The Women of the World festival brings challenging discussions to audiences across the world in a series of events celebrating women and girls. In March our founder Taban Shoresh took part in a powerful panel at London’s Southbank Centre. On the theme ‘The World Remains Silent’, Taban stood alongside Yazidi activist Rozin Khalil, foreign correspondent Christina Lamb, Yazda programme manager Eivor Lægreid and human rights barrister Baroness Helena Kennedy QC. Together they gave inspirational and devastating testimonies about the attempts by ISIS/ Daesh (not sure what name you use) to commit genocide on the Yazidi people, with particular focus on the over 3,000 kidnapped Yazidi women and girls.
In what was a hugely emotional hour, the audience began by viewing Taban’s experience handing out aid in Sinjar, northern Iraq. Tears flowed from panel and audience alike as we then heard a deeply moving account of Rozin Khalil’s stories of friends and old neighbours under siege in Iraq. Aged 17, she is taking her A Levels alongside petitioning the UK Government, compelling them to help Yazidi women and girls.
The panel lamented the lack of evidence that is being gathered. In order to mount strong legal cases against this genocide they argued that proper work must be done around evidence gathering now, otherwise it will be lost. Christina Lamb provided shocking accounts of Yazidi women and girls being persecuted by ISIS. She claimed that in almost thirty years of war reporting she had never heard such horrific, brutal stories as she was from Yazidi women.
Walls are going up everywhere. As Lamb noted, refugees are guilty until proven innocent. The Lotus Flower aims to provide practical support for women fleeing conflict and genocide. Taban stresses the importance of understanding the past, but also for helping to provide a future to women survivors so that they can flourish. ‘The World Remains Silent’ event underscored the need to make closer the nature of our connections, not view disaster through a cynical detached lens. Hope and empathy were the rallying cries of the panel, alongside a willingness to take part and act for change. Now, over to you.
Taban also featured on the Panel Women Without Borders discussing some of the reasons why women are forced to leave, the dangers and difficulties they face on their journey and also in their settled home.