Joining us here from the Yezidi Human Rights Organization-International, we have Khalid Haider, who is the assistant to the president, and we have Omar Haider as well. Welcome, gentlemen. I understand you drove last night from Virginia, so thank you for making an effort to be here. We do appreciate it.
And we have Rabbi Reuven Bulka, who will be joining us on the call at nine o'clock. We'll try to do it with minimum disruption.
We're going to start with our member of the Iraqi Parliament. Ms. Saeed, if we could have your opening statement that would be great. Once all the opening statements have been made then we'll go around the room and ask questions back and forth over the next hour or two.
Good morning to you. In the beginning and on behalf of all, I want to thank you for giving me the chance to bring you the facts of what has happened to the Yazidis. I want to say that I'm sorry if my English is not so good.
On August 3, 2014, the so-called Islamic State invaded the Sinjar region, which is inhabited mostly by my fellow Yazidis. Perhaps you have heard and learned about the massacres, the displacement, and the kidnapping of women and children, but I think you have not learned about the details of what really happened. Unfortunately, I think I won't be able to take enough time to summarize the heinous cases even partially. Thousands of Yazidis have been killed: by ISIS directly or indirectly, by the forced march, their escape, the terrible conditions of the Sinjar Mountains.
The biggest tragedy took place in the village of Kocho. In Kocho, 700 people have been kidnapped, mostly women and children aged 12 years and younger, while the rest of the men, about 1,200, were murdered in cold blood, destroying the entire town.
The second tragedy is that the Yazidi girls who were kidnapped by ISIS in the area around Mosul have been sold at $150 per girl, many of them in Syria, and have been treated with unthinkable cruelty.
In addition to forced conversions and rape, over just a few short months while the attention of the war is turned away, more than 5,000 Yazidi women, children, and men have been kidnapped by ISIS. No one has yet been able to help them, find them, and bring them back home.
A small but ancient and proud culture and historic religious community of the Yazidi people may come to a complete and total end. Almost 90% of the Yazidi people of Iraq—400,000 people—are now refugees across the Kurdistan region. They fled their homes in August with absolutely nothing—no documents, no warm clothes, no bedding—in this cold weather. Without shelter, children and entire families are sleeping on the street or under makeshift tents that are not suitable for living in.
Without heat or electricity, fires flare up in the camp. Two weeks ago three children burned to death in a tent that was ignited by a candle, and there was no easy access to water to put the fire out. Even in the three camps provided by the UN—Shariya, Khanke, and Bajit Kandala—in the best of circumstances there is one toilet per 18 families, and for each 50 families one shower room.
I am deeply sad and upset that I must report that the refugee situation is getting worse day by day and hour by hour.
Of course, we are thankful for what we have received, but it is much too late and too little, and our people live in constant fear and in danger from both nature and ISIS.
I am grateful to you for giving me this opportunity to address the Canadian people and ask your government to help my people, the Yazidi people.
Those who have not been killed by ISIS will die trying to survive as refugees in the cold without basic needs, without food, without support. This is a tragedy. It must be stopped before the genocide of an entire nation is on the world's conscience.
We need the Canadian people to hear our plea and help us, shelter us, feed us, and care for our refugees, so they may go home again. We need this now before it is too late.
We need the Canadian people to hear our plea, and help us find and free our enslaved people. All captured prisoners need to be released. We need this now before it is too late.
We need the Canadian people to hear our plea and help us to receive international protection for our people. We need this now before it is too late.
I would like to thank each one of you in advance for giving me this chance to be here on behalf of an entire people.
First and foremost, I appreciate the great opportunity to speak the truth, especially about what we have witnessed, my colleagues and I, as well as everybody you've had here.
I would like to start by going back to what happened a little earlier, back in August of 2007, when a semi-genocide took place against my people in two of the Yazidi complexes, a Jazeera complex and a Kahtaniya complex. This was due to the withdrawal of the Kurdish security forces five minutes before these two villages were going to get attacked by four huge trucks filled with C-4 and other explosive items, which led to the deaths of more than 700 people.
