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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Rachel Hagan

Woman who saw 6 brothers slaughtered in Iraq demands justice for ISIS genocide victims

A woman who saw six brothers slaughtered in Iraq has called for justice for ISIS genocide victims.

Twenty years ago, Nadia Murad was eight when former Prime Minister Sir Tony Blair ordered British troops to war with the US-led coalition.

They overthrew the dictator government of Saddam Hussein on false claims that he had weapons of mass destruction.

The catastrophic decision to invade and occupy Iraq in 2003 led to the world’s most feared terrorist group, ISIS, emerging out of al-Qaeda and committing genocide against Nobel laureate Nadia and her people, the Yazidis.

Kurdish people gained autonomy at the start of the war once Saddam was toppled but the subsequent Syrian war and political turmoil in Iraq saw the emergence of the terror group — which then flocked back into western and northern Iraq without a US military to stop it.

Nadia escaped ISIS after three months, knowing she would be executed if caught (Getty)

Yazidis, a minority religious group, sadly paid the price.

Thirteen years after the 2003 invasion, Nadia and thousands of others were taken captive and brutally abused.

Six of her brothers were slaughtered before her eyes and her mother later died.

Her eyes cloud over as she tells the Mirror: "I watched my brothers walking from school being killed just simply for being, my nieces were walking to escape ISIS and were killed by a bomb. My mother worked so hard to raise 11 children and was killed."

Approximately 12,000 Yazidis were killed or abducted by ISIS and around 7,000 women were forced into sexual slavery, with over 3,000 women unaccounted for — an event deemed an act of genocide by the United Nations.

Nadia escaped after three months, knowing she would be executed if caught and has since been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her activism.

Speaking to the Mirror, she lauds Germany for being the sole country to hold ISIS members accountable and asks why others don't other countries are still, eight years on, yet to follow suit.

There has been virtually no accountability for the genocide.

Yazidi woman holds up pictures of missed relatives during a commemoration ceremony (AFP via Getty Images)

Nadia seemingly makes a comment aimed at the UK, when she tells the Mirror at the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) Conference in London: "Countries cannot, in any way, say they are fighting to prevent sexual violence if they are giving the perpetrators impunity.

"I think enough is enough. We have heard many promises if you're really ready to prevent it let's see your action."

Questioned on this by the Mirror, the Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the United Nations, Tariq Ahmad, said: "Survivors have challenged me as a UK Minister on the importance of not just celebrating or recognising what we've done, more importantly, is what we will do next. So we have an important role."

Mr Ahmad did not say what the "important role" was they will be trying to fulfil.

Nadia continues: "When perpetrators use violence against women, they leave like a mark on their body and it's not that easy to just erase it."

The BBC estimates around 850 people from the UK had travelled to Iraq and Syria to support or fight for jihadist groups.

Dr Ewelina Ochab, co-founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response, tells the Mirror the British government confirmed that 32 British fighter returnees were convicted for terror-related offences.

This is out of between 360-425 Daesh fighters who have returned to the UK — making it between 7.5 and 8.8 per cent conviction rate.

Her brother pictured with his wife Jilan and their baby daughter at a refugee camp (Philip Coburn)

She continues: "This is appalling. We need to see more prosecutions and convictions of fighters in the UK. For their involvement in war crimes and genocide - and not only for terror-related offences."

During a recent trip to Iraq, Dr Ochab found survivors were frustrated with the lengthy pursuit of justice in comparison with the ease with which the perpetrators, especially foreign fighters, were allowed to travel the world and commit horrific atrocities.

Sir Tony said himself that “there are elements of truth” to the view that the war in Iraq helped pave the way for the Islamic State.

Pari Ibrahim, Executive Director of the Free Yezidi Foundation tells the Mirror that the 2003 invasion "left a vacuum, it created space for extremists and the like to expand their ideology, like a poison that spread among the people."

While Nadia named no specific people, Shamima Begum, who left east London to join ISIS aged 15, has been once again thrust into the limelight.

Her hopes of returning to the UK were dealt a bitter blow last month when the special immigration appeals commission upheld the decision to strip her British citizenship.

Halal Sefil, another Yezidi survivor and human rights activist who escaped from the terror group after three years, also told the Mirror: "The UK, who led their people who joined ISIS, should have brought them back and brought them to justice here so that other people will not follow them.

Nadia reacts after being awarded laureate (Getty)

"All we see is that they are stripping people of their citizenship but we need these people to be brought justice and tried for what they did to the Yazidis."

Yazidi Zina Khallat, jumps in: "It's not a solution when you just leave someone who committed a crime and take their citizenship in place of prosecuting them.

While ISIS has been defeated in the area it is plagued with negative memories for those seeking to return, plus there has been no government support to rebuild the towns and villages.

Iraq's Yazidi Survivor Law which promised reparations is yet to be implemented.

There are an estimated 360,000 Yazidis lingering in camps for internally displaced people in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. Many feel they are awaiting a death sentence, suspended in limbo and resigned to permanent incarceration.

Khallat says: "I've been in camps for eight years, I am basically getting prosecuted for what happened to me, not the ISIS members."

Dr Jan Ilhan Kizilhan, a Kurdish-German psychotherapist who treats Yazidis previously told the Mirror: "They are going through hell, with daily flashbacks.

"The brain is always living in the past and even today, eight years later, the government cannot give them a real perspective to guarantee that you can go back to live in peace and security."

Bringing those responsible for war crimes in Rwanda and Yugoslavia years but nearly a decade on, Yazidis fear they have been forgotten.

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