Yezidi survivors meet with Dutch policy makers, Dutch FM

"On behalf of the Cabinet, may I say that we are determined to help the Yezidi community."
Six Yezidi survivors earlier this week spoke about their experiences in the Netherlands (Photo: Reber Dosky).
Six Yezidi survivors earlier this week spoke about their experiences in the Netherlands (Photo: Reber Dosky).

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Daughters of the Sun, a documentary directed by Reber Dosky, premiered in a Dutch theater in late March. Six Yezidi women, who are the main characters in the documentary, are currently visiting the Netherlands.

In promoting the documentary, the Yezidi women have met with senior Dutch officials and parliamentarians.

ISIS abducted the six young Yezidi girls after killing their family members. In captivity, the young ladies were beaten, tortured, and sexually abused. The documentary focused on their stories and how they are trying to rebuild their lives.

The Netherlands has provided significant support for the Yezidis, a minority religious group in the Middle East, that has been subjected to persecution and oppression by ISIS. In 2021, the Dutch parliament approved a motion to formally recognize ISIS’s crimes committed against the Yezidi (Ezidi) community in August 2014 as genocide.

Read More: Netherlands eyes judicial cooperation with Kurdistan Region on ISIS crimes: Justice Minister

Moreover, the Dutch Minister of Justice, Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, has supported judicial efforts to bring justice to Yezidi victims. In February, a woman suspected of ties with ISIS and using a Yezidi woman as a slave in Syria in 2015 was prosecuted

On April 1, the six Yezidi survivors and the film director spoke at the De Balie roundtable discussion, where options for greater assistance by the Netherlands were debated. Participants at the meeting included the Dutch Ambassador to Iraq, Hans Sandee, Wahhab Hassoo of NL Helps Yezidis, Anne Marinessen of Stichting Vluchteling and MP Pieter Omzigt.

MP Omzigt said the Netherlands could do more to serve justice by appointing a public prosecutor and adding a public minister to the Dutch criminal justice agency.   

Together with Yoeri Albrecht, director of the Balie, and the film director Reber Dosky, the Yezidi women met with the Dutch FM, Wopke Hoekstra, who expressed his sympathy and admiration for the women.

"It is essential that [the Yezidi] return back to their homes if the situation is safe and poses no risk of danger.  We, as an international community, must not let this happen again", Hoekstra stressed. The Dutch FM thanked the women for their openness and bravery. "We cannot imagine the horrors that happened to you," Hoekstra said. "On behalf of the Cabinet, may I say that we are determined to help the Yezidi community."

Dutch parliament

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Dutch parliament also hosted the Yezidi survivors on Wednesday, chaired by MP Kati Piri (PvdA) and MP Ruben Brekelman (VVD).

The MPs were visibly touched by the speech delivered by one of the Yezidi survivors, Sarab Issa. "They killed our family members in front of our eyes. They trafficked us in markets as sex slaves," she explained. "They wanted to make us small but they did not succeed. We are strong, stronger than ever."

Resettling Yezidi women

The Yezidi women also garnered sympathy from MPs Kati Piri (PvdA) and Agnes Mulder (CDA), who acknowledged that the focus on ISIS victims is considerably less than that on the perpetrators.

"I am ashamed that we have let you down," Kati Piri said. "We are working on it but realise that it is not enough," said MP Agnes Mulder (CDA). 'That doesn't feel nice. It's very hard to hear your story."

MP Pieter Omtzigt stressed the need for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to also look into the genocide of the Yezidis. "My heart cries for you. I will never forget you,” he said.

Ulysse Ellian (VVD) assured the group that he will concentrate “on bringing these beasts to justice.

I want your story to be told in every trial, time after time, session by session.”

Wahhab Hassoo Hassoo, co-director of NL helps Yezidis, urged for a resettlement programme for these and other women, who have been held captive as slaves by IS. This would also keep them available to contribute to the persecution of IS fighters, he argued.

Hanneke van der Werf (D66) promised to work on inviting more Yezidi women to testify in court, even if a resettlement programme was not created.