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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


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.



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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Facebook, Twitter Urged to Do More to Police Hate on Sites

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Tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Google are taking steps to police terrorists and hate groups on their sites, but more work needs to be done, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Tuesday.

The organization released its annual digital terrorism and hate report card and gave a B-plus to Facebook, a B-minus to Twitter and a C-plus to Google.

Facebook spokeswoman Christine Chen said the company had no comment on the report. Representatives for Google and Twitter did not immediately return emails seeking comment.

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Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay
Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean, said Facebook in particular built “a recognition that bad folks might try to use their platform” as its business model. “There is plenty of material they haven’t dealt with to our satisfaction, but overall, especially in terms of hate, there’s zero tolerance,” Cooper said at a New York City news conference.

Rick Eaton, a senior researcher at the Wiesenthal Center, said hateful and violent posts on Instagram, which is part of Facebook, are quickly removed, but not before they can be widely shared.

He pointed to Instagram posts threatening terror attacks at the upcoming World Cup in Moscow. Another post promoted suicide attacks with the message, “You only die once. Why not make it martyrdom.”

Cooper said Twitter used to merit an F rating before it started cracking down on Islamic State tweets in 2016. He said the move came after testimony before a congressional committee revealed that “ISIS was delivering 200,000 tweets a day.”

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This photo shows Facebook launched on an iPhone, in North Andover, Mass., June 19, 2017. VOA

Cooper and Eaton said that as the big tech companies have gotten more aggressive in shutting down accounts that promote terrorism, racism and anti-Semitism, promoters of terrorism and hate have migrated to other sites such as VK.com, a Facebook lookalike that’s based in Russia.

There also are “alt-tech” sites like GoyFundMe, an alternative to GoFundMe, and BitChute, an alternative to Google-owned YouTube, Cooper said.

“If there’s an existing company that will give them a platform without looking too much at the content, they’ll use it,” he said. “But if not, they are attracted to those platforms that have basically no rules.”

The Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, hate, and terrorism. (VOA)