Yazidi Target of Sexual Violence and Other War Crimes Committed by Islamic State  

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch, Managing Editor

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Jana, a 19 year old girl, was finishing her final year of secondary school with hopes of one day becoming a doctor when her village was taking over by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Jana belongs to Iraq’s Yazidis religious minority. The Yazidis are a Kurdish community who practice Yazidism, an ancient faith with strong ties to Zoroastrianism and ancient Mesopotamian religions that has been heavily influenced by both Islam and Christianity. Yazidism is practiced by Kurdish communities that are practiced in both Iraq and Syria.


According to a United Nation’s report ISIS fighters “gathered all the males older than 10 years of age at the local school, took them outside the village by pick-up trucks, and shot them.”Among those believed to have been murdered by ISIS fighters were Jana’s father and eldest brother.

“I was hiding behind a water tank in the front yard and saw them killing my father and brother and [taking] away my mother and sister. I don’t know anything about them since” a 14-year-old Yazidi girl living in a refugee camp in Iraq’s Duhok governorate. A19 year old Yazidi said “They put us in trucks and drove us to a big building, before transferring us to a hall across the road. She continued, “Then their seniors came and started condemning our religion and asking us to convert to Islam … They separated me along with other young ones and ordered us to stay there while taking away the elderly women. She added, “The man I was given to raped me several times and then left me in the room on my own. I was shaking from pain and fear in that hot room, my entire body sweating. Suddenly, another man came and did what he wanted to do despite me crying and begging him, kissing his foot to leave me alone …”

Thousands of Yazidi women and girls have abducted by ISIS fighters, many were taken during their attack on the Sinjar district on 2 August 2014. 2,500 girls and women were abducted during the attack on Sinjar. Since then, one hundred girls and women have managed to escape their jailers and rejoin their community.

The enslaved women have become a source of income for the ISIS group. Treated like cattle, they are trafficked in markets in Mosul in Iraq, and Raqqa in Syria. The women and girls are often sold for between $25 and $1,000. Women who resisted are killed and many have committed suicide, some Yazidi who managed to get their stories out of ISIS controlled territories have said they would rather face death than life as a sex slave.

Enslavement of women has been used as a weapon of war by ISIS, it is used as a means of subjecting the community, dissolve family units and even pollute the bloodlines of the populations targeted by ISIS. Some young girls were “cheaply sold” and mainly given to young boys as a way of recruiting them into the ISIS ranks.  ISIS itself publically encourages that taking of women as spoils of war and as a form of punishment of those they consider “infidels.” The organization claimed “One should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffar — the infidels — and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah, or Islamic law,” in the ISIS propaganda publication “Dabiq.”

Kurdish authorities say they have rescued around 100 Yazidi women, in part through the payment of ransoms to Arab tribesmen who acted as intermediaries. However, thousands of women remain enslaved by the ISIS group.

For More Information Please See:

CNN International – ‘Treated Like Cattle’: Yazidi Women Sold, Raped, Enslaved By ISIS – 30 October 2014

CNN International – Why ISIS’s Treatment of Yazidi Women Must Be Treated As Genocide – 30 October 2014

International Business Times – ISIS News: ‘Raped, Abused’ Yazidi Women Beg West To Bomb Their Brothel and Kill Them [VIDEO] – 30 October 2014

Al Jazeera – Traumatized By ISIL, Yazidis Seek Help – 28 October 2014

Ecuador Right Behind U.S. in Gender Equality

By Delisa Morris,

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

QUITO, Ecuador–President Rafael Correa highlighted and appreciated advances in gender equality on Wednesday, acknowledging the recently released World Economic Forum report, Global Gender Gap for 2014.

President of Ecuador Rafael Correa / Photo courtesy of telesurtv.net

“Finally, gender justice in the country,” said President Correa via his Twitter account. Ecuador currently stands as the second most equal country in Latin America, following Nicaragua, which ranks as the 6th most equal country in the world.

The report ranked Ecuador at 21 for global gender equality.  Iceland was found to be the most equal, followed by Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

On a scale of 0.00 of inequality to 1.00 of complete equality, Ecuador obtained an overall score of 0.745.  This ranking takes into account the four distinct categories of: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.  Ecuador scored above average in all areas.

Factors include wage equality, labor force participation, literacy rate, enrollment in primary education, healthy life expectancy and number of women in ministerial positions.

Females play a strong role in Ecuador’s political life, standing at 29 percent inclusion. Currently the ministers of Justice, Social Inclusion, Health, Transport and Public Works, the Coordinating Minister of Social Development, President of the National Assembly and the two Vice Presidents of the National Assembly are positions held by women in Ecuador.

In the area of education, women obtained ratings surpassing men.  Enrollment in primary education stood at 1.01, secondary education at 1.03 and tertiary education 1.15. The total score for women in the category of educational attainment stood at 0.996, as literacy rate is at 0.098.  The average for all sampled countries for educational attainment stands at 0.935, therefore Ecuador was above average.

