EU Parliament recognizes targeting of religious minorities by IS as genocide

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By i24news credits/photos : Ahmad Al-Rubaye (AFP) An Iraqi Yazidi woman, who fled her home when Islamic State militants attacked the town of Sinjar, looks at her baby as they rest inside a building under construction on the outskirts of the Kurdish city of Dohuk, on August 16, 2014 IS group has been accused of brutally murdering its opponents and has targeted minorities such as the Yazidis The European Parliament unanimously passed a resolution Thursday recognizing the Islamic State group’s systematic killing and persecution of religious minorities in areas under their control as genocide. The Islamic State, which swept across large swathes of Iraq and Syria last year have destroyed over 100 religious and historic sites across both countries. The resolution was the first time that the body has recognized a genocide during ongoing conflict and states that “genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, wherever and whenever they happen, must not go unpunished,” and those responsible for committing those atrocities should be brought before the International Criminal Court in the Hague for violations against international law and crimes against humanity. The resolution stressed “the importance of the international community providing protection and aid, including military protection, in accordance with international law, to all those targeted by IS” and called for the creation of humanitarian corridors and safe havens protected by UN-mandated forces. IS has been accused of brutally murdering its opponents and has targeted minorities such as the Yazidis and Assyrian Christians who they consider heretics and devil worshipers.

Safin Hamed (AFP)

Safin Hamed (AFP) “Iraqi Christians who fled the violence in the northern city of Mosul, pray at the MarAfram church in the village of Qaraqush in the northern province of Nineveh, on July 19, 2014”

According to the resolution, religious and ethnic minorities have been “killed, slaughtered, beaten, subjected to extortion, abducted and tortured,” forcibly converted by IS. Women and girls have been enslaved and subjected to other forms of sexual violence such as forced marriage and trafficking and children have also been forcibly recruited to parttake in fighting and even seen in brutal execution videos beheading captive. The resolution also found that “mosques, monuments, shrines, churches and other places of worship, tombs and cemeteries have been vandalised.” Thousands fled in 2014 when the group captured Iraq’s largest Christian town of Qaraqosh as well as other Christian towns of Tal Kayf, Bartella and Karamlesh. The group also forced the 3,000 Christian residents of the Iraqi city of Mosul to flee or be killed unless they converted to Islam or pay jizya (tax paid by non-Muslims) when they tookover the town. Churches and shops owned by Christians were attacked and destroyed. In January it was reported that IS completely destroyed St. Elijah’s Monastery of Mosul, the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq. The monastery, called Dair Mar Elia, was built in between 582 and 590 AC by Assyrian Christian monk St.Elijah on a hillside and was reduced to a field of rubble. It was part of the Middle East’s Chaldean Catholic community and a holy site for Iraqi Christians for centuries. “I can’t describe my sadness. Our Christian history in Mosul is being barbarically leveled. We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating and finishing our existence in this land,” Reverend Paul Thabit Habib said.

Safin Hamed (AFP/File)

Safin Hamed (AFP/File) “A Yazidi woman searches for missing relatives on February 3, 2015 in a mass grave of people killed by the Islamic State jihadist group, near the Iraqi village of Sinuni, in the northwestern Sinjar area”

Lars Adaktusson, a Swedish member of the European Parliament, told Newsweek that “it’s really important that the Parliament passed it, on a political level and a moral level. The significance is the obligations that follow by such a recognition. “It gives the victims of the atrocities a chance to get their human dignity restored. It’s also a historical confirmation that the European Parliament recognized what is going on and that they are suffering from the most despicable crime in the world, namely genocide.” The resolution also recognized “that the ongoing persecution of religious and ethnic groups in the Middle East is a factor that contributes to mass migration and internal displacement.” The Middle East has seen its Christian population decrease dramatically in recent years, with only a third of the 1.5 million Christians in Iraq in 2003 still remaining today, according to the New York Times.