Save theYazidis from Genocide. Project Abraham Needs Your Help Now!

Update posted by Gary Rose On Jun 14, 2017

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June 12, 2017


Under shade trees and sunny skies Project Abraham celebrated summer at Earl Bales Park.

The Yazidi community and our Project Abraham volunteers have formed close affectionate bonds, and a picnic was the ideal setting for all of us to get together to play, talk, and share in the joy of the Yazidis ’new-found freedom.

It was also a pleasure to have Michael Levitt, MP for York Centre, join us. Michael spent time listening to the needs of the Yazidis community and speaking with Mirza Ismail of Yezidi Human Rights – International, and spiritual leader of the Yazidis community, as well as Geoffrey Clarfield, Executive Director of The Mozuud Freedom Foundation.


Many thanks to all the volunteers who worked hard to make our picnic happen. It was a brilliant success. Great food, good company, smiling taces, and great weather. It was a picture perfect day.

For more pictures of our picnic got to Project Abraham picnic June 11 2017

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Update posted by Gary Rose On Jun 01, 2017

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June 01, 2017


My wife Debbie, who is the Project Coordinator for Project Abraham, and I joined the GTA Yazidi community in meeting our latest refugees at Pearson International Airport

While a joyful and happy occasion that needs to be celebrated, I can’t help being affected by the absurdity of the Yazidis struggle. Without Project Abraham and our large number of dedicated volunteers who have spent hundreds of hours completing applications, making sure the needs of the refugees are taken care of - finding housing, jobs, clothes, furniture, teaching them English, driving them to appointments, and helping them lobby the government – it could have been a different story.


The Yazidis have become our friends. They are learning English and easily fitting into the Canadian community. They are self-supporting, and generous with the little they have. Despite what that have suffered, they celebrate life.

Debbie and I are considered part of their community, not outsiders. We are as family, and other volunteers have the same experience. The Yazidis are a warm, loving, and inclusive people, the kind of people we should welcome to Canada with open arms.

Yet the absurdity remains. A people undergoing a genocide and faced with extinction being told by the West - including Canada - that the few Yazidi refugees taken in are all we can accommodate. Given the thousands of Syrian refugees that the West brought in, surely the Yazidi deserve at least the same consideration. Given the genocide, morally more consideration.



All of us involved in Project Abraham have had our lives enriched by the Yazidis. And we will continue supporting them and to lobby for them because it is the right thing to do. The world is not a compassionate place, and justice seldom is metred out in a way that is fair. All the Yazidis want to do is live in peace and in safety, and we will do our best to make that happen.

See more photos:

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Update posted by Gary Rose On May 23, 2017

by Gary Rose. May 23, 2017

Project Abraham is successfully supporting the growing Yazidi community in the GTA and helping them adapt to living in Canada. With our growing network of committed volunteers, we are providing clothes and furniture, helping find jobs and housing, and working with the community to ensure their needs are being met.


We are also committed to helping the community with the ongoing effort to bring their family members to Canada. This is a huge commitment for us. It requires hours of volunteer work to complete applications, lobbying the government to allow more refugees to come to Canada, and raising the funds required.

As we have become a source of hope for the Yazidis, and have become to understand the breadth of the genocide that has forced them from their homeland, we now see the true lack of significant help that governments and the UN have given, despite their acknowledgement of the Yazidi genocide


Project Abraham is working with other human rights organizations such as One Free World International (OFWI) and the Yezidi Human Rights Organization – International to address the failure of the Canadian government to do more than a token effort to bring Yazidis to Canada. We are a small voice, but have achieved so much in the last two years, and are continuing to fight on behalf of the Yazidi people.

Despite the lack of significant government support for family reunification, the Yazidi community is thankful that the people of Canada has taken them in. They are learning English, going to school, taking jobs, and are celebrating their religious holidays, births, and upcoming marriages, in freedom. They are a people who have suffered yet know the real meaning of family, community, working hard, and moving forward to become good Canadians in every sense.


