Genocide crimes against the Yazidi people in northern Iraq (August 3, 2014)

Political quarrels prevent progress (Press Release)

August 3 marks the seventh anniversary of the genocide crimes against the Yazidi people in the Sinjar region in Iraq, committed by the so-called Islamic State (IS). On this occasion, the Society for Threatened Peoples demands better protection for the religious minority. "Less than 35 percent of the people who were forced to flee from the IS militias have so far returned to their homes in Sinjar – and around 200,000 people are still living in refugee camps in Iraqi-Kurdistan. Due to the ongoing conflict between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government, their situation has even grown worse, keeping them from returning," stated Middle East Consultant Dr. Kamal Sido in Göttingen on Friday. Also, various militia groups are spreading fear in the region.

The administrative affiliation of the Sinjar region has been an issue of dispute for several years now. "Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, which is supposed to govern issues like this, could help to settle the conflict – but Iran-backed Shiite parties and Turkish-backed Sunni groups are trying to torpedo this in order to secure their influence," Sido stated. "Further, the deadly threat by IS and other militia groups has not been averted yet." Many people are still anxious because there have not yet been enough initiatives to come to terms with the genocide crimes against the Yazidi people – and most of the IS fighters who were responsible for the murders and the rape have not yet been punished.

"It would at least be possible to solve the administrative conflict if Sinjar were to be given the status of a province. Then, the Yazidi community would automatically have more rights of self-government," Sido explained. "However, it would be necessary to break up the militias that are under external control – and to build up strong police forces, with recruits from the region. With support from the central government and Kurdish groups, the police forces could protect the people from attacks by Islamist militias." Further, because of the conflicts among the political parties and due to the influence of the militias, the new laws regarding the recognition of the genocide crimes and the protection of the civilian population – which were adopted in March – have still not been implemented.

"Also, Turkish President Erdogan keeps threatening military interventions. His threats are reminiscent of the attacks on Afrin and other regions in northern Syria from which Turkey managed to systematically displace religious minorities," Sido emphasized. "Erdogan-loyal Sunnis were resettled to the former settlement areas of the Kurds, Christians, Alevis, and Yazidis – and the Turkish army provided them with weapons." Now, there are less than 120,000 thousand people living in the Sinjar region – in comparison to at least 400,000 before the genocide crimes. At least 100,000 people have left the country since the beginning of the genocide, and most of them have found refuge in Germany.