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.
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 minorities 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 horror facing the Yazidis. It is an insignificant gesture that reflects a reluctant commitment. Canada can and should do more for the Yazidis – much, much more!