With all the sadness and hardship, the Yazidis are a positive and joyful people who show appreciation and have welcomed all the Project Abraham volunteers into their community. We are all better for knowing them, a people who have every right to be bitter, but instead are open hearted and inclusive, full of life and love. It is a tragedy of immense proportions that the world cannot see that the Yazidis live like all of us should and don’t. It is a blindness that reflects a lack of true compassion, and an unwillingness to act based on our values. We can learn so much from the Yazidis, but first we need to open our eyes.


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Update posted by Gary Rose On Apr 26, 2017

Our first Project Abraham Yazidi New Year was celebrated last night. An evening of joy and great happiness to be in Canada was shared with the GTA Yazidis community.

Please see the link below to see photos of the celebration.

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Update posted by Gary Rose On Apr 20, 2017

posted by Gary Rose |

April 20, 2017

Last evening, volunteers from Project Abraham, and members of the GTA Yazidi community, along with Wisam, his wife Shayma, and their 11-year old daughter Hima, welcomed Jumaah and Tuffaha on their arrival at Pearson International Airport. It was an emotional family reunion, and a wonderful testament to the dedicated volunteers of Project Abraham who worked tirelessly to make this happen.

Jumaah and Tuffaha are two seniors who were completely alone as Yazidi refugees in Turkey, without the emotional and physical support of their family. They were in hiding, afraid to be in refugee camps or to go out of their apartment in case they were identified as Yazidis, who are persecuted and killed for their beliefs. While food is given to Yazidi refugees in camps, in the cities the Turkish government refuses to do the same.

Their son, Wisam, a recent landed immigrant in Canada, helped his parents with whatever money he managed to send to them from his job in a bakery after caring for his wife and daughter.

The application for Jumaah and Tuffaha was submitted through ORAT in October 2016, just two to three short weeks after other Yazidi families under our sponsorship submitted their applications. Since the government declared a genocide being perpetrated against the Yazidi people, they have expedited refugee applications for family reunification, and we are grateful to report that Jumaah and Tuffaha, through the hard work of our Project Abraham volunteers, have arrived in Canada.



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Update posted by Gary Rose On Mar 30, 2017

by Gary Rose, March 29/2017

A Project Abraham panel discussion at the Green Beanery in Toronto, hosted by Larry Solomon and moderated by David Cayley, was more than food for thought. It brought into question the pledge of the Liberal government to help the Yazidis who are undergoing a genocide in northern Iraq.

Given the dire nature of genocide, the question is is Canada doing enough? Present at the discusssion was Mirza Ismail, President of Yezidi Human Rights Organization – Interational, Debbie Rose, Project Coordinator for Project Abraham, and Geoffrey Clarfield, Executive Director for The Mozuud Freedom Foundation.

Panel 2

Based on what we know of the terror currently facing the Yazidis, their history, and their relationship they have with the Islamic factions in northern Iraq, the answer by the panel is decidedly ‘no’. The Yazidis are facing annihilation, not only at the hands of ISIS who have killed thousands of Yazidis and have taken their women and girls as sex slaves, but also at the hands of the Kurdish factions that are fighting to rule Kurdistan.

The Canadian government currently has special forces on the ground in northern Iraq and on humanitarian grounds could move to protect the Yazidis. Also, as Debbie Rose pointed out, the government must lift the caps on refugees to allow privately sponsored groups, such as Mozuud’s Project Abraham, to bring in more Yazidis.

While Canada has done good by bringing in the Syrian refugees, as Geoffrey Clarfield explained, genocide is in a different moral category. There is a moral obligation to save people undergoing a genocide that is above and beyond the suffering of refugees that are displaced people. Althought the suffering of the Syrians should not be trivialized in any way, and Canada has done the right thing by giving them refuge, the suffering other Yazidis goes beyond what any people should have to suffer.

