Yazidi genocide anniversary serves as grim reminder of Daesh’s crimes against humanity

Special Yazidi genocide anniversary serves as grim reminder of Daesh’s crimes against humanity
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Mourners carry coffins wrapped in the Iraqi flag during a mass funeral on Feb. 6, 2021 for Yazidi victims of the Daesh group's violent rampage in the northern Iraq's Sinjar district. (AFP file)
Special Yazidi genocide anniversary serves as grim reminder of Daesh’s crimes against humanity
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Forensic workers inspect a zone during the exhumation of a mass-grave of hundreds of Yazidis killed by Daesh militants in the Iraqi village of Kojo in Sinjar district on March 15, 2019. (AFP)
Special Yazidi genocide anniversary serves as grim reminder of Daesh’s crimes against humanity
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Iraqi Yazidis take part in a ceremony during the exhumation of a mass-grave of hundreds of Yazidis killed by Daesh militants in the Iraqi village of Kojo in Sinjar district on March 15, 2019. (AFP)
Special Yazidi genocide anniversary serves as grim reminder of Daesh’s crimes against humanity
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Displaced Iraqi Yazidis, who fled a jihadist onslaught on Sinjar, demonstrate demanding more aid at the Bajid Kandala camp in Kurdistan's western Dohuk province. (AFP)
Special Yazidi genocide anniversary serves as grim reminder of Daesh’s crimes against humanity
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Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community are pictured at camp for internally displaced persons in the city of Zakho, Iraq, on May 5, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 08 August 2022

Yazidi genocide anniversary serves as grim reminder of Daesh’s crimes against humanity

Yazidi genocide anniversary serves as grim reminder of Daesh’s crimes against humanity
  • Terrorist group invaded the Yazidi homeland in Iraq on Aug. 3, 2014, and unleashed mass violence and murder
  • Many of the genocide survivors are today IDPs trapped in a miserable life in camps with few facilities or services

DUBAI: On August 3, Yazidis around the world will come together to mourn their brothers, sisters, parents, and other loved ones who were massacred by Daesh eight years ago.

It was on that fateful day in 2014 that Daesh hordes invaded the historic Yazidi homeland, Sinjar, in Iraq. The terrorist group murdered 1,268 people on the first day; and throughout the weeks that followed, 6,417 Yazidis were kidnapped, 3,548 of whom were women and underage girls who were thrown into sexual slavery and forced labor.

The entire community fled, seeking safety in the mountains of Sinjar. More than 65 percent of Yazidis became displaced.




An aerial view shows a snow covered displacement camp for Yazidi people in the area of Dawudya, about 60 km north of Dohuk in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, on Jan. 25, 2022. (AFP)

“I am able to announce, that based upon independent and impartial investigations, complying with international standards and UN best practice, there is clear and convincing evidence, that the crimes against the Yazidi people, clearly constituted genocide,” Karim Khan, of the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Daesh, told the Security Council in 2017.

A few months into the 2014 genocide, Sinjar and US-based Yazidis established an organization, Yazda, as an emergency response unit to help rescue their community from extinction. It became clear after the release and escape of some women that Daesh was deliberately targeting and sexually enslaving Yazidis due to their religious identity.




Iraqi women mourn during the exhumation of a mass-grave of hundreds of Yazidis killed by Daesh militants in the northern Iraqi village of Kojo in Sinjar district on March 15, 2019. (AFP)

Dabiq, the online magazine used by Daesh for Islamic radicalization and recruitment purposes, published fatwas calling on the militants to enslave Yazidis as they were considered “devil worshippers.”

Yazda has logged testimonies from survivors who recounted militants telling them their community would “never welcome them back after what was done to them.”

As of today, 3,545 Yazidis have returned to their families; 1,205 of whom are women who risked their lives to escape captivity.

The survivors were physically, sexually, mentally, and spiritually devastated, with Yazda offering full access to psycho-social and protection services, while also documenting testimonies.

Some spoke of forced abortions, others shared how they self-harmed in order to miscarry after they learned the militants were keen on keeping the children. Some women even decided to complete their pregnancies and did their best to raise their children through re-education programs.

Today, many of these survivors are internally displaced persons trapped in a miserable life in camps. They complain that the facilities are in miserable condition with no access to critical services such as food, water, electricity and safe housing.

