ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A UN team will start their fieldwork in early 2019, looking into the Islamic State’s (IS) war crimes against Iraq’s Yezidi (Ezidi) minority, the head of the investigation said on Tuesday.
In August 2014, IS carried out mass executions against the Ezidi ethnoreligious minority in northern Iraq.
Thousands of people were subjected to atrocities and mass executions for many years at the hands of the extremist group after they overran Sinjar (Shingal).
The city was liberated on Nov. 14, 2015, by Kurdish forces with the aerial support of international coalition warplanes.
In September 2017, the UN adopted a resolution to bring to justice the terror group’s militants who partook in the atrocious war crimes in Iraq.
The team authorized to conduct the probe, led by British lawyer Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, are in the preparation phase as of yet and currently based in Baghdad.
The work has been championed by international human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney, and Ezidi survivor Nadia Murad, who was awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege, for her efforts “to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”
“The investigative team now looks forward to continuing preparations in Iraq with a view to commencing investigative activities in early 2019,” Ahmad Khan told the UN Security Council in his first report.
He added that “the realization of our investigative activities is dependent on securing the cooperation, support, and trust of all elements of Iraqi society.”
It had taken much effort to sway Baghdad to accept the UN investigation, Khan stressed.
Under the IS-proclaimed Caliphate, thousands of Ezidi women were abducted and enslaved by IS, among them Murad, who was repeatedly raped and spent approximately one month in captivity.
As of October, some 3,000 Ezidi women and children were still missing, unaccounted for, presumably in IS’ captivity.
The lack of justice—a formal, legal judgment, along with punishment—for IS members responsible for the atrocities against the Ezidis remains a burning issue for many, including Murad.
The KRG along with the US, among others, have recognized the IS campaign against the Ezidis as a genocide. However, Baghdad, along with other countries in the international community is yet to follow suit.
“There is public evidence,” Murad noted when speaking with Kurdistan 24 on Oct. 09— “even [IS] videos, showing what they did to Ezidis,” she affirmed.
The UN has described IS’ massacre of Ezidis as possible genocide and has documented detailed witness descriptions of the women and girls who lived under the jihadists’ control.
In addition to the human cost, destructive acts by IS and the battles to remove the jihadist group from Shingal have left most of the city in ruins.
The group systematically destroyed shrines and ancient historical sites related to the Ezidi religion and much of the city is still rubble, with next to no public services available for those seeking to return.
Editing by Nadia Riva