Canada’s commitment to bringing in 1,200 minorites from Iraq by the end of 2017 is a step in the right direction, but it is a small step given the magnitude of the situation for the Yazidis. It is an insignificant gesture that fulfills a reluctant commitment. Canada can do more for the Yazidis. Much more.

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Update posted by Gary Rose On Mar 27, 2017


March 27, 2017

Our Project Abraham volunteers met with the Yazidi community in Richmond Hill for our first conversational English class. About 40 Yazidis attended - adults and children of all ages - to learn the basics of practical everyday English.

The feedback from the community was fabulous! Thanks go to all our volunteers - drivers, teaching assistants, organizers, and our teacher for the day, Paulette Volgyesi. Classes will be held every Saturday and new volunteers will be welcomed.

Project Abraham is a major initiative that is a rewarding experience for all who are involved. Thanks to all who are working tirelessly with Project Abraham to help the Yazidis.

There is still much to be done. The situation for the Yazids in northern Iraq is still not good. The Yazidis in Iraq, and those who are have escaped and living in hiding, desperately need our help. The terror continues and the volunteers at Project Abraham are working with our Canada-Yazidi Action Coalition partners to insure the Yazidi are not forgotten. Any help you can provide would be most appreciated.

To donate to Project Abraham go to

To get involved as volunteer please contact Debbie Rose at

[email protected]

Please re-post to raise awareness. Let the world know that the Yazidis desperately need our help.

For more information on The Mozuud Freedom Foundation and Project Abraham, go to

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Update posted by Gary Rose On Feb 16, 2017

BY Eitan Arom |Jewish Journal PUBLISHED Feb 9, 2017

It was well before dawn on Aug. 3, 2014, when fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) streamed out of the northern Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tal Afar, heading east. By daybreak, the Kurdish forces protecting the region’s civilian population had melted away. They fled with few warnings to the villagers, most of them Yazidis, members of an ancient and oft-persecuted religious minority.

The hundreds of settlements dotting the region, known together as Sinjar, are the locus of the global Yazidi population, which counts about 1 million souls worldwide. Across the arid expanse, the ISIS fighters who overran it seemed to follow the same script: Men and women were separated. Prepubescent boys were kidnapped for indoctrination as ISIS fighters. Women and their young children were sequestered into sexual slavery. And the men — those older than 12 — were forced to convert or else murdered, either shot in the head, sprayed from behind with bullets or beheaded as their families watched.

The picture painted in United Nations reports is dim. Within days, 5,000 were dead and about half a million displaced from their homes. One report, in June 2016, called the genocide “on-going,” estimating that 3,200 Yazidi women are still held as sex slaves by ISIS — bought, sold and raped by some of the same men who murdered their husbands and fathers. The bulk of Yazidis in Iraq who remain free stay in squalid refugee camps where basic needs are met barely or not all, while an untold number have embarked on the journey west, over perilous seas to the uncertain promise of refuge in Europe or the United States.

What’s worse is that the genocide of this tiny religious group didn’t take its victims by surprise. “We had a sense that it’s going to happen,” one Yazidi activist in Houston, Haider Elias, told the Journal.

In fact, ISIS has been remarkably forward about its genocidal intentions. “Unlike the Jews and Christians, there was no room for jizyah [ransom] payment,” explained an article in Dabiq, a glossy ISIS propaganda magazine. “Their women could be enslaved unlike female apostates who the majority of the fuqaha [Islamic jurists] say cannot be enslaved.”

A group of Islamic law students reviewed the Yazidi question, Dabiq reported, and ruled that unlike Jews and Christians, who are monotheists, Yazidis are pagans to be exterminated in preparation for Judgment Day. (In fact, Yazidis are monotheists whose Mesopotamian creed predates Islam by thousands of years.)

The Obama administration helped break a siege that stranded thousands of Yazidis on Mount Sinjar shortly after the Aug. 3 massacres, but it was a brief show of American airpower. The United States has done little else to ameliorate the situation; the West can claim neither ignorance nor impotence.

