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UN: Islamic State Committing Genocide Against Yazidis

  • Lisa Schlein

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq's Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh.

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq's Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh.

United Nations investigators said the Islamic State (IS) militant group is committing genocide against the Yazidis, an ethnic Kurdish religious community.

The International Commission of Inquiry on Syria accused the militant group of seeking to destroy the Yazidis in Syria and Iraq by subjecting them to horrific atrocities.

On the basis of evidence it has gathered, the three-member commission said the abuse of Yazidi men, women, and children by Islamic State amounts to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Chairman of the Commission Paulo Pinheiro said the genocide is ongoing since the terrorist group first attacked the Yazidi homeland in northern Iraq's Sinjar region on August 3, 2014.

"ISIS has permanently sought to erase the Yazidis through killings, sexual slavery, enslavement, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and forcible transfer causing serious bodily and mental harm," he said. "The infliction of conditions of life that bring about a slow death."

The commission said IS has reviled this minority group as infidels and forced Yazidis to convert to Islam or be killed on the spot.

Pinheiro said women and children were forcibly transferred from Sinjar in buses to locations in Syria and Iraq where they were sold in markets as chattel.

"More than 3,200 women and children remain today under ISIS captivity. Most of them are in Syria," he said. "Women and girls, some as young as nine are used as sex slaves. … Boys over seven are ripped from their mothers' care and taken to ISIS camps where they are indoctrinated and receive military training."

The U.N. investigators said there can be no impunity for crimes of this nature. They said both Syria and Iraq are parties to the 1945 Genocide Convention, which obliges them to prevent and to punish perpetrators of genocide.

The investigators are calling on the Security Council to quickly refer the case to the International Criminal Court.

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