2 August 2020
The Sixth Annual Commemoration of the Yazidi Genocide
Joint Statement by Amal Clooney and Yazda
On the sixth anniversary of the ISIS attack that began the Yazidi genocide in northern Iraq, we urge the Government of Iraq and the international community to take action to deliver justice for the victims and protect Yazidi survivors and other ethno-religious minorities in Iraq from future atrocities.
In August 2014, ISIS swept across the Sinjar and Nineveh plains, attacking indigenous Yazidis, Christians, Shabaks and other groups. ISIS came with a plan to eliminate the Yazidi people, killing the men and adolescent boys, and abducting thousands of women and children. Young boys were indoctrinated and forced to fight for ISIS, while women and girls as young as nine were enslaved, sold as chattel to ISIS fighters, and subjected to torture and sustained sexual violence.
The suffering of the Yazidi community is ongoing, as hundreds of thousands of civilians remain in squalid IDP camps across northern Iraq, unable to return to their ancestral lands. Almost 3,000 of their loved ones remain missing, with many women and children still thought to be held captive. Although ISIS has lost the territory it once controlled, many of its fighters remain free and its toxic ideology continues to spread.
We cannot stand by as Yazidis, Christians, and other minority communities continue to flee their ancestral lands for fear of persecution. The prosecution of perpetrators – as in the trial of Taha A.-J. in Frankfurt, Germany – and the formal recognition of the genocide are key measures in preventing future atrocity crimes and in countering violent extremism.
We urge the Government of Iraq and the international community to consider the following recommendations and take action:
1. Prosecute ISIS members who committed crimes against Yazidis, Christians, and other religious minorities in Iraq, including genocide and crimes against humanity, and crimes of sexual violence, in line with international standards of due process.
2. Urge the Government of Iraq to include genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in its penal code and adopt a reparation bill for all ISIS victims.
3. Facilitate closer cooperation between war crimes units and counter-terrorism units investigating ISIS crimes in states that respect international standards of due process.
4. Enhance cooperation with UNITAD and Iraqi civil society to obtain further evidence of atrocities committed against Yazidis and other communities.
5. In addition to prosecutions, encourage Iraqi authorities to undertake their own non-criminal truth-seeking processes.
6. Increase humanitarian aid and provisions for psychosocial therapy support for women, men, and children who survived the genocide.
7. Rebuild the destroyed areas and ensure that they are protected from future attacks.