Islamic State militants have killed at least 500 members of Iraq’s Yazidi ethnic minority during their offensive in the north, Iraq’s human rights minister told Reuters on Sunday.
Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said the Sunni militants had also buried alive some of their victims, including women and children. Some 300 women were kidnapped as slaves, he added.
“We have striking evidence obtained from Yazidis fleeing Sinjar and some who escaped death, and also crime scene images that show indisputably that the gangs of the Islamic States have executed at least 500 Yazidis after seizing Sinjar,” Sudani said in a telephone interview, in his first remarks to the media on the issue.
Sinjar is the ancient home of the Yazidis, one of the towns captured by the Sunni militants who view the community as “devil worshipers” and tell them to convert to Islam or face death. (REUTERS)
Several ancient religions that have survived as small minority groups in the Middle East, are now facing the possibility of extinction, as result of the threats posed by ISIS, other Islamist groups, and the Syrian civil war. These disappearing religions—including the Yazidis who are being slaughtered by ISIS—are the subject of the new book Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms, by Gerard Russell. The groups he writes about—including the Yazidis, Druze, Zorastrians, Coptic Christians, and Samaritans—offer insights into the origins of the world’s major religions. Russell met followers of these religions and attended religious ceremonies, during the 15 years he spent as a British and UN diplomat, while living in Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem. He dedicated four years to researching the book.
European Parliament Recognizes ISIS Killing of Religious Minorities as Genocide
By Jack Moore
(Newsweek) - The European Parliament unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday recognizing the Islamic State militant group’s (ISIS) systematic killing and persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East as a genocide.
The vote, decided by a show of hands at a European Parliament plenary session in the French city of Strasbourg, was the first time the body has recognized an ongoing conflict situation as a genocide. The resolution states that those who intentionally commit atrocities for ethnic or religious reasons should be brought to justice for violations against international law, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
Lars Adaktusson, Swedish member of the European Parliament for the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) Group, who tabled the resolution, calls the vote a “historic decision” that represents a further step towards recognition of ISIS crimes against Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities at the United Nations.
“It’s really important that the Parliament passed it, on a political level and a moral level. The significance is the obligations that follow by such a recognition,” he says, speaking to Newsweek by phone. “The collective obligation to intervene, to stop these atrocities and to stop the persecution in the ongoing discussion about the fight against the Islamic State.”
He adds: “It gives the victims of the atrocities a chance to get their human dignity restored. It’s also a historical confirmation that the European Parliament recognized what is going on and that they are suffering from the most despicable crime in the world, namely genocide.”
The radical Islamist group views Yazidis as devil-worshippers and Christians as kafir (disbelievers) and infidels. In 2014, ISIS captured Iraq’s largest Christian town, Qaraqosh, forcing tens of thousands to flee, also seizing the Christian towns of Tal Kayf, Bartella, and Karamlesh. In their takeover of the Iraqi city of Mosul, churches and Christian shops were attacked and the group forced the Christian population of 3,000 to flee or be killed unless they converted to Islam or paid jizya (a tax paid by non-Muslims).
Nuri Kino, the director and founder of the Middle Eastern advocacy group A Demand for Action, who also led the push for the genocide to be recognized with Adaktusson, tells Newsweek that the passing of the resolution will help to save lives in the Middle East.
“It’s overwhelming. Eighteen months ago we said we will demand action. Today, we can say with pride that we, a team of volunteers from all over the world, worked around the clock to make this happen.”
He adds: “Now our goal is the U.N. Security Council. Action must be taken.”
The insecurity faced by Christians in the Middle East has seen their population decrease drastically in recent years. As of July 2015, a third of Syria’s 600,000 Christians had fled; Lebanon’s Christian population share has shrunk from 78 percent to 34 percent over the previous century; and only a third of the 1.5 million Christians who lived in Iraq in 2003 remain today, according to theNew York Times.
Photo Caption: Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to ISIS in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate, August 11, 2014. (Photo: Rodi Said/Reuters)
Yezidi Kurds are the largest ethnic and religious minority in Armenia.
Many Yezidis came to Armenia and Georgia during the 19th and early 20th centuries to escape religious persecution under the Ottoman Turks and the Sunni Muslim Kurds. The Yezidis were massacred alongside the Armenians during the Armenian Genocide, causing many to flee to Russian held parts of Armenia.
According to the 2011 Census, there are about 35,272 Yezidis in Armenia.
Hundreds of women from the Yazidi religious minority in Iraq have been taken captive to be sold or married off to extremist fighters, according to the spokesman for Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry, Kamil Amin.
“We think that these women are going to be used in demeaning ways by those terrorists to satisfy their animalistic urges in a way that contradicts all the human and Islamic values,” says Amin.
About 50,000 Yazidis — half of them children, according to U.N. figures — fled to the mountains outside Sinjar where many of them remain trapped, and are running out of food and water. Late Thursday, the U.S. military cargo jets dropped humanitarian aid to the mountain.
There’s something regal about Abdi Ismail. The white-bearded paterfamilias sits cross-legged on a mattress, a scarf wrapped turban-like round his head, his children and chickens keeping a respectful distance.
Ismail’s extended family lives in a tent stamped with U.N. logos. He’s proud they’re here.
“We didn’t leave our mountain,” he says. “We stayed here and we fought.”
They’ve been eking out an existence on the rugged slopes of Iraq’s Mount Sinjar since ISIS took their village of Tal Azer in summer last year.
Nadia Murad – a Survivor of Enslavement and Human Trafficking – Tells Her Story
Her name is Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a 21 year old girl from Kocho, Northern Iraq. She escaped from ISIS after being abducted for 3 months and being forced into slavery to members of ISIS in August 2014. She is from Yazidi community, which is a descendent of one of the world oldest religion existing, a monotheist religion believe in a benevolent peacock angel (Melek Taus) and an ancient Gnosticism faith, the reason for ISIS to launch genocide towards them because they were classified as “khafir” or infidel to ISIS. (Read more)
12/08/2014 – Sinjar mountains, Iraq – Runak Bapir Gherib, 14 y.o. from Shengar makes her way down the mountain after 7 days. She is with her mother and sister (in the back) waiting for a car to drive them away. She took the gun from Shengar to protect her family. YPG also gave weapons to the people who wanted to fight, but it has been impossible to verify whether this weapon was given to her by YPG or family members.
Canada’s minister of foreign affairs now says the atrocities committed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria against the minority Yazidi people constitute genocide.
Stéphane Dion made the statement in the House of Commons after the release of a United Nations report Thursday affirming what observers have said for months: militants from the extremist group are seeking to destroy the ancient religious community of 400,000 people through killings, sexual slavery and other crimes.
The report said the Islamist militants had been systematically rounding up Yazidis since August 2014, seeking to “erase their identity,” a finding that meets the definition of genocide as defined under the 1948 Genocide Convention.
“For the first time, an independent study by the UN has concluded that genocide was committed by the so-called Islamic State against the Yazidis. Given this evidence, our government believes that genocide against the Yazidis is currently ongoing,” Dion said in French in response to a question from Conservative MP Jason Kenney.
“We call for urgent action by the UN Security Council,” Dion said.