Iraq’s Sole Yazidi Lawmaker Calls For Help

By Golnaz Esfandiari

December 10, 2014

WASHINGTON -- Iraq's only ethnic Yazidi member of parliament has called on the United States to step up efforts to help her community against acts of violence by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.

Vian Dakhil told RFE/RL in Washington on December 9 that the United States should help release some 5,000 Yazidi women and girls who have been kidnapped by the Sunni militants.

Speaking through an interpreter, Dakhil said she is in touch with several of the young women being held captive, and that they complain of daily torture and rape.

The lawmaker said the United States should get those people back to their families "militarily" or through other means.

She also called on the United States to arm Yazidis in order for them to be able to defend themselves against attacks.

Dakhil also said that about 700 Yazidi families remained trapped on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, and that they should be transferred to a safe area.

Dakhil gained international attention in August after making an impassioned plea to the Iraqi parliament about Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar without food or water.

The area was surrounded at the time by IS militants.

Dakhil insisted that members of the Yazidi community still need help, including those who have taken refuge in camps in Iraqi Kurdistan.

She said these refugees are forced to live in tents and are not receiving enough aid.

She added that three Yazidi children have recently died after their tent caught fire.

Dakhil, who is still using a crutch because of injuries she suffered in a helicopter crash on Mount Sinjar in August, said the U.S.-led air strikes against IS militants have been “very effective” at the beginning of the campaign.

When asked about reports claiming that Iran has bombed IS targets in Iraq, she said, “Whoever fights IS makes me happy.”

She also said that defeating IS fighters militarily was not enough, and that the group's ideology and ideas should be uprooted.

“What are you going to do with the people who support IS? What are you going to do with the mentality?” Vakhil asked.

She said children should be educated, adding, “Hopefully they can make a difference in the future.”

The lawmaker, who has become the voice of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, was in Washington to testify at a Senate subcommittee hearing on the IS group.

In her testimony, she called for a long-term solution to protect Yazidis from persecution and “annihilation.”

She is also due to meet with senior U.S. officials during her visit to the United States, including the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power.