There is cause for concern that acts of genocide and other crimes against humanity have been and are being carried out in Iraq. The United Nations has declared many regions in the country a “humanitarian disaster.” Humanitarian relief agencies have already had to make changes in the amount of aid they are able to provide due to the increasing numbers of victims.
Civilians throughout Iraq are threatened by government forces, but also by the terrorist group known as the Islamic State (also referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – ISIS and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIL).
Islamic State Terror
The Islamic State and other armed groups have indiscriminately targeted Kurds, Shi’a, Sunni, Turkmen, Christians, Mandeans, Yazidi, Shabak, Faili Kurds, Bahais and Palestinians. Since the Islamic State began its campaign of terror across Iraq, at least 17,049 people were killed in 2014 (double the previous year) and nearly two million have been internally displaced (IDPs) by the Islamic State and tribal fighting in 2014 bringing the total of IDPs to nearly three million and at least 200,000 have left the country.
The Islamic State is also responsible for multiple brutal beheadings, which have been filmed and used as propaganda against western civilizations and for recruitment. U.S. journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, as well as British humanitarian aid worker David Haines and Alan Henning; and more recently Japanese citizen Haruna Yukawa.
There have been reports of ethnic cleansing of Yazidi, Assyrian Christians, Turkmen Shi’a, Shabak Shi’a, as well as members of the Yazidi, Sabean Mandean, and Kakai communities. In the Sinjar region, two particularly brutal attacks have taken place in which the male victims were taken away and executed; leaving the women to be abandoned, raped or sold into sex slavery. It is unknown exactly how many Yazidi captives are still being held by ISIS.
As the fighting continues, protection of civilians is of grave concern. Many are detained without cause in prisons without counsel, disallowed communication with family and subjected to inhumane conditions including unsanitary conditions, torture, and ill-treatment with impunity.
Reports show that of the persons brought to trial, they are sentenced to long prison terms or to death. Iraq is the world’s third most productive executioner, with hundreds on death row and at least 200 executions in 2013. The surge in executions continued throughout 2014 and into 2015.