Chaldean and Yezidi leaders described the genocide of their people at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to members of Congress Wednesday at a hearing on assisting victims of ISIS.
“Because we are not Muslims, and because our path is the path of peace… we are being burned alive,” Mirza Ismail, chairman of the Yezidi Human Rights Organization-International, told members of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations.
Ismail went on to describe the desperate plight of the Yezidis, an indigenous ethno-religious group from Kurdistan who are being targeted by ISIS because they are not Muslim.
“There are thousands of young Yezidi women, girls, and even children, who as I speak have been enslaved and forced into sexual slavery. These girls are subjected to daily, multiple rapes by ISIS monsters,” he testified.
“According to many escaped women and girls whom I talked to in Northern Iraq, the abducted Yezidis, mostly women and children, number over 7,000. Some of those women and girls have had to watch 7-, 8-, and 9-year-old children bleed to death before their eyes, after being raped by ISIS militia multiple times a day,” said Ismail.
“I met mothers, whose children were torn from them by ISIS. These same mothers came to plead for the return of their children, only to be informed, that they, the mothers, had been fed the flesh of their own children by ISIS. Children murdered, then fed to their own mothers.
“ISIS militia have burned many Yezidi girls alive for refusing to convert and marry ISIS men. Young Yezidi boys are being trained to be jihadists and suicide bombers. All of our temples in the ISIS controlled area are exploded and destroyed.
“The entire Yezidi population was displaced in less than one day on August 3, 2014, in Sinjar. The Yezidis and Chaldo-Assyrian Christians face this genocide together.
“Why? Again, because we are not Muslims, and because our path is the path of peace. For this, we are being burned alive. For living as men and women of peace.
“What I have just recounted to you, what has happened to the Yezidis and Chaldo-Assyrian Christians in Sinjar and in Nineveh Plain and other minorities is nothing less than genocide, according to the UN definition of genocide,” Ismail said.
Bishop Francis Kalabat of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle of Detroit told Congress that Iraqi Christians “are being victimized by the Obama administration not recognizing their suffering” and their “slow and perpetual genocide.”
“It is important to recognize that the atrocities in Iraq began as early as 2005. This preceded ISIS,” the bishop testified at the hearing.
“Christians and other minorities in Iraq have experienced their own slow and perpetual genocide. I wish to note that the Obama administration, including President Obama himself, have neglected to mention that the ISIS atrocities were committed against Christians,” he said.
“There are more than 150,000 Iraqi Christians who are now displaced in northern Iraq or are refugees in other countries such as approximately 35,000 in Jordan, 60,000 in Lebanon, 30,000 in Turkey who are being victimized by the Obama administration in not recognizing their suffering,” Bishop Kalabat continued.
“There are countless Christian villages in Syria who have been taken over by ISIS and have encountered genocide and the Obama administration again refuses to recognize their plight.”
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), chair of the House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, reminded the committee of legislation he introduced “that is aimed specifically at those people who have been targeted for genocide.”