FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - December 22, 2015
[NEW YORK, NY] – ISIS systematically perpetrates crimes against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria, including the Yazidi people. Yazidi men and elderly women are killed, boys are recruited and converted and young women and girls are repeatedly raped, bought and sold as sex slaves, forcibly converted, married, and impregnated. As many as 3,000 girls and women remain in captivity.
On December 18, 2015, the Global Justice Center (GJC), an international human rights organization, in a filing with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), urged the ICC to investigate ISIS crimes against the Yazidi as genocide, in particular the non-killing crimes of genocide including forcible transfer, rape, torture, forcible marriage, forcible impregnation, and forced abortions. There has been extensive documentation of ISIS genocide against the Yazidi including by the High Commissioner of Human Rights who found ISIS is perpetrating genocide including gender crimes targeting Yazidi, Christian and other minorities.
Nadia Murad Basee, a Yazidi survivor who was enslaved by ISIS and managed to escape, spoke powerfully in front of the UN Security Council on December 16 about her experience: “On August 3rd, the militants of the Islamic State attacked [Yazidi] areas and we found ourselves faced with a brutal genocide. These large groups of armed men of various nationalities in uniforms with weapons had decided that the Yazidis were infidels and had to be eradicated.” Nadia witnessed the killing of a group of Yazidi men, including six of her biological and stepbrothers. She was then taken, along with some 150 other Yazidi girls, to a building in Mosul, where there were thousands of enslaved Yazidi women and children. She was forced to marry an ISIS fighter and further detailed the atrocities she faced, “He forced me to serve his militant squad; he insulted me by forcing me to dress improperly. I was unable to bear more rape and torture.”
The GJC filing supports the September 2015 ICC request by Yazidi groups and the Kurdistan Regional Government, with the legal assistance of former ICC Prosecutor Ocampo, that the ICC open an investigation of ISIS’ genocide based on the fact that a large proportion of ISIS fighters are foreign nationals of ICC member states, which gives the ICC jurisdiction over their crimes.
Benshoof concludes “Failing to treat ISIS crimes against the Yazidi as genocide greatly harms Yazidi victims, particularly women and children who have special protections under the Genocide Conventions.”
Click here to download the full letter.
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