Podcast: Genocide, the Yazidis and Scotland’s call for justice

“They called them ‘sabia’ or ‘jaria. This means ‘female slaves’. Daesh viewed them as ‘spoils of war’,” said Dr Luma Hazim.

She was interviewed by The Ferret earlier this year when we visited Iraq to report on the impact of Islamic State’s violence in the region.

Dr Hazim runs a specialist centre in Iraqi-Kurdistan that helps Yazidi women who were abducted by IS – and she talked about the unimaginable crimes that women suffered.

She said that most women were raped multiple times. Many were gang raped and some had broken bones when they came to the centre. Scores of women had genital problems.

The Ferret met Dr Hazim in the Kurdish city of Duhok while travelling around the region to document the effect of Islamic State’s rule in some parts, following the terror group’s invasion in 2014.

During that period, Islamic State killed or kidnapped around 9900 Yazidis during wanton medieval violence, according to a recent report.

Of that figure 3100 people were murdered. Almost half were executed by gunshot or beheading while others were burned alive.

IS also abducted nearly 6800 Yazidis – mostly women – who were forced into sexual slavery.

The Yazidis are now seeking justice for what they argue was genocide and Scotland has been trying to help them.

In January, a young Yazidi woman kidnapped by Islamic State met with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to ask for help for survivors of Islamic State’s crimes.

Nadia Murad was tortured and raped by IS  before escaping to Germany. She has since been appointed as  UN Ambassador and has travelled widely internationally seeking justice for her people.

Nori and Sana are Yazidis living in an IDP close to the Kurdish city of Duhok called Sharia Camp. Nori is from the village of Dirkhani, near to Shingal (Sinjar). He met Sana while living in the camp and married her last year.

In March, following Murad’s visit, the Scottish Parliament debated the issue of justice for the Yazidis, and the Justice Committee wrote to the UK Government asking that it urge the UN to investigate genocide against the Yazidis and refer war crimes to the International Criminal Court.

In reply to growing international pressure, the UN Security Council agreed to investigate the terror group’s crimes in Iraq in September.

T​he​ ​ UN​ resolution empowered the UN Secretary-General to establish a team with a mandate to collect evidence of acts that may amount to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Murad later thanked Scotland for its help.

She said: “I am grateful to Ms Nicola Sturgeon, all members of Scottish parliament and government as well as the entire UK government for recognising Yazidi genocide and ISIS crimes against all civilians in Iraq and Syria.”

At time of writing though, progress on securing Islamic State convictions has been painfully slow and – three years on from mass murder by Islamic State – thousands of Yazidis are still seeking justice.

Yazidi Temple, Lalish, Kurdistan.
Yazidi’s travel from all over to worship at the temple, especially at ‘Newroz’ (Kurdish New Year). Ali Herro ties a knot in the fabric for luck.

You can subscribe to the Business of Ferrets podcast on Tapewrite or in iTunes.

Thanks to Clive Gray and Ben Balata.

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