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6,417 Yazidis held by ISIS, 3,191 survivors registered, 90,000 fled to Europe: Khairi Bozani

- Yazidi Yezidi refugees Iraq 2017 archives - 6,417 Yazidis held by ISIS, 3,191 survivors registered, 90,000 fled to Europe: Khairi Bozani


Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : Khairi Bozani, the head of the Yazidi Affairs Office of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq’s Kurdistan Autonomous Region (KRG) said the number of Yazidi survivors who were kidnapped by the Islamic State has reached up to 3,191. Bozani said around 90,000 Yazidi out of a total of 550,000 in Iraq have immigrated to Europe.

(archive photo)

Speaking to reporters on Thursday Bozani said “The recent figures indicate that 6,417 Yazidis are held by IS. … (The) Number of kidnapped women reaches 3,547, while 2,870 Yazidi men are abducted.” Bozani said that the number of survivors reached 3,191, including 1,128 women and 335 men. The number of female children survivors reached 900, while male children reached 828, he added.

The Yazidi (Yezidi) community was targeted by Islamic State militants after ISIS took over large swaps of Iraq in 2014. ISIS militants were victimizing Yazidi, committing massacres and subjecting them to forced conversions, sexual slavery and other reported atrocities. In July, Bozani said around 90,000 Yazidi out of a total of 550,000 in Iraq have immigrated to Europe.

Many Yazidis were persecuted and held in Mosul by Islamic State, which considered them devil-worshippers. A study on the number of Yazidis affected showed that at least 9,900 of Iraq’s Yazidis were killed or kidnapped in just days in an attack by the militants in 2014.

About 3,100 Yazidis were killed – with more than half shot, beheaded or burned alive – while about 6,800 others were kidnapped to become sex slaves or fighters, according to the report published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine.

Yezidi (Yazidi) have suffered oppression, repression and persecution not only from ISIS but from both Shia and Sunni as well as Christian communities. Yazidi tradition and religion is mainly passed on orally from generation to generation via family, communities, Sheiks (Shacks), and by practice. Especially Muslims insist that Yazidi are “not people of the book”. Some Muslims and Christians also denounce the Yazidi as “devil worshippers”. Yazidi practice a very rich tradition and religion with many esoteric teachings and practices. The most, if not all “literature” about their religion, rites and ceremonies, their deities and more has been written by non-Yazidi with very limited knowledge.

Yazidi were experiencing “relative freedom from oppression” while Shingal was under the de-facto authority of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Kurdistan Autonomous Region (KAR). The new presence of Iraqi – Shiite, Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi in Shingal and on Mount Shingal since October 2017 provokes fears of renewed repression by religious zealots.

In September 2017 YAZDA released a report entitled “AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE FOR YAZIDIS: A REPORT MARKING THREE YEARS OF AN ONGOING GENOCIDE“. The report stressed that the Central Government of Iraq (CGI) is reliant on Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) a.k.a. Hashd al-Shaabi to achieve its goals and to repel strong Kurdish influences and efforts for territorial control of Sinjar and the region of Kurdistan more broadly.

The YAZDA report also stressed that the CGI has not allocated funds to re-establish life in Sinjar for its former inhabitants, as it has done in other areas of Iraq that have been liberated from IS control. As a result, it is a commonly-held view among the Yazidi population that the CGI has neglected its responsibility for ensuring that the inhabitants of the Sinjar region are able to return to their homes and to aid in the repair and rebuilding of crucial infrastructure, such as roads, schools, medical facilities, etc.

The report also stressed the potential for conflict with Yazidi being caught in the middle of conflicting interests stating:

The PMU is the second most influential force in Sinjar and the principal political presence in southern Sinjar. The PMU controls a swathe of land along the Iraq-Syria border and most of Nineveh Province. The two most prominent groups of the PMU in Sinjar are Kata’ib al-Imam Ali (the Imam Ali Battalions) and theBadar Organization. The PMU is said to be under the authority of Deputy Commander, Mahdi al Muhandis. Its presence has drawn further Turkish interests into Sinjar and created a potentially combustible situation with the PDK, as the latter reportedly perceives PMU as its ‘next generation’ enemy.

