Politician to discuss future for children of rape

Published: 11 February 2020 at 16:00

Vian Dakhil

Hundreds of children were conceived to mothers held captive by Daesh

The plight of hundreds of children who were conceived when their mothers were raped in captivity by Daesh militants will be discussed during a summit in Cambridge on 20 February.

Vian Dakhil, who accused Daesh of genocide and whose parliamentary speech about the plight of the Yazidi people prompted military action by the US against Daesh, will discuss consequences of Daesh’s atrocities on Yazidi society today, particularly on children conceived while their Yazidi mothers were held in captivity by militants. 

Many of these children are living in orphanages in northern Syria, and Dakhil claims that Iraq is registering many of these children as Muslim in a further act of torment to their mothers. Several women face a choice of abandoning their children or being banished from their homeland for cultural reasons.

In August 2014, around 50,000 Yazidi people, who follow an ancient religion and are mainly resident in the northern Iraq, were forced to flee to the Sinjar mountains following attacks on the community by militants of Daesh, also known as Islamic State.

It is estimated that 2.5% of the population was either killed or kidnapped over the course of a few days in August 2014 – an estimated 3,100 died with almost half of them executed and the remainder dying of starvation, dehydration or other injuries sustained during the siege. 

Dakhil, former member of the Iraqi Parliament and Chairperson for the Sinjar Foundation for International Development, received the Bruno Kreisky Award for Human Rights in 2015 for her advocacy.

The summit will be held at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in Cambridge, where, Dr Aldo Zammit-Borda has been leading a project working with Yazidi communities to seek worldwide recognition of the crimes committed against them by Daesh.

At the event on 20 February, Dakhil and Zammit-Borda will be joined by several other international speakers who will address issues such as campaigning for justice, conspiracy theories against Yazidis, and the main challenge of securing greater recognition of, and accountability for crimes committed against the Yazidi population,. The event provides a platform for policymakers and practitioners to discuss approaches for the prosecution of Daesh fighters.

Dr Zammit-Borda, Senior Lecturer in International Law at ARU, said:

“Even though the threat from Islamic State has now subsided, many Yazidi women and girls remain in captivity. Moreover, these atrocities have had a devastating impact on Yazidi society, breaking down families and resulting in many war children.

“Since the threat from Islamic State has subsided, public attention has started to move away from the need to hold the perpetrators of these atrocities accountable for their crimes.

“We’re fortunate to be welcoming some highly influential stakeholders to this event, to discuss how we can move forward and ensure the plight of the Yazidis is not forgotten.”

Also speaking will be:
Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, a member of the House of Lords and the founder and chairperson of the AMAR foundation, which was set up in response to persecution and extermination of the Marsh Arabs in 1991.
Michelle Jarvis, Deputy Head of the United Nations International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (Syria), who brings extensive expertise concerning gender and armed conflict, having authored two books and numerous articles on the subject.
Mirza Dinnayi, a human rights activist who heads up a relief fund to support vulnerable women, children and terror victims among the Yazidi population. He is also former Advisor to the Iraqi President for the Affairs of Non-Muslim Minorities.
Dr Michael Blume, Head of the Expert Unit on N0n-Christian religions, values, minorities and projects in Kurdistan-Iraq and State Commissioner against Antisemitism. Dr Blume has been part of the State Ministry of Baden Württemburg staff since 2003.
Ryan Xavier D’Souza of YAZDA, an organisation that aims to prevent former genocides against the Yazidis and other minorities, and to assist their recovery. He is also a visiting fellow at Oxford University who has worked on human rights advocacy and genocide prevention for ten years.

The event will also see the UK premiere of Nobody’s Listening, a virtual reality art exhibition that allows the viewer to be virtually transported into Iraq and Syria to witness the damage caused by war.

For further details about the conference, taking place on 20 February, contact Dr Zammit-Borda at [email protected]