First joint Forum UoS-SPU Universities Saulaimani

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Hakim Qasim LL.B.

Keynote speeches

© Ferdinand Hennerbichler

Born 1952 in Sinjar Nineveh, Iraq. Studied law at Mosul University and business management at Manchester University (online). Business management diploma 1984, LL.B. 1992. Worked 25 years as lawyer and judge mainly in Sinjar and Sulaimaniyah. First Yezidi judge of Iraq appointed by the late President Jalal Talabani. Retired July 2018. Member of Kurdistan judges union since 2007. Founder Sinjar benefit associatiion 2003. UK training course criminal investigation 2010.


Summary Hakim Qasim: The Yezidi genocide & the UNSC genocide investigative mission

Since the beginning of my life I was introduced both to the Yezidi and Sinjar societies as an active person and a public figure when it comes to solving and taking care of my people issues, despite my work as a lawyer and later a judge and many other social and professional works. I always tried to provide time for my people and their issues. When catastrophe struck in Shingal on August 3rd 2014, I tried to stay in touch with the people who fled to the mountain Sinjar and also those who took refuge in the Kurdistan Region.

Genocide evidence recorded
I tried to take care of their issues and requirements, worked to identify what happened in Shingal as a genocide, recorded evidence, started with friends to apply for an NGO of Yezidi Human Rights Lawyers in order to be able to further enhance our help for Yezidi genocide victims and make the world know what happened to us. Our humanitarian and legal assistance is increasingly supported by international organizations like the Global Justice Center in New York or a good number of human rights professors in Europe to name but a few. We are grateful for any help we can get in order bring the perpetrators of this horrible genocide crime against the Yezidi to international justice.  

UNSC testimony Nadia Murad
A turning point for better worldwide understanding and sympathy for the plight of the Yezidi people was reached when Nadia Murad, a kidnapped, abused, raped and tortured student of Cocho (Koço) in Sinjar, could brief the UN Security Council on 16 December 2015 on the issue of human trafficking and conflict. It was the first time in history that the Security Council was ever briefed on human trafficking. Nadia Murad was one of more than 6,700 Yezidi women taken prisoner by the Islamic State Iraq, was held as a slave in the city of Mosul, beaten, burned with cigarettes, and raped when trying to escape, and was finally able to flee after three years in captivity. In September 2016 Nadia Murad was appointed the first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNODC). The US Attorney Amal Clooney characterized before the UNODC the genocide, rape, and trafficking by ISIL as a "bureaucracy of evil on an industrial scale", and described it as a slave market that is still active today.

UNSC investigative team
One year later, on 21 September 2017, the Security Council requested under Resolution 2379 (2017) unanimously the creation of an independent team to help in holding ISIL (Da’esh) accountable for its crimes in Iraq. The Secretary-General was asked to establish an independent investigative team to support domestic Iraqi efforts to hold IISIL (Da’esh) accountable.

Karim Asad Ahmad Khan appointed head of team
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on 31 May 2018 announced the appointment (SG/A/1806-BIO/5091) of Karim Asad Ahmad Khan of the United Kingdom as the Special Adviser and Head of the Investigative Team. His instructions are to support Iraqi efforts to bring ISIL (Da’esh) to justice by collecting, preserving, and storing evidence in Iraq of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by the terrorist group.  

In the meantime, Mr. Khan was with his entourage already in (northern) Iraq for some 20 days in September 2018, had contacts to Iraqi authorities and of the KRG/KRI but not with representatives of Yezidis.

Requests of the Yezidi to UNSC investigative mission

In order to assist this important UN Security Council genocide investigation mission Iraq, we request the following:

1) Representatives of the Yezidi are to be consulted directly by that UN genocide fact-finding mission and their voice has to be heard accordingly.

2) Yezidi have to be granted the right to submit criminal evidence in this regard, which we have already started to collect up to a substantial amount.

3) A number of ca. 3,700 Yezidis who are still taken hostage by ISIL (Da’esh) groups and held as slaves are to be released without any condition and immediately.

4) The crimes committed against Yezidi shall be internationally and formally recognized as genocide.

5) The perpetrators shall also and finally be indicted at the International Criminal Court ICC in The Hague.

6) More than 40 Yezidi mass graves in the Sinjar (Shingal) should be excavated as soon as possible and the victims analyzed for DNA profiles and relationships.

7) Thousands of Yezidi refugees who are currently in camps like Dohuk in the Kurdistan Region Iraq should be given the possibility to give evidence freely and independently.

Addressing international legal problems
Moreover, special legal problems bringing persons who are accused of having committed or contributed to genocide against the Yezidi should be dealt with by the Un Security Council investigative team in a special way. While the „full sovereignty“ of Iraq has to be respected, as determined in the mentioned UN Security Council Resolutions, a more comprehensive mechanism with the mandate of the UNSC mission seems appropriate and necessary to hold all perpetrators of crimes against Yezidi accountable. The main reason for that is, that Iraq does not have legislation to try war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and is not a member to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), adopted 1998 and entered into force on 1 July 2002. So far, current trials and prosecutions of ISIL (Da’esh) fighters have been conducted solely under Iraq’s counter-terrorism law and the proceedings have been characterized by human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture and a lack of due process for the accused. Whereas, we agree with numerous international legal experts, that the accused will have to be tried explicitly for genocide too conducted in line with international human rights standards. For these future trials will be viewed as legitimate and credible according to international law of the world community.

Sexual violence to be recognized as genocide
Furthermore, we agree with international appeals of human rights activists for a binding UN resolution which fully acknowledges rape and other forms of sexual violence as an act of genocide. It is important not to treat the sexual violence crimes against Yazidi women and girls separate from the genocide, rather, they are an integral part.

Finally, ISIL (Da’esh) has employed all five prohibited acts detailed in the 1948 UN General Assembly Genocide Convention, entered into force on 12 January 1951. In particular crimes against a people, its religion, culture and civilization, and above all against weakest victims in a society like women, children and the elderly.

72 cases of Yezidi genocide in Ottoman past
Yezidi hat been already victims of genocide 72 times in past Ottoman history. They survived. Now they are threatened with extinction again under fake pretexts that they would be infidels and have no holy book. Which is both utterly untrue. They were singled out for slavery, torture and mass-execution by barbarians who picked intentionally an innocent, defenseless, peaceful small people as a fatal warning to others either to submit to their barbarism or to face death. In this regard the Yezidis remain a symbol of humanitarian survival of a small people. I am confident, that the Yezidi will recover again, as they do since hundreds of years, and that they will survive. Yet, only with international help.

Right of return into ancient Shingal habitat
Currently, the Yezidi are still threatened with extinction. They have a strong unbroken will and the determination to overcome. However, the Yezidi refugees must be allowed to return to the Sinjar (Shingal) in the future and continue their culture and zivilization there. It would be a disaster for them if the majority of them would have to go into exile and into diaspora for instance in Europe. If that would happen, the Yezidi would lose their roots. These historic roots are in their ancient habitat. And there, the culture and civilization of the Yezidi shall survive.

Thank you.

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