This in fact is not the first time in history Kurds have betrayed Yazidis. Just because we are not Muslim, that doesn't mean we don't have the right to live on the ground that belonged to our ancestors.
In 2014, seven years after the first genocide took place, here it is: the Kurdish government has withdrawn from the Sinjar area, handing the keys of the golden gates to ISIS, one of the most brutal terrorist organizations ever to have appeared or ever to have existed in human history.
It wasn't enough for the terrorists to force Christians and other minorities to leave their hometowns. In some places, they stripped them to nothing but the clothes they were wearing. They kicked them and dragged them outside their houses. But that wasn't enough. In order for the Kurdish government to make their points with the central government, they had to sacrifice Yazidis. Because of a dispute, the central government would not give a budget to the Kurdish regional governments, so they had to come up with an idea to make turmoil—namely, by bringing the psychological war that is ISIS into Iraq, driving it into the Sinjar area, and disturbing peaceful minorities such as Yazidis and Christians. This is what happened.
It's just like the allegory of the cave. No matter how much we shout or how much we call, “It's us, this is what's happening, this is what has been done to us”, nobody can translate internally what is going on with this peaceful minority. It is one of the most ancient beliefs in human history. Yazidis have faced genocide time after time. This is the 74th genocide that has taken place against us. Throughout the years we have lost 23 million Yazidis, and yet, until today, all you have heard about is the Turkish genocide against the Armenians.
The Kurds are playing this psychological war against Yazidis. Of the money that has been sent from the United States—$280 million—for refugees in these camps, only $12 million has been spent. All this money you've sent to the Kurdish government is going to their own benefit, not to benefit the refugees who are living in tents. When it rains, some camps are flooded with water, and tents are all we have. People are living outside the tents rather than inside due to the floods taking place. Kids are dying of pneumonia. People are dying from expired food. Food has been sent from the United Nations and other countries to the Kurdish regional government. They replace it with expired food.
Another prime example is that at Sinjar Mountain today there are 7,000 to 10,000 men, women, and children—not to mention the fighters. The Kurdish government sends supplies and they keep them. Whoever says “We belong to you” are given them. Flour and salt are essential items. They will not give them to anybody unless they say, “Yes, we are PDK”.
Enough is enough. Today people are dying and suffering. I just want to ask a question: is a human life that cheap? In some countries they do a lot to save the lives of people and even animals. They put too much time into an animal to risk the life of that animal. Yet today there's an entire society—or a nation per se—and an ancient belief that is facing certain death, and nobody even cares about what's happening.
All you hear is that the Kurdish government is doing its best for these refugees, yet most of the time they're not doing even 10% of what you hear. There's a huge difference between hearing and seeing. You hear they are doing this. You might send an envoy to Kurdistan region, but that envoy will be sent to one of the nice camps they've set up for some people who are close to them.
In fact, in over 95% of these camps people live miserable lives: no food and no sanitation. As Miss Vian Saeed said, some of these tents caught fire and people died. Some of these camps were set up for the refugees who came from Syria and were handed to the Yazidis after what happened on Sinjar. It's going to be one of the most horrific tragedies that history will ever mention, because human rights don't.... This is turning a blind eye to the Yazidis. Next to me here today is my colleague, who lost his entire family. They were close, in an area where they could have been rescued, but nobody wanted to make any effort to rescue them. Out of an entire family of 40-some people, he's the only one who survived, and that was because he was in the United States, or he would not be here now.
The Kurdish government receives a lot of supplies. The tragedy happened to us, not the Kurds. We want you, as a nation, to be in direct touch with the Yazidis, who have been hurt and have been driven out of their houses and hometowns. We want you to go witness and see how much tragedy they are going through day after day, because most of this aid—over 85%—will not go to these refugees.
Another example is the aid they sent to the mountain from Qatar and from the Emirates, who went to their markets and switched with old and rotten clothes.... There are a lot of pictures that I can forward to you. You couldn't even use these clothes to wipe your car. No human can wear them, especially on that mountain. It gets so cold, just like Ottawa, to a point where people cannot resist low temperatures. This is a fact.
