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Ezidikhan endorses Michael Newton to head UNITAD

by on March 29, 2021
 
Prof. Michael A. Newton (foreground at left) has long served the cause of justice in Iraq.

We the undersigned urge the United Nations to appoint Michael A. Newton as Special Adviser to the UN Security Council and Head of the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by Da’esh in Iraq (UNITAD).

We have conducted our own interviews and research about Mike Newtown’s qualifications and enthusiastically endorse his appointment.

We, the undersigned local and international NGOs and activists, support the appointment of Mike Newton as the new head of UNITAD.

When UNITAD was created, the Ezidi community and other minority communities in Iraq were not consulted about the appointment of the head of UNITAD. When Da’esh took control of 30% of Iraq in 2014 and committed its genocide and crimes against humanity, we, as the victims, had to first rescue our own families.

Prof. Michael A. Newton

Since then, we have formed many local and international NGOs, coalitions, and networks with human rights activists. We do not want our voices to be ignored again. We urge the Iraqi government and the UN to give extreme consideration to our wishes. As the victims of the genocide which UNITAD is mandated to investigate, our recommendation should be given the highest priority.

The goal of our organizations is not to advance our individual careers as professional humanitarian workers, but to save our own communities from death and total disappearance from Iraq. We Ezidis had other goals for our futures, but genocide forced us to become humanitarian activists for our people.

We have been disappointed in the limited results of UNITAD and its lack of engagement with us when we offered our expertise or asked for help. To a large degree, we have been excluded from UNITAD’s processes and plans. There has been little transparency. We have seen no action from UNITAD to search for and return the missing Ezidis. We have seen no prosecutions supported by or initiated in court by UNITAD.

We are tired of rhetoric without results. It is time for UNITAD to initiate prosecutions. The new head of UNITAD must have experience in Iraq and connections with the judiciary, government officials, victim communities, and NGOs. This is absolutely the wrong time to appoint a new Special Representative who has no knowledge of Iraq nor understanding of its internal politics or cultural dynamics.

It is unreasonable to assume a prosecutor with no experience in Iraq would be able to get up to speed and produce results in an acceptable timeframe. It takes years to understand the complexities of Iraqi history, tribal culture, sectarianism, and politics.

Nor do we support the promotion of anyone from within UNITAD, because of its lack of significant results to date. We have already waited seven long years with no justice and cannot wait longer for UNITAD to show results.

Professor Mike Newton has 30 years of legal and military expertise and involvement with Iraq. He has both diplomatic and academic experience. Newton is a trial lawyer and former prosecutor and judge advocate with extensive technical expertise. He has trained Iraqi judges and was deeply involved in the investigations and prosecutions of Saddam Hussein and the Anfal atrocities. He helped to write the Elements of Crime (EC) which is the technical legal document for the International Criminal Court (ICC) that describes with great detail exactly what any prosecutor must prove to establish genocide or crimes against humanity or war crimes.

Mike Newton exhibits a love for the Iraqi people and a passion to bring accountability and justice for the victims of Da’esh. His leadership style is one of selfless service, putting results before self-promotion. He has demonstrated his willingness to engage with the witnesses, victims, and survivors of Da’esh crimes. He understands that victims of Da’esh included Sunni and Shia who refused to support Da’esh, as well as the ethno-religious minorities.

Mr. Newton’s intentions are not to criticize the institutions in Iraq, but to strengthen them. He has extensive connections with Iraqis as well as a wide international network whose expertise he can leverage in the quest for accountability and justice. He can use the power and persuasion of the UN to form partnerships.

We believe Mr. Newton is committed to moving from process to prosecutions and results. He is the best person to assume the leadership of UNITAD.

We, the undersigned local and international NGOs and activists, support the appointment of Mike Newton as the new head of UNITAD.

  1. Sheikh Nayef Jaso, al Mandkany tribal leader mukhtar (leader) of Kocho, village massacre August 15, 2014. Ezidi spokesman and liaison with UNITAD team for Kocho mass grave exhumations. haithammato746@gmail.com
  2. Haithem Ahmed Jaso al Mandkany sole surviving son of Ahmed Jaso, al Mandkany tribal leader killed in Kocho massacre managing evidence, records, and memorial museum in Kocho. haithammato746@gmail.com
  3. Farhad Shamo Roto Ezidi survivor, Gohbol, Shingal. President of Voice of Ezidis supporting asylum in France. Founder of Ezidi Youth Network with 400 Ezidi activists Obama Foundation Leader: Europe program farhad@voiceofezidis.com
  4. Farida Abbas Khalaf Ezidi spokeswoman, activist, and survivor of Da’esh captivity, author of The Girl Who Beat ISIS. farida.khalaf@faridaglobal.org
  5. Saeed Qasim Sulaiman president, Farida Global Organisation saeed2sulaiman@gmail.com
  6. Haji Hamid Taalo Ezidi spokesman for 54 families of missing and survivors; 77 family members captured by Da’esh
  7. Ashwaq Haji Hamid Taalo Ezidi spokeswoman and only survivor to accuse her Da’esh rapist in Iraqi court; he was found guilty
  8. Dr. Amy L. Beam founder, AAJ. Currently getting IDs/Iraqi passports for survivors; investigative journalist, advocate for Ezidi asylum and recovery. Author of The Last Yezidi Genocide (evidence, analysis, and witness testimonies) amybeam@yahoo.com
  9. Nayef Sabri Khalaf Omar president, Sunrise, Kurdistan and Shingal humanitarian aid sunriseorg11@gmail.com
  10. Saaod Khalaf Ezidi lawyer and activist
  11. Dr. Falah Hasan Edizi activist, Sinjar, Iraq falah.hassanhd@gmail.com
  12. Khalaf Salih Ali president, Shingal Charity khalafbeboshengal@gmail.com
  13. Farhan Ibrahim president, YouthBridge educational initiatives in Kurdistan and Shingal farhan.shingaly@yahoo.com
  14. Anne Norona, R.N. president, Yezidi Emergency Support providing medical support, women’s clinic, child friendly space in Kurdistan and Shingal yesforyezidis@gmail.com
  15. Becky Thompson founder and president, The Restoration Act, Inc. educational and psychosocial programs for survivors; medical program for children with PKU genetic disease in Kurdistan and Shingal beckynewlife2014@gmail.com
  16. Paul Williams, attorney, Public International Law and Policy Group, a global pro bono law firm providing free legal assistance to parties involved in peace negotiations, drafting post-conflict constitutions, and war crimes prosecution/transitional justice pwilliams@pilpg.org
  17. Eline de Vos board member, Yazidi Legal Network, A foundation striving for accountability for the Yazidi genocide, raising awareness and conducting open source research and documentation info@yazidilegalnetwork.org
  18. Patrick Harrigan, Secretary, Confederation of Indigenous Nations of the Middle East and North Africa (CINMENA) cinmena.org/secretary/ pressbureau@ezidikhan.net