Today, August 3rd, marks the 4th anniversary of the ISIS genocide of the Yazidi people at Sinjar. The Yazidis, who are the indigenous people of Iraq and Syria, once numbered over 23 million people, now they are below 1 million worldwide due to widespread persecution.
To commemorate the victims of the massacre, a group of Yazidi refugees rallied at Yonge and Dundas square to raise awareness for their family members still held captive by ISIS and to plead for help from the Canadian government and international community.
After a few speeches by politicians and activists, some of the survivors of sexual slavery by ISIS took to the microphone. After watching some survivors talk, Nadia (not her real name, as she isn’t comfortable with public exposure) decided to take to the stage.
Filled with purpose and determination Nadia took to the mic to clutching a framed picture of her family, still held captive by ISIS, and proceeded to tell her story. After spending most of the rally in tears she is composed and clear to start. Nadia had spent 2 and a half years being held captive by ISIS. She had experienced the worst that the depraved mind of a Jihadi could offer, and watched her family suffer the same.
She pled to the world for help for her young nephew, still being held captive by ISIS. She expressed deep anguish over her brother and cousin taken by ISIS that are missing and likely dead. Nadia left the stage shaking with grief and trauma and walked off to a group of friends and family waiting to comfort her. Then, overwhelmed by the entire experience, she collapsed.
Nadia fainted in the middle of the sidewalk causing some mild panic at the rally. People rushed in to help, and the police were brought in to call EMTs and control the situation. What followed next was a scary few minutes as Nadia lay unresponsive in the arms of a fellow victim of ISIS. Water was splashed on her face, family where trying to lightly snap her out of it, but nothing worked for a few minutes.
Then, finally her eyes started to open and she was slowly able to regain consciousness and get to her feet.
I spoke to her after the incident, and typical of most Yazidis, she had no concern for herself only others. Nadia’s only message for you, is to help her family members and her friend’s family members. She just wants all the Yazidi’s still stuck in Iraq and Syria, or in refugee camps to be reunited with their family.
Nadia is almost no different than any other Yazidi women, most of them have experienced some form of sexual slavery at the hands of ISIS. They have all had family killed by ISIS. Most of them live their lives in fear of the 60+ ISIS fighters that roam the streets of Toronto freely. One of them even saw one of her captures on a bus in Toronto.
Debbie Rose, the Executive Director of MozuudRSVP, an organization that helps the Yezidi refugees get resettled in Canada witnessed the whole event. She says that the Yezidi refugees have the highest rates of trauma and PTSD of any type of refugee. You can understand why.
I’m glad to say that Nadia is doing fine now, but her people are not. If you are interested in helping out the Yazidis in Canada you go to www.mozuudrsvp.org and see what they are doing for the victims of ISIS and how you can help.