All people hear is that the Kurds are helping. To be honest with you, the Kurds started all of this, and that was due to the dispute they've had with the central government in Iraq. That's why former Prime Minister al-Maliki stepped down after they handed the Mosul Dam to ISIS. So what happened is that they gained power at our expense. Yet every other nation in this world wanted to invade Iraq because they were saying Saddam Hussein was creating mass graves out of his people. Today political sides are creating far worse than what he was doing.
In ending, I'd like to thank you all, ladies and gentlemen, for giving me the opportunity to speak and say what I've seen. Thank you very much.
I was quite moved by the statements of the previous speaker. In a way, he is pointing to the challenges we all face when there is a looming disaster somewhere in the world. The question we have to continue to ask ourselves is whether, more than just in words, we have learned the lessons of the past: Rwanda, the Holocaust, so many situations in which vulnerable people are almost decimated. As much as we would do whatever we can, we'd like to do something to help prevent it. Are we equipped? In other words, is the world in general equipped when something like this happens, to step in and prevent mass disasters, catastrophes, and tragedies like this?
Unfortunately, from what we have seen, the answer is certainly not yes, and more likely is leaning toward a no. That leads to the question: have we put in enough energy to develop an international strategy, even let's say, an international army that steps in to prevent things like this from happening? This is a major challenge.
I know that the government and the Canadian people in general are horrified by what is happening to the Yazidis, but sympathy cards don't save lives. We have to ask ourselves the very serious question, is there more we can do? This is an emergency. As we speak people are dying, and the question is whether there is something we can do to be more responsive. It is a critical question.
I don't question the desire of the government to save lives. I don't question the commitment to human rights. That is beyond question, but the real issue is can we mobilize the world community that cares to make sure that the despots and the killers of the world are not given a free rein. That's the issue we need to address. I leave it to the rest.
This is more or less my opening comment. I know that the issues before us are not only in addressing the danger on the other side of the ocean, but also the question of that danger being exported to Canada. Another challenge we have here in Canada is do we have the wherewithal? We do have the wherewithal, but are we doing as much as we can to make sure that the Canada of the next generation will be one in which terrorism will not dare to raise its ugly head because it just won't be given the chance.
We're horrified when horrible things happen like what happened about a month ago, but the prevention of it down the road involves a heavy investment in community building and in community alert and prevention strategies, which go all the way from being alert to dangers when you see them to building communities that are solid, in which everyone feels included rather than excluded. These are very large agendas, I don't doubt, and I'm not suggesting they are easy. Thank God we have a country like Canada that takes this seriously, and hopefully with that seriousness and the energy, people like you will be able to address it and come up with strategies that will save lives because this is what it's all about.
Thank you, Chair, and thank you to our guests here in Ottawa for coming all the way from the United States overnight. Obviously, that shows your commitment and determination to have a voice for people who have not had a voice in the last number of years. And of course to our friend in Erbil, I want to put my first question to you. But also to Rabbi Bulka, it's good to hear you.
I'm a little shocked at some of the testimony we've heard today. I'm also a little frustrated, because some of the testimony we've heard today is certainly what we heard when we went to Erbil just this past September. There was a call to have immediate action to help save lives and have robust humanitarian support. I also have to say that I'm a little depressed at the fact that I was in Erbil in 2007...and we actually had a conference both here in Ottawa and in Washington about the need to protect minorities. But that was back in 2008, 2009, 2010, where what was happening to Yazidis and to Christians was documented. Now ISIS has been unleashed and it's become worse. But let's be clear here, and I'm going to say it again, this was something we were warned about. No one predicted ISIS, but in terms of the persecution of Yazidis, of Christians, of Mandians, it was happening and Iraq was emptying out.
I want to talk to our friend in Erbil.