However, Yazidi are also aiming to assert themselves within the Hashd al-Shaabi. The report notes among others that:

The PMU in Sinjar comprises mostly Shi’a fighters from different brigades. However, a new Yazidi force is being established and is currently made up of approximately 2,000 Yazidi fighters under three organized battalions – Kocho, Lalish, and Ezidkhan. These are likely to increase in size in the coming months. A training base has been established in southern Sinjar to train Yazidi fighters in the battalions.

Two Yazidi commanders, Murad Shero and Naif Jaso, are the highest-ranking Yazidi leaders within the PMU. Other tribal leaders have also joined. Both the Yazidi Movement for Reform and Progress and the Yazidi Progress Party are supporting the CGI, the presence of the PMU forces and the Iraqi Military in Sinjar, but they oppose all Kurdish politics in Sinjar and all Yazidi areas. Some civil and independent groups as well as NGOs hold a similar position.

The report also noted that the PMU, at least according to its public statements, appears to conform with Yazidi objectives for the population in Sinjar. It has promised Yezidi self-rule for their areas; the formation of a force under Yazidi leadership; and the bringing to justice of all those who participated in the genocide.

However, now that the Central Government of Iraq, with the help of Iranian – backed Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi, has pushed Kurdish Peshmerga out of Shingal again, it remains to be seen whether the Hashd (and by implication Tehran) will honor their promises, if the Central Government in Baghdad will honor its promises, or if Baghdad reverts to is culture and policy of oppression. Finally, there is a risk of Yazidi infighting as different armed Yezidi organizations have different affiliations, some of them being allied with the PKK and YPG, others with other Iraqi Kurdish parties and groups, and yet others again with the Hashd or the central government.

Yazidi communities are, in other words, caught in the middle of regional and geopolitical rivalries involving the Central Government of Iraq, the Shiite government in Iraq, the uncompromisingly anti-Kurdish and increasingly Islamist Sunni Turkey, various – including rivaling – Kurdish groups from Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey, an increasingly Iranian-dominated Syria, as well as the UK, other EU member States, the USA and Russia. The potential for a genocide and even an intra-Yazidi conflict is not only present but constitutes an acute risk.

CH/L – nsnbc 10.11..2017

NSNBC

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Iraqi security arrest drug gang led by Governor of holiest Shia city’s son

- najaf son - Iraqi security arrest drug gang led by Governor of holiest Shia city’s son


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi security on Sunday arrested a drug-trafficking gang in a southern suburb of Baghdad led by the son of the Governor of Najaf, one of the holiest cities in the world.

“The group had three members and was led by Jawad Luay al-Yasiri, the son of the Governor of Najaf,” a security source told Kurdistan 24.

The Baghdad Operations Command in a statement issued on Sunday night said a security force arrested the gang in the predominantly Shia Bayaa district, south of Iraq’s capital.

The gang was caught with a large amount of narcotics in their possession, according to the statement, without giving further details.

Activists posted pictures of six kilos of cannabis, 800 narcotic pills, forged identity cards, and weapons which were seized by Iraqi security.

The pictures show official access cards for the intelligence service, the Iraqi cabinet, the province of Najaf and other places, all in the name of Jawad Luay Jawad. One even designated him a Lieutenant.

Najaf Governor Luay al-Yasiri is a member of the Dawa Party led by former Iraqi Prime Minister and current Vice-President, Nouri al-Maliki, a prominent member of the State of Law coalition, and served as Director of Najaf Traffic Police for several years. The Najaf Governor holds the military rank of Colonel within the Interior Ministry.

Recently, the Governor launched a crackdown on unlicensed casinos and cafes and launched a campaign to spread the veil in the city where the shrine of Imam Ali, the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin, is located.

“I express my keenness for the rule of law and the fight against crime in all its forms. Justice and the rule of law must apply to everyone without exception,” Luay said in a statement since his son’s arrest.

