Raw in War
Vian Dakhil's Acceptance Speech - Are We Really In The Third Millennium? PDF E-mail


yazidis desert

Published in Russian in Novaya Gazeta [Moscow]

Published in English in Huffington Post [London] 

Dear absent yet present Anna,

On the eighth anniversary of your unfortunate departure, violations of human rights and encroachment by governments, extremist organizations, radical parties and others on the freedom of human beings continue to occur every day. Perhaps at a rate that is faster than anyone could expect, particularly in our Middle East, which is afflicted with many social and political ills.

Perhaps you didn’t hear, Anna, that there is a religious minority living mostly in Iraq (Kurdistan region) whose number throughout the whole world is nearly one million.

It is also likely that you didn’t hear about the woes and massacre campaigns that they have sustained throughout the course of their history, unbeknownst to the vast majority of the world population inhabiting the seven continents.

My dear Anna, on August 3, 2014, the so-called Islamic State (abbreviated as ISIL) invaded the Sinjar region, located 124 km to the west of Mosul province in Iraq. Sinjar is inhabited mostly by my fellow Yazidis. Perhaps many people have heard and learned about the massacres, displacement and kidnapping of women and children. But only a few know the details of what happened. Unfortunately, I think I won’t be able to get enough time to summarize that heinous crisis, even partially.

There is a Yazidi woman who survived death and she is now looking for refugee shelters in Dohuk province. She has a list of 42 of her relatives who were all killed or kidnapped, including 20 girls who were captured and might have been sold to unknown parties inside or outside Iraq.

Six Yazidi girls who had been kidnapped hanged themselves to wash off the shame of rape in ISIL prisons in Mosul, according to Yazidi activists.

There are reports about 3 Yazidi sisters who committed suicide in ISIL prisons by way of cutting their wrists and bleeding to death to escape the hell of rape and humiliation.

Anna, could you believe that, in Koju village south of Sinjar, 700 people have been kidnapped, who were mostly women and children aged 12 years and below? As for the boys, they were 13 years and older, while the rest of the men were killed in cold blood, and there were 413 of them.

We have enough sad and painful stories to write several books, not one. But unfortunately, there are certain events for which there are no witnesses. We are confident that brutal atrocities have taken place and that entire families have been wiped out completely, either by killing or by kidnapping the young and married girls without mercy or sympathy, as if we were in the Dark Ages.

The second tragedy is that dozens of Yazidi girls kidnapped by ISIL in Mosul have been sold at $150 per girl. Also, dozens were sold in Syria, and all of them are being treated as maids. The rest of the tragedy is that there are around 7,000 Yazidis who were either killed, injured or kidnapped or are missing, in addition to 2,500 Yazidi girls and women who are still languishing in various prisons inside Iraq. We don’t know the number of times they have been raped or physically violated by ISIL elements who have flocked to our country from all over the world, including backward and civilized countries.

Rape is not the only thing that is endured by our prisoners; there is also a process that aims to force them to desert their religion and adopt Islam by force, and there are photos and documents to prove that. Some of them have been published by the terrorist group ISIL itself on its online website.

It is a pleasure for anyone to be honored with an award, but it is rare to see a Yazidi person who can feel happy from the bottom of their heart, due to the fact that our girls, women and children are in captivity as hostages of the most dangerous organization in the world.I make no secret of the fact that I’m proud to be honored with your esteemed award, but the real way to honor someone is by protecting their freedom and rights. It is by bringing our prisoners back . 

Many times I ask myself: are we really in the third millennium? Or are we living in the Middle Ages, a time when the law of the jungle reigns supreme and the strong does as it pleases to the weak, killing the latter’s women, kidnapping them, selling them and forcing them together with their children to change their religion?

Anna, do you believe that this has happened and continues to happen in our countries?

Before Sinjar’s catastrophe, we were demanding freedom, democracy and equality along with the rest of the Iraqis. But now, we are demanding that our prisoners be released and demanding to know the whereabouts of our people. And we are demanding international protection in the future.

As for rights and liberties, the two things for which you paid with your life, they are priorities that have been placed on the back burner for now, Anna. That is because we are living in a country where there are still people who want to rule us with the laws of the Dark Ages.

(Click here to read in ARABIC or RUSSIAN ) 

We Want Justice for Natasha: Impunity Continues PDF E-mail
 Natalia Estemirova

Five years ago today, our friend and the first recipient of the Anna Politkovskaya Award, Natalia Estemirova (or Natasha as we called her among friends) was abducted and murdered in Chechnya. 

Until today, nobody has been brought to justice for this crime, committed in broad daylight, despite DNA of the possible perpetrators and other evidence at hand. Five years on, and despite repeated assurances by the Russian authorities to investigate all leads into her murder, the investigation is not moving forward.

Natalia's selfless work to end human rights violations and to seek justice for the crimes committed in Chechnya, continue to inspire us. Natalia Estemirova fought against injustice and exposed the truth about atrocities in Chechnya. For this she paid with her life. Her work on behalf of the victims of the war in Chechnya, her condemnation of abuses against the Chechen people and her commitment to seeking the truth despite the danger to her life, are an example of true human spirit. 

We at RAW in WAR are outraged and saddened that the authorities have failed so far to identify those who killed Natalia and those, who stand behind her murder. In May 2014, a jury at the Moscow City Court found five men guilty of organizing and committing the murder of Anna Politkovskaya. However, while the killers of Anna have been convicted, those who ordered the murder are still at large. 

Today, we call for justice for Natalia’s murder. In addition, we call for respect and for protection of human rights defenders in Chechnya and elsewhere in the Russian Federation. Those, who follow in the footsteps of Natalia are increasingly accused of being "foreign agents", “unpatriotic” and they are presented as “making money from other people’s misery”. Regrettably, this campaign of intimidation against human rights defenders, steered by the government, does give us little reason to hope that the authorities will protect human rights defenders and ensure justice for crimes committed against them. 

