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APPG on Women, Peace and Security: 10 Years of the Yazidi Genocide – The Past, the Present, and the Future

Yazidi Human Rights Advocates Address The UK Parliament Before The 10th Anniversary Of The Yazidi Genocide

On 21 May 2024, Yazidi human rights defenders, Hewan Omer, Free Yezidi Foundation, Country Director, and Khalida Nawaf Ilyas, Free Yezidi Foundation, Livelihoods Manager, addressed the UK Parliament before the 10th anniversary of the Yazidi genocide.

The session, co-hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Yazidis, the APPG on Women, Peace and Security, the APPG on Prevention of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), entitled ‘10 Years of the Yazidi Genocide – The Past, the Present, and the Future’ reflected on the situation of the community since the genocide began in 2014.

On 3 August 2014, Daesh (also known as ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State) attacked the Yazidi community in Sinjar, an ethno-religious numeric minority community in Iraq, unleashing atrocity crimes meeting the legal definition of genocide (in Article II of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide). During the attack, Daesh killed thousands of men and older women, abducted boys to turn them into child soldiers, and enslaved thousands of women and girls. To this day, mass graves are being discovered containing the bodies of the killed Yazidis. Over 2,600 Yazidi women and children are still unaccounted for, and there has been no comprehensive international effort to bring them back. In April 2016, the UK House of Commons anonymously recognised the atrocities as genocide. In August 2023, the UK Government formally recognised the Daesh atrocities against Yazidis as genocide, following several court determinations before German criminal courts. This genocide has also been recognised by the UN and several other governments and parliaments.

During this session, Brendan O’Hara MP, Chair of the APPG on the Yazidis, explained why he established the APPG on the Yazidis and the work he has been doing with Parliamentarians to ensure that the situation of the community receives attention. Baroness Hodgson of Abinger CBE, Co-Chair of the APPG on Women, Peace and Security, raised how the Yazidi community has been neglected over the years with the situation receiving very little attention.

Hewan Omer, Free Yezidi Foundation, Country Director, and Khalida Nawaf Ilyas, Free Yezidi Foundation, Livelihoods Manager, explained the current situation of the Yazidi in Iraq and what it means for the community in the future. Among others, they raised that the genocide is ongoing with over 2,600 Yazidi women and children still missing close to 10 years after their abduction. Only a small number of the perpetrators were brought to justice globally, predominately for terror-related offences. UNITAD, the only international mechanism to collect and preserve the evidence of the Daesh atrocities is to close in September 2024, on request from Iraq. Camps for displaced Yazidis are to close at the end of July without providing adequate assistance to ensure that the families can reestablish their lives outside of camps. Ten years later, Sinjar is not safe for the Yazidis. Further information about the work of the Free Yezidi Foundation can be found here:

Dr Rebecca Jinks, Senior Lecturer in Modern History at Royal Holloway, University of London, explained her work with the Yazidi community on the Wiener Library exhibit on ‘Genocidal Captivity.’  This exhibition explores stories of Armenian and Yezidi women held in genocidal captivity, using humanitarian records of Armenian survivors from the 1920s and recent interviews with and compelling portraits of Yezidi survivors in Iraq. The exhibit is available at Wiener Library until the end of May 2024. Further information can be found here:

Dr Ewelina Ochab, IBAHRI senior programme lawyer presented the IBAHRI’s work on justice and accountability for the Yazidi genocide including following the fact-finding trip to Iraq in February 2023, in collaboration with City Law School. The trip resulted in an in-depth report into legal avenues to justice taken to date and steps yet to be taken. The report, based on desk research and interviews with victims/survivors and civil society organisations was presented at the UN in March 2023 and in the UK Parliament in April 2023. As a follow-up, the IBAHRI has written to the Joint Committee on Human Rights asking for an inquiry into the UK responses to Daesh fighters.

Dr Ochab further explained the IBAHRI’s work on a proposal to replace UNITAD and other ongoing initiatives.

The 2023 trip report can be found here:

Further information about the Daesh Inquiry of the Joint Committee on Human Rights can be found here:

The session was well attended by Parliamentarians from both houses, experts, civil society organisations representatives, and the general public.

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