A handful of Jewish organizations have raised the alarm, including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and at least one, IsraAID, has even offered on-the-ground assistance (see sidebar). But with the global population of forcibly displaced people topping 65 million, most of civil society is tuned to the larger picture. A network of Yazidis in the U.S. seeks its aid and protection for their coreligionists, but their numbers are few.

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to ISIS in the town of Sinjar, walk toward the Syrian border on Aug. 11, 2014. Photo by Rodi Said/ Reuters

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to ISIS in the town of Sinjar, walk toward the Syrian border on Aug. 11, 2014. Photo by Rodi Said/ Reuters

Iraq is one of the seven countries whose citizens are banned from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days, according to President Donald Trump’s recent executive order. The order makes an exemption for religious minorities, but at present, the procedures for exercising that exemption are unclear. At press time, the order had been blocked by the courts and was awaiting appeal, but the constitutionality of a religious exemption appeared murky in the first place. Meanwhile, the president has promised “safe zones” in Syria but the majority of Yazidis in the Middle East are in Iraq.

The persistence of genocide into the second decade of the 21st century makes a cruel joke of “never again,” just as Rwanda, Bosnia and Cambodia did in the second half of the 20th century. More than two years after the Yazidi genocide began, the question remains: Shouldn’t we do something about it?

‘Nobody helped’

Salem Daoud is Mir of the Yazidis in the United States, the community’s chief religious functionary, serving alongside a council of elders. He speaks a halting English that would be difficult to fully comprehend even if he weren’t describing some of the most trying days of his life. So his son, Seif, who goes by Sam in the U.S., and Rabbi Pamela Frydman, an activist in Los Angeles, joined him on a recent conference call from Glendale, Ariz., to make sure he was understood.

Salem Daoud at the Castle of Mir Ali in northern Iraq. Photo by John Murphy.

Salem Daoud at the Castle of Mir Ali in northern Iraq. Photo by John Murphy.

In such a tiny community, no family is unaffected by an event on the scale of the genocide. Salem’s sister and brother-in-law were kidnapped and then rescued six months later; they’ve never been quite the same since, Salem said. It’s hard to know what to ask a person who sat, more or less helplessly half a world away, while his relatives and countrymen were slaughtered and enslaved.

When Salem’s phone began to ring in early August 2014, there was little he could do to help the man on the other end, a local leader in Sinjar by the name of Ahmed Jaso.

“Till the last minute, till before they killed him, he was calling my dad, like, every, I would say, hour,” Sam said on the phone. “And he’s saying, ‘Do something for us, to save us from their hands.’ ”

Jaso was in a village called Kocho, where ISIS troops were lining up the villagers in groups of 60 or 100 and demanding payment to spare the locals’ lives. When the ransom was not forthcoming, they killed residents in a hail of gunfire, Jaso told Salem. Sam explained that his father has many contacts, people who might have been able to help, “whether here in the U.S., in Iraq, Russia, to people in Germany” — even people close to the White House. “Everybody put their hands on their eyes and their ears,” Sam said.

“[Jaso] would call, ‘[ISIS] said they just killed a hundred, so we need support to save the rest. … They killed another hundred, they need money.’ ” he said. “But nobody wanted to pay.”

“We give the information to a lot of people,” Salem added in his imperfect English. “Just nobody helped. No government, and nobody.”

The village of some 1,800 people was cleared out — the men slaughtered, the young boys kidnapped, the women enslaved.

“Very hard time, that was,” the Mir said. The last time he called Jaso back, the local leader was awaiting his turn at the death squad. “The last time, I hoped I’d be one of these people with them,” Salem said.

The activist

Frydman — known more commonly as Rabbi Pam — is a recent arrival to Los Angeles from Northern California, having moved here in May. There, she started the San Francisco congregation Or Shalom Jewish Community 25 years ago and spent a decade as a social justice activist and educator.

