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This article was published 17/6/2016 (2049 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In the same week that the Liberals voted down a Conservative motion to accuse the Islamic State of genocide, an independent report commissioned by the UN says the terrorist organization has committed genocide against the Yazidis.
Canada needs to acknowledge it's a genocide and hurry to open its doors to save the Yazidis, say Winnipeggers worried about the fate of the persecuted religious minority.
"Once the Canadian government formally acknowledges ISIS as genocidal, then it should begin to rethink how it understands the category of 'Syrian refugee' in a way that reflects the special vulnerability of the Yazidis - vulnerability compounded by the small size and relative isolation of the community," said Adam Muller, a genocide researcher at the University of Manitoba.
Winnipeg's Jewish community and other faith groups are sponsoring the resettlement of seven Yazidi families with the first two expected to arrive June 29.
So far, only nine Yazidi cases have been processed by Canada's immigration department, despite the atrocities being directed against their people, Tory MP Michelle Rempel said this week.
Immigration Minister John McCallum said it's taking so long because the Yazidis are in isolated, hard-to-reach, dangerous areas. The president of the Manitoba Multifaith Council disputes that.
"There are approximately 25,000 Yazidi refugees already in UNHCR camps in Turkey," Belle Jarniewski said Friday. "Every one of them would jump at the chance of finding safe haven in Canada," she said. The camps are not in "isolated dangerous areas," said the president of the group that promotes interfaith dialogue and understanding and educates the public about world religions.
Recognizing what's happening as a genocide is important to expedite the immigration of Yazidis to Canada, said Jarniewski. She welcomed the UN report They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis that is based on interviews with survivors, religious leaders, smugglers, activists, lawyers, medical personnel, and journalists.
"ISIS has sought to erase the Yazidis through killings, sexual slavery, enslavement, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and forcible transfer causing serious bodily and mental harm; the infliction of conditions of life that bring about a slow death; the imposition of measures to prevent Yazidi children from being born, including forced conversion of adults, the separation of Yazidi men and women; and the transfer of Yazidi children from their own families and placing them with ISIS fighters, thereby cutting them off from beliefs and practices of their own religious community," the report says.
In debating and then defeating the Tory genocide motion on Tuesday, the government said politicians should shy away from declarations of such magnitude.
"Determinations of genocide need to be made in an objective, responsible way," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during the debate. "That is exactly what we have formally requested the international authorities weigh in on."
Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion told the House of Commons that Canada has tripled its effort to fight IS on the ground and is asking the UN Security Council to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of atrocities.
- with file from Canadian Press
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.