ISIL likely committing genocide against Yazidi minority in Iraq: UN

The UN report was based on interviews with more than 100 witnesses and survivors of attacks in Iraq between June 2014 and February 2015.

GENEVA // ISIL extremists may have committed genocide in trying to wipe out the Yazidi minority in Iraq, the United Nations said on Thursday in a report laying out a litany of atrocities.

ISIL “may have committed all three of the most serious international crimes – namely war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide,” the UN human rights office said.

The agency published a horrifying report detailing killings, torture, rape, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers by the extremists.

All of these crimes were violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and some may amount to “crimes against humanity” and “war crimes”.

The report, ordered by the UN Human Rights Council in September following a request from the Iraqi government, was based on interviews with more than 100 witnesses and survivors of attacks in Iraq between June 2014 and February 2015.

It highlighted brutal ISIL attacks on ethnic and religious groups, including Yazidis, Christians, Turkmen, Kurds and Shiites.

ISIL, which controls a swathe of territory in Iraq and neighbouring Syria, launched a series of systematic and widespread attacks on the Yazidi minority’s heartland in the northern Nineveh province last August.

According to the report, the attacks appeared intended “to destroy the Yazidi as a group”, which “strongly suggests” ISIL is guilty of “genocide” against the minority group.

In many Yazidi villages, men and boys over the age of 14 were rounded up and shot, while the women and girls were abducted as the “spoils of war”.

It said some villages “were entirely emptied of their Yazidi population”.

Many Yazidi women and girls were sold into sexual slavery or handed over to ISIL members as “gifts”, the UN said.

A pregnant 19-year-old had told the investigators she had been repeatedly raped by an ISIL “doctor” over a period of two and a half months, and that he deliberately sat on her stomach, saying: “This baby should die because it is an infidel. I can make a Muslim baby.”

Boys as young as eight were forced to convert to Islam and given religious and military training, including being forced to watch videos of beheadings, the report said.

Yazidis, whose ancient religion has elements of Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism, are considered to be devil worshippers by the Sunni Muslim militants.

Other religious and ethnic groups have also been targeted, the report said pointing to the thousands of Christians who fled their homes last June after being ordered by ISIL fighters to convert to Islam, pay a tax or leave.

Iraqi security forces and affiliated militia have also been accused of a range of serious crimes during their operations against ISIL, the report said.

The pro-government forces have carried out extra-judicial killings, torture, abductions and forcibly displaced large numbers of people, according to the report, which says they “may have committed war crimes.”

* Agence France-Presse

Published: March 19, 2015 04:00 AM

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