Letter Writing Campaign in support of Yazidi women and girls

Call to join in the United Nations' 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

November 15, 2016

Dear Friends,

We are writing to ask for your help. Will you write a letter to your Member of Parliament asking for support for Yazidi women and girls?

Thanks to Yazidi survivor Nadia Murad, the plight of Yazidi women and girls has been brought to the attention of the Canadian government. The Canadian parliament unanimously voted to support Yazidi women and children refugees after a motion was put forward by MP Michelle Rempel, as described by the CBC on October 25th:

“MPs have unanimously supported a Conservative motion that formally declares ISIS persecution of Yazidis a genocide and pledges to bring refugees fleeing the violence to Canada within four months….”[i]

We urgently request you take pen in hand for the Yazidi women and girls who are being systematically tortured and murdered by the ISIS/ISIL military. Your letter would be part of a campaign that will take place during the United Nations 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, November 25 to December 10.

Will you commit to write and send out a letter on one of these critical 16 days?

In August 2014 the Yazidi community suffered a horrendous attack by ISIS/ISIL. Many of the men and boys were slaughtered outright along with “older” women. Young women and children were enslaved and tortured. This summer the UN reported that atrocities, including daily rapes, against thousands of Yazidi women and girls continue.[ii] Those who managed to escape wait in overcrowded and ill-equipped refugee camps.

When the Yazidi women and children arrive in Canada, we want the government to ensure they are offered a safe haven, a place where they can receive ongoing financial, medical and psychological support to recover from their ordeals.

Remember Our Sisters Everywhere is urging people to write letters to their government representatives to take prompt and concerted action so these women and children can make the transition to safety in Canada. Won’t you be one of these people? On the next page we’ve provided talking points to assist you in writing a letter.

In sisterhood and solidarity, and with gratitude,

REMEMBER OUR SISTERS EVERYWHERE


Possible talking points for your letter:

  • As they arrive in Canada, Yazidi women and girls need a healing place/sanctuary and transition process specifically designed to address their special needs.
  • The government of Canada must ensure adequate, dedicated and ongoing resources are made available for the refugees’ care.
  • Trauma counselling is crucial.
  • By writing this letter you are joining your voice to others to bring attention, resources, advocacy, and action to a human rights crisis.
  • If the Yazidi refugees are to receive the support they will need, additional ongoing resources must be provided at all levels of government. Services and systems that provide support to refugees in Canada are already working well beyond their capacities.
  • A personal statement about why you consider violence against women and children an important issue.
  • Background information on the Yazidi:
    http://chatelaine.com/living/politics/yazidi-refugees-canada/
    http://time.com/4435297/sinjar-anniversary-yazidi-nadia-murad/
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/yazidis-canada-refugees-un-genocide-1.3850033
                              

Please courtesy copy (CC) your letter to the following government representatives:

Your provincial and local representatives – MLA, Mayor and other officials

The Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca or by online form - https://pm.gc.ca/eng/contactpm

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Leader of the Official Opposition
rona.ambrose@parl.gc.ca

The Honourable Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the New Democratic Party
thomas.mulcair@parl.gc.ca

The Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship
john.mccallum@parl.gc.ca

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General
Jody.Wilson-Raybould@parl.gc.ca

The Honourable Patty A. Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women
Patty.Hajdu@parl.gc.ca

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca

The Honourable Michelle Rempel, Member of Parliament for Calgary Nose Hill
Michelle.Rempel@parl.gc.ca

The Honourable Mobina Jaffer, Senator, Senate of Canada
mobina.jaffer@sen.parl.gc.ca

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DAY 13


The Honourable Jenny Kwan, MP
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6

December 1, 2016

Dear Jenny,

I am writing to you to discuss the issue of Yazidi women and girls.  I know that you are aware of their situation, and I urge you to continue your advocacy for them to be permitted to enter Canada as refugees, and for additional support for them when they do arrive.

I realize that providing for the well-being of refugees to Canada is a daunting, difficult and expensive task.  Regardless, I have been made aware of the particular plight of Yazidi refugees, and want to ask that they be given additional resources. 

As you know, Yazidi women and girls have been held captive and tortured by ISIS/ISIL since 2014, and have experienced the massacre of their husbands, sons, fathers and brothers.  There is no doubt that they will be arriving to Canada having been profoundly traumatized.  This, of course, is true for many other refugees as well, but the genocidal action towards the Yazidi people, and the abduction, sexual violence and torture of the girls and women makes the situation of these refugees particularly horrific. 

Having worked in rape crisis centres and as a clinical psychologist for years while also organizing against violence against women, I am particularly sensitive to the needs of women and children (and men) who have been sexually assaulted, especially over long periods of time.  The effects are devastating and can destroy lives.  For people who have also endured abduction, torture, losing their homes and witnessing the slaughter of their men, the effects are almost unimaginable.

As the Yazidi refugees arrive in Canada, they need all the usual supports given to refugees.  However, they also need additional services specifically geared to their own situation.  For example, they need places/sanctuaries where they feel safe, protected and able to heal, and where there is easy access to trauma counselling should they want it. These services should help facilitate the women’s transition to Canada so that they can eventually heal and begin safe and productive lives.

I am writing to request that you, my MP, advocate for the Yazidi women and girls and for the additional services they need when they enter Canada as refugees.

Thank you for reading this, and thank you for your action.

Your truly,

Betsy Spaulding


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