The World Economic Forum has been publishing reports on gender equality since 2006.  The company reports on gender equality in 142 nations around the world.

Ecuador’s current standing sharply contrasts with its standing at 82 in 2006. Following the election of President Correa in 2007, Ecuador’s ranking dropped drastically to 44.

The Global Gender Gap Report seeks to represent the gender based disparities which are found worldwide. The country rankings are provided to provide comparison and create awareness of the gender gaps existing in today’s world, and the opportunities that could be generated through greater female inclusion.

Through the study, the correlation between female inclusion and the long term economic competitiveness of countries is tracked to devise mechanisms to reduce the gender gap. Currently, the gender gap for economic participation worldwide stands at 60 percent.

Cuba followed Ecuador with a ranking at 30, Argentina (31), Peru at (45), Panama (46), Chile (66), Brazil (71), Mexico (80), Venezuela (86), and Guatemala (89).

For more information, please see:

telesur – Strides in Gender Equality Recognized in Ecuador – 29 Oct. 2014

World Economic Forum – Top 10 most gender equal countries in Latin America and the Caribbean – 28 Oct. 2014

Buenos Aires Herald – Country is strong in gender equality index – 29 Oct. 2014

telesur – Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador Among World’s Best for Women Representation – 28 Oct. 2014

Over 1,000 people evacuated in the face of floods in Buenos Aires City

By Delisa Morris, 

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Heavy rain and strong winds plummeted Buenos Aires Tuesday night forcing over 1,000 people to evacuate the city due to flooding.  Fallen trees and power outages were among the wet conditions flowing into Wednesday evening.

People wade through flood water in Argentina / Photo courtesy of CNN.com

Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich said power outages have been applied in certain areas as a preventive measure, and confirmed 5,000 policemen have been sent to the 17 damaged areas with water, food and mattresses to aid local governments.

The most damaged areas are in Buenos Aires province. For instance in Marcos Paz, 60 kilometers away from Argentina’s capital, 120 families had to be evacuated, while in Coronel Pringles, 500 kilometers away from Buenos Aires city, 450 people decided to leave the area.

The Municipality of Lujan also issued a red alert due to the dangerous 4-meter rise of the Lujan River during the storms.  Local firemen informed reporters that, 12 families had to be evacuated.

“The river is growing at a rate of 20 centimeters per hour,” the fire department told reporters.

Roof collapses and structural damage to buildings has been attributed to the strong winds in the city of Bragado.  Local firemen told reporters the city appears to have been hit by a “tornado”.

Capitanich confirmed the city was hit by a tornado during a press conference today, and stated Bragado was the most damaged city so far.

Though many people have been evacuated and 70 houses have been damaged, no injured people have been registered.

In Buenos Aires City, more than 100 trees have collapsed due to the strong winds, Civil Defense director Daniel Russo informed.

Bus and train services have been interrupted.

Delays were also noted on the General Paz highway at the level of the Oeste freeway and the San Martín Avenue, due to water accumulation.

On the Puente Pueyrredón Bridge, water was completely covering the road, prompting traffic chaos.

Furthermore, flight delays and 30 cancellations have been registered in both the International Ezeiza Airport and the City’s Metropolitan Airport.

In 2013, one of the heaviest storms recorded in Argentina killed dozens of people in the province and forced thousands more to evacuate.

For more information, please see:

Buenos Aires Herald – Over 1,000 people evacuated over floods in BA City province – 29 Oct. 2014

NBC News – Heavy Downpours Cause Flooding in Buenos Aires – 29 Oct. 2014

BBC News – Rains and winds lash Buenos Aires province, Argentina – 29 Oct. 2014

Fox News Latino – Storm forces evacuation of 1,000 people in Argentina – 29 Oct. 2014

Burkina Faso President Declares State of Emergency and Dissolves Government

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch, Managing Editor

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso – Protesters have taken to the streets in Burkina Faso angry at plans to allow Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore, whose has held office for 27 years, to extend his term as President. On Thursday the protesters set fire to parliament. Reporters say the protesters set ablaze to the nation’s parliament as well as City Hall and the ruling party headquarters are also in flames in the capital, Ouagadougou. Some of the protesters also ransacked the state television station and attempted to storm other government buildings.

protesters took to the streets of Burkina Faso on Thursday after learning their president would be seeking a change in national law to allow him to serve another term. (Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera)

President Blaise Compaore responded to the protests by declaring a state of emergency, an act that will dissolve his government. “I dissolve the government from today so as to create conditions for change,” the statement from the President said. It was unclear where the President was when the statement was issued. The President also reportedly said he is open to talks with the opposition. “I’m calling on the leaders of the political opposition to put an end to the protests. I’m pledging from today to open talks with all the actors to end the crisis.”

Army General Honore Traore, the joint chief of staff, also said that the government and parliament had been dissolved on Thursday. “A state of emergency is declared across the national territory. The chief of the armed forces is in charge of implementing this decision which enters into effect today,” said a statement read by a presenter on Radio Omega FM.

