August 3, 2016

KRG Representation in Washington commemorates second anniversary of Yezidi Genocide

Washington, DC ( – On the second anniversary of the attack on Shingal (Sinjar), the Kurdistan Regional Government Representation in the United States conveys its deepest condolences to families that lost their loved ones in the genocide committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sha’m (ISIS). Our thoughts are especially with the women and children still held captive, who suffer unthinkable horrors at the hands of ISIS criminals.

When ISIS terrorists overran the Yezidi-majority city of Shingal on August 3, 2014, they killed and kidnapped thousands, sending tens of thousands more to seek refuge on Mount Shingal and in the Kurdistan Region.

Since then, the KRG has worked tirelessly on four main fronts:

1) To eradicate ISIS from areas under its control and ensure that it cannot harm the citizens under the protection of the Kurdistan Regional Government. To date, more than 14,000 square miles have been liberated from ISIS, including Shingal, its environs and strategic villages and towns around Mosul. More than 1,500 Peshmerga have been killed and 8,000 injured in the liberation operations and the constant attacks by ISIS against the Peshmerga’s defensive positions.

2) To provide humanitarian