One January morning, Frydman sat down in front of her laptop at a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Pico Boulevard. In front of her, a manila folder contained a manuscript of a book about the Holocaust she’s writing that she put on hold two years earlier, when she first learned about the genocide of Yazidis and Assyrian Christians in Iraq and Syria. She finally was finding time to get back to work on the book. Asked to describe how she became active in the struggle for Yazidi survival, she scribbled an impromptu timeline on the back of the manila folder.

Rabbi Pam Frydman. Photo by Bret Putnam

Rabbi Pam Frydman. Photo by Bret Putnam

In November 2014, Frydman saw an email from the Board of Rabbis of Northern California about an event at a Jewish Community Center in the Bay Area. “It said, ‘Act before it’s too late,’ ” she recalled. At the gathering, she saw footage of Yazidis being marched up to the heights of Mount Sinjar, where they were trapped.

“We heard about children who were dehydrated because there just wasn’t enough water,” she said. She heard a story about a woman being driven up the mountain by ISIS forces and struggling to carry both of her children — one of many such stories to emerge from these forced marches. When this particular woman grew too exhausted to hold both children, she put one of them down.

“As soon as she put that child down, the child was slaughtered, was killed, and I said to myself, ‘This is a death march! This is what our people went through in the Holocaust!’ ” Frydman said, her voice wavering. “The fire was in my belly and my heart was shattered, and I felt that I had to do something. And I returned to my home and I started to contact Jewish and interfaith colleagues, and I said, ‘What are we gonna do?’ ”

Soon, she organized a program called Save Us From Genocide, a consciousness-raising campaign for the plight of the Yazidis and Assyrians, hosted by four Bay Area interreligious councils in concert with the United Religions Initiative, a global interfaith network. A project of Save Us From Genocide administered by the Northern California Board of Rabbis, called Beyond Genocide, hopes to gain attention and relief specifically for atrocities perpetrated against Yazidis.

In addition to helping finance university scholarships for Yazidis studying outside Iraq, Beyond Genocide assists in Yazidi migration and resettlement. On that last score, Frydman could describe her efforts only in vague details, out of abundant caution against putting Yazidis in danger.

Asked how much Beyond Genocide had raised for resettlement, she responded, “A very small amount. But with this very small amount, we have performed miracles.”

‘My brother’

Frydman’s resettlement and advocacy work runs primarily through tight-knit networks of American Yazidis such as the one operated by Saeed Hussein Bakr, whom she calls “my brother.” Bakr arrived in the U.S. about five years ago and found his way to Phoenix, where currently he works as a cook for a local Panda Express. As the disaster in Sinjar unfolded, groups quickly sprang up among American Yazidis to help those fleeing for their lives in the Middle East, managed by people like Bakr.

“Yazidis are not a big community,” he said. “So, almost, we all know each other.”

Saeed Hussein Bakr

Saeed Hussein Bakr

Headquartered in places such as Lincoln, Neb., the largest American Yazidi population center, these networks raise money when possible, though the community is in large part newly arrived and not a wealthy one. More often, they deploy contacts in the United States, Europe and the Middle East to help Yazidi migrants who find themselves in trouble.

Bakr’s group, Yazidi Rescue, will alert Coast Guard officials in Greece, for example, when a boatload of Yazidi refugees is abandoned or waterlogged in the Mediterranean or Aegean sea. In other cases, they’ll help Yazidi women escape from slavery or help refugees who are imprisoned abroad. There are no rules or standard operating procedures for this type of operation, only dire phone calls to anybody who might be able to do something, whether civilians or government officials.

“Some nights, I can say we help 1,000 people in one night,” Bakr said.

Bakr first became involved after one of his sons, Layth, on his way to the U.S., got on a boat headed to Greece from Turkey. His boat capsized, and some of the refugees on board with him drowned. “That’s why I work to help those people,” Bakr said.

Remarkably, though, his son’s near-death experience in the Aegean Sea was not the most harrowing episode for Bakr. That would be earlier, in August 2014, when Bakr’s son and other relatives were turned out of their homes and driven up Mount Sinjar.