There are no recreational spaces to help encourage community building activities, and women and children are also unable to complete their education.

Against all odds, Yazidi women continue to fight for themselves.




Iraqi Yazidi women protest outside the UN office in Arbil, Iraq, on Aug. 2, 2015 in support of women from their community who were kidnapped last year in the Sinjar region by Daesh jihadis. (AFP)

A platform created within Yazda, the Yazidi Survivors Network, has given women from the community the space to advocate for their cause as they felt it vital that their voices are present when decisions were being taken.

“I want to be able to speak for myself and not have others speak for me,” one survivor and YSN member said.

Another said: “We want to participate in every decision that affects us as survivors. We want to be our own voice in all projects that concern us because only we know what we have been through and what we need in order to achieve the peace and security we desire, as well as to recover from our suffering.”

Justice, though, can be achieved through different ways for the survivors.




An aerial picture shows mourners gathering around coffins wrapped with the Iraqi flag during a mass funeral for Yazidi victims of Daesh militants in Sinjar district of Iraq on Feb. 6, 2021. (AFP)

Yazidis have been advocating to bring Daesh militants to court and prosecute them for crimes against humanity, namely for genocide. But while many petitions have been filed and are receiving funds to cover costs, what they lack is the quantity of legal advocacy needed for commitment to the cases that have piled up.

Apart from legal prosecution, the safe return to Sinjar is another form of justice Yazidis have been hoping for since their exile, where they can find their missing family members and give a proper burial to the ones they lost.

Another aspect of justice is global recognition of their genocide. To date, there has been no follow-through from the international community on helping the Yazidi community. More surprising is that no Middle Eastern country besides Iraq has formally recognized the genocide.




Every year on Aug. 3, survivors of the genocide hold a vigil to remember the thousands of Yazidi dead. (AFP File)

Even in Iraq, where the genocide is legally recognized under Article 7 of the law, the acknowledgement has not been fully realized. At a commemorative event, YSN member Nasrin Hassan Rasho said: “I demand the Iraqi state adopt a national project for transitional justice that explicitly and clearly includes a legal recognition of the Yazidi genocide and that of other minorities.”

Many female survivors expressed their concern on being treated like second-class citizens in Iraq and the Kurdistan region. Despite their history of shared violence under the brutality of Daesh, there have been no efforts of reconciliation or efforts to resolve the discrimination.

On a personal level for survivors, the lack of their inclusion affects their productivity, independence and sense of self, which in turn hinders their psychological rehabilitation and treatment.

Suzan Safar, a Yazidi genocide survivor and founder of the Dak Organization for Ezidi Women Development, said: “This marginalization, carelessness and negligence of the Sinjar cause practiced by the government makes us feel and gives us the impression that unfortunately we are not first-class citizens, but second-class ones.




Suzan Safar participating in a forum on women empowerment forum in Arbil.  (AFP file photo)

“This is what we are sensing from the actions that we are witnessing from the Iraqi government.”

In his  2017 presentation to the Security Council, UNITAD head Khan did recognize that genocide had occurred — which in itself is a big step forward in the pursuit of justice.

Underscoring the importance of this development, members of the YSN have said: “This genocide recognition by UNITAD is very important for all Yazidis. For us, the genocide qualification of the crimes is very important since it is the only way to prevent other genocides against the Yazidis and other minorities from happening again in the future.”

 

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Iran’s Khamenei says protests were ‘planned’, blames US

Iran’s Khamenei says protests were ‘planned’, blames US
Updated 29 min 25 sec ago

Iran’s Khamenei says protests were ‘planned’, blames US

Iran’s Khamenei says protests were ‘planned’, blames US
  • Concern grew over violence at Sharif University of Technology overnight where riot police confronted hundreds of students
  • Footage shows shooting and screaming being heard as large numbers of people run down a street at night

DUBAI/PARIS: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday protests over the death of a woman in police custody were planned and not staged by “ordinary Iranians,” in his first comments on unrest that has swept the country since Sept. 17.
In comments reported by state media, Khamenei said the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini “deeply broke my heart,” calling it a “bitter incident.”
But he said “some people had caused insecurity in the streets,” saying there had been planned “riots.” 

“This rioting was planned,” he told a cadre of police students in Tehran. “I say clearly that these riots and insecurities were designed by America and the Zionist regime, and their employees.”
He added of the protests: “Such actions are not normal, are unnatural.” 
He expressed strong backing for the security forces, saying they had faced injustice during the protests. 

Earlier, Iranian students have clashed with security forces at a top Tehran university amid the wave of unrest sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, state media and rights groups said Monday.
Kurdish Iranian Amini, 22, was pronounced dead on Sept. 16, days after she was detained for allegedly breaching rules forcing women to wear hijab headscarves and modest clothes, sparking Iran’s biggest wave of protests in almost three years.
Concern grew over violence at Sharif University of Technology overnight where, local media reported, riot police confronted hundreds of students, using tear gas and paintball and carrying weapons that shoot non-lethal steel pellets.
“Woman, life, liberty,” students shouted, as well as “students prefer death to humiliation,” the Iranian Mehr news agency reported, adding that the country’s science minister later came to speak to the students in an effort to calm the situation.
The Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights posted video apparently showing Iranian police on motorcycles pursuing running students in an underground car park and, in a separate clip, taking away detainees whose heads were covered in black cloth bags.
In other footage, shooting and screaming can be heard as large numbers of people run down a street at night, in footage AFP has not independently verified.
“Security forces have attacked Sharif University in Tehran tonight. Shooting can be heard,” IHR said in a Twitter message Sunday.
In another video clip, a crowd of people can be heard chanting: “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid! We are all together!” IHR said the footage was taken at Shariati metro station in the capital Tehran on Sunday.
The New York-based group Center for Human Rights in Iran said it was “extremely concerned by videos coming out of Sharif University and Tehran today showing violent repression of protests + detainees being hauled away with their heads completely covered in fabric.”
Mehr news agency said that “Sharif University of Technology announced that due to recent events and the need to protect students ... all classes will be held virtually from Monday.”
Since the unrest started on September 16, dozens of protesters have been killed and more than a thousand arrested. Members of the security forces have been among those killed.


Student killed, 15 injured in Egypt’s school fence collapse as authorities vow action

Student killed, 15 injured in Egypt’s school fence collapse as authorities vow action
Updated 03 October 2022

Student killed, 15 injured in Egypt’s school fence collapse as authorities vow action

Student killed, 15 injured in Egypt’s school fence collapse as authorities vow action
  • Section of a concrete stair fence collapsed as students rushed upstairs to their classrooms.

CAIRO: Egypt’s Minister of Education Reda Hegazy ordered an investigation into the collapse of a stair fence in a girls’ preparatory school in Giza, killing one student and injuring 15 more.

According to reports, the police was notified that a section of a concrete stair fence collapsed as students rushed upstairs to their classrooms.

In an official statement published on Sunday, Hegazy paid condolences to the family of the deceased student and ordered a probe into the incident.

The head of the educational directorate, school principal, and supervisors of the school building were referred to the relevant authorities for further investigation as the minister vowed “firm and urgent action against those responsible,” read the ministry’s statement.

Hegazy also ordered a review into all the school buildings nationwide to ensure safety of the students. A report will be submitted to the ministry with the results of the review.


Israel military kills 2 Palestinians during West Bank raid: Ministry

Israel military kills 2 Palestinians during West Bank raid: Ministry
Updated 03 October 2022

Israel military kills 2 Palestinians during West Bank raid: Ministry

Israel military kills 2 Palestinians during West Bank raid: Ministry
  • The identities of the two men were not immediately known

