Join the Initiative to #BringBackTheYazidis

Join the new initiative to #BringBackTheYazidis.

Contact us if you wish to sign the below statement.

We, the undersigned individuals and organisations, write respectfully to urge you to take decisive steps to locate the 2,763 Yazidi women and children who have been victims of forced or involuntary disappearances and missing for seven years. There are decisive steps that the international community could, and must, take to aid the discovery and safe return of these persons. We have a moral imperative to offer whatever leadership and support we can to end this horrific situation. 

As many governments and international institutions recognised, Daesh’s murderous actions against the Yazidis constituted genocide and crimes against humanity. Their 2014 attacks on Sinjar and the Ninevah Plains forced thousands of people to flee. Thousands more were abducted: boys forced to become child soldiers, and women and children sold into sex slavery. The number of those killed by Daesh is still not known. Mass graves continue to be discovered.  

Seven years after the genocide, it is a travesty that the Yazidi women and children remain missing and their fate unknown. If they are alive, they continue to be enslaved and subjected to daily abuse. Despite findings of genocide and repeated pronouncements expressing concern for Yazidis, the international community has failed to organise any effort to locate these kidnapped individuals.

We respectfully ask that you, individually and together, take the initiative to organise a search for the missing Yazidi women and children.  We understand many of the missing may have perished, but we have a moral responsibility to find the living and provide closure to the families of those murdered.  Therefore, we call upon you to work together with allies to ensure that the missing Yazidi women and children are accounted for, partnering with like minded governments, the United Nations, the Yazidi community as well as NGOs and experts. 

While the situation is complex, there are concrete actions that would aid the search and make a substantial difference for those who are still trapped, and their families. Therefore, we call upon you to: 

  • Work with partners to conduct an official search to identify the whereabouts of the missing women and children, including in the Al-Hol camp in Syria where many are believed to be held;
  • Work with local partners to free all Yazidi women and children who are alive and ensure that the remains of those killed are returned to their families and given a dignified and honourable burial. 

Now is the time to put action to words. While Yazidis face many challenges, organising a search for kidnapped women and children is tangible, workable, achievable, and long overdue. We call upon you to demonstrate the moral leadership and courage necessary to push global action in the face of genocide.

Should you have any questions, please contact Dr Ewelina U Ochab (Ewelina.ochab@gmail.com), Knox Thames (knoxthames@outlook.com), Pari Ibrahim (pari.ibrahim@freeyezidi.org), Abid Shamdeen (abid@nadiasinitiative.org).

Yours sincerely,

….

The International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief (webinar)

In May 2019, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution establishing The International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief to be marked annually on 22 August. The establishment of such a day, however, is not an end goal in itself. This day is intended to provide a springboard towards action that addresses the growing issue of violence based on religion or belief. In recent years, violence based on religion or belief is an ever-growing problem which must be addressed with a number of different and wide-ranging responses.

On 23 August, the Coalition for Genocide Response hosted a webinar marking the day. The webinar was co-chaired by Fiona Bruce MP, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Dr Ewelina U. Ochab, Co-founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response, author of the initiative to establish the UN day. While marking the UN day, the speakers discussed required responses to acts of violence based on religion or belief, focusing on how to help individuals and communities after such violence occurs and how to prevent such acts in the future.

Speakers included:

Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, Founder and Director of Refcemi

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Peer at the UK House of Lords and Director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute

Jos Douma, Special Envoy for Religion and Belief, Chair of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance

Nadine Maenza, Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom

Adam Phillips, Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (FBNP), and of the Local, Faith and Transformative (LFT) Partnerships Hub within the Bureau for Development, Democracy and Innovation (DDI)

Helen Berhane, Eritrean former prisoner of conscience, advocate.

Watch the webinar here:

Will The Biden Administration Recognize The Atrocities Against The Rohingyas For What They Are?

On 10 August 2021, the Coalition for Genocide Response joined over 90 international organisations in an open letter to the Biden Administration calling for the formal recognition of the atrocities against the Rohingyas as genocide and crimes against humanity.

As the letter states:

‘A Rohingya genocide determination would … demonstrate a commitment to evidence-based accountability as the struggle for a truly inclusive and representative democratic Myanmar continues.

A determination would also help to ensure continued international attention on the plight of the Rohingya, while enabling the United States to mobilise additional diplomatic and economic pressure on Myanmar to shift its behaviour. This attention could offer a measure of protection for the Rohingya and others in Myanmar. It would also represent an expression of solidarity with the governments of Bangladesh and other refugee hosting countries, signalling the United States is committed both to accountability and supporting conditions for safe and voluntary return when conditions so permit.’

Read the full letter here

Commenting upon the joint initiative, Dr Ewelina Ochab, the co-founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response, said: ‘We must remember that this genocide is not over and the Rohingyas in Myanmar continue to be at risk. Leadership is urgently needed. Global action is urgently needed. We shall not wait until this genocide materializes in whole. We must name it for what it is and act.’

Read the full article here

Seven Years Ago, They Came To Destroy: The Daesh Genocide

Seven years ago, on 3 August 2014, members of the terror organisation Daesh (commonly referred to as Islamic State or ISIL) launched a violent attack against Yazidis in Sinjar, Iraq. Daesh fighters killed hundreds, if not thousands of men. As part of the same campaign, Daesh fighters abducted boys to turn them into child soldiers and women and girls for sex slavery. Thousands of women and girls are still missing and their fate is unknown.

