Iraqi president urges parliament to pass Yezidi Survivors Act

Iraqi President Barham Salih on Saturday called on the Iraqi parliament to pass a law introduced by him in April that aims to help female Yezidis (Ezidis) who suffered under the Islamic State.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi President Barham Salih on Saturday called on the Iraqi parliament to pass a law introduced by him in April that aims to help female Yezidis (Ezidis) who suffered under the Islamic State.

Salih’s appeal came in a statement issued on the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the extremist group’s attack on the Ezidi majority city of Sinjar (Shingal) and the start of its radical fighters’ horrific crimes against the religious minority.

Just before the president’s statement was released, the Kurdistan Parliament held its final vote to officially designate Aug. 3 as Ezidi Genocide Remembrance Day.   

Salih said, “We expect the presidency and members of the Council of Representatives to accelerate the ratification of the bill of survivors... to ensure the rights of survivors and their behalf and compensate them, materially and morally.”

The Iraqi president’s law, called the Ezidi Survivor’s Act, is supported by many but did cause controversy when it was first made public because it only addresses female Ezidi survivors.

“It ought to include the rest of the victims, as there are male and children survivors who are living under very precarious conditions. Especially in the case of the children, who lost all family members and became orphans with no breadwinner,” said Ezidi writer Saman Daoud to AL-Monitor at the time.   

Earlier on Saturday, the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Masoud Barzani, called for a joint effort action plan to be worked out between Baghdad and Erbil to rehabilitate the city of Sinjar (Shingal) and facilitate the return of Yezidis (Ezidis) displaced by the Islamic State. In a statement, he argued to strengthen “local and international efforts to identify the attack on the ethnic minority as genocide, and to intensify the search to find and recover the kidnapped and missing Ezidis.”  

Read More: Barzani calls for joint Baghdad-Erbil plan to help return displaced Yezidis 

A statement by Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani read that the region, in cooperation with the federal government, would “do everything possible to ease the suffering of our Ezidi brother and sisters and also to help them get back to their homes and compensate them for their losses.”    

Also on Saturday, Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani urged the United Nations to officially declare the Islamic State’s acts against Ezidis as a genocide. In a tweet, he said, “On 5th anniversary of genocide against Yezidis in Shingal, we solemnly remember those who fell victim to ISIS atrocities in Kurdistan & beyond. We won’t rest until we eradicate terror & bring kidnapped victims home. We urge UN to recognize this genocide to prevent similar acts.”  

Multiple UN agencies and commissions have referred to the Islamic States’ crimes against Ezidis as acts of genocide since 2016.   

On Thursday, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert called for swift action from both the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to restore stability to war-torn Shingal.

“As we pay our tributes and honor the past,” she said, “we must also look towards the future and thus take decisive action. Decisive action to facilitate and accelerate the reconstruction of affected areas, enabling the safe return of the people, as a very first priority to cope with deep tragedy.”