Armenia Recognizes Genocide of Ezidis in Iraq

Armenia Recognizes Genocide of Ezidis in Iraq

Armenia's parliament on Tuesday passed a resolution recognizing the 2014 genocide of Ezidis by the Islamic State (ISIS) group in Iraq and called for an international probe into the crimes.

ISIS militants murdered thousands in massacres four years ago. Thousands of other women and girls were abducted and used as sex slaves.

"With this resolution we not only recognize and condemn the genocide, we also call on the international community to lead an international investigation," said Rustam Makhmudyan, the Ezidi deputy of a parliamentary human rights commission.

"As a nation that has lived through genocide, the Armenian people understand the significance of this recognition," said Armen Ashotyan, a ruling party lawmaker.

There are around 35,000 Ezidis in Armenia, making them the largest minority group in the ex-Soviet state. The world's biggest Ezidi temple is currently being built in a small Armenian village.

During the massacres, several dozen Ezidi families fled from northern Iraq to Armenia.

Of the world's 1.5 million Ezidis, the largest community was in Iraq where it comprised some 550,000 people before being scattered by an ISIS offensive.

Kurdish Iraqi officials in December said around half of the Ezidis kidnapped by ISIS are still missing and that 47 mass graves containing the remains of Ezidis have been found since 2014.

The UN has called the massacres of Ezidis a genocide, arguing that ISIS had planned them and then intentionally separated men from women to prevent Ezidi children from being born.

The Ezidis are Kurdish-speaking but follow their own non-Muslim faith that earned them the hatred of the Sunni Muslim extremists of ISIS.

ISIS has hounded ethnic and religious minorities in northern Iraq since seizing the city of Mosul in June 2014, killing and displacing thousands of Christians, Shabaks and Turkmen who lived for centuries in one of the most diverse parts of the Middle East.

Proclaiming a theocratic caliphate, ISIS has tried to erase the Ezidis' identity by forcing men to choose between conversion to Islam or death, raping girls as young as nine, selling women at slave markets, and drafting boys to fight.