NATY BUSH ’19
ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), the militant group that designates itself an Islamic state, has been making headlines for months with their involvement in the Syrian Civil War and other conflicts. Well-known for their brutality and strong anti-Western sentiments, ISIS has well earned the ire of the international community for their violent destabilization of large parts of Iraq and Syria.
However, what is not as well-known, is their enslavement of Yazidi women and genocide of the Yazidi men, which came to the attention of the international audience/media late this summer. During Common Hour on Oct. 22, Will Verdeur ’18, led a discussion to raise awareness about the conflict between ISIS and the Yazidi community, a Kurdish religious group in the Middle East.
After reading an article in Inquirer by Trudy Rubin about the situation, Verdeur became devoted to informing members of the Trinity community of what problems ISIS has been causing, beyond what is in the headlines.
Verdeur began his discussion by handing out fact sheets that provided statistics of how many women have become enslaved and how many have escaped and reached safety. The first thing he admitted was a disclaimer that the information he would soon be providing is disturbing and may be difficult to hear.
“The Islamic state found Quranic justification for genocide,” Verdeur explained. “They’ve been killing off the men, but most egregiously, they’ve been selling women off to slavery.”
Approximately 400,000 people managed to escape, but between five and seven thousand women remain as sex slaves to the Islamic State. Their stories are horrific and speak to the violence and chaos that follow the Islamic State.
The non-profit organization called Yazda is a US-based group dedicated to providing “humanitarian, psychological, health, legal, and social support” to those who managed to escape the Islamic State, according to Yazda’s website.
Verdeur has a table outside Mather dining hall to collect donations and signatiures for Yazda’s petition to request President Obama to get involved in the conflict between the Yazidi and ISIS. Students can use Bantam Bucks to donate money to the organization. Yazda has no specific plan of action for the US government to get involved, but Verdeur expressed that they should provide resources and aid to the Yazidi communities.
“At first, I wanted to enlist,” Verdeur told us, “but I decided to be on the more positive side [of the process], not the negative, to be involved in the humanitarianism.”
There are currently nearly 100,000 signatures for Yazda’s petition, and they are working to obtain 150,000 signatures. Verdeur urges that the student body considers signing the petition to help these women struggling to achieve a normal life once more. Verdeur’s grass-roots activism is a much needed effort to help assuage the plight of those struck by one of the most abominable human rights disasters in recent memory, and with any luck, his efforts will galvanize Trinity into taking action and to put the College’s resources to positive, productive, and humanitarian use.