Human Rights Leader: Justice Needed for Thousands of Yazidi Women and Girls Being Raped by Terrorists

By Penny Starr | July 29, 2016 | 3:17pm EDT
Murad Ismael, executive director of the non-profit YAZDA advocacy group, spoke at a religious freedom conference at Georgetown University on July 28, 2016. ( Starr)

( – The head of a human rights organization dedicated to helping save the Yazidis in Iraq and Syria from kidnapping, rape and death at the hands of terrorists said at a conference on Thursday that the world cannot expect the Yazidis to reconcile with the perpetrators and others in the region while thousands of women and girls are still being held captive, many of whom are “being raped every day.”

“For anyone to bring reconciliation I would tell them bring the justice … first before you ask for reconciliation,” Murad Ismael, executive director of the non-profit YAZDA advocacy group, said at a religious liberty conference at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs in Washington, D.C.



“It is very painful to me when I sit with someone while I still have 3,200 women and girls in captivity that are being raped every day,” Ismael said. “It’s very painful to me that you ask me to reconcile.”

The sometimes tense discussion between dozens of representatives of religious minorities and other factions from Iraq and Syria and other human rights activists focused on what can be done to protect religious minorities that are being ravaged by Islamic State terrorists.

Ismael called what his community has faced “genocide” and “a holocaust” and said that the public needs to know that is a fact and that Muslims not affiliated with the terrorists should speak out.

“I mean one thing I would have expected all the Muslims in the world to come out and say that the enslavement of the Yazidi women was not right – something that I never heard – that I can challenge whoever wants to bring a question, that the Muslim clerics internationally never came out against the genocide, never came out, never said that the rape of the Yazidi women was not in line with the Sharia for example,” Ismael said, adding that he believes that the Islamic State terrorists do not represent Islam or any religion.

Ismael said that his community needed justice before it could back any kind of reconciliation.

“So for the international community to ask me for a solution is not fair,” he said, adding that the terrorists should face an international criminal court and not be allowed to participate in any government post-Islamic State.  

“I think the international community should stand up for its obligations," Ismael said. “There must be clear recognition of the genocide with every parliament – with the public.

“The public should know that the Yazidis were subject to genocide," Ismael said.

The conference featured representatives from human rights organizations, religious leaders and officials from the Obama administration, including the U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein, who said the U.S. is “making progress” in its efforts to defeat the Islamic State.

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