We continue to call on the Russian Government to stop the campaign against human rights defenders and to support their work in the name of Natalia Estemirova, Anna Politkovskaya and others like them, who lost their lives while defending human rights. We will continue to re-print our open letter from 15 July 2009 , the day Natalia was abducted and killed, until justice is done.



15 July 2014 

Join in support and add your voice for justice by signing the petition and adding a comment on RAW in WAR’s Facebook page  and Twitter @RawinWar


Film Editor: Elislava Abadzhieva 
Justice will be done only when those who ordered Anna Politkovskaya's murder are brought to account PDF E-mail

Anna Politkovskaya



RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR) is concerned that while the killers of human rights journalist Anna Politkovskaya have been convicted, those who ordered the murder are still at large. 


On 20 May, a jury at the Moscow City Court found five men guilty of organizing and committing the murder of Anna Politkovskaya. Anna's family and their lawyers have expressed respect for the jury's decision but are still waiting to hear why Anna was killed, and for those who stand behind her murder to be identified and brought to justice.


RAW in War joins Anna's family and colleagues in their call for justice for Anna. Anna spoke truth to power and we are convinced that she was killed to silence her. To reveal the whole truth, the authorities need to identify the people who paid for the killing and who ordered Anna's murder.


RAW in WAR continues to campaign for justice for Anna and for Natalia Estemirova, the first recipient of the Anna Politkovskaya Award, who was also brutally abducted and killed in 2009 in Chechnya to silence her human rights work. If their murders go unsolved, impunity for those who committed the human rights violations they exposed will prevail.


RAW in WAR in partnership with Human Rights Watch Film Festival PDF E-mail

 RAW in WAR are pleased to anounce, we will be presenting 'For those who can tell no tales', a film by Jasmila Zbanic at this year's Human Rights Watch Film Festival. The film will be presented at London's Barbican at 7pm on the 23rd of March and at Ritzy in Brixton at 9pm on 24th March. To find out more about the screenings and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2014, click here



Jasmila Zbanic's For Those Who Can Tell No Tales follows an Australian tourist as she discovers the silent legacy of wartime atrocities in a seemingly idyllic town on the border of Bosnia and Serbia. On a summer holiday through Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kym is the picture of an average tourist: visiting the sites promoted in her guidebook and keeping a video diary. Yet her stay at a hotel in Visegrad inexplicably gives way to anxiety and sleepless nights. Upon returning home to Australia, she finds out that the Vilina Vlas hotel was used as a rape camp during the war. Questions around the region's atrocities begin to haunt her, as does the question of why the guidebook, or the town itself, made no mention of the event. The testimonies she later finds online compel her to return to Visegrad and investigate this hidden history for herself. 




Join us at WOW Festival 2014 PDF E-mail
Dear Friends,
We are pleased to announce that RAW in WAR will be involved in the 2014 WOW (Women of the World) Festival at London's Southbank Centre onFriday 7th March and Saturday 8th March 2014.
The fourth WOW Festival will be taking place from Wednesday 5th - Sunday 9th of March, bringing together talks, debates, performances and activism celebrating women and girls. The festival will feature voices from around the world, including Vivienne Westwood, Harriet Harman, Dr Helen Pankhurst and the winner of the 2014 Anna Politkovskaya Award, Malala Yousafzai.
On Friday 7th March, join us for the panel discussion 'Activism Without Borders' (11.30 am – 1pm) at Queen Elizabeth Hall. What can UK based activists learn from their international sisters? Australian writer and feminist Anne Summers, co-founder of anti-FGM campaigning group Daughters of Eve Nimco AliJudy Kosgei, winner of the Thompson Foundation Young Journalist Prize, and Mariana Katzarova, founder ofRAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR)discuss global campaigns and grass roots activism, lobbying policy makers, and what success would look like. Chaired by Jessica Horn from the African Feminist Forum.
The panel will be taking place at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre on Friday 7th of March 2014 between 11.30 am-1pmClick here for more information about the event

This year RAW in WAR is delighted to be hosting a panel on Saturday 8th March, 'Refusing to be Silenced', bringing together international women of courage, who stand for human rights and justice in war and conflict zones around the world, including winners of the RAW in WAR Anna Politkovskaya Award. The panel will be hosted by RAW in WAR founderMariana Katzarova and will include Elena Kudimova, Anna Politkovskaya's sister, Mariam Suleiman (Darfur), Founder and Chair of The Voice of Darfur Women; Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News International Editor and Lyse Doucet, BBC Chief International Correspondent, who were close friends of Marie Colvin (2012 Anna Politkovskaya Award winner, who was killed while covering the war in Syria), Masih Alinejad (Iran), a journalist persecuted for exposing government corruption (One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality in Iran was the 2009 Anna Politkovskaya Award Winner); Reem Rashad (Syria), an activist from the Violation Documentation Centre (VDC) and sister of Razan Zaitouneh (2011 Award winner, kidnapped in Syria); and Lydia Cacho (Mexico), a journalist who exposed child sex trafficking by the powerful elite and suffered torture and death threats. Renowned Celtic singer/ songwriter Lorraine Jordan will perform “Anna’s Song”, dedicated to Anna Politkovskaya.
As you can imagine, we are delighted to be joined by such an inspiring panel of women and would like to invite you to join us too. For more information about the event click here.
The panel will be taking place at The Front Room of Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre on Saturday 8th of March 2014 between 12-1pm. You can purchase tickets for both panels HERE for £12, giving you access to plenty of other events taking place at the WOW Festival during the 7th and 8th of March. For more information about the events in the WOW Festival please see the full programme.
We hope you can join us!!
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