Ms. Dakhil, you recently gave a speech to the Iraq Parliament about the situation on Mount Sinjar, and you said, “Away from all political disputes, we want humanitarian solidarity”. My straightforward question to you is, how can Canada both provide the urgently needed humanitarian assistance and support the democratic and social development to help build, to use your words, “solidarity amongst all communities” within Iraq? If I may ask, could you focus particularly on the humanitarian support because of what the witnesses have underlined here today about the delivery of that support? We heard in testimony in our last meeting that while there were pledges made, items weren't being delivered, and now we're hearing more evidence about how things may be diverted. Could you help us with that, please?
Thank you. I'd like to turn to Mr. Haider.
I was surprised when you said the the Kurds had betrayed the Yazidis. I did not know that, so that is something new for me. You have said that most aid to the Kurdish region is not reaching Yazidi refugees.
I was there in September with Mr. Dewar. We did not meet Yazidis at that time, but mostly Chaldean Christians who had also fled the region.
When you say that most aid is not reaching Yazidi refugees, it implies that the control of the humanitarian aid is done by the Kurdish government as opposed to non-government organizations, United Nations, and others.
Is there a tight control of humanitarian aid by the Kurdish regional government?
I would like to thank everybody for having us here.
Going back to the mountain, like Kahlid said, I lost all of my family. I'm the only one left. Miss Saeed knows them. She's been in our house before.
With the situation on the mountain, I have all my relatives, all my tribe. They're still there. No one has left the mountain. It's not actually 700 families there; there are 1200 families documented, and I'm in contact with them on a daily basis. Even Khalid was there yesterday.
I talked to somebody on the mountain. Some people risk their lives.They went to the abandoned village to get some flour to make some bread, but unfortunately their vehicle got hit with an IED, and they both died. This is not the first time. They are risking their lives to go and get some flour because they're not getting any aid. The stuff that was dropped was worthless; they didn't even use it.
They have newborns who are dying there. They don't have enough shelter there. Basically, they're running out of food. A lot of people are risking their lives to go to the abandoned villages.
On the hostage situation, a lot of them were in Tal Afar, and they moved into Syria, including my family. They were there. I haven't heard from them for a month. I got a call from somebody yesterday that they had moved half of the hostages there, which was 1,500 people, including some of my family. I don't know where the men are, but we know that they took all of the women to Syria.
Sir, if you go back to the history of genocide that happened to the Yazidis, I want to mention the “blind prince”—that's what he was called—of Rawanduz. He was a Kurd who led this campaign against Yazidis.
On August 14, 2007, the same thing happened. History repeated itself. The Kurds took their forces out of these two villages five minutes before they were getting attacked, by al-Qaeda at that time, which is ISIS today, another version of al-Qaeda under another name. Today, in 2014, Kurdish people are pulled out under the dark of the night, and all of these innocents are handed to the criminals, including people who were living among us.
In fact, we have people we are in touch with. They killed over 700 Kurdish people who come from Halabja, and different places, from Sulaymaniyah. Who are they? Don't you think that the Kurdish government is aware of those people leaving and they're calling for jihad or holy war? Don't you think that they are aware of their movement within the Kurdish region? Don't you think that they see their forces in Kurdistan region, arresting 16- to 17-year-old boys and tossing them into jail for no reason? They're persecuting us. It's as obvious as the sunrise. It's pretty obvious. It's pretty clear.
As you know, we did not choose to be Yazidi. We are born as Yazidi. I'm proud of that. Ours is the ancient religion. It's a peaceful religion; we have not harmed any person or anyone, until now. We live in peace with the Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, and Arabs. We do not make any racism. We have been killed 74 times until now, as was mentioned. We are trying up to now to be peaceful and not to hurt anybody. All we want is to live peacefully in our land. We do not want to leave our land here where I was born, where my father was born, and where my grandfather was born. We want to stay here to live in our land peacefully again.
I'm so proud to be Kurd and I'm so proud to be Yazidi, and I want to stay in my country.
I'm glad to hear that. It was a good question by my colleague because I think people need to understand that this isn't about relocation. This isn't about being able to leave. This is where you are, your roots. As with my colleague Mr. Saganash, it's peoples of the land, and it's not about moving anywhere else. You are part of the land, and I think that's important for people to note.
