Ezidi PMF fighters responsible for execution of 52 civilians: HRW
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Yezidi (Ezidi) fighters within the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias are allegedly responsible for the execution of civilians, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report said on Wednesday.
According to the HRW report, Ezidi fighters in Iraq apparently forcibly disappeared and killed 52 civilians from the Imteywit tribe in June 2017 in Qabusiye, southern Sinjar (Shingal).
In early 2017, Ezidi fighters formed the Lalish Brigades and the Ezidkhan Brigades under the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), to monitor the security in Ezidi-populated Shingal.
The HRW report claimed two Ezidi community leaders told the organization that the Ezidkhan Brigades were responsible for the abduction and killing of the 52 Imteywit tribe members for suspected links to the Islamic State (IS).
“As the ground fighting against [IS] winds down in Iraq, state security forces need to turn their focus on preventing retaliation and upholding the rule of law,” Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at HRW, said.
“Past atrocities against the [Ezidis] don’t give its armed forces a free pass to commit abuses against other groups, whatever their past,” she added.
No armed forces in Iraq should be detaining suspected criminals for prolonged periods, but should hand suspects immediately over to judicial authorities to investigate, the HRW said.
“Allowing the many armed forces involved in Iraq’s civil war to retaliate against any group they think was complicit with [IS] would shatter the rule of law,” Fakih said.
During their rise in 2014, IS was responsible for the mass killings, kidnappings, and rape of thousands of Ezidis in Shingal.
Since the PMF was recognized as an official part of the Iraqi army, reports of human rights abuses against civilians in Iraq have emerged as the Iranian-backed Shia militias continue to assert their authority in areas across the country.
On Oct. 16, Iraqi and PMF forces attacked and took control of Kirkuk Province and other disputed territories previously protected by Kurdish Peshmerga.
Following the takeover, reports of rights abuses, destruction of homes, and looting against the civilian population emerged as senior officials in Kurdistan and abroad called for the dismantling of the Shia militias.