TEL AVIV: The Israeli military shot and killed two Palestinians during a raid in the occupied West Bank early Monday, Palestinian officials said.
The military alleged that the men tried to ram their car into soldiers, a claim that could not be independently verified. Palestinians and rights group often accuse Israeli troops of using excessive force against Palestinians, who live under a 55-year military occupation with no end in sight. Israel says it follows strict rules of engagement and opens fire in life-threatening situations.
The military said soldiers were attempting to arrest a suspect in the Jalazone refugee camp near the city of Ramallah when the two Palestinians allegedly attempted to run over soldiers with their car. The soldiers opened fire on the car, the military said.
The Palestinian Civil Affairs Authority, which coordinates on civilian issues with Israel, said the military shot and killed the two men. Their identities were not immediately known.
Israel has been carrying out nightly arrest raids in the West Bank since the spring, when a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis killed 19 people. Israel says its operations are aimed at dismantling militant infrastructure and preventing future attacks. The Palestinians see the nightly incursions into their cities, villages and towns as Israel’s way of deepening its occupation of lands they want for their hoped-for state.
The Israeli raids have killed some 100 Palestinians, making this year the deadliest since 2016. Israel says most of those killed have been militants but local youths protesting the incursions as well as some civilians have also been killed in the violence. Hundreds have been rounded up, with many placed in so-called administrative detention, which allows Israel to hold them without trial or charge.
The raids have driven up tensions in the West Bank, with an uptick in Palestinian shooting attacks against Israelis. They have also drawn into focus the growing disillusionment among young Palestinians over the tight security coordination between Israeli and the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority, who work together to apprehend militants.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and 500,000 Jewish settlers now live in some 130 settlements and other outposts among nearly 3 Palestinians. The Palestinians want that territory, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, for their future state.


Palestinian activists turn to TikTok amid Israeli anger over ‘propaganda videos’

Palestinian activists turn to TikTok amid Israeli anger over ‘propaganda videos’
Updated 02 October 2022

Palestinian activists turn to TikTok amid Israeli anger over ‘propaganda videos’

Palestinian activists turn to TikTok amid Israeli anger over ‘propaganda videos’
  • After Facebook, Instagram clamp down on content, Chinese-owned platform sees user surge

RAMALLAH: Palestinian activists are turning to TikTok to rally against activities by Israel, which accused the social media platform of igniting the security situation in the Middle East in recent weeks.

Israel had successfully pushed Meta to block thousands of Palestinian accounts and content from its social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, in addition to limiting Palestinian content through Twitter and Snapchat. However, TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has rejected the Israeli allegations and refused to change its policies.

Thousands of Palestinian social media activists switched to TikTok during the past few weeks to enjoy online freedom and bypass Facebook’s restrictions.

Amer Hamdan, a Palestinian political activist, told Arab News that he recently switched from Facebook to Tiktok after suffering from restrictions imposed by the former, which he said flags the use of words including martyr, resistance and occupation.

Hamdan, who had 200,000 followers on his Facebook page, added that his account was closed because he published a picture of Khalil Al-Wazir, the Palestinian leader who Israel assassinated in Tunisia in 1988.

“Because Facebook is no longer the ideal platform for the Palestinians to spread their cause, the alternative is TikTok, which provides an adequate and sufficient space for the dissemination of media covering armed parades of Palestinian military groups and pictures of Palestinian resistance fighters with their weapons,” said Hamdan.

TikTok previously ranked third in Palestine — after Facebook and Instagram — in social media app usage. However, it jumped to second place during recent weeks, with Palestinian social media experts telling Arab News that though 3 million Palestinian accounts are on Facebook, more than 1 million Palestinians are on TikTok, with the number rapidly increasing.

Palestinian activists also see more technical flexibility while publishing on Tiktok compared to Facebook, with the platform allowing three-minute clips for all users, and 15-minute videos for users who have 1,000 followers or more.

“Within a year, TikTok will be the number one social media platform used by Palestinians,” Hamdan said.

Sam Bahour, an expert in business development affairs, said that social media is gaining “exceptional importance” for Palestinians by enabling them to communicate and bypass Israeli restrictions across the West Bank, Gaza Strip, as well worldwide through the diaspora.

Ahmed Al-Qadi, from a center that specializes in researching social media activities, told Arab News that after the violent events in the Palestinian territories last May and after Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and YouTube removed Palestinian content, people switched to TikTok.

On the other hand, Israeli political analyst Yoni Ben-Menachem told Arab News that TikTok is a “tool of dangerous influence” and incites violence through videos glorifying attacks against Israelis.

Ben-Menachem added that TikTok content targets young people, who are particularly vulnerable to misinformation and propaganda.

Last May, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with senior officials from ByteDance, demanding that the company block Palestinian content. But Gantz’s appeal was denied, with the company only promising to pay more attention to published content.