I want to start with you, Mr. Haider. What I've heard today is extremely shocking, if what you're saying is true and based on fact. And I have no reason to challenge you on that, except we've heard other evidence at committee, or certainly when and I and the were on the ground. There were suggestions that there was aid getting to people, although we didn't get to Dohuk and other places, which we were encouraged by the UN, actually, to go to.
But what you're saying can lead to charges of war crimes, frankly. And what I want to be very clear about is if what you're saying is true, then what we need to be hearing from levels of government is that this needs to be investigated.
To that end, I suffered a bit of ridicule on our side of the House when I said that we needed to have people who are going to be on the ground to investigate war crimes. I was accused of wanting to send lawyers in to deal with ISIS. I have to say, the reason I was saying that was that, along with other supports, we needed to find out what was going on because war crimes absolutely are being perpetrated. But we need to understand who the actors are.
What you're saying, this evidence that you have, is important not only to share with us, but this has to go to the highest levels. What you're suggesting here is that with great caution, people were being told—and I'm going back to 2009 actually—that their minorities were being targeted. But what you're saying is very different. This is about saying there was evidence that ISIS was coming, and the people to protect were the forces on the ground, the Kurdish, and they left civilians, knowing that they were going to be killed, kidnapped, etc.
Is that what you're suggesting here?
I have no opportunity to talk this widely to other countries, asking them for or giving them their message. Maybe now, through you, I can say my message to all the countries.
What we went through, I don't want any person on this earth to go through. Seeing your children dying, seeing your mother or father killed in front of your eyes, seeing your sister and your daughter being killed on the mountains, [Inaudible—Editor] this is a terrible situation for any person to go through. I don't want anyone to go through this, and I'm saying this with my whole heart.
But I'm asking all these countries, if you were in our place, if you had been facing all these terrible conditions that we went through, what would you feel, or how would you want the world to help you? To every person that is hearing me now, or any country that promised to help or to contribute, give aid, I hope you will be able to provide what you have promised us.
Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity.
My next question is for Rabbi Bulka.
You spoke about the need for an international army, and you responded partially to that question from Mr. Hawn.
I want to follow up on the other aspect that you mentioned. You spoke about the need for an international strategy. You spoke about human rights in that context, which I believe are very important. All member states to the UN clearly have an obligation to uphold all human rights at all times. That's at the core of the purposes and principles of the United Nations, and I think we need to be reminded all the time about that.
Can you elaborate further on this need for an international strategy? I get the impression that we'll be getting more and more of these sorts of conflicts in the future, and that need for an international strategy is quite important in that context.
Can you elaborate a bit?
Sir, first of all we are not Kurds, as Ms. Saeed claimed that we are.
After the genocide it is hard to trust the Kurds and live with them, especially after what we've seen. As my colleague mentioned, we've seen the Kurds in Sinjar have guarded ISIS and led them to the houses that belonged to the Yazidis.
In fact, there are over 5,000 to 7,000 Yazidi fighters fighting inside Sinjar Mountain, and they are not Kurds, and they aren't supplied by the Kurds.
In fact, all the aid was dropped through the central government of Iraq. After that, a heavy raid by ISIS took place in the Sinjar Mountains. There was wave upon wave of ISIS that our fighters in the mountain have decimated. They have taken over their machine guns and weapons, and some of them are heavy Russian-made Dushkas.
It's sad, is what it is.
Rabbi Bulka, you talked about messaging and that we can deal with, or try to deal with current organizations like ISIS and so on, and really there is only one way to deal with them and it's by force, from that point of view.
But in the longer term, about messaging and attitudes and education, using the Internet and schools, can you comment a little bit about how we would get into the minds of people through the Internet, through schools, and through religious teachings or countering religious teachings that may be destructive?
Well, thank you, Chair.
First of all, let me just say I'm a temporary on this committee today. I find the conversation absolutely amazing.
