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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1970


Mr CREWTHER (Dunkley) (16:45): I ask leave of the Federation Chamber to amend notice No. 3, private members' business, in the terms as circulated.

Leave granted.

Mr CREWTHER: I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that:

   (a) genocide is a crime under international law, which has been enacted into Australian law through Division 268 of the Australian Criminal Code; and

   (b) the Iraqi Council of Ministers, United Nations institutions, and many parliaments have recognised that ISIL's crimes against the Yazidis constitute genocide;

(2) welcomes the Government's decisive action in resettling Yazidi refugees;

(3) condemns the genocide perpetrated against Yazidis by ISIL;

(4) calls for continued support for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL and efforts to liberate Yazidis in ISIL captivity;

(5) recognises the importance of justice for Yazidi victims and survivors of ISIL and calls on the Government to continue to support accountability for the perpetrators of serious international crimes against the Yazidis, including, where appropriate, in Australian courts and in other jurisdictions, where these are consistent with international standards;

(6) calls on the Government to continue supporting the formation of an Investigative Team pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2379 (2017) and, once established, to support it in the collection, preservation and storage of evidence of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide; and

(7) supports the:

   (a) continued efforts to defeat ISIL militarily and ideologically via de- radicalisation and countering violent extremism programs;

   (b) continued consideration of the plight of the Yazidis in the development of Australian humanitarian policies and programs;

   (c) continued provision of psychological and other social support services for Yazidi refugees living in Australia;

   (d) right of the Yazidis and all minorities to live in peace, safety and freedom in Syria and Iraq and to participate in relevant political processes; and

   (e) protection of Yazidis, Christians and other minorities in Iraq, under United Nations supervision and in cooperation with relevant authorities and minorities.

Today, I want to speak about the recent events that have occurred in Syria and Iraq with respect to the Yazidis. The recent military defeat of ISIL allows for some reflection on the atrocities inflicted by Islamic extremism over the past four years in Syria and Iraq. In particular, the Yazidi people of north-western Iraq have been subjected to extraordinary violence inflicted by ISIL. The Yazidi were actively hunted by ISIL. Massacres of civilians, including women and children, were widely reported as ISIL assaulted Iraq in 2014. They surrounded fleeing Yazidi on Mount Sinjar and attempted to starve them out. There have been many reports of surviving women and children also being abducted by ISIL forces and sold into slavery. The violence and horror of these stories appal me, as they should every member of this chamber. They include a 20-year-old woman being beaten and raped multiple times a day for months, ISIL taking entire villages and shooting all but the young women, who were then sexually assaulted by ISIL fighters, and women and, indeed, young girls being sold and traded amongst ISIL fighters like objects. Survivors managed to flee any way they could, and some who have since resettled in Australia have told their story.

I encountered a human face of one of these stories last year when I met and spoke with a Yazidi survivor, Nihad. At the age of 15, she was captured on the way to Mount Sinjar, fleeing from ISIL fighters. Her sister was raped in front of her and she was sold to an ISIL fighter. She was then raped and beaten repeatedly. When the fighter died in combat, she was sold to a man she referred to as a monster, who kept her and other Yazidi girls as slaves. Nihad was further raped and beaten and then fell pregnant. Nihad gave birth to her son in July 2015. When she managed to escape, she was unable to take her young baby with her and the baby was forced to remain with the father, a member of ISIL. She's never seen the baby again.

Since listening to the horror inflicted on Nihad, I've also learnt of other stories of some Yazidi victims who have also settled here in Australia. Khudeeda Omar Qoolo now lives in Toowoomba, but in 2014 his village was assaulted at 2 am by ISIL. He and his family had to flee 25 kilometres to Mount Sinjar while being fired upon. His brother and their family also fled but did not arrive at the mountain. They have not been heard from since. Khudeeda and his family were trapped on Mount Sinjar for nine days with little food or water. Due to their desperate situation, in order to escape they decided to attempt to walk from Mount Sinjar to Kurdistan. Luckily, they came across a Kurdish convoy, who were able to ferry them to a refugee camp. Furthermore, his daughter and two of his grandchildren were captured by ISIL and sold to a terrorist. Khudeeda spent months negotiating with the terrorists to free his daughter and grandchildren and had to pay a ransom in order to free them. He then had to pay smugglers to rescue his daughter and grandchildren.

Sadly, Khudeeda's story is not unique. Another man, now living in New South Wales, fled from an assault on his village with his wife and children. They spent four days trapped on Mount Sinjar with very little food and needing to walk eight hours to get any water. To escape, they had to travel through ISIL controlled areas to another town, Kursi, past victims and people dying from starvation and dehydration. After staying in Kursi for three days, this family tried to escape from Kursi into Syria. Thousands of Yazidi walked for hours in darkness with injuries, illness and bleeding feet to a Kurdish-controlled area. Such was their fear that, when they first found Kurdish forces, people screamed in terror as they thought they had been found by ISIL. Instead they finally received food, water, shelter and transport to freedom.

Sadly, these stories are from survivors—those who have managed to escape from ISIL. Moreover, these are a small sample of the horrors suffered by the Yazidi. The Yazidi were specifically targeted by ISIL, forced from their homes and, if captured, often executed or sold into slavery. Many have labelled these crimes genocide, and this is what this motion here today presents to this parliament. I look forward to further debate on this motion.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Claydon ): I thank the member for his contribution. Is there a seconder for the motion?