German parliament recognises Yazidi genocide in Iraq

the interior of the Bundestag
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On 19 January, Germany’s lower house of parliament recognised the massacre of Yazidi people by Islamic State (IS) members in Iraq as a “genocide”. It also called for measures to assist the besieged minority.

In a move hailed by Yazidi community representatives, deputies in the Bundestag passed the motion by the three parliamentary groups in Germany’s ruling centre-left-led coalition and conservative MPs.

‘Indescribable atrocities’

The resolution stated that the chamber:

recognises the crimes against the Yazidi community as genocide, following the legal evaluations of investigators from the United Nations.

Similar moves had already been made by countries including Australia, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

The text condemned “indescribable atrocities” and “tyrannical injustice” carried out by IS fighters “with the intention of completely wiping out the Yazidi community”.

The motion urged the German judicial system to pursue further criminal cases against suspects in Germany. It also pressed the government to increase financial support to collect evidence of crimes in Iraq, and to boost funding to help rebuild shattered Yazidi communities.

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Furthermore, it called for Germany to establish a documentation centre for crimes against Yazidis to ensure a historical record. It should also press Baghdad to protect the minority group’s rights.

‘Prevent future genocides’

Islamic State members in August 2014 massacred over 1,200 Yazidis. The Yazidis are members of a Kurdish-speaking community in Northwest Iraq that follow a religion rooted in Zoroastrianism.

The Yazidi minority has been particularly persecuted by IS, which has also forced its women and girls into sexual slavery, and enlisted boys as child soldiers.

A special UN investigation team said in May 2021 that it had collected “clear and convincing evidence” that IS had committed genocide against the Yazidis.

Foreign minister Annalena Baerbock recalled speaking to Yazidi women in Iraq who had been raped and held captive by IS fighters. She said the motion was being passed for them and “in the name of humanity”.

As she told the chamber:

We must call out these crimes by their name. We must ask what we can do to prevent future genocides.

‘More than a symbolic act’

Around two dozen Yazidi community representatives attended the debate at the glass-domed Reichstag parliament building in central Berlin.

Mirza Dinnayi, head of Air Bridge Iraq – a non-governmental organisation (NGO) assisting victims of the massacre who live in Germany – told Agence France-Presse (AFP) the measure was “pioneering” for addressing “the consequences of the genocide”.

He welcomed the inclusion of:

practical steps the German government can take to support the Yazidi community in Iraq as well as the diaspora.

Another Yazidi aid group,, called the motion “more than a symbolic act”:

The survivors want nothing more than justice, for the world to see their suffering and for the perpetrators to be punished.

Derya Turk-Nachbaur, one of the sponsors of the measure, noted there was “no statute of limitations on genocide”:

It was impossible for us to close our eyes any longer to their suffering.

The indescribable atrocities of IS militias must not go unpunished — not in Iraq and not in Germany.

‘Silence cost lives’

Green lawmaker Max Lucks said Germany was home to what is believed to be the world’s largest Yazidi diaspora. It consists of about 150,000 people, meaning the country has a particular responsibility to the community. He told the Bundestag:

Their pain will never go away.

We owe this to the Yazidis because we did not take action (in 2014) when we were needed. Our silence cost lives.

The Bundestag motion on genocide has no bearing on criminal trials. However, human rights advocates said it carries important symbolic and political weight.

Germany is one of the few countries to have taken legal action against IS.

In November 2021, a German court convicted an Iraqi of genocide against the Yazidi, a first in the world. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad hailed it as a “victory” in the fight for recognition of the abuses committed by IS.

Additional reporting via Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Featured image via Unsplash/Claudio Schwarz

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  • Show Comments
    1. We allowed our government with the yanks to topple Arab leaders whether dictator or not all for monies oil gas no other reasons now it’s factions killing each other .was it worth it no has now the countries are unruled and more innocent die because of it

    2. How nice of Germany.

      Perhaps they could go further and recognise who actually put Islamic State in a position to commit atrocities in the first place.

      Step forward the CIA and our own MI6, who helped arm them when we thought they were our friends against Saddam Hussein.

      Just as we armed Hussein when we thought he was our friend against Iran.

      And now of course we’re doing exactly the same thing in Iran – formenting unrest, supplying arms to groups who – if they existed in USA or UK – would be classified as terrorists.

      Because we just don’t learn, do we ? Or worse : we do learn, and the resulting chaos is exactly what our leaders are aiming for.

      See : Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq

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