Kurdish activists call on U.N. and KRG to take action for kidnapped Yazidi women.

On Sunday, 24 August 2014, over sixty activists from a Kurdish woman’s organization marched to the U.N. Consulate in Erbil (Hawler in Kurdish) to demand that the U.N. do more to help Yazidi women and girls kidnapped by the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS). They carried banners reading, “U.N., Take Action, Our Women and Girls are Enslaved,” and “Committing Genocide Against the Minorities is a Stark Violation of International Humanitarian Law.” Protesters, who chanted slogans as they walked, then read a statement in front of the consulate before several organizers went inside to speak with representatives from the U.N. Two members of Christian Peacemaker Teams, Peggy Gish and John Bergen, accompanied the protest.

One protester, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “I'm Kurdish. It's my duty to come out here and support my country and encourage other teenagers to demonstrate and support Yazidi girls and their human rights.”

Those organizing the campaign want to pressure the U.N. and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to treat the kidnappings of Yazidi women as more of an emergency, and take more urgent measures to help them.  The IS forces (also called ISIS, ISIL and DAASH) have forced some of these women to become wives of fighters and sold others into slavery. Militants also threaten Yazidi women with death, and have killed Yazidi men who refused to convert to the group’s version of Islam.

The Yazidis are a small ethnic and religious community in Iraqi Kurdistan, whom IS militants falsely label “devil worshippers.” Since the militants invaded earlier this year they have targeted Christians and other religious minorities, but have attacked the Yazidis with particular viciousness.

 After marching roughly two kilometers from the Noble Hotel to the U.N. Consulate, several organizers met U.N. representatives inside. When the organizers emerged, they said that the U.N. supported many of their suggestions and encouraged them to continue pressuring the Kurdish Regional Government to rescue the women.

 Christian Peacemaker Teams-Iraqi Kurdistan encourages our friends and supporters to help create a nonviolent alternative to the terror of the IS. We urge international governments to step up their humanitarian aid donations to agencies desperately trying to help the hundreds of thousands Iraqis fleeing the IS onslaught and to open their borders to refugees.