BRUSSELS — The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Belgian Federal Parliament this week approved a draft resolution “recognizing and condemning the crime of genocide” committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) against the Yazidis in northern Iraq in 2014. Yazidi Nobel Prize winner Nadia Murad testified before this Belgian Committee.
The Belgian resolution recognizes ISIS atrocities perpetrated against Yazidis as genocide according to Article 2 of the 1948 UN Convention on the prevention and punishment of genocide. The Belgian Criminal Code adopts this UN definition which defines genocide as any killing, infliction of serious physical and mental injury, the prevention of intra-group birth, or the forcible transfer of children from the victim group to another group against, in part or in whole, any national, ethnic, or religious group with the intention to destroy it.
“Since 2014, various population groups (Yazidis, Assyrians, Syriacs, Chaldeans, Shabaks, Turkmen, Kurds, Alawites, homosexuals and Sunni Muslims), whose behavior was deemed contrary to the law of Islamic State (IS), have been the target of IS massacres.”
The persecutions directed specifically against the Yazidi population were systematic and extreme:
“Pogroms, the systematic massacre of the male population, the subjection to sexual slavery of the female virgins who were sold to the leaders or to the soldiers (the female virgins subsequently became hostages and returned to their families for a large ransom), the beheading or torture of the other women, the burying of men, women, and children alive, getting the children addicted to drugs who were then converted to Islam and turned into fighters. The orchards of the Yazidis were burned down, their livestock was stolen and land mines were laid in the cultivation areas.“
The resolution calls on the relevant authorities in the country to prosecute those responsible for the genocidal massacres, including the Belgian fighters in the ranks of ISIS, and stressed the need for the Belgian government to actively help the survivors, especially the many IDPs and those in refugee camps in Iraq.
European Parliament already in 2015 called what happened to indigenous minority peoples of Iraq genocide. In March 2016, the United States House of Representative approved a resolution stating that the ISIS atrocities in Iraq and Syria perpetrated against religious and ethnic minorities- “an integral part of the cultural fabric of the Middle East for millennia” and “including Christians (including Assyrian Chaldean Syriac, Armenian, and Melkite communities, among others), Yezidis, Turkmen, Shabak, Sabaean-Mandeans, and Kaka‘i, among others” – include war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.