ROME – While lofty ideals about religious freedom can capture hearts and minds, it’s usually first-person accounts of what happens when those ideals break down, often in the most brutal fashion possible, which generally deliver the most powerful punch to the gut.
Such was the case at a Rome conference on Monday, where ambassadors, Vatican officials and leaders of global movements all laid out cases for greater respect for religious freedom around the world, but the most emotionally charged moments came when a Yazidi woman, a spokesperson for the Rohingya cause and a Pakistani cardinal-to-be all issued their own impassioned cris de coeur.
“I wish I could talk to you today about a happier subject but we have nothing beautiful in our lives to discuss, only a black history of the genocides that have plagued us throughout history,” said Salwa Khalaf Rasho, a Yazidi community activist.
The Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority that speaks Kurdish and has a large presence in northern Iraq, have been officially designated by the U.S. government and other global actors as victims of genocide along with Christians at the hands of the Islamic State.
“In August 2014, ISIS attacked our region and committed horrendous atrocities against my people,” Rasho said.
“About 60 mass graves have been found in my town Sinjar,” she said. “More than 6,000 women and girls were kidnapped, including me and many of my relatives. We have been subjected to all types of sexual and physical abuse and violence.”
Rasho herself was one of those kidnapped women, saying she had been “subjected to unthinkable practices.”
“More than 3,000 of [these women and girls] are still missing, enduring a fate of daily rape and torture which has constituted their lives for the past four years,” Rasho said.
Read more at Crux.