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

    Can EU Survive a Brexit?

    Across Europe politicians are asking if the British vote to leave the European Union will set in motion dynamics that will see other member states leave too

    Video Entrepreneurs Tackle Sexual Harassment, Rural Health Care at Global Summit

    VOA talks to enterprising business people from India, Nigeria, Myanmar about their programs to help their respective countries overcome obstacles

    Key African Anti-Venom About to Permanently Run Out

    The tale of Fav-Afrique’s demise is a complicated one that reflects a deeper crisis brewing in global public health

    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.
    Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Marketsi
    X
    June 24, 2016 10:43 AM
    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Markets

    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.
    Video

    Video During Ramadan, Faith and Football Converge in Lebanon’s Megadome

    In Beirut, a group of young entrepreneurs has combined its Muslim faith and love of football to create the city's newest landmark: a large, Ramadan-ready dome primed for one of the biggest football (soccer) tournaments in the world. But as the faithful embrace the communal spirit of Islam’s holy month, it is not just those breaking their fasts that are welcome.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora