News / Middle East

UN Rights Chief Condemns 'Widespread' Islamic State Crimes in Iraq

An Islamic State militant uses a loud-hailer to announce to residents of Tabqa city that Tabqa air base has fallen to Islamic State militants, in nearby Raqqa city August 24, 2014.
An Islamic State militant uses a loud-hailer to announce to residents of Tabqa city that Tabqa air base has fallen to Islamic State militants, in nearby Raqqa city August 24, 2014.
Reuters

United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay on Monday condemned “appalling, widespread” crimes being committed by Islamic State forces in Iraq, including mass executions of prisoners and “ethnic and religious cleansing”.

The persecution of entire communities and systematic violations by the al-Qaida offshoot, documented by U.N. human rights investigators, would amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes under international law, she said in a statement.

“Grave, horrific human rights violations are being committed daily by ISIL and associated armed groups,” Pillay said, citing targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, slavery, sex crimes, forced recruitment and destruction of places of worship.

“They are systematically targeting men, women and children based on their ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation and are ruthlessly carrying out widespread ethnic and religious cleansing in the areas under their control.”

Christians, Yazidis and Turkmen were among the minorities targeted by the Sunni militant group, which has forced people to convert to their strict form of Sharia law, she said.

Islamic State insurgents have captured a third of Iraq with little resistance and declared a caliphate in the areas of Iraq and Syria it controls. It has drawn the first American air strikes in Iraq since the end of the occupation in 2011.

American Journalist James Foley, of Rochester, N.H. AP file photo, May 27, 2011American Journalist James Foley, of Rochester, N.H. AP file photo, May 27, 2011
x
American Journalist James Foley, of Rochester, N.H. AP file photo, May 27, 2011
American Journalist James Foley, of Rochester, N.H. AP file photo, May 27, 2011

Last week Islamic State released a video showing one of its fighters beheading the U.S. journalist James Foley, kidnapped in Syria in 2012. Their wealth and military might represent a major threat to the United States that may surpass that once posed by al-Qaida, the U.S. military says.

Some 1.2 million people have fled fighting and ISIL's advance in Iraq this year, the U.N. refugee agency says.

Mass executions, slavery

ISIL Attacks in Iraq
 
  • June 10: Mosul captured
  • June 11: Tikrit and parts of Beiji captured
  • June 12: Samarra and Dhuluiya captured
  • June 13: Jalawla and Saadiyah captured
  • June 14: Clashes in Ishaki and Dujail
  • June 16: Tal Afar captured

The al-Qaida splinter group seized control of the city of Mosul on June 10, in a spectacular show of strength against the Shi'ite-led Baghdad government.

ISIL loaded 1,000 to 1,500 prisoners from Badush prison in Mosul onto trucks and took them to a vacant area for screening, Pillay said. Sunni inmates were taken away again on the trucks.

“ISIL gunmen then yelled insults at the remaining prisoners, lined them up in four rows, ordered them to kneel and opened fire,” she said.

Up to 670 prisoners from Badush prison were killed by Islamic State on June 10, she said, quoting dozens of survivors and witnesses, some of whom survived by pretending to be dead.

“Such cold-blooded, systematic and intentional killings of civilians, after singling them out for their religious affiliation, may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” said Pillay, a former U.N. war crimes judge who steps down on Aug. 31 after serving six years as U.N, rights boss.

In northern Nineveh province, hundreds of Yazidis were killed and up to 2,500 kidnapped in early August, Pillay said, citing testimony from victims and witnesses. Yazidis fled their ancient homeland of Sinjar and other villages to escape the militants, who regard the ethnic minority as devil worshippers.

Those who agreed to convert are being held by ISIL, but witnesses report that among those who refused, “men were executed while the women and their children were taken as slaves and either handed over to ISIL fighters as slaves or threatened with being sold”, the U.N. statement said.

ISIL also killed and abducted hundreds of Yazidis in Cotcho village in southern Sinjar on Aug. 15, Pillay said, citing witness testimony including “harrowing phone calls”.

U.N. human rights investigators have received increasing reports of civilians being targeted for killing, she said, citing incidents of dozens being killed in Basra and Diyala.

In Baghdad, medical sources indicate that at least 15 bodies are found in the city on a daily basis. “All appear to have been bound and executed”, Pillay said.

Pillay called on the Iraqi government and international community to protect vulnerable ethnic and religious groups.

These included at least 13,000 Shia Turkmen in Salahuddin province besieged by ISIL forces since mid-June amid “fear of a possible, imminent massacre” and Yazidis in besieged villages of Sinjar who remain at “serious risk”, she said.   

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Not Again from: Canada
August 25, 2014 10:14 PM
Ms. Pillay has failed to mention that IS has embarked in a massive campaign to eradicate, not just Turkumen Shia, but all Shia Muslims; they have done it in all areas they control, they have sent their squads to attack/destroy Shia places of worship, and have selected all Shia Iraqi soldiers, captured, for immediate execution, which are massive war crimes. IS is in the process of destroying humanity; the entire World needs to stand against them, until such time as they cease to carry out their dastardly acts.
In Response

by: Linesman
August 25, 2014 11:23 PM
Navi Pillay, should apply her mind and be more consistent with her position, given all that has happened with the IS and James Foley. However what she has not mentioned is the fact that in Cape Town recently there was a large march by a certain section of the community in support of the Palestinians against Israel. Why she does not voice her concern over this is also worrying - a case of playing tennis on both sides of the fence?

by: anticasa from: Germany
August 25, 2014 1:25 PM
Up to now I have not heard by any politician or journalist what will happen When - not IF - ISIL turns from Syria and Libanon against Israel, in this way gaining even more support from parts of the Arab world?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More