ISIS com­mit­ting geno­cide against Yazidis, says UN in rare dec­la­ra­tion

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

ISIS is 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, United Na­tions in­ves­ti­ga­tors said on Thurs­day.

Such a des­ig­na­tion, rare un­der in­ter­na­tional law, would mark the first rec­og­nized geno­cide car­ried out by non-state ac­tors, rather than a state or paramil­i­taries act­ing on its be­half.

The UN re­port, based on in­ter­views with dozens of sur­vivors, said the Is­lamist mil­i­tants had been sys­tem­at­i­cally round­ing up Yazidis in Iraq and Syria since Au­gust 2014, seek­ing to “erase their iden­tity” in a cam­paign that met the def­i­ni­tion of the crime as de­fined un­der the 1948 Geno­cide Con­ven­tion.

“The geno­cide of the Yazidis is on­go­ing,” it said.

The 40-page re­port, en­ti­tled “They Came to De­stroy: ISIS Crimes against the Yazidis“, sets out a le­gal analysis of Is­lamic State‘s in­tent to wipe out the Kur­dish-speak­ing group, whom the Sunni Mus­lim Arab mil­i­tants view as in­fi­dels.

The Yazidis are a reli­gious sect whose be­liefs com­bine el­e­ments of sev­eral an­cient Mid­dle East- ern re­li­gions.

“The find­ing of geno­cide must trigger much more as­sertive ac­tion at the po­lit­i­cal level, in­clud­ing at the (UN) Se­cu­rity Coun­cil,” Paulo Pin­heiro, chair­man of the com­mis­sion of in­quiry, told a news brief­ing.

“Al­most two years since the at­tack on Mount Sin­jar, noth­ing has been done to save those peo­ple,” he said, re­fer­ring to the heart of the Yazidi re­gion in north­ern Iraq stormed by Is­lamic State in Au­gust 2014.

Com­mis­sion mem­ber Vi­tit Mun­tarb­horn said it had “de­tailed in­forma- tion on places, vi­o­la­tions and names of the per­pe­tra­tors”, and had be­gun shar­ing con­fi­den­tial tes­ti­mony with some na­tional author­i­ties aim­ing to pros­e­cute mil­i­tant cit­i­zens.

The in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion­ers urged ma­jor pow­ers to res­cue at least 3,200 women and chil­dren still held by Is­lamic State (IS or ISIS), mainly in Syria, and to re­fer the case to the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) for pros­e­cu­tion.

Iraq and Syria also have a duty to pre­vent, pun­ish, and pros­e­cute geno­cide, hav­ing rat­i­fied the Con­ven­tion, they said.

His­tor­i­cal vic­tims of geno­cide in­clude Ar­me­ni­ans in 1915, Jews dur­ing the Nazi Holo­caust, Tut­sis in Rwanda in 1994 and Bos­nian Mus­lims in Sre­brenica in 1995.

“Road map for pros­e­cu­tion”

“ISIS made no se­cret of its in­tent to de­stroy the Yazidis of Sin­jar, and that is one of the el­e­ments that al­lowed us to con­clude their ac­tions amount to geno­cide,” said an­other in­ves­ti­ga­tor, Carla del Ponte.

“Of course, we re­gard that as a road map for pros­e­cu­tion, for fu­ture pros­e­cu­tion. I hope that the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil will do it be­cause it is time now to start to ob­tain jus­tice for the vic­tims,” added del Ponte, a for­mer UN war crimes pros­e­cu­tor.

The five per­ma­nent mem­bers of Se­cu­rity Coun­cil – Bri­tain, China, France, Rus­sia and the US – have agreed on the need to fight ISIS, “so it should be no prob­lem at all to have a de­ci­sion that a pros­e­cu­tion can be done,” she said.

Is­lamic State, which has pro­claimed a theo­cratic caliphate – based on a rad­i­cal in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Sunni Is­lam – in ar­eas of Iraq and Syria un­der its con- trol, sys­tem­at­i­cally killed, cap­tured or en­slaved thou­sands of Yazidis when it over­ran the town of Sin­jar in north­ern Iraq in Au­gust 2014.

At least 30 mass graves have been un­cov­ered, the re­port said, call­ing for fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Is­lamic State has tried to erase the Yazidis‘ iden­tity by forc­ing men to choose be­tween con­ver­sion to Is­lam and death, rap­ing girls as young as nine, sell­ing women at slave mar­kets, and draft­ing boys to fight, the U.N. re­port said.

Yazidi women are treated as “chat­tel” at slave mar­kets and some are sold back to their fam­i­lies for $10,000 to $40,000 af­ter cap­tiv­ity and mul­ti­ple rapes, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Mil­i­tants have be­gun hold­ing “on­line slave auc­tions”, us­ing the en­crypted ap­pli­ca­tion Tele­graph to cir­cu­late photos of cap­tured Yazidi women and girls, “with de­tails of their age, mar­i­tal sta­tus, cur­rent lo­ca­tion and price”,” it said.

“No other reli­gious group pre­sent in ISIS-con­trolled ar­eas of Syria and Iraq has been sub­jected to the de­struc­tion that the Yazidis have suf­fered,” the re­port added.

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