Salwa Khalaf Rasho, an 18-year-old Yezidi who escaped Islamic State captivity after eight months, met today in London in several private meetings to plead for help in rescuing over 3100 Yezidis still kidnapped by ISIS. She was accompanied to the meetings with activists Jemal Bailoz Shaveshyan, Dr. Amy L. Beam, Eilian Williams, and Gian Aldonani. Aldonani is CEO of Hawar charity and also interpreted for Salwa.
While in captivity, ISIS forced her to watch them behead a foreign Christian journalist.
Honorable Diana Johnson, MP for the UK Labour Party, listened attentively and sympathetically to Salwa’s story of her kidnapping. Salwa requested a fund or military operations to rescue the Yazidis who remain kidnapped by ISIS and to provide a program of therapy for those who escape. MP Johnson sits on the UK Foreign Affairs committee responsible for foreign affairs policies for the Middle East, North America, and South America.
The team met separately with Honorable Dominick Grieve, former Attorney General in the UK. Grieve now sits on the UK intelligence committee and oversees the operations of the Secret Service. The procedure for initiating an inquiry into the genocide was raised by Eilien Williams. Grieve stated that what happened to the Yazidis who were attacked in August 2014 by ISIS had all the factors present to be declared a genocide. Holding hearings to prove a genocide happened would be “like kicking an open door. The EU has already declared the attack on Yazidis as genocide and the UK is part of the EU.”
The question that was discussed was how to take action now that everyone agrees a genocide happened.
He listened attentively to Salwa’s experience and requests from the entire team. Regarding the recommendation to establish a fund to be used to free the kidnapped Yazidi women and children, he was adament that a fund would not be possible because of the UK’s position against paying ransoms to free hostages.
Each person on the team confirmed that the money to free the Yazidi captives is not being paid into the hands of ISIS, but rather to someone who has already bought the captive woman and risks his life to bring her to safety. Anyone caught helping a Yazidi escape is executed by ISIS.
The team insisted it would be relatively easy to free many more captive Yazidis if there was money available for the families and arms available for the Yazidi forces fighting in Shengal.
Regarding financing Yazidis, Grieve stated the government’s position must be to work through diplomatic channels with the Baghdad government which is the official government of Iraq recognized by the UK.
Dr. Amy L. Beam has been assisting the displaced Yazidis since the Islamic State jihadists attacked them August3, 2014. She writes political and historical commentary on Kurds and Yezidis in Turkey and Kurdistan at Kurdistan Tribune and her public Facebook page. Twitter @amybeam; email@example.com.