“For seven days, they were in the mountains, no power, no communications. We don’t know at any time if ISIS, they captured them,” he said. “It was horrible days. Those seven days, they were the worst seven days in my life.”

An ancient people long oppressed

The Yazidis are an ancient people, born in the cradle of civilization. Consecrated to one God, they survived through the ages. In each generation, the yoke of oppression found them, and they cried out for deliverance — except sometimes their savior was a long time in coming.

Sound familiar?

“In each and every generation, they rise up against us to destroy us,” Jews recite each Passover. It would be equally true on the lips of a Yazidi.

The parallels between Jews and Yazidis become uncanny at a point. Both are ethnically distinct religions dating to the birth of monotheism. Both have been singled out by Muslim rulers for persecution based on their strange and foreign faith, slandered as perversions of Islam.

But somewhere along the ages, the historical arcs of the two people diverge. Whereas the history of Jewish genocide ends after the Holocaust, Yazidis have had no such luck.

Since the 15th century, Yazidis count 74 farmans against them — literally, decrees, calls by rulers for their destruction that inevitably result in mass slaughter. They’ve faced genocide at the hands of Kurds, Turks and Arabs, mostly Sunni Muslims backed by the Ottoman Empire. ISIS is only the most recent in a long line of persecutors.

Invariably, Yazidi customs and belief are offered as the reason for their oppression. The religion has no central texts that have survived the ages, but its folklore is vivid and distinct from any other faith. Adherents claim to descend not from Abraham but from Adam. Their legend has it that Adam and Eve, as a sort of competition, each placed their seed in a jar. When Eve’s jar was opened, it held an unpleasant stew of filth and insects. Adam’s contained a beautiful baby boy, ibn Jar, literally the son of Jar, who became the ancestor of the Yazidi people.

Ironically, it is their guardian angel that has earned them the fanatical ire of radical Islamists. Yazidis regard as sacred Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel, a fallen angel who refused to bow to Adam when God requested he do so, and who consequently gained dominion over the fates and follies of man. This origin story bears a similarity with that of the Islamic legend of Iblis, the archdevil in Muslim theology. The resemblance between the tales has historically motivated the slander of Yazidis as devil worshippers, a kind of Middle Eastern blood libel that continues to claim the lives of its subjects.

“They have made Iblis — who is the biggest taghut [idolator] — the symbolic head of enlightenment and piety!” the article in the ISIS magazine Dabiq exclaims. “What arrogant kufr [infidels] can be greater than this?”

One irony to emerge from this account is that peacocks don’t exist in the region where Yazidi civilization arose. If the community of nations is not watchful, it’s not inconceivable to imagine a Middle East with no more Yazidis, either.

‘Never again requires a lot of energy’

Google searches for “Yazidis” saw a massive spike in early August 2014 and then returned, but for a few small flutters, to a flatline. But things never went back to normal for Haider Elias, a Yazidi activist in Houston who is the president of Yazda, an advocacy, aid and relief organization.

That’s not the role he’d imagined for himself before ISIS began to wreak catastrophe. A former translator for the U.S. Army in Iraq who immigrated in 2010, Elias was raising three children and studying biology as an undergraduate in the hopes of attending medical school. When his brother was murdered in Iraq and the rest of his family displaced from their homes, he dropped his medical school dreams to dedicate himself to advocacy.

Haider Elias

Haider Elias

Elias and his peers at Yazda run a gamut of programs aimed at helping those displaced by the genocide. They’ve presented on the catastrophe in more than 10 states, including California, and in Europe. In Iraq, the group offers psychological and psychosocial therapy to help reintegrate women who have escaped or been rescued from ISIS. On top of all that, Yazda runs documentation projects to record video testimonies about the genocide and document mass graves.

Elias is still a full-time student at the University of Houston, though he’s switched majors to psychology at the recommendation of some American friends. A social science degree would better suit him for advocacy work, they told him. His days are long and busy, but he’s motivated by the knowledge that his people still face imminent danger.

