Yazidi-Americans file lawsuit against French cement maker Lafarge

Yazidi-Americans file lawsuit against French cement maker Lafarge

Shafaq News / Hundreds of Yazidi-Americans, led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, filed a lawsuit against French cement maker Lafarge on Thursday, accusing it of conspiring to provide material support to a campaign of violence by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Represented by human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and former veteran U.S. diplomat Lee Wolosky, the Yazidis - who are all U.S. citizens - and their families are survivors of Islamic State violence that started when the Islamist militants targeted the Yazidi homeland of Sinjar in northern Iraq in 2014.

According to the lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, Lafarge "aided and abetted ISIS's acts of international terrorism and conspired with ISIS and its intermediaries, they must pay compensation to the survivors."

Yazidis are an ancient religious minority that combine elements of Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Islam.

Islamic State views Yazidis as devil-worshippers.

Lafarge pleaded guilty in U.S. court in October last year to a charge that it made payments to groups designated as terrorists by the United States, including Islamic State, so the company could keep operating in Syria. Lafarge, which became part of Swiss-listed Holcim (HOLN.S) in 2015, agreed to pay $778 million in forfeiture and fines as part of the plea agreement.

"It is shocking that a leading global corporation worked hand in hand with ISIS while ISIS was executing American civilians and committing genocide against Yazidis," Clooney said in a statement.

When Lafarge pleaded guilty in U.S. court last year, Holcim in a statement noted that none of the conduct involved Holcim, "which has never operated in Syria, or any Lafarge operations or employees in the United States, and it is in stark contrast with everything that Holcim stands for."

The U.S. determined in 2016 that Islamic State committed genocide against Christians, Yazidis and Shi'ite Muslims.

United Nations investigators also said in 2016 that Islamic State was committing genocide against the Yazidis in Syria and Iraq to destroy the religious community of 400,000 people through killings, sexual slavery and other crimes.

"Before, during, and after the time ISIS was carrying out these brutal attacks on the Yazidis, Defendants were paying and conspiring with ISIS," read the lawsuit filed against Lafarge.

"When ISIS attacked Sinjar, my family was killed, and I was taken captive as a slave. I was exploited and assaulted every single day until my escape," Murad - who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for her efforts to end rape as a weapon of war - said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, my story is not unique among Yazidis. It is the reality of thousands of Yazidi women. Even more tragic is that our horror took place under the awareness of and thanks to the support of powerful corporations like Lafarge," she said.

Families of a U.S. aid worker and American soldiers - all killed or injured by Islamic State and militant group Al-Nusra Front - also filed a similar lawsuit against Lafarge in July.


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