Yazidis plead with Trudeau Liberals not to repatriate ISIS members

Despite recognizing the eradication and sexual exploitation of the Yazidis as genocide, the Trudeau Liberals 'are bringing these very members, these individuals who chose to leave this country, this security, these freedoms, and go there and join this group that is committing these crimes,' says a survivor of the genocide.

Yazidis plead with Trudeau Liberals not to repatriate ISIS members
AP Photo/Farid Abdulwahed
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Yazidi-Canadians took a stand against the Trudeau Liberals Monday over the looming return of alleged ISIS members to Canada. Several community members said the terrorist group brought them trauma, worry, and fear after destroying their ancient community in northern Iraq.

"When I first heard the news, I felt the strength leave my body," said Huda Ilyas Alhamad from her Winnipeg apartment. She is among 1,200 survivors of the Yazidi genocide who resettled in Canada and one of many to have spent years as an ISIS slave.

"I had to sit down right away. I was heartbroken and terrified at the same time because, on the one hand, they had promised to protect us and bring us here and give us safety. On the other hand, they're offering that same entryway for these people who raped and tortured us daily."

The Yazidis belong to an ancient Kurdish-speaking agricultural community in northern Iraq, who became victims of a brutal Islamic fundamentalist campaign set out to eradicate their people.

On January 18, the Trudeau Liberals agreed to repatriate six women and 13 children detained in Syrian camps for suspected ISIS members and their families because refusing to return them is a supposed violation of their Charter rights.

In a subsequent ruling the next day, Federal Court Justice Henry Brown directed the Trudeau Liberals to repatriate four men, citing poor conditions in prison and the absence of a trial and charges over their alleged involvement with ISIS.

"The conditions of the ... men are even direr than those of the women and children Canada has just agreed to repatriate," reads the ruling. "These individuals live in crowded and unsanitary conditions. They are held without charge or trial and lack adequate food and medical attention."

Lawyers for the detainees said that if the feds have evidence tying their clients to ISIS, it should bring a prosecution in a Canadian court.

Jamileh Naso, president of the Canadian Yazidi Association, said the ISIS repatriation order has left Yazidi families "heartbroken and betrayed."

"A lot of them just broke down into tears because they thought this news was completely unbelievable. It can't be true," said Naso.

"We have submitted applications for family reunification to reunite with our family members in ISIS captivity. And here they are, bringing the perpetrators of these crimes of genocide to Canada."

Naso claimed that in most cases, these people will not face trial because "the evidence is not here, and the witnesses aren't here." She also said they have a free pass for their part in genocide and terrorism.

"It's disappointing, not just for those in the Yazidi community, but for those across Canada who believe in liberal values and that we should be a country that's standing up for victims and survivors."

"Before ISIS arrived, we were very happy. We had 13 people in my family," said   Alhamad. She was 17 years old in August 2014 when ISIS attacked her village.

ISIS had different plans for different segments of the Yazidi population, with the youngest boys removed from their families and forcibly converted to Islam to be raised as jihadi fighters and suicide bombers. 

The terrorist group murdered thousands of older boys and men in cold blood and separated young women and girls for sale to ISIS members, and raped them as enslaved people.

"They went around taking down names, ages, family members, who were connected to who, and then they started separating by looks," said Alhamad. "They came in like we were cattle, what looked good, what didn't look good. Who was too old, who had kids, how many kids they had."

She remembers being separated from her sisters and sold to members of ISIS.

"About 100 ISIS members came into the room. There were about 200 of us, and they all came in and started just grabbing us for themselves." 

An ISIS fighter took Alhamad and another young Yazidi girl, while others took her sisters, who she would not see again until years later.

Unfortunately, they never saw their parents and older brother again. "Other than the four family members I'm with here, and then my two sisters and brother who are in a refugee camp now, I'm not sure what happened to the others," she said.

Alhamad told the CBC that ISIS brides are equally, if not more so, guilty than the fighters in perpetuating their abuse and trauma of enslaved Yazidi women.

"The women were worse than the ISIS fighters," she said. "The women would beat us constantly [and] would refuse to feed us."

"I would usually get beaten with a cable by the wives of the ISIS fighters, and they would laugh at me, they would spit at me, they would kick me, and that was daily. And then when their husband would come, he would rape me."

Naso said Alhamad's experience is horrific but not uncommon among women survivors.

"Almost all of them can tell you that when they were in captivity, the women played as much of a role as the [ISIS] fighters did in torturing them, in keeping them captive, in keeping notes on them and saying what they were doing, constantly beating them," said Naso. "The females had just as much to do with the inhumane treatment of the Yazidis as the men did."

Alhamad added that the news of repatriating Canadians with alleged ties to ISIS brought her incredible anxiety and panic.

"If I see somebody who semi-resembles one of the [ISIS] members, my heart starts beating quickly," she said. "Sometimes I cry; sometimes I have to drop everything I'm doing and go home right away."

"That's been the case for the past five years. This news has just doubled that, and I feel that all the time now."

Alhamad said she is terrified to send her kids to school in light of the repatriation efforts. "What if they recognize some of us?" she asked.

Alhamad said it is a slap in the face to see ISIS families reunited while her sisters remain in dangerous refugee camps.

"That's all I could ask if I could be reunited with my sisters here. We've worked on their paperwork. We've submitted for family reunification," she said. "But for the past almost three years now, we have yet to hear anything about how their file is going."

Alhamad said it appears the Trudeau Liberals don't truly understand their plight. 

"I mean, we've tried to share our story multiple times. We told them about the atrocities we faced," she said.

Despite recognizing the eradication and sexual exploitation of the Yazidis as genocide, the Trudeau Liberals "are bringing these very members, these individuals who chose to leave this country, this security, these freedoms, and go there and join this group that is committing these crimes," added Alhamad.

"It doesn't make sense to us."

"If the Canadian government or anybody has questions about what ISIS was doing in Iraq and Syria," she added, "you can come to talk to me.

"If you have questions about what women and girls had to face, how they were tied up and treated like slaves, how they were sold, how 10-year-olds were raped, how girls were ripped from their mother's arms and taken into separate rooms, and they could hear them being raped. If you want to hear about why we should keep people like that out, you can talk to me," continued Alhamad.

"I feel like I could talk for days about what had happened to us and share stories of the horrors I saw. But with this decision to bring in those very people who caused all this pain and suffering, does it even matter if we tell our stories anymore?"

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