Three years ago I was one of thousands of Yazidi women kidnapped by the Islamic State and sold into slavery. I endured rape, torture and humiliation at the hands of multiple militants before I escaped. I was relatively lucky; many Yazidis went through worse than I did and for much longer. Many are still missing. Many have been killed.
Once I escaped, I felt that it was my duty to tell the world about the brutality of the Islamic State. Yazidi women hoped that recounting our experiences of mass murder, rape and enslavement would bring attention to the Yazidi genocide. We received sympathy and solidarity all over the world, but now what we really need is concrete action to get justice and allow our community to return to its homeland.
“KIGALI, Rwanda — The Rwandan government released an independent report on Wednesday accusing French officials of complicity in the 1994 genocide, risking further strains to already icy relations between the two countries.
The report, commissioned by the Rwandan government and conducted by a Washington law firm, alleges that French military forces trained their Rwandan counterparts, supplied them with weapons even after an arms embargo, and gave cover, under the auspices of a United Nations-sanctioned humanitarian mission, in the last moments of a genocidal campaign.
Researchers and the Rwandan government say they cannot get France to make good on earlier commitments to fully open its archives or otherwise investigate the country’s role.
“What happened in the early ’90s and even before, in the lead-up to the genocide, is something France will have to come to terms with,” said Louise Mushikiwabo, the foreign minister of Rwanda. “Rwanda is not going away. We’re not going anywhere.”
Archival documents show that the French government was a close ally of the Rwandan regime that planned and perpetrated the mass slaughter of an estimated 800,000 people, most of them members of the Tutsi ethnic minority. Historians say a son of François Mitterrand, the French president at the time, was also a close friend of the Rwandan leader whose government organized the genocide.”
For excellent reading on the genocide in Burundi and Rwanda, I recommend Strength In What Remains, by Tracy Kidder. From http://www.tracykidder.com;
In this remarkable book, New York Times bestselling author Tracy Kidder once again delivers the masterful story of a hero for these modern times.
Deo grew up in the mountains of Burundi, and survived a civil war and genocide before seeking a new life in America. In New York City he lived homeless in Central Park before finding his way to Columbia University. But Deo’s story really begins with his will to turn his life into something truly remarkable; he returns to his native country to help people there, as well as people in the United States.
An extraordinary writer, Kidder has the remarkable ability to show us what it means to be fully human, and to tell the unadorned story of a life based on hope. Riveting and inspiring, this may be his most magnificent work to date. Strength in What Remains is a testament to the power of will and friendship, and of the endurance of the soul.”
“As I walked out of the refugee camp, my phone rang. The instant I said hello, my wife could hear it in my voice.“What’s wrong?” she asked.“I just finished the worst interview of my life,” I said.
I was standing near the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh, where half a million Rohingya people, probably one of the most unwanted ethnic groups on the planet, fled after government massacres in Myanmar. I had just said goodbye to a young woman named Rajuma and watched her — a frail figure in a red veil — disappear into a crowd with one of the most horrible stories I had ever heard.
I’ve covered genocide in Sudan and children being blown apart in Iraq. I’ve been dispatched to earthquakes, hurricanes, civil wars, international wars, insurgencies and famines. As foreign correspondents, this is what we do, rush into the world’s biggest disasters. In 20 years of doing this, I’ve become a specialist in despair.But Rajuma’s story stopped me.”
This news reporting lifts Jefrey Gettleman up to a new level, in my awareness, up to Nicholas Kristof.
Thank you Jeffrey for this report.
Here are the top comments. I read deep into the comments section, for solace.
This is what genocide looks like, sounds like, feels like to witness.
And on the same online front page of the NYTimes, we are treated to the story of big game “hunting” ranches in Texas where the extremely wealthy can go to kill animals and call it love.
Anger, hatred, dehumanization, disrespect for life…is contagious. We are seeing it everywhere, and our current President is aiding and abetting this social turn.
The Rohingya must get true sanctuary somewhere, and we must help them–all of us on this planet must help. Otherwise, we have reached a state where all of us are dehumanized. Not humane, and therefore not human. Compassion is a human birthright–having, expressing it, receiving it. It is genetically encoded. That we are in an era of so many instances where compassion is replaced with anger and hatefulness, is just appalling beyond words.
Thank you for covering these horrific events. Journalists like you go to places that everyone else turns a blind eye to. ‘Ami Dukkhito’ doesn’t actually mean ‘I’m sorry’ in Bengali though. It literally means ‘I’m sad’. It is an appropriate thing to say under the circumstances as we don’t have an equivalent word to ‘sorry’ in Bengali. ‘Ami Dukkhito’ implies that you share her pain. Please do keep shining the light of awareness on these darkest of places.
Thank you for telling the world about Rajuma and the murder of her baby. Something good will come of this telling because there are still very good people in this world who express kindness all around us.
Thank you for a beautifully written story – and for bearing witness to this. I can’t begin to fathom the depth of pain Ms. Rajuma must know, but I weep for her and her family. I wish I believed that something good will come of this story – and perhaps, for some readers, we are more sensitive to the Rohingya plight and more ready to offer support.
Anybody cares what is happening in Rohingya ethnic cleansing ? The answer is NO. Because there is no oil or gas or mineral resources for western economic powerhouse countries .Even UN is very quiet about this genocide. Because Rohingya people are extremely poor Muslims. I am glad that the NYT publishes some news of atrocities there now and then. Bangladesh, a densely populated country is one of the poorest in the world. I thank the government and the people of Bangladesh for opening their door to shelter these unfortunate people with their limited resource. Some Muslim countries, specially Turkey came forward to help them. What happened to other oil rich Muslim countries? India is not helping that much as expected. China is helping Myanmar with arms and money to expedite this cleansing process. Where is humanity ? Where are compassionate heart of good human beings? Where are Buddhist religious teachings of love and AHIMSA (abstain from killings) to attain Nirvana? May God help these poor people.
“For the last three weeks, Buddhist-majority Myanmar has systematically slaughtered civilians belonging to the Rohingya Muslim minority, forcing 270,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh — with Myanmar soldiers shooting at them even as they cross the border.
“The Buddhists are killing us with bullets,” Noor Symon, a woman carrying her son, told a Times reporter. “They burned houses and tried to shoot us. They killed my husband by bullet.”Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the widow who defied Myanmar’s dictators, endured a total of 15 years of house arrest and led a campaign for democracy, was a hero of modern times. Yet today Daw Suu, as the effective leader of Myanmar, is chief apologist for this ethnic cleansing, as the country oppresses the darker-skinned Rohingya and denounces them as terrorists and illegal immigrants.
And “ethnic cleansing” may be an understatement. Even before the latest wave of terror, a Yale study had suggested that the brutality toward the Rohingya might qualify as genocide. The U.S. Holocaust Museum has also warned that a genocide against the Rohingya may be looming.”
Horrible story, great writing.
Here are two comments I recommended.
Nick, thank you for your bold reporting on this and the crises in Yemen, Angola, and numerous others. Your work is so important.
By now, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi – I used to refer her as ‘Daw’ instead of ‘Ms’ – has had more than her share of free passes. Not anymore.
I have no qualm of Henry Kissinger getting a Nobel Peace Prize. It might be a bit disingenuous but he did end the Vietnam War, even if with a ‘thud.’ But Ms Aung San is far more disappointing. For a while, people said she was new and might need her footings. But the Rohingya problem is nothing new. And allowing a Buddhist country to descent into hell is just breathtaking, in a very bad way. They are just a bunch of wrathful spirits. If Ms Aung San can’t speak out for them now, who is she supposed to protect?
Myanmar is still a military dictatorship. The civilian government, including Suu Kyi, has no real power. She knows that if she criticizes the military leaders they may eliminate the civilian government, which is just for show anyway.
She should do so anyway. It is the right thing to do, even though in the short run it will only have negative consequences.
“SITTWE, Myanmar — How much should you sacrifice to save your husband’s life?And how much hardship do you inflict on your son to rescue your husband?Those are the questions Jano Begum faced. Jano, 22, and her husband, Robi Alom, 30, are among the more than one million Muslims who belong to the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, subjected to an ethnic cleansing that a Yale study suggests may amount to genocide.”