors, religious leaders, smugglers, activists, lawyers, medical personnel, and journalists. Considerable documentary material was used to corroborate information collected by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.

ISIS has sought to destroy the Yazidis through killings; sexual slavery, enslavement, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and forcible transfer causing serious bodily and mental harm; the infliction of conditions of life that bring about a slow death; the imposition of measures to prevent Yazidi children from being born, including forced conversion of adults, the separation of Yazidi men and women, and mental trauma; and the transfer of Yazidi children from their own families and placing them with ISIS fighters, thereby cutting them off from beliefs and practices of their own religious community, and erasing their identity as Yazidis. The public statements and conduct of ISIS and its fighters clearly demonstrate that ISIS intended to destroy the Yazidis of Sinjar, composing the majority of the world’s Yazidi population, in whole or in part.

In the present report, the Commission has made wide-ranging recommendations to the United Nations, the Governments of Syria and Iraq, and the wider international community concerning the protection of and care for the Yazidi community of Sinjar. While noting States’ obligations under the Genocide Convention, the Commission repeated its call for the Security Council to refer urgently the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, or to establish an ad hoc tribunal with relevant geographic and temporal jurisdiction.

Over 3,200 Yazidi women and children are still held by ISIS. Most are in Syria where Yazidi females continue to be sexually enslaved and Yazidi boys, indoctrinated, trained and used in hostilities. Thousands of Yazidi men and boys are missing. The genocide of the Yazidis is on-going.

Read the full report here:  International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic page 

*We are thankful to the Commission  for the permission of this publication here

 

 

#FreeAasia GMA Twitterstorm

 

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Suggested Tweets for #FreeAasia

We urge #Pakistan Supreme Court to end years long oppression of a mother falsely accused of #blasphemy #FreeAasia

Blasphemy laws are instrument of oppression and persecution #FreeAasia

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No mother in the world should ever be condemned to live behind bars over unsubstantiated charges of blasphemy #FreeAasia

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Poor Christian mother languish in prison over false blasphemy case since 2009.

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Join us and raise a voice against the widespread misuse of Pakistan blasphemy laws #FreeAasia

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