Protesters in the capital Ouagadougou, ransacked government offices and set fire to cars, before attacking the national television headquarters. While Police had tried to control the crowds using tear gas, the demonstrators were able to push through the barricades. The protesters chanted “It is over for the regime!” and “We do not want him again!” as they advanced. The ruling party headquarters in Burkina Faso’s second city of Bobo Dioulasso as well as the city hall were also torched by protesters.

“It is difficult to say what happens next, but things are out of control because the demonstrators do not listen to anyone,” Ablasse Ouedraogo, an opposition politician said. Benewende Sankara, another opposition leader said “the president must deal with the consequences.”

The African Union expressed “deep concern” over the ongoing violence and said it would be sending a high-level delegation to the country, while the European Union urged a “constructive dialogue.” Journalists and protesters have been sharing stories using social media as events unfold in Burkina Faso using the #lwili hashtag.

For more information please see:

Al Jazeera – Burkina Faso Declares State of Emergency – 30 October 2014
BBC News – Burkina Faso Parliament Set Ablaze – 30 October 2014
BBC News – Burkina Faso President Declares State Of Emergency – 30 October 2014
The Wall Street Journal – Army Seizes Power in Burkina Faso – 30 October 2014

Tunisia Decides: Country that Ignited the Arab Spring Holds Historic Elections

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch, Managing Editor

TUNIS, Tunisia – On December 17, 2010 Mohammed Bouazizi, a disenchanted fruit seller, committed an act of self-immolation in protest of the Tunisian state. Bouazizi’s actions would set in motion a chain of events that would forever change Tunisia, a historical authoritarian state, and spread across the Arab World. After his protests thousands of Tunisians took to the streets demanding an end to authoritarian rule in their country. Today the country that ignited the Arab Spring is on the verge of becoming a full democracy, holding critical elections over the weekend. Election observers said the elections demonstrated Tunisia’s support for democratization.

Electoral workers count ballots at a polling station in Tunis after Sunday’s historic vote. (Photo courtesy of the Guardian)

Tunisia’s elections were closely watched around the world. The country is poised to become the first Arab Spring state to make a full transition to democracy. Unlike Syria, Egypt and Libya, which have been embroiled in conflict of varying degrees from Syria’s horrific Civil War to Egypt’s brutal crackdown on Islamist groups, Tunisians have addressed deep political divisions and prevented a full out unraveling of their country.

Tunisians filled polling stations on Sunday to cast a vote for the country’s new parliament, a 217 seat body that will serve for a five year term. Officials estimated that the voter turnout was close to 60% based on partial figures. The elections are the second in Tunisia since the popular uprising that sparked the Arab Spring forced former President Zine-el-Abidine Ben Ali out of power in 20011.

“We had some fears about the turnout,” said Juini Nooredine, a polling station operator in downtown Tunis. “But what happened was the opposite. Tunisians gave themselves a challenge and showed they want democracy and elections.” He paused, then added, “So the revolution succeeded.”

Two major political powers were jockeying for control of the government: the Islamist party Ennahda, which led a coalition government for two years from 2011 during the country’s transitional period, and Nidaa Tounes, a party led by Beji Caid Essebsi, an 87-year-old former prime-minister which has positioned itself as a secular, modern alternative to the Islamist parties. Mr. Essebsi hinted soon after polls closed on Sunday that his party would emerge victorious. “We have positive indicators that Nidaa Tounes is in the lead,” he told the press and supporters.

Preliminary results showed Tunisia’s secular Nidaa Tounes party is emerging as victor with the majority of the seats won. Nidaa Tunis has won 83 seats or 38% of the seats in parliament according to official provisional results released on Monday. The country’s leading Islamist party, Ennahda, conceded defeat on Monday after coming in second place with 68 seats or 31% percent of the seats in parliament. The Ennahda party was the first Islamist movement to secure power after the 2011 Arab spring revolts began. “We have accepted this result and congratulate the winner,” Lotfi Zitoun, an Ennahda party official, told the press.

While the Ennahda party enjoyed widespread support form he poor the party, which is accused of mismanaging the economy and for inexperience when it led Tunisia during the transitional period, fared far worse than it expected during Sunday’s elections. Ahmed Gaaloul, a member of Ennahda’s shura (consultative) council, argued that history has demonstrated that the first governments to lead countries after revolutions often had a difficult time. “Most of the post-revolution governments faced difficulties, simply because people’s expectations are higher after revolution,” he said. “Governing is not an easy task in those conditions because you don’t want to prove powerful when people revolted against that.”

International observers said Sunday’s election were a good sign for democratization in Tunisia saying the vote was orderly, despite some reports of isolated irregularities.

For more information please see:

Al Jazeera – Tunisia’s Ennahda ‘Faces Defeat’ In Elections – 28 October 2014

The Guardian – Tunisia’s Islamist Party Ennahda Accepts Defeat in Elections – 27 October 2014

Bloomberg – Tunisians Vote for First Permanent Assembly since Revolt – 26 October 2014

The New York Times – Voter Turnout Bolsters Tunisian Hopes for Post-Revolution Stability – 26 October 2014