“Many people want to come back [home] but they’re afraid that the security forces again are going to fail and run away, and this time it’s going to be more fatal, more catastrophic,” Elias said.

And so Yazda now is advocating for international protection for Yazidis, without which resettling Sinjar is unfeasible. “Without some form or guarantee of protection, this community is terrified,” he said.

Elias admits to still being angry. He’s angry with ISIS, naturally, and with the world for standing idly by; but more specifically, he’s angry with the Kurdish fighters, the Peshmerga, for abandoning their posts before the Islamists’ murderous advance.

“It’s not a battle and they lost — they ran away,” he said. “They did not tell the population. When you lose many lives and you think you lost the battle, the first thing you do, you inform the population. The second thing, you run away.” To hear Elias and other Yazidis tell it, the Peshmerga didn’t quite bother with the first.

Though most Yazidis are behind Kurdish lines for the moment, their situation remains precarious and their advocates few. Elias made note of a chilling silence in Congress, broken only on occasion by legislators who represent Yazidi population centers, including two Republicans, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska and Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

“We need a campaign in 2017 to help the Yazidis, whether to advocate for international protection or accepting Yazidi refugees in the U.S. or sending more humanitarian aid to the areas,” Elias said.

Responding to the genocide, Yazda took up “never again” as a rallying cry. But Elias is not naïve about the prospects of his people.

“Never again requires a lot of energy, a lot of passion, a lot of work,” he said.

‘Save us!’

The Yazidi call for aid is neither subtle nor nuanced. Even before the genocide, theirs was a struggle for existence. There is no conversion into the community, and a child with even one non-Yazidi parent is considered to be outside the faith. The massacres and enslavement of Yazidis compound an already dire population problem.

“An entire religion is being exterminated from the face of the earth,” Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi member of the Iraqi Parliament, told the legislature on Aug. 5, 2014, in a tearful plea that briefly went viral on the internet. “Brothers, I appeal to you in the name of humanity to save us!”

Before she could finish the next sentence, she collapsed, weeping.

The Yazidis interviewed for this story made clear they are open to any help they can get — military, political, financial and otherwise. Currently, Frydman and her colleagues are advocating for a real immigration pipeline to allow Yazidis to come to the U.S. notwithstanding the Trump administration’s refugee policy.

Three men prepare to leave Mount Sinjar. From left: Saeed Hussein Bakr’s sons, Layth Saeed Hussein and Hussein Saeed Hussein, and his nephew, Fuad Shaker Hassow.

Three men prepare to leave Mount Sinjar. Saeed Hussein Bakr’s sons, Layth Saeed Hussein (right) and Hussein Saeed Hussein (left), and his nephew, Fuad Shaker Hassow.

The Trump order, before a federal judge blocked the bulk of it on Feb. 3, in theory allowed Yazidi immigration to continue largely unimpeded. In practice, though, the International Organization for Migration, which coordinates refugee admission, has told Yazidi refugees their immigration has been canceled until further notice, Reuters reported. A faith-based exemption raises constitutional questions and its legality is a matter for the courts to decide.

But not all displaced Yazidis want to leave Iraq, anyway. Many simply want to resume their lives in the villages where they were born and escaped death, according to Salem Daoud, the Yazidi Mir. Much of that territory is still held by ISIS.

For now, the totality of a people’s homeland lives in limbo and its diaspora finds only limited means to help them. Often, prayer is the only recourse. Frydman recalled a joint prayer group near Phoenix with Yazidis, Jews and Universal Sufis. After the prayers were over, a Yazidi elder approached her and showed her a tiny book in a plastic pouch. Peering through her bifocals, she discovered it to be the Book of Psalms. A Jewish friend had given it to the elder, he told her, shortly before immigrating to Israel after the declaration of the Jewish state. “He said the prayers in this book will protect me,” the elder told Frydman.

