UN Warns of Possible Islamic State Genocide as Militants Abduct 250 More Christians
A newly-released United Nations report details what the world body calls possible genocide being committed by Islamic State militants in territories the group controls in parts of western and northern Iraq.
The report, compiled by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), covers the period from 11 September to 10 December 2014. Among the grave human rights violations documented in the report are slaughter of innocent civilians, mass kidnappings, rape, enslavement and trafficking of women and children, forced recruitment of child soldiers, religious persecution, pillaging, and denial of basic human freedoms.
“Members of Iraq’s diverse ethnic communities, including Turkmen, Shabaks, Christians, Yezidi, Sabaeans, Kaka’e, Faili Kurds, Arab Shi’a, and others, have been intentionally and systematically targeted by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in what appears as a deliberate policy aimed at destroying, suppressing or expelling these communities permanently from areas under their control,” the UN states.
“Many of the violations and abuses perpetrated by ISIL may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide,” the report asserts.
The report counts at least 11,602 civilians killed and 21,766 wounded by Islamic State fighters in 2014. It also states that an unknown number of civilians have died due to “secondary effects of violence,” including inadequate access to food, water and medical care. More than two million people have also been displaced within Iraq, and Iraqi and Syrian refugees fleeing the violence of the ongoing civil war in Syria have overwhelmed the neighboring nations of Jordan and Lebanon.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said he was “shocked” by the actions of Islamic State.
“I continue to be deeply shocked by the gross human rights violations committed by ISIL and associated armed groups. The targeting of civilians based on their faith or ethnicity is utterly despicable and we must not spare any effort to ensure accountability for these crimes,” said Al Hussein, who called on the Iraqi government to sign on to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The UN report also documents grave human rights abuses committed by US-backed Iraqi security forces.
“Armed groups claiming to be affiliated to or supporting the Government also perpetrated targeted killings, including of captured fighters from ISIL and its associated armed groups, abductions of civilians, and other abuses,” the report says.
On Monday, Islamic State atrocities again made headlines as activists accused the group of abducting more than 250 Assyrian Christians in Syria. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the civilians were kidnapped from 11 villages near Tal Tamr over the past three days.
Christians living in areas controlled by Islamic State have been slaughtered, but they have also been permitted to live as protected “people of the Book” according to Islamic Sharia law, under which they must pay a special levy and acknowledge the supremacy of Islam.
On Wednesday, Al Jazeera reported more than 100 men and boys had been kidnapped by Islamic State militants in the Iraqi village of Rubaidah, east of Tikrit. Around 20 of the hostages have reportedly been released, but boys as young as 9 and 10 years old are still being held. An influential local sheikh said most of the abducted are members of the powerful al-Obeid tribe, which has many men fighting against Islamic State.