"I have never been more angry. I know that anger is a raw emotion and not necessarily the best thing to push public policy on. But I have never been more angry."
"Even now, after all this [ISIL butchery of Yazidi men, enslavement of thousands of Yazidi girls and women], they're still saying it's not easy to do. Of course it's not easy to do [rescue the Yazidis from their difficult-to-approach places of haven]. But it's the right thing to do."
"There is something fundamentally wrong, and pardon my crude colloquialism, but something o f--king wrong with the system if that's the talking point that goes out on this: ['It is not easy to bring the Yazidis here from the places where they are': Canada's Immigration Minister],"
"If we are actually saying that it's too hard for them to do this, then why do any of these people [lawmakers, public servants] have jobs. I just don't understand this. It's wrong."
Michelle Rempel, Conservative critic for immigration, refugees and citizenship, Canada
|An ISIS fighter speaking before the start of a slave auction of Yazidi women and girls. (Sceenshot: YouTube)|
It was this 36-year-old former cabinet minister in the previous Conservative-led government in Canada who worked to persuade Parliamentarians in the House of Commons to vote to declare the persecuted Yazidi minority in Iraq -- seeking haven in Kurdistan from the degradation imposed upon them by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant -- suffered from war crimes and genocide, and that Canada had an obligation to make a genuine effort to rescue as many of the Yazidi women as possible, as refugees.
The world first learned about the plight of the Yazidis when it was being reported in the media that thousands were stranded on Mount Sinjar where they escaped in desperation as Islamic State jihadis entered their traditional towns and villages below. The Islamic State jihadists declared the Yazidis -- an ancient ethnic group worshipping an ancient religion -- to be devil worshippers and deserving of death. Thousands of men and boys were slaughtered, the women and girls rounded up to become sex slaves.
A Yazidi girl who was raped and then
killed by ISIS fighters. (Screenshot.)
The tens of thousands of Yazidis who escaped immediate death and enslavement when their city of Sinjar was over-run by ISIL, were freezing on the mountain, faced with starvation and the lack of drinking water. Their plight was desperate. And it was Kurdish militias that opened a route to rescue them, leading them off the side of the mountain to a pass that took them across the border, from Iraq to Syria, and safety. The U.S. finally submitted to public pressure and began a brief bombing mission to cover their escape.
|A Yazidi woman who eventually escaped from ISIS captivity. (AP)|
But those were the ones who escaped. The Yazidis represent a sizeable minority, They don't worship Islam, but rather an ancient amalgam of several religions pre-dating Islam. There is an estimated 700,000 of the ethnic group, considered distant cousins as it were, of the Kurds. Their home territory is in the Shingal Mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan. And their home territory has been horribly marred with the symptoms of what has befallen them through the ISIL incursion in fall 2014.
Mass graves of Yazidi men have been discovered. Thousands of Yazidi women and girls, enslaved, subjected to rape and torture, forced abortions and other horrors, languish in the marketplace of slavery so celebrated by the ISIL caliphate, quoting from the Koran to lend dignity to their insufferable human rights violations marking them for the barbarians that they are, given to dreadful atrocities and regarding them as symbolic of their power and strength.
Most of the women who managed to escape the nightmare that the jihadists placed them in are in "internally displaced persons" camps in Iraq, where the United Nations refugee system doesn't reach. Germany has nonetheless exerted itself to succeed in absorbing over a thousand of the women as refugees. Aside from the Kurds, however, the Yazidis have few champions to speak on their behalf. So it really does behoove Canada to take a stand.
Puzzlingly, when the current Liberal-led government in Canada took great pleasure in portraying Canada as a saviour nation for taking in 30,000 Syrian refugees, they managed to overlook the plight of the Yazidis, far more desperate in many ways than the fate of many of the Syrians absorbed by Canada. The need for asylum to be given to Yazidi refugees is dire. Canadian immigration officials have been in Iraqi Kurdistan, ostensibly to get an idea of the situation, but they are moving in agonizingly slow motion.
On Tuesday in the Canadian House of Commons, the entire roster of Parliamentarians voted 313 to 0 to finally act with some speed to fulfill the humanitarian obligation to offer haven to Yazidis. The excuse was always given that it was too difficult to select Yazidis deserving of asylum because they had not first been scrutinized and given official status as refugees by the United Nations. It does the Trudeau government no credit that its Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion refused a motion the interim conservative leader of the Opposition brought before the House condemning the atrocities against Yazidis by ISIL, as genocide.
|ISIS fighters in Iraq. (AP)|
The excuse was that this was a responsibility of the United Nations. Following hard on their refusal to endorse the motion came the results of a UN investigation, with the High Commissioner for Human Rights confirming, based on that investigation, that the Yazidis were subjected to horrors easily surpassing the UN's 1948 genocide convention, designating the barbarities committed against them as genocide.
"Something changed in me. I was furious. When I heard our bureaucrats and the UN talk about why we couldn't be bringing these people to Canada, that was it. The thing that has angered me most is we have this absolutely ineffective inertia within our bureaucracy in Canada, and as well within the UN, in dealing with this. We have every tool at our disposal. The most frustrating thing for me over the past year and a half has been listening to all the reasons why we can't help, that it's too difficult."
"Well, I'm sorry."
Michelle Rempel, Official Opposition critic for immigration, refugees and citizenship