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Forgotten Victims: ISIS Genocide of the Yazidis and Christians of Iraq and Syria

 

Nuri Kino

She memorized the names of the terrorists. As they raped and abused her, she repeated their character traits to herself, as a mantra. Shortly before the Caliphate fell, her surviving relatives managed to raise $ 12,000 and buy her back. The first thing she did when she was embraced by her brother and his son was to ask them to write down the names that she had memorized.

Now that she is free, she carries them in her bag, the names of the perpetrators. They are written down in a notebook. The 17 men who bought and sold her. She is one of many kidnapped mothers that I have gathered material about. NPR, National Public Radio, managed to get an interview with her.

ISIS executed her husband and three of their sons. In a total, 21 of her relatives were killed during the slaughter of the Yezidis, which began exactly five years ago, on August 3, 2014, the same day that she was kidnapped.

We hold memorials all over the world to honor the victims and remind others of the genocide. Thousands of men and older women were slaughtered. Somewhat 7 000 women and children were kidnapped and sold as slaves. Until today 3 000 of them are still missing.

Will Swedish politicians mention this day, at least in a tweet?

July 2 this year was another such day. I scrolled through almost all Swedish media, the Foreign Ministry’s website, all the government’s twitter accounts and Facebook pages. I wanted to find something about what has come to be called the Christian Crystal Night. But not. Therefore, let me remind the Foreign Minister Margot Wallström and others.

On July 2, 2014, all houses, business premises, churches and other buildings were marked with the letter N for Nasrani (Christians) in Iraq’s second major city of Mosul. They were called unfaithful dogs and became prey. Two weeks later, the death threat came. Hundreds of thousands fled in panic, first from Mosul and then from the Nineveh Plain — Assyrians/Syriacs/Chaldeans’ homeland for thousands of years. We followed the genocide live, through the victims’ cell phones, videos and pictures. We demonstrated in 42 cities around the world. We asked and begged for help. But help didn’t come. We decided to establish A Demand For Action (ADFA)and set out on a “tour” to inform the world about what was going on.

It was not only Sweden that failed.

During the same period, I met, among others, Johnnie Moore, expert on religious persecution and today one of President Trump’s advisers. We sat at a nice restaurant in Beverly Hills in Los Angeles where he had had other meetings. Mr. Moore wanted to know more about the developments in Iraq and Syria, he needed background information for a book he wrote. For my part, I wanted help stopping genocide.

On July 16th this year, Moore and I met in Washington. He had a hard time looking me in the eye. “You were right, but it was too hard to believe, unfortunately Nuri,” he said.

July 16–18 this year, the US government held an international conference entitled Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. The largest of its kind ever. Around 800 participants had been invited, among them ministers and other delegates from over 100 countries.

The host was US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Among the guests were the Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Frank Wolf, former Congressman and renowned freedom fighter, and EU envoy for religious freedom Jan Vigel.

Most interesting, however, was listening to new voices, survivors of attacks on mosques, churches, temples and synagogues.

Sweden was represented by Foreign Minister Joachim Bergström and an officer from the Washington Embassy and the Swedish Evangelical Alliance’s Jacob Rudenstrand.

Most of you have probably never seen the abbreviation #FoRB which stands for Freedom of Religion or Belief. It is starting to become trend-setting, both as a hashtag in social media, as a concept and as an example. The reason why many of you reading the abbreviation for the first time is that most

media (but also decision makers) lack knowledge of religious persecution.

During the conference in the U.S., all researchers agreed that religious persecution, which has increased dramatically over the past ten years, is one of the greatest threats to our world. And that we must all unite in the fight to stop it. The threat must be taken seriously. Also by the Swedish government.

*This article was first published in Svenska Dagbladet (Swedish Daily News). It has been translated to English by Christofer Axelsson.

WRITTEN BY
Nuri Kino
Independent investigative reporter, filmmaker, author, Middle East & human rights analyst. Founder of A Demand For Action
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