“I would like to express my surprise at the large and systematic media exaggeration and the timing of the coverage which coincided with the proceedings of the case. This indicates the existence of a political smear campaign against the Governor of the holy city of Najaf, so near to the upcoming legislative elections in May.”

The Governor of Najaf called on the Iraqi judicial authorities to handle his son’s case “with full impartiality, regardless of the identity of the accused and background as he is an Iraqi citizen accused under the rule of law and institutions.”

Najaf is a wealthy city known as the third holiest site for Shia Muslims, where millions, namely Iranians, travel to each year as part of their pilgrimage.  

The people of Iraq have repeatedly complained on social media networks that family members and relatives of Iraqi officials and party leaders flaunt the rule of law and have acted with impunity over the past 14 years since the fall of the authoritarian system.

Editing by Nadia Riva



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SOHR Reveals Latest Statistics of Casualties in Afrin

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The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights (SOHR) revealed the latest statistics of the casualties in Afrin.

According to SOHR report released on Monday, January 22th, the number of casualties has risen to 21 due to the Turkish bombardments on Afrin.

“War has started in Shingal, Edmani, Shadiya, Sorka,Hamam, Kurdo which are located in Afrin, among the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) which is the military wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Tukish army.

The Media sources belonging to PKK pointed out that 7 civilians were found dead, and 11 others wounded under the devastated buildings in the village of Jilbar due to the Turkish attacks on Afrin.

Turkey on Saturday launched a new air and ground operation on Afrin, a Kurdish city in the northern Syria, under the name of “Olive Branch Operation”.
 
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to eliminate every single YPG fighter in Syria. Meanwhile, PKK had already given orders to have immediate reactions if the Turkish army attempts to attack Afrin.





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Turkey says campaign against Kurdish YPG in Afrin will be swift – Middle East

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Turkish soldiers are seen near the town of Hassa on the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province, Turkey.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

HASSA, Turkey – Turkey shelled targets in northern Syria on Monday and said its three-day-old operation against Kurdish YPG fighters who control the Afrin region would be completed swiftly.

Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies began their push to clear YPG fighters from the northwestern enclave on Saturday, opening a new front in Syria’s civil war despite calls for restraint from United States, which has armed the YPG.

YPG spokesman Birusk Hasaka said clashes between Kurdish and Turkey-backed forces persisted on the third day of the operation. He said Turkish shelling had hit civilian areas in the northeast of the Afrin region.

Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist organisation with ties to Kurdish militant separatists within Turkey, and it has been infuriated by US support for the fighters. Washington, which is backing the YPG in the battle against Islamic State in Syria, said on Sunday it was concerned about the situation.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to crush the YPG in Afrin and then target the Kurdish-held town of Manbij to the east, part of a much larger swath of northern Syria controlled by YPG-dominated forces.

That raises the prospect of protracted conflict between Turkey and its allied Free Syrian Army factions on one side and on the other the Kurdish YPG, who spearheaded the US-backed campaign to drive Islamic State out of its Syrian strongholds last year.

But Mehmet Simsek, Turkey’s deputy prime minister who oversees economic affairs in the government, played down the potential for a damaging and drawn-out military campaign.

“Our investors should be at ease, the impact will be limited, the operation will be brief and it will reduce the terror risk to Turkey in the period ahead,” Simsek said at a ceremony in Ankara.

TURKISH SHELLING

A Reuters cameraman near Hassa, across the border from Afrin, saw Turkish shelling on Monday morning. Dogan news agency said Turkish howitzers opened fire at 1 a.m. (2200 GMT) against YPG targets.

It said militia targets were also being destroyed by Turkish warplanes and multiple rocket launchers.

On Sunday a Turkish official said Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army rebel factions had captured a Kurdish village with no resistance and were clearing landmines. The YPG said it had repelled the Turkish forces.

Turkey’s military operation to drive back Islamic State and YPG fighters, which it launched in August 2016 and named “Euphrates Shield”, lasted seven months. So far there has been no indication of major gains on the ground by Turkey-backed forces in Afrin.





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