Iraq: The UN must take immediate action to prevent further mass atrocities against minorities

Picture: Rachel Unkovic/International Rescue Committee

The UN Security Council (UNSC) should rapidly take new action to protect the Yazidis community in Nothern Iraq from further abuses by the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) and affiliated terrorist groups and prevent further advancement of the so-called “Islamic State” into Iraq but also into other neighbouring countries such as Syria and Lebanon. Earlier, on 11 August 11 2014 the UNSC had issued a unanimous declaration condemning oppression practiced against minorities in Iraq and warned that such actions could constitute a “crime against humanity”.

Picture: Rachel Unkovic/International Rescue Committee

At least 150,000 Yazidis, an Iraqi religious minority, are considered to have fled their homes, after ISIS seized nearby towns. These refugees were found camping out in the Sinjar mountains where they are lacking basic needs such as shelter, food and water. In addition to Yazidis, the large displacement of minorities includes Christians, Turkemen and Shabak Shi’a.

"The international community and the Iraqi Government must act now to protect those populations from further barbaric acts! Immediate measures are needed to ensure the effective protection of the civilian population and provide humanitarian assistance to all displaced persons, declared Karim Lahidji, FIDH President. 

The UN Secretary General’s Special Advisors on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, and on the Responsibility to Protect, Jennifer Welsh, condemned, in the strongest terms, the reported execution by ISIS of some 500 Yazidi community members in Sinjar and the surrounding areas. They also expressed alarm at reports of the abduction of some 1,500 Yezidi, Christian and Shabak women and girls, adding that such acts constitute grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and potentially, genocide. 

Considering the UN’s warning of genocide and ethnic cleansing against minorities in Iraq, FIDH calls upon the UN Human Rights Council to immediately convene a special session in view of adopting a resolution condemning the abuses committed and urging the international community and the Iraqi government to act immediately to ensure the protection of all religious minorities at risk in Iraq. Despite extreme difficulties for human rights organizations to work in Iraq, the international community now has significant information to follow up on reports from different UN mechanisms and adopt a strong resolution in the Human Rights Council", added Karim Lahidji. The resolution should also call on the Office of the High Commissioner to conduct a comprehensive investigation and look into alleged violations and abuses of human rights and crimes committed, including extrajudicial killings, torture and ill-treatment, rapes and sexual violence and slavery.

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