Iraqi Parliament recognises ISIS crimes against Yazidis and other groups as genocide

During 2014 blitz, ISIS captured and sold into slavery thousands of women, mainly Yazidis, with many still missing

Iraqi Yazidis take part in a ceremony during the exhumation of a mass-grave of hundreds of Yazidis killed by Islamic State (IS) group militants in the northern Iraqi village of Kojo in Sinjar district on March 15, 2019. Iraqi authorities exhumed the mass grave in an operation aiming to extract remains and identify victims of an August 2014 massacre of Yazidis by IS fighters as they entered the village of Kojo, during investigations of genocide against the decimated minority. / AFP / Zaid AL-OBEIDI

The Iraqi Parliament has approved a law that for the first time recognises the crimes committed by ISIS against Yazidi women and children, and other ethnic and religious groups, as genocide and crimes against humanity.

In June 2014, ISIS militants swept through large areas in northern and western Iraq, taking control of nearly a third of the country.

Thousands of Yazidi women and children were enslaved by the extremists along with others from Christian and Shiite Turkmen and Shabak communities.

Nobel Peace Prize-winner Nadia Murad, who endured enslavement under ISIS, described the law as “an important first step in acknowledging the gender-based trauma of sexual violence and need for tangible redress".

“Implementation of the law will need to be focused comprehensively, supporting and sustainably reintegrating survivors,” Ms Murad wrote on Twitter after Monday’s approval.

The law stipulates that the survivors will be entitled to financial compensation, pensions and salaries.

It calls for the establishment of a state-run department to look after the survivors, rehabilitate them and help them to reintegrate into society.

Parliamentary approval is “a victory for our daughters, the victims who endured ISIS ugliest violations and genocides", Iraqi President Barham Salih tweeted.

“Efforts to find out the fate of others who are still missing and kidnapped, and redress for the victims must be continued, and to hold perpetrators accountable."

During the ISIS blitz, the militants separated the women from their male relatives, selling them into sexual slavery and sending the men to their deaths.

About 7,000 women and girls were captured and sold into slavery, with nearly half eventually escaping.

Almost 2,800 are either still missing or in captivity.

For centuries the Yazidis, who follow an ancient monotheistic religion, lived in the mountains in north-west Iraq where their ancestral villages, temples and shrines are located.

There were about 700,000 Yazidis in Iraq before 2014, their leaders said.

Many of them are believed to have fled the country, mainly to the West.

Those still in the country live in camps or have returned to their areas despite the damage their property suffered.

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