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The Noble Peace Prize and the Forgotten Genocide

The Noble Peace Prize and the Forgotten Genocide

Yazidi Refugee Ashwaq Haji Hami decided to leave Germany after she was left unprotected from her ISIS captor in her town in Germany.

Nadia Murad was honoured with a Nobel Prize recently for her work with women and genocide survivors. She is Yazidi from Iraq and survived a kidnapping and rape by ISIS, upon her escape she was able to get her story out to the international community. She became a representative for her community in 2016 and worked diligently to bring some light to the genocide of minority people Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle East. Her story is one of a survivor, but many women and girls are still held in captivity by ISIS, even though many ISIS fighters have already started returning to a peaceful life in their countries of origin.

Within Iraq there is a big debate on the benefits of the Nobel Prize given to Nadia Murad for the Yazidi and other minority communities. While minorities communities in Iraq may only exist for one more generation, it is up to the Iraqi government and people on how they wish to address the possible end of some of the oldest communities in the world. While the Nobel Prize serves as much to honour Nadia Murad as it does to bring attention to the struggle she and her community is facing, the kidnapping, rape, torture and organised genocide of Yazidi women and children has been almost wholly ignored by the international community and media. The values and legal precedents set by the trials at Nuremberg have most likely been violated, with Yazidis still being ignored in refugee camps, being helped but placed living with those that have committed genocide against them, and generally being forgotten even with the Nobel Prize being given to their UN representative. If the most basic tenets of the UN Declaration of Human Rights will not be applied by the signatories of the Declaration, then justice will never be served and the lessons of the Nuremberg Trials have truly been lost.

There are some stark cases of injustice outside of the Middle East in dealing with Yazidi survivors having been put living near those that raped and assaulted them. The earliest reported case occurred in Ontario, Canada when two Yazidi women ran into their torturer from Iraq. He might have been a Canadian who returned from fighting with ISIS, and in one case he harassed the Yazidi survivor he himself had a role in torturing. Upon running into him on more than one occasion, she notified those who were helping her resettle in Canada and she was told to keep quiet about the incidents. She is fighting for her story to be heard with little to no media coverage about these incidents in Canada or abroad. Recently the RCMP, Canada’s national police service, said that the government was unaware on how they could charge returning ISIS fighters when they bring them back to Canada. For some reason committing genocide against foreign nationals does not have a legal precedent in Canada, and while the Canadian justice system is based on the British system, including the application of the laws of equity to ensure justice is served in the application of justice in the legal system, the Canadian government will not help the few Yazidi refugees they are assisting be fully protected in Canada itself.

The wider known case of Yazidi survivors not being protected came from Germany when a young Yazidi survivor went to the police and told them of her ISIS torturer from Mosul, Iraq harassing her in the city she settled in in Germany itself. While she reported the incidents to authorities, the police just gave her a number to call in case of emergency and set upon a red tape laden investigation to find and charge her harasser. This widely reported story is just one of many being claimed in Germany and likely all over Europe itself. The lack of security she felt in Germany lead her to decide to end her future there and return to Iraq, where she felt safer in the end. Like with the Canadian incident, she felt local officials would not keep her secure in Germany. With the lacklustre response of many governments to the very recent aftermath of the Yazidi genocide, one that effectively is still taking place and being almost completely ignored, protections for those persecuted in a genocide seems to have no legal application or political will from modern, western governments. While there is an academic debate on how to apply local laws to crimes against humanity, having no application of law or protections is simply contributing to the future persecution of the genocide victims and survivors. Apologizing for past atrocities does nothing if you continue to ignore those of your own generation. Giving a Nobel Prize while ignoring survivors like Nadia Murad does nothing to save the children still in captivity. Those ignored girls are the most brutalised human beings in modern history.



Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration