Presentation by Dr. Amy L Beam at the First International Conference on the Yezidi Genocide
15 August 2018, Divan Hotel Conference Hall, Erbil, Kurdistan region
I am Dr. Amy L Beam. I am the author of a book entitled “The Last Yezidi Genocide.” It contains testimonies and evidence of the genocide based on my four years working for and living with Ezidis. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to buy a copy.
I thank Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Rudaw Research Center for sponsoring this conference and the Kurdistan government for providing camps for 200,000 Ezidi IDPs for four years.
Today is the 4th-year anniversary of when Daesh attacked Kocho and killed all the men and teenage boys and abducted the women and children. I came yesterday from Kocho where survivors have gathered to commemorate this black day. My NGO has gotten 700 passports, most of them for Kocho survivors.
The Ezidis today have no good solutions. I offer eleven recommendations that reflect the wishes of Ezidis.
The Office for Rescuing Yezidi Abductees has helped financially to return many of the Ezidis from Daesh. The cost of returning one Ezidi has risen from $3000 to $13,000 dollars or more. There is a serious problem for families to raise this money. The government does not provide financial assistance until after the survivor returns to Kurdistan.
Recommendation 1: Governments and NGOs should identify private sources to finance loans for families to return their loved ones from Daesh.
Emigration for Ezidis is blocked unless they are survivors who were raped. Germany and Canada each offered asylum to 1100 survivors. Germany did not let the men go with their families so they are suffering from family separation.
Recommendation 2: Germany should grant asylum for the men in the survivors’ families.
Australia is now taking survivors and their families, including the men. Emigration is the main issue for all Ezidis. It is an absolute certainty that all 400,000 Ezidis want and need to leave Iraq, not just survivors. The U.S., E.U. and U.N. recognized the genocide in 2016, but have not followed-up with any solutions in spite of a tidal wave of evidence and pleading for asylum.
Recommendation 3: The United Nations should pass a resolution for member countries to grant asylum to all Ezidis from Iraq with no other conditions for eligibility.
In Snoni, on the north side of the mountain, a man asked me why I was the only American in Shingal helping Ezidis. I know the answer. In one word, it is VISAS.
The Iraqi government will not give more than a 30-day visa to foreigners unless they come from Iran in which case they do not need a visa.
In 2017, the Kurdistan Asayish blocked me from going to Shingal or Mosul. In 2018, I flew to Baghdad. It took me four months to get a one-year, multi-entry visa so that I would be allowed to visit Shingal.
Baghdad refuses to recognize Kurdistan residency IDs or NGOs. The Iraqi Army at the checkpoint to enter Nineveh has turned foreigners away, saying their 30-day visas issued at Erbil airport are invalid.
In order to get more than a one-month visa from Baghdad, one must work for an NGO registered in Baghdad or have a contract with a private company or approval from the Minister of Interior. One cannot register an NGO without residency. One cannot get residency without having an NGO.
Humanitarian aid and NGOs are being blocked and Ezidis are being divided between Kurdistan and Shingal as a result of the political stalemate between Erbil and Baghdad governments.
Recommendation 4: Baghdad government should grant three-month visitor visas without bureaucratic requirements.
Recommendation 5: The Erbil and Baghdad governments must resolve their differences to allow free travel between Kurdistan and Shingal.
Recommendation 6: The road from Kurdistan to Shingal at Fesh Khabor should be opened.
It is unwritten camp policy to turn away all journalists and volunteer humanitarians at the camp gates. “No cameras” and “no journalists” is the policy.
Recommendation 7: Remove requirements for NGOs and journalists to get permission from BRHA (Board of Relief and Humanities Affairs) and the Duhok Court before entering the camps. Replace it with a simple ID check and sign-in procedure.
I recently visited every Ezidi village on the south side of the mountain. The only inhabitable cities for large returning populations are Shingal on the south side and Khanasor and Snoni on the north side.
The villages on the south side are all empty except for Tal Qassab where a handful of families and shepherds are living.
Shingal city has electricity about 60% of the day. The villages do not have electricity, because Daesh removed the cables from the utility poles in many villages and destroyed the electric plants. Electricity was restored two weeks ago for Tal Qassab.
There is no government water except for half the city of Shingal. Houses must rely on their own well water or buy from a truck. Not all well water is safe for drinking.
- Most of the cell phone towers are destroyed.
- The government gas station in Shingal city often runs out of fuel.
- There are no shops, no schools, no clinics, and no economy in the villages. There is no way for Ezidis to sustain life.
Explosions have killed returning Ezidis every month in 2018. The Iraqi Army started bomb removal two weeks ago. Tal Qassab and Tal Banat are now clear of bombs.
Houses that were not exploded by Daesh were burned to a black crisp. The doors, windows, electrical wiring, fixtures, and plumbing have been ripped out of the houses.
To defeat Daesh, Coalition airstrikes destroyed many major buildings that Daesh used as headquarters including schools, government buildings, and chicken cooperatives. No compensation has been made to any family whose property was destroyed by Daesh or by the Coalition.
Ezidis do not have money with which to return to Shingal.
Recommendation 8: The European Union should fund and implement its resolution passed November 20, 2014, for the “establishment of an international fund to be set up in order for the Yezidis to return to their lands and for the infrastructure to be restored.”
Recommendation 9: Kurdistan should establish offices for former Shingal residents to file claims for compensation for property damage, including claims against the Coalition. Settle claims on an emergency basis within three months.
Recommendation 10: Money that is being spent by the governments to maintain the IDP camps should be redirected to pay claims for property damages and to rebuild the infrastructure of Shingal.
The only way Ezidis will return to live in Shingal is to have their own protected region. They do not want to be governed by Kurdistan because the Peshmerga left them on August 3, 2014. Neither do they want to be governed by Baghdad. They see no hope of getting what they want. This is why they are seeking emigration.
Recommendation 11: Implement the European Union’s 2014 resolution to create an autonomous Ezidi region. With the support of Baghdad and the U.N., Ezidis should have their own defense force to defend this region.
I urge each of you to work for implementation of these recommendations. Thank you.