'The world is simply silent': Yazidi woman enslaved by ISIS tells Parliament her story
A Yazidi woman who was forced into sex slavery by the Islamic State is urging the Canadian government to formally recognize the systematic killing of her people as genocide.
Speaking at the House of Commons on Tuesday, Nadia Murad Basee Taha recounted to MPs the atrocities committed against the Kurdish minority group at the hands of Islamic militants.
"When they took us, the girls and children, we were not simply held prisoner. They committed crimes against us, they forced us to change our religion, they raped us, they sold us," she told the House of Commons immigration committee through a translator.
Taha was living with her family in northern Iraq in August 2014 when ISIS militants stormed her village and chased her community into the Sinar mountains. Trapped in the remote wilderness, thousands of Yazidis were killed, taken hostage or starved to death. Men were slaughtered and women were sold into sex slavery, and scores of Yazidis were killed if they didn’t submit to their captors and convert to Islam.
Taha managed to escape with the help of an Iraqi family who lent her an Islamic ID and snuck her away from the chaos under a hijab. She later escaped and resettled in Germany.
“I was lucky, I had help,” she told CTV News.
But her family wasn’t so fortunate.
“I never got the chance to say goodbye to my mother, to my six brothers who were murdered,” Taha said.
The United Nations human rights panel recently declared the killings to be genocide. Taha has travelled to 17 countries to share her story, and she spoke in Ottawa in hopes of getting Canadian officials to formally recognize the bloodshed.
"This continues today against more than 3,000 women and children," she told the committee. "The world is simply silent.”
Taha’s comments came as the federal immigration committee holds a series of hearings this week into the plight of the Yazidi people.
Conservative MPs have cited the 2014 killings as a reason for Yazidis to have their Canadian resettlement papers fast-tracked. They have also urged the Liberals to increase the number of refugee applications being accepted from Iraq in 2016 to allow more Canadians to privately sponsor Yazidis.
But Liberals have clashed with Conservatives over whether religion should be the sole determining factor in deciding an applicant’s eligibility for resettlement.
While religion or ethnicity may be a reason someone seeks out refugee status, the UN does not explicitly make resettlement decisions based on religion or ethnicity. Conservatives have said they want the policy changed, but the Liberals have not challenged the UN rule.
With a report from CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Joyce Napier and files from the Canadian Press