Unheard Voices

Unheard Voices

According to Article 2 of UN ‘Convention on the prevention and punishment of the Crime of Genocide’ 1948, Genocide means any of the acts such as killing, causing serious bodily or mental harm, deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction, imposing measures intended to prevent births, forcibly transferring children of the one group to another group, with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.

The persecution of Yezidi people has been amounts to qualification as “genocide” by the office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in March 2015 report.Forced religious conversion and sexual slavery constitutes the main part of an overall malicious campaign.

Iraq’s oldest religious-ethnic minority have long been targeted, geographically isolated and accustomed to discrimination, the Yezidis were subject to 72 genocidal massacres under Ottoman rule in 18th and 19th centuries.

Yezidis had been denounced as infidels by Al- Qaida in Iraq as consequences of which, in April 2007 a bus was hijacked a result of which 23 Yezidi passengers were murdered in Mosul. Another incident took place in 2007 hundreds of Yezidis were killed as a spate of car bombs.

A historically misunderstood group , the Yezidis recognize a ‘supreme being, “yasdan” , responsible for creating Earth whose seven great sprits include the Peacock Angel (maluk taus) who is supposed to be god’s alter ego has an alternative name of ‘shaitan’ which an Arabic means “devil” due to which many Iraqi Muslims referred  to yazidis as “devil worshippers” . Around the globe their numbers are 700,000, no one can be converted as “Yezidi”.

Last year, the area was captured by IS militants and the community has been brutally targeted, a campaign by IS to “purify” Iraq and neighboring countries of non Islamist influences.

Number of men, women,and children were mass murdered if they were not Muslims. They were forced to convert to Islam.  Around 200,000 yezidi refugees fled to Sinjar (an area in Iraq mainly inhabited by Yezidis) where 120 infants and elderly civilians died of thirst and heatstroke. IS has abducted 7000 Yezidis mostly Women and Children, younger women and girls sold into slave markets in cages or given as  gifts or forced to marry IS fighters often subjected to sexual violence and other forms of ill treatments. Girls as young as six and nine years old are being raped, tortured executed and trafficked by IS militants.

Last month a mass grave with the remains of up to 80 Yezidi women executed by IS has been discovered on the edge of Sinjar in Iraq.

According to UN report issued in October 2014 IS took 450-500 women and girls to Iraq’s Nineveh region (city in Iraq) in August. 150 unmarried women and girls were transported to Syria either to be given to IS fighters as a reward or to be sold as sex slaves.

According to UN report in October 2014, 5000-7000 yezidi women were detained by IS as slaves or forced brides in northern Iraq.

During the UN security council open debate on women, peace and security  in October UNSC Resolution 2242 was passed recognizing the rise of terrorism and violent extremism and their disproportionate effect on both girls and women. While this resolution is an eye opener and has brought international attention to the rise of rape and gender-based violence being used as a tactics of war and terror the priorities still remain twisted.

Moreover, there are two bills pending before US congress i.e.  H.R Con.Resolution (house concurrent resolution) 75 , H.R (house of representative) 1568 declaring that religious minorities such as Yezidis in Iraq are suffering “war crimes” , “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” at the hands of IS calling for protections of these minorities.

Now the world requires a riddle to be solved whether IS has financial support from US (the biggest enemy of terrorism) or not? Or whether the IS is a secret ally of US (as a petroleum seller).

To maintain international legal order it is required from international community to intervene in jus cogens cases ( elementary rules that concern the safeguard of peace, from these norms such as prohibition of genocide, slavery etc.  No derogation is permitted)

Yezidis are deprived of their “right to life” which is in alienable and extends to all members of human family.

The right to life finds its most general recognition in Article 3 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights that “Everyone has right to life, liberty, and security of person”.

Inherent right of every person to life is recognized by Article 6 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. International law gives the protection without any kind of distinction and discrimination and guarantee equal and effective access to remedies for the violation of this right as mentioned in Article 2 of UN Declaration of Human Rights and Article 26 of International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and in accordance with several other UN declarations and conventions.

World’s silence encourages the violation of humanitarian principles in present and will continue to do so in future as well inadequately prioritizing the gross enslavement and genocidal acts committed against Yezidis.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization with which she might be associated.

Zainab Sohail

Author: Zainab Sohail

The writer is a law student enrolled in Punjab University Law College Honours programme and has keen interest in law, politics and current affairs.