The Genocide Against the Yazidis is Far from Over

On the 3rd of August, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council, has called for justice on the third anniversary since Islamic State launched their attack on the Yazidis. The Commission was set up to investigate the violations of international law in Syria since 2011, and appeal for international recognition of the atrocities committed against the Yazidis by ISIL.

Iraq’s Yazidis were targeted by ISIL on 3rd August, 2014, for practicing a peaceful thousand-year old religion on Mount Shingal. Over 350,000 Yazidis were displaced as a direct result of the genocide; becoming dispersed into Syria and Turkey.

In a statement marking the third anniversary, the Commission held that “the genocide is on-going and remains largely unaddressed, despite the obligation of States Party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948 to prevent and to punish the crime”.

It also maintained that ISIL knowingly committed genocide by intentionally striving to eliminate the Yazidis through various war crimes and crimes against humanity; including slavery, torture, and murder. A 2016 report by the Commission found that many women and girls, who were held captive by ISIL, were regarded as chattel and exposed to sexual enslavement. Young boys were thrust into conflict after being propagandised and trained.

The end result, however, is that thousands of Yazidi women and girls are still being subjected to daily physical and sexual violence, while thousands more men and boys remain missing.

Even British human rights barrister, Amal Clooney, urged the world’s nations not to allow ISIL to continue to “get away” with genocide earlier this year. In her speech to the United Nations, she too called for justice for those affected by ISIL’s tirade of terror; stating that justice would never be reached if there was no preservation of evidence and mass graves. She maintained that the Yazidis “want the chance to face their abusers in court; they want legal judgments to be published, to prevent their genocide later being denied. And they deserve nothing less”. Her speech highlighted that justice is what victims want, and Yazidis are no different.

The recommendations put forward by the Commission included consideration of rescue plans for Yazidi captives by parties fighting ISIL, and furthermore ensuring their freedom from the on-going violence.

Phoebe Egoroff

Founder and of Jurist International, a website focusing on the latest developments in international human rights and criminal law.