A few days after the attack on Sinjar, Daesh also attacked the Ninevah Plains and forced over 120,000 people to flee for their lives in the middle of the night. Daesh committed murder, enslavement, deportation and forcible transfer of population, imprisonment, torture, abduction of women and children, exploitation, abuse, rape, sexual violence and forced marriage. The atrocities have been recognised, at an international level, as crimes against humanity, war crimes and even genocide, the crime of crimes. The number of those killed by Daesh is still not known. Mass graves continue to be discovered. 

Marking the anniversary, our co-founder, Dr Ewelina Ochab, will be speaking at an event organised by Free Yezidi Foundation.

Register for the event here.

What is next for the atrocities against Uyghurs in Xinjiang?

Read the new piece from our co-founder Dr Ewelina U Ochab about what is next for the atrocities against Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

A UN mechanism to collect and preserve evidence of the atrocities against the Uyghurs is the next crucial step and one that cannot be postponed. Without securing this evidence now, the prospects of justice in the future are zero.

Dr Ewelina U. Ochab, ‘What is next for the atrocities against Uyghurs in Xinjiang?’, (OxHRH Blog, May 2021), <https://ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/what-is-next-for-the-atrocities-against-uyghurs-in-xinjiang>

Read it here: What is next for the atrocities against Uyghurs in Xinjiang?

The Use of Starvation Against the People of Tigray

Lord Alton and the Coalition for Genocide Response invite you to a webinar on: 

The Use of Starvation Against the People of Tigray 

5:00-6:00 PM BST on 22 June 2021

Zoom 

Armed conflict and mass atrocities have destroyed Tigray’s economy and food system and so pose a threat of famine. 5.7 million people are affected by this crisis, with the United Nations estimating that 4.5 million are ‘in need.’ 

Starvation of civilians is often used as a method of warfare, and as such may constitute a war crime. It is crucial to consider whether this is the case in Tigray and if so, what should be the responses. Also, the use of starvation may be seen imposing conditions of life calculated to bring about the destruction of a protected group in whole or in part, as per Article II of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and as such, where there is a risk of genocide, States should trigger the duty to protect. 

The panellists will discuss the issue of starvation as a war crime or as a genocidal method and the needed responses from States and the international community. 

Speakers include: 

Lord Alton of Liverpool, Cross-bench Peer at the UK House of Lords

Alex de Waal, Executive director of the World Peace Foundation and research professor at The Fletcher School at Tufts University

Aarif Abraham, barrister, Garden Court North Chambers 

Further speakers will be announced shortly. Please register here: https://StarvationInTigray.eventbrite.co.uk 

The Other Pandemic: Rape and Sexual Violence in Conflict

Lord Alton of Liverpool and the Coalition for Genocide Response invite you to a webinar on

The Other Pandemic: Rape and Sexual Violence in Conflict

5:00-6:00 PM BST on 21 June 2021

Zoom

The use of rape and sexual violence is a pandemic that is yet to be addressed comprehensively. As it continues to be used across several conflicts, there is little hope that the crime will ever be adequately addressed, let alone prevented. Tigray, Cameroon, Myanmar, Syria and Iraq are only a few examples where predominantly women and girls have been subjected to rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war, and as a means to hurt and humiliate them and the whole communities. 

19 June marks the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. The day was established by the UN General Assembly in 2015 to ‘raise awareness of the need to put an end to conflict-related sexual violence, to honour the victims and survivors of sexual violence around the world and to pay tribute to all those who have courageously devoted their lives to and lost their lives in standing up for the eradication of these crimes.’ 

Marking the UN day, the speakers will raise some of the recent cases of rape and sexual violence in conflict and discuss what is urgently needed to address them, including by combating impunity at the domestic and international level and providing survivors with assistance.

Speakers include:

Lord Alton of Liverpool, Cross-bench Peer at the UK House of Lords

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Labour Peer at the UK House of Lords, Director of the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute

Igor Cvetkovski, Senior Advisor on Reparations, Global Survivors Fund

Please register here: https://RapeInWarPandemic.eventbrite.co.uk

‘A Tigrayan womb should never give birth’: The War Waged Against Tigrayan Women

On 17 May 2021, the Coalition for Genocide Response joined Lord Alton of Liverpool and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Eritrea and organised an important webinar about the use of rape and sexual violence in Tigray.

“Our problem is with your womb. Your womb gives birth to Woyane [a derogatory term used to refer to the TPLF]. A Tigrayan womb should never give birth” a Tigrayan woman was told after she was gang-raped and mutilated. Hers is just one of many similar reports emerging daily from Tigray. This suggests that rape and sexual violence against Tigrayan women are a commonly used weapon of the war – and might even be reaching the threshold for being a genocidal act.

During this webinar, the panellists discussed the situation of Tigrayan women, considered the nature of the atrocities and the needed responses.

Speakers included:

Lord Alton of Liverpool, Crossbench Peer at the UK House of Lords

Professor Mukesh Kapila CBE, Professor Emeritus, Global Health & Humanitarian Affairs, University of Manchester

Lucy Kassa, freelance journalist

Sally Keeble, former Labour MP, Minister

and

His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London.

Watch it here: