Joint Letter to Bring Back Missing Yazidi Women and Children

On September 14, 2021, and as the 76th session of the UN General Assembly opens, over 80 organizations and experts, in a joint letter, called upon several world leaders to ensure the missing Yazidi women and children are located and reunited with their families.

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 are 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 words into action. While Yazidis face many challenges, organising a search for abducted 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,

Dr Ewelina U Ochab, co-founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response

Knox Thames, Senior Fellow at The Institute for Global Engagement, former U.S. Special Advisor for Religious Minorities at the State Department

Pari Ibrahim, Founder and Executive Director, Free Yezidi Foundation

Abid Shamdeen, Executive Director, Nadia’s Initiative

with

Lord Alton of Liverpool, UK House of Lords

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

Brendan O’Hara MP, UK House of Commons

Kirsten Oswald MP, UK House of Commons

Baroness Caroline Cox, Independent Member of the House of Lords and Founder President of Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART)

Indarjit Lord Singh of Wimbledon, Director Network of Sikh Organisations UK

Nadine Maenza, Chair, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Baroness Caroline Cox, Independent Member of the House of Lords and Founder President of Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART)

Indarjit Lord Singh of Wimbledon, Director Network of Sikh Organisations UK

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

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

Professor John Packer, Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa

Professor Greg Stanton, Founder of the Genocide Watch

Zachary D. Kaufman, J.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Law and Political Science and Co-Director of the Criminal Justice Institute, University of Houston Law Center

Christine Robins, Professor of Kurdish Studies, University of Exeter

Andrew Copson, Humanists UK

Mia Hasenson-Gross, Executive Director of René Cassin

Aarif Abraham, barrister at Garden Court North Chambers

Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director, Aid to the Church in Need (UK)

Rachel Miner, Executive Director, Bellwether International

Lauren Homer, President, Law and Liberty Trust

Dr Amy Austin Holmes, Public Policy Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Igor Cvetkowski, international expert on Reparations for Human Rights Violations and Land and Property restitution

Dr. Bojan Gavrilovic, Head of Program for Rights and Justice at the Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights

Erin Rosenberg, lawyer and researcher

Maung Zarni, Free Rohingya Coalition

Wai Wai Nu, Founder of the Women’s Peace Network

Chris Seiple, President Emeritus, Institute for Global Engagement

Greg Mortenson, author and humanitarian worker

Neville Rochow QC, barrister and scholar

Catherine Morris, lawyer (non-practicing), Victoria, Canada; Associate, Centre for Asia Pacific Initiatives, University of Victoria

Farahnaz Ispahani, Senior Fellow, Religious Freedom Institute and former Member, National Assembly of Pakistan

Guley Bor, lawyer and researcher

Toby Cadman, barrister and head of Guernica 37

Vanessa Hernández, International criminal law and human rights lawyer

Ibrahim Anli, Executive Director of the Rumi Forum

Scott Morgan, President, Red Eagles Entreprises

Lauren Homer, President, Law and Liberty Trust International

Dr Jianli Yang, President, Citizen Power Initiatives for China

Father John Anderson, President, Saint Nicholas Freedom Group

Alessandro Luparello, human rights advocate

Dr. Sam Rushworth, academic and peace advocate

Dr. James Smith CBE, Aegis Trust

Emily Prey, Senior Analysts, The Newlines Institute of Strategy and Policy

Fadi Daou, co-founder, Adyan Foundation

Dr. George R. Wilkes, Senior Research Fellow, School of Security Studies, King’s College London

Loan Vo, coordinator, Buddhist Solidarity Association

Susan Taylor, Church of Scientology National Affairs Office

Jan Jan Maran, Co-founder & Executive, Global Movement for Myanmar Democracy

and

Accountability Unit

A Demand For Action

ADO Alevi Philosophy Center Association

Aegis Trust

Assyrian Policy Institute

Bellwether International

Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Citizen Power Initiatives for China

Coalition for Genocide Response Coalition for Just Reparations (C4JR)

Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de conscience

Coptic Solidarity

Church of Scientology National Affairs Office

DAK Organization

Father’s touch

Free Yezidi Foundation

Genocide Watch

Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker e.V./Society for Threatened Peoples

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Global Minorities Alliance

Greek Genocide Resource Center

Hawar Help

Humanists UK

Human Rights Concern – Eritrea (HRCE)

International State Crime Initiative (ISCI)

Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights

Minority Rights Group International

Montreal Institute for Genocide Studies

Mosaic Middle East

Nadia’s Initiative

Religious Freedom & Business Foundation

Refugees International

René Cassin

Revealing Light Ministries

Rumi Forum

Saint Nicholas Freedom Group

Set my people free

Sinjar Academy

The America Team for Displaced Eritreans

Yazda

YES Yezidi Emergency Support

Yet Again