The themes reflected in the Book of Psalms, as it happens, are more topical now for the Yazidi people than they ever have been in recent memory. As it says in Psalm 7:

O Lord, my God, in You I seek refuge; deliver me from all my pursuers and save me, lest, like a lion, they tear me apart, rending me in pieces, and no one to save me.

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Update posted by Gary Rose On Jan 30, 2017

Gary Rose
Social Media Manager
Project Abraham
The Mozuud Freedom Foundation

Last Sunday my wife Debbie, my mother in-law Betty (89 years young), and I were invited to celebrate the arrival of our first Project Abraham Yazidi sponsored family at the home of Hayder Essw in Richmond Hill. His cousins, the Mado family, had arrived from Turkey last Wednesday evening to be reunited with existing family already in Canada.

Saadi Mado, his brother, and his sister, had not seen their parents, two brothers, their sister in-law with her children in over two years. With the help of The Mozuud Freedom Foundation's Project Abraham, Canadian and Jewish Friends of the Yazidis, and the Yazidi Human Rights Organization – International, in conjunction with the Office of the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT), they are now reunited. More importantly they are safe from the fear they had been living in, without food, adequate heat, medical care, and protection from harm. By comparison they are now truly living in a land of milk and honey.

True to Yazidi hospitality, Hayder’s house was an open door to friends, family, and the Yazidi community. We were welcomed with hugs and kisses to a house filled with children, men, and women, joyfully celebrating. They could not have thanked us enough, and made us more welcomed. They served us tea in little glass cups, offering us nuts and fruit, and filled us with the stories that lead them to Canada.

Hayder's son Azad told us about the gas station their cousins owned, and how an Al-Qaeda suicide bomber blew it up. The two cousins, badly burned, were sent to a hospital where another cousin, a medical doctor, looked after their badly burned bodies, not recognizing that he was attending to his own family members. They died a few days later.

Hayder told us about going to school in Iraq and being taught how evil Jews were by his Muslim teachers. His family learned, without even knowing a single Jew, to fear us. And now he knows that Jews are not his enemy; they are among the very people who helped him and his family get to Canada. He now knows the lies he was taught, the propaganda, the ideology of hate, and now knows that has nothing to do with reality. He and his family now embrace the Jewish people - and all the people of Canada. The truth really does set you free.

As if this was not enough, we were then ushered down into Hayder’s basement where a feast was set out in Yazidi fashion. Plates of rice, bread, pickled vegetables, meat, and bowls of soup were laid out on the floor. We ate crossed-legged as the children played, everyone taking pictures on their cell phones, passing food, smiling, laughing, and being thankful that the terror they were in has ended for them.

Most of the work for Project Abraham is still ahead. There are five more families currently in our refugee pipeline. More money needs to be raised. More government lobbying needs to be done. Our volunteer Resettlement Groups will work with the Yazidis to help them get jobs, places to live, learn English, and acclimatized to Canada. It does not stop here. But it sure is a wonderful feeling to do good for a people who pray for the well-being of strangers in the world before they pray for themselves. We need more people like the Yazidis in Canada.

For more information on Project Abraham, please visit Mozuud's website at

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Glad to be a sponsor. Yazidis face a bleak future in Iraq. Having met Yazidis in Iraq, I can say that they will embrace our Canadian values and will fit in. Jim and Wendy

james hollett

Backed with $100.00 On Jun 16, 2017


Thanks for the good work you are doing. The Yazidis in Iraq face a bleak future.

james hollett

Backed On Apr 24, 2017 Amount Hidden



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Candy Burstein

Backed with $100.00 On Jan 27, 2017



Backed On Jan 26, 2017 Amount Hidden



Backed On Jan 05, 2017 Amount Hidden


I hope together we could help Yazidim

Svetlana Ershov

Backed with $200.00 On Jan 05, 2017


Miriam Baichman

Backed On Dec 28, 2016 Amount Hidden


Hanita Tiefenbach

Backed with $180.00 On Dec 13, 2016



Backed On Dec 08, 2016 Amount Hidden

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