Young Palestinians have filmed Israeli incursions into Palestinian cities and towns, house demolitions, arrests, killings, settler attacks and racist treatment, with the content going viral on TikTok.

Despite the Israeli government’s anger, officials do not expect TikTok to take any action against Palestinian accounts, whether based in the West Bank and Gaza Strip or abroad.

“Maybe TikTok will close a few Palestinian accounts, but thousands of accounts that incite against Israel will remain active, and whoever loses his account can open a new account under a pseudonym,” said Ben-Menachem, adding: “TikTok has become the most dangerous means of incitement against Israel.”


International community urges Yemeni parties to renew truce

International community urges Yemeni parties to renew truce
Updated 02 October 2022

International community urges Yemeni parties to renew truce

International community urges Yemeni parties to renew truce
  • Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Sunday urged the Houthis to “positively” comply with initiatives and efforts to renew the truce
  • Rashad Al-Alimi, president of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, expressed his government’s support for the UN Yemen envoy’s efforts to extend the truce

AL-MUKALLA: A six-month-old UN-brokered ceasefire in Yemen’s war between Iran-backed Houthis and the Arab coalition ended on Sunday with no word from the rivals on whether it would be extended.

The US, UK, China, other world powers and the secretary-general of the Arab League have all urged Yemen’s government and the Iran-backed Houthis to extend the UN-brokered truce.

Despite mounting pressure, only the Yemeni government had earlier agreed to extend the truce.

The US ambassador to Yemen, Steven H. Fagin, expressed concern about the various Yemeni parties’ hesitation to express their support for extending the truce.

“I call on the parties not to squander the progress of the last six months and to prioritize the Yemeni people by accepting an extension and expansion of the truce,” Fagin said in a brief statement. 

On Sunday, the UK Ambassador to Yemen Richard Oppenheim reissued the same call to the Houthis and other Yemeni parties to follow the UN envoy’s suggestions for extending the truce.

“I encourage the Houthis to work with the UN to extend the Truce. It’s the only route that will provide an opportunity for them to deliver benefits for ordinary Yemenis” he said on Twitter. 

The UN-brokered truce, which began on April 2 and has been extended twice, has dramatically reduced violence in Yemen, allowed flights to leave Sanaa airport, and eliminated fuel shortages throughout the country by allowing dozens of fuel ships to reach the port of Hodeidah.

The only term of the truce that has not been implemented is the opening of roads in besieged Taiz, as the Houthis have refused to open at least one main road leading into and out of the city, which is the main demand of the Yemeni government.

As the UN Yemen envoy, Hans Grundberg, shuttled between Muscat, Riyadh, and Sanaa to persuade Yemeni leaders to renew the truce, foreign diplomats and humanitarian organizations in Yemen sent last-minute appeals to both sides on Sunday.

“China emphasizes its support for the special envoy and is willing to make unremitting efforts with the international community to resolve the Yemen issue,” the Chinese Embassy in Yemen said in a statement. 

The EU’s mission in Yemen also demanded that the Yemeni government and the Houthis accept the UN envoy’s proposal, renew the truce, and implement its provisions.

“Time to consolidate and develop a truce, including opening roads and agreeing on the payment of salaries, that has delivered and can bring more benefits to the #Yemeni people,” the mission said in a statement on Twitter.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Sunday urged the Houthis to “positively” comply with initiatives and efforts to renew the truce and work to alleviate suffering.

The latest UN proposal includes a six-month cease-fire while the Houthis open only minor roads in Taiz, paying public employees in their territories, while the Yemeni government covers any shortfall in payments, allowing more fuel ships to enter Hodeidah port, and opening new routes from Sanaa to Muscat, Doha, and Mumbai. 

Rashad Al-Alimi, president of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, expressed his government’s support for the UN Yemen envoy’s efforts to extend the truce.

During a meeting with the UN envoy in Riyadh on Sunday, the Yemeni leader stated that he is committed to supporting any peace initiative to end the war in Yemen and alleviate the suffering of Yemenis, and he urged mounting pressure on the Houthis and their Iranian backers to stop undermining peace efforts.

In Sanaa, the Houthis rejected calls to renew the truce on Saturday night, threatening to resume military operations, including strikes on oil companies in government-controlled areas.