Ezidis Call For Genocide Recognition At Srebrenica
Four Ezidis from Iraq called for atrocities committed against their sect by the Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Sinjar to be recognized as genocide.
Jointing thousands of Bosnian Muslims at a commemoration on Tuesday (July 11) of the 8,000 men and boys killed in 1995 at Srebrenica, the four Iraqi Ezidis said they have also faced persecution at the hands of the ISIS militants as the Bosnian Muslims faced at hands of Serbs.
"We have endured horrific abuse and persecution -- the Bosnian Muslims at the hands of Serbs and Ezidis at the hands of the Islamic State -- and we share the memories and recognize each others' feelings," said Hussam Abdukah, a Yazidi lawyer who is documenting the ISIS crimes and is a member of a peacebuilding program in northern Iraq.
The activists attending the Srebrenica anniversary, who also included two Iraqis, said they hoped to use the Srebrenica families' experiences to help build cases against ISIS militants that can eventually be used in international criminal courts.
"We urge the international community that just like in Srebrenica it helps open mass graves and build cases because we fear that traces of the crime might stay hidden," said Basma Naji, who fled Sinjar just hours before the attack.
ISIS has systematically killed, captured or enslaved thousands of Ezidis when it overran the town of Sinjar in northern Iraq in August 2014.
Proclaiming a theocratic caliphate based on a radical interpretation of Sunni Islam, 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.
According to the General-Directorate of Ezidi Affairs in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs, there are an estimated 550,000 Ezidis living in Iraq.
Of those Ezidis, as many as 360,000 were displaced following the 2014 attacks and an estimated 1,200 others were killed during the militants’ rampage.
ISIS militants managed to kidnap over 6,400 others, including 3,538 women, who have been the focus of rescue efforts.