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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1975


Dr MIKE KELLY (Eden-Monaro) (17:05): I thank the member for Dunkley for bringing forward this motion on genocide in Iraq. It is important, not only for us as global citizens, for what has been done to the Yazidi people but also the dimension that conflicts with Australia's responsibilities in relation to its own citizens, as has been referred to. This in effect ticks the main boxes for the crime of genocide as defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: any 'intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group', not only by killing the members of that group but also by deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about their destruction and by imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group. The extent to which some of the more heinous activities that were committed against the Yazidis in the Sinjar region in Iraq went to prevent future generations of Yazidis almost defies belief.

The Yazidis' problems went back to 2007, well before even this started, with some of the more radical senior elements under al-Qaeda in Iraq, but it particularly picked up pace when the Daesh forces took over the region where the Yazidi resided in August 2014. The activities that they perpetrated there were not only mass killings, particularly of men at the beginning of their operations, but they moved to a position where they tried to create forced conversions.

Of course, the consequence of not agreeing to a forced conversion was death. Many hundreds of Yazidi men were rounded up, taken away, gunned down, buried alive and abandoned in mass graves. The women and girls were rounded up and examined by a gynaecologist to determine whether they were virgins or pregnant. If they were virgins they were immediately put into a slave market and handed off to the IS fighters. The pregnant women had forced abortions performed on them. It's completely incomprehensible to us sitting in this room what those circumstances must have been like for them, and then to have to move into the situation of sexual slavery, being passed from person to person—in fact the slave market was conducted largely online or through the use of apps like Telegram, Facebook and WhatsApp. All of these were used as part of this market. It is estimated that something like 3,000 women were subjected to this as sex slaves. For example, the cost of a virgin was around $10,000, and other women would go for $2,000 and $3,000.

It is horrifying to contemplate that this was also done under the guise of adherence to a religious belief. It not only identifies the fact that there was this horrific genocide going on, but it is good to see that after all these decades of saying 'never again' there was a reasonably quick response, not only to bring relief to the Yazidis who were trapped on Mount Sinjar but also to participate in the coalition, an international effort, to destroy Daesh, an effort that has largely been successful in the conventional sense. It is also good that we didn't weasel-word our approach to this. It was accepted as a genocide quite early on. In fact, the US House of Representatives voted 393 to 0 to accept that definition, in March 2016, which contrasts greatly to what happened in Rwanda.

So I'm pleased to see that we are being a bit more forceful, more proactive, but I would add my endorsement to this concept of making sure there we're doing all we can to ensure the prosecution of those who return and to choke off the ideology and ideological efforts and propaganda that happen in this country to promote our young people to go over to countries like this to commit these crimes.

Lest we think this is all just on the Islamic side, I'd like to also point out that we have groups like Antipodean Resistance. Just this very morning, a poster was placed upon my electorate office in Bega, a sophisticatedly produced poster by the fascist group Antipodean Resistance, with swastikas and caricature portraits of Jews, describing 'Jewish poison'. Part of their program is to pursue the legalisation of the killing of Jews. My wife is Jewish, of course, so that also added extra poignancy to it. This is happening in our country, as well as what we've seen manifesting overseas. We have to be very proactive and forceful on this, and I commend the member for highlighting that prosecutorial aspect of this crime.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Claydon ): There being no further speakers, the debate is adjourned. Resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.