The concern that I have, in the little bit of research that I've been able to do while I was sitting here, and, of course, listening to the testimony, is that while we may disagree on what the immediate short-term needs and goals of the Yazidi people might be, whether we need more military presence or security presence, or whether we need more humanitarian aid—those are all questions that are legitimate issues of debate—I'm thinking more long term.
Mr. Haider, you've brought up the history of the Yazidi people, and you've said quite clearly that you don't think you can ever trust the Kurds again. There seems to be this inability to do what normally would be a reconciliation approach where, when somebody has wronged you, there is an ability to reconcile, whether it's cultural or whatever it is. It seems to me that this ability to remember all of the wrongs of the past and never seem to move beyond them seems to be a sticking point in the Middle East. That's based on my perception.
My question to you is: if that's going to be the case moving forward, and President Obama has indicated that his goal would be the new government in Iraq being a more unified, more benevolent government to bring people together, without this apparent ability to reconcile across the cultures and across ethnic and religious lines, is that a bona fide, legitimate, long-term goal? Or will that only provide short-term security for as long as that benevolent government is there, which can be replaced, of course, through a democratic process, with any other government that might not be so in the future? How do we reconcile this? I see it simply becoming an ongoing problem that will flare up from time to time.
Is there anybody here, Ms. Saeed, or even Mr. Bulka, and you, Khalid, who sees any other options available out there to provide more security in this region in the longer term?
I want to touch on two issues. The first is to build on the questioning we've just heard from my colleague.
One of the issues we talked about in the last hearings was from witnesses about the need for a truth and reconciliation process along the lines of South Africa and other countries that have done that. I think it makes sense, but the other issue that of course has to be confronted.... Actually, when I was first in Iraq in 2007 there was a discussion around the Constitution, and at the time you couldn't mention the word “federalism”. It was seen as too controversial. Now we're hearing more and more people talk about that.
As Canadians, we don't want to ever impose our form of government on anyone, but certainly will share our experience. The catastrophe of the Bremer model after 2003 is starting to be addressed in terms of changing the actors.
But I'd just like to hear from you, Mr. Haider. In Canada we have obviously a national government, but we have devolved powers to provinces, and one of the key aspects, which we heard again from our witnesses at the last committee hearing, was the need to emphasize citizenship and pluralism. It's a bit of a rhetorical question, but it's important to put it on the record. Is that something you could see as being helpful to deal with the crimes of the past, if you will, and the need to look to the future?
In the time I have remaining I just want to touch on your comments, Rabbi Bulka. The idea you have has been well documented. There have been proposals put forward, in fact, by Canadians and others for a rapid response at the UN. I'm not sure that's going to happen overnight, but it's certainly something we should continue to talk about.
There is something very concrete that other countries have gotten behind, and we pushed the present government to get behind, and that is a focal point for R2P, which is basically to have our government appoint someone to look at coordination and at areas where there are potential humanitarian crises or conflicts. Certainly we saw this in slow motion this past summer. It's called an R2P focal point. It's basically appointing someone from our Department of Foreign Affairs to work and coordinate with others to look at the whole doctrine of R2P and coordinate information so that we can actually respond.
It's not “the” solution, but it's one of the tools we can have in our tool kit. I'm just wondering if you know about this, based on your comments, and if you would advocate for that kind of approach.
To go back to the hostage situation, I think I have more information than Ms. Saeed. The hostages were in four different places. They were in Kocho, in two villages in Tal Afar, in one of the former U.S. air bases south of Mosul, and other areas. They moved families who did not have their men with them. When they captured my family, they took all the men—my three uncles, my brother, and all the relatives—and they separated the girls and sold the girls to Syria. They took three of my sisters, and they sold them to Syria as slaves.
The rest of the family were in Tal Afar until a month ago, and they moved all of them—I've been tracking that.... They moved all the families who did not have their men with them to Syria. I talked to him; I hadn't heard from him in a month, and I talked to him yesterday. Some of my family, my grandmother and my aunt.... One family in Syria bought them. I talked to the guy. They gave him my phone number, and he talked to me yesterday on my way here. He wanted to make a deal with me. I have my family, my mom and my siblings. Of course, we don't know anything about the men; they are probably already dead, but the rest—my mom...my grandmother, my aunt, and my three uncles' wives with their kids—are about 40 people.
They told me they were going to go look for the rest of my family and bring them all together. For each of the family, we have to pay $10,000 for them to go and collect all of the family. All of them were together, but when they took them to Syria, they sold them separately. As of right now, this is the situation with the hostages, the latest situation and the latest news of the hostages.
We hear in the media that when ISIS captures people, depending on who they are, sometimes it gives them a choice to convert to its perverse set of values and beliefs or to be killed. In the case of the Yazidis, as I understand it, there is no choice: they either kill you or enslave you, one of the two, so that's a particularly harsh treatment at the hands of ISIS.
I want to get back to what Ms. Saeed described as about 400,000, I guess you could call them refugees, who had fled from the Sinjar area and who are looking for assistance in refugee camps. Given the fact that, depending on the numbers you believe, there are probably over a million refugees from other minorities, religious or ethnic, in the area, I am trying to get a sense of whether Yazidi refugees are being discriminated against versus other refugees. Conditions are miserable for everyone, but is there discrimination among refugees in the Kurdish area based on who they are?
I would like to direct that question to Ms. Saeed first. Because you are an Iraqi member of Parliament, you may have that information.
I'd also like to hear from Mr. Haider.
All the refugee situations here are bad but according to the Yazidi refugees it's worse because we don't have any help or any access to help. The Christians are getting some help from the Kurds or from organizations here that can help them, but we don't have any such institutes specially for Yazidis to help us in person. This is the first point.
The Yazidis left their home and their place suddenly, in a matter of hours. They were told they had to leave or be killed, so they were not able to take clothing, any money, or anything to protect themselves from bad weather. They could not even take their cars. They left their houses with only the clothes they were wearing. They were not able to take anything with them.
They were not like the other refugees who had been told they had a few days to leave their houses. They were able to take some aids, some money, some clothing with them when they left their houses.
We also have some people taken as slaves and some who were kidnapped. We don't know anything about them. Also, many of our people have been killed in cold blood there in Sinjar who did not have time to leave as ISIS attacked them.
I think all these points make our situation worse than the others.
In the Kurdistan region, as Ms. Saeed and I mentioned, there are some minorities like the Christians. The Catholic Church will provide them with a lot of aid. They have a backup, but in the Yazidis case, nobody is going to back us up unless some countries like Canada or the United States or the United Nations in general send us some aid, if that aid gets through.
There is another important point, as my colleagues mentioned. Some of our people, our families, have lost all their documents. They don't have a single ID card to be identified as Yazidi or Iraqi or whoever they are. The Kurdish government doesn't want to issue new ID cards to them.
This is the fact about the KRG, the Kurdish regional government. The Kurdistan region in Iraq is in better shape than the Kurdish region in Syria, and the refugees in Syria are in better shape than they are in the Kurdish region, and I feel ashamed to say I'm a refugee in Iraq, because Iraq is my home. There are not enough words to express my feeling for such a hideous situation. Nothing can be worse than being a refugee in your own country. People don't get enough food. People don't get their ID card issued to them. Three days ago there was a protest in Shariya camp to better their living conditions. The Kurdish security forces shot four of them. They didn't kill them; they were wounded, and there were witnesses. If you believe in democracy and freedom of speech, then why are you shooting people? You can use better methods than that. We've had enough of using violence against innocent people who are asking for their rights, not to participate in your government, not to participate to overthrow either the central government or the regional government.
All they want is to live. Over one million Yazidis are scattered between Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, homeless, yet they are the natives in their land. They are the owners. Now they become the lodgers or far worse than that, homeless.
Also, as my colleagues here mentioned and brought to my attention, the Shabak are a minority. They are Shia from Iran and the Iraqi government supports them. Everybody has a backup except the Yazidis. The Kurds are claiming the Yazidis are part of them. Then where's the aid? Is that how you deal with and treat your supporters?
Thank you very much.