Symposium on the Yazidi genocide

14/09/14

150 people attended a symposium at the “Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed” headquarters in Tel Aviv Wednesday to hear testimonies of the genocidal massacres being waged against the Yazidi people in northwest Iraq. The symposium was called Your Brother’s Blood Cries Out, a reference to the murder of Abel from Genesis 4.

 The keynote speakers were Dr. Mirza Dinnayni, a former advisor to the Iraqi President on Minority Affairs and Elias Kasem, a spokesperson from the American Yazidi Union.

 Yaniv Carmel from the Dror Israel movement hosted the symposium, which included showing several video clips of victim testimonies, which revealed the severe conditions of hunger and death in which traumatized young children are trying to survive. The videos showed everyday life in refugee camps and the struggles faced by the tens of thousands displaced by the military campaigns of the Islamic State.

 Elias Kasem, a 30-year-old Yazidi from Iraq, was displaced along with his family during the first gulf war in 1991. After immigrating to the US, Kasem founded an organization to provide aid and look for long-term solutions for Iraqi Yazidis. Kasem, who is regular contact with family members in Iraq told participants that “I came here on behalf of the Yezidi children buried on the mountain [Sinjar]. I came here on behalf of my sisters who were raped by IS fighters. I came here on behalf of all of the newborn babies who died because they had nothing to eat. All of this happened as the world turned a blind eye to our suffering, just as the world turned a blind eye to the suffering of your people during the Holocaust. The people in this room are the survivors from the Holocaust. You dealt then with genocide; we are dealing with it now. I speak on behalf all Yezidis when I call on Israel to help us, if you do not help us- I do not know who will.”

 “My sister told me about a woman she met on Mount Sinjar, a mother of two children, one was disabled, the other was not. When they had to flee their homes, she had to choose to take only one of her children with her. Is this the kind of decision a mother should have to make in the 21st century?”

 “As an American citizen, I am ashamed at the Obama administration, which has not come to the aid of my people, it was the Kurdish forces that lifted the siege. We teach our children the lesson that we should not allow history to repeat itself, however, I think that we can all agree that in light of these recent massacres, we have failed to do so yet again.”

 “Have we forgotten the holocaust? I hope not. The holocaust is the most severe human disaster in modern times. If we don’t work to stop terrorist groups it will happen again. We shouldn’t be surprised. I see you all as brothers and sisters. Why is it taking so long for the world leaders to take action? Why are they conducting meetings over meetings? Is it acceptable to kill us just because we don’t have oil under our ground?”

 Dr. Dinnayni travelled to Israel to participate in the symposium despite being injured in a helicopter crash while on an aid mission to Mt. Sinjar in August.

Dr. Dinnayni who now works as the coordinator for the Yezidi community in Europe talked about the similarities between the Jewish and Yezidi peoples as persecuted minorities in the Middle East. He warned of the growing danger of the Islamic State saying, “Da’ash is not a small terror organization, they have become a state with territory, an organized military and hundreds of thousands of volunteers.”

“Aerial bombings by the United States military will not necessarily help in the long term, since the ground forces cannot be relied upon. If there are no international troops on the ground, otherwise we will pay the bloody price.”

 Kasem told participants that many Iraqi Yazidis see Israel as the only beacon of hope in the Middle East, a democracy where they feel they will be safe from persecution,“ I receive videos all the time from Yazidis, asking for Israeli humanitarian or military assistance.”

The Israeli Committee for the Help of the Yezidi People sponsored the symposium; a coalition made up various Israeli NGO’s including Dror Israel, Combat Genocide Association, The Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention, BlueWhite Human Rights, Israel for Yazidis and “Machanot HaOlim”.

 Theodor Herzls’ famous book, “Alt-noi-land” (the old new land), which was published by Dror Israel and “Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed” in a special edition of five languages, was given as a gift to the participants.

Mirza Dinnayni and Elias Kasem

Mirza Dinnayni and Elias Kasem