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Yazidis commemorate Second Anniversary of Islamic State Massacre in Iraq

At least 5,000 Yazidis, mostly men and boys, were killed during the 2014 attack on the Iraqi city

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August 3, 2016: Yazidis in Iraq and throughout the world on Wednesday commemorated the second anniversary of a massacre committed by Islamic State militants in Sinjar.

At least 5,000 Yazidis, mostly men and boys, were killed during the 2014 attack on the Iraqi city. The United Nations reported Wednesday that the religious minority continues to suffer at the hands of IS.

“Two years on, over 3,200 women and children are still held by IS and are subjected to almost unimaginable violence,” the U.N. Commission for Inquiry on Syria said.

The commission was referring to the Yazidi women and girls who were taken as sexual slaves by IS militants. Most of them are being held in Raqqa, the IS de facto capital in Syria.

Prior to the assault in August 2014, Sinjar was home to the largest Yazidi community in the world. Yazidis, a distinct Kurdish religious minority, are viewed as infidels by IS extremists.

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In November 2015, Iraqi Kurdish forces known as Peshmerga, with the help of the U.S.-led coalition, liberated Sinjar from IS militants. “I would like to express my gratitude to the coalition, which is led by the United States,” Hazim Tahsin, a Yazidi spiritual leader, told a gathering Wednesday at Lalish Temple in northern Iraq, the most sacred Yazidi site, to remember the genocide’s victims.

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The city is now under Kurdish control, but many Yazidis still feel it is not safe to return to their homes. Thousands of Yazidis remain in refugee camps inside Iraq and across the Middle East.

One woman’s plea

“I have been living in a camp for nearly two years,” said Tawra, a female Yazidi refugee who preferred to go by her first name only. She lives at a refugee camp near Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey.

“All I want now is for my Yazidi sisters [enslaved by IS] to return home safely,” she told VOA.

Yazidi activists say the international community needs to do more to help Yazidis.

“The world has recognized what happened in Sinjar as genocide,” Peri Ibrahim of the Free Yazidi Foundation, a group that advocates for Yazidi rights, said in an interview with VOA’s Kurdish service. “This recognition should be translated into actions that protect Yazidis and help them return to their homes.”

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Ibrahim said her organization has been working with the Hague-based International Criminal Court to document crimes committed by IS fighters — many recruited from the West — against Yazidis.

The U.S. earlier this year blamed IS for perpetrating genocide against Yazidis and other minority groups in the Middle East.

“Today, as a somber occasion, we remember Yazidi victims of Daesh [IS] and its hateful ideology,” Ken Gross, the consul general in Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, said during a speech at Lalish Temple.

In Washington, Yazidi activists planned to hold a candlelight vigil Wednesday in front of the White House to honor the victims of Sinjar and to call for “global attention to help displaced and traumatized survivors of the genocide,” a statement from the Free Yazidi Foundation said. (VOA)

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  • AJ Krish

    Certain tragic events change the course of history and the future becomes uncertain. The genocide by IS has affected many and has caught global attention.

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Australia Rejects U.N. Climate Report, Continues Using Coal

Australia is the world's driest inhabited continent.

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Australia, Coal
The Liddell coal-fired power station is seen in the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney, Australia. VOA

Australia is rejecting the latest U.N. report on climate change, insisting coal remains critical to energy security and lowering household power bills.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its report released Monday that global greenhouse gas emissions must reach zero by the middle of the century to stop global warming exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The authors warned that if warming was allowed to reach two degrees, the world would be on course toward uncontrollable temperatures.

Climate change, Australia
The coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation’s top carbon dioxide emitters, stands in the distance in Juliette, Georgia. VOA

They made special mention of coal, insisting that its use for power generation would have to fall to between zero and two percent of current usage.

The report has received a lukewarm response by Australia’s center-right government. It has said it has no intention of scaling back fossil fuel production because without coal, household power bills would soar.

Canberra also insists it is on target to meet its commitments under the Paris agreement, which attempts to unite every nation under a single accord to tackle climate change for the first time ever.

Australia earns billions of dollars exporting coal to China and other parts of Asia, while it generates more than 60 percent of domestic electricity.

Queensland, Australia
FILE – A dead tree stands near a water tank in a drought-stricken paddock located on the outskirts of the southwestern Queensland town of Cunnamulla in outback Australia, Aug. 10, 2017. (VOA)

Australia’s Environment Minister Melissa Price believes the IPCC report exaggerates the threat posed by fossil fuel.

“Coal does form a very important part of the Australian energy mixer and we make no apology for the fact that our focus at the moment is on getting electricity prices down,” Price said. “Every year, there is new technology with respect to coal and what its contribution is to emissions. So, you know, to say that it has got to be phased out by 2050 is drawing a very long bow.”

Australia has some of the world’s highest per capita rates of greenhouse gas pollution. A recent government report showed a failure to reduce levels of greenhouse gas pollution. The survey said that between January and March this year, Australia had its most elevated levels of carbon pollution since 2011.

Coal, Australia
Workers operate machines at a coal mine at Palaran district in Samarinda, Indonesia (VOA)

Conservationists argue Australia is doing too little to protect itself from the predicted ravages of a shifting climate.

Also Read: Use Every Resources To Help in Climate Change: Scientists

Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent. Scientists warn that droughts, floods, heat waves, brush fires and storms will become more intense as temperatures rise, with potentially disastrous consequences for human health and the environment, including the Great Barrier Reef. (VOA)