Officials at the United Nations have accused the Islamic State of genocide and war crimes regarding the group’s actions against the Yazidis, a religious minority living mostly in northern Iraq. A report from United Nations human rights investigators states that the militants “may have committed” genocide and that the attacks were aimed at destroying “the Yazidi as a group.” Genocide is one of the most serious international crimes.
Investigators cited evidence in the report that they claimed showed that the extremist group’s fighters had sought to wipe out the Yazidis in a pattern of systematic attacks. United Nations said it had many credible accounts of killings, abductions, torture, and attacks on civilians. Other religious minorities were ordered to convert to Islam or flee their villages, but the Yazidis were generally not allowed to make that choice.
The report included the testimony of men who had survived an attack in which the Islamic State fighters rounded up hundreds of Yazidi men and executed them in nearby ditches. The Yazidi women and girls were kidnapped and sold or given into sexual slavery. According to Suki Nagra, who led the team of investigators, witnesses “consistently reported that orders were coming through, by telephone in many cases, about what to do with them,” leading to the belief that the orders were coming directly from senior members of the group.
The report also showed that the Islamic State had killed 1,500 to 1,700 captured Iraqi service members and at least 602 members of the Albu Nimr tribe from Iraq’s Anbar Province. The methods of killing varied, with some captives shot and others beheaded. Some of these atrocities have been broadcast by the group on social media, both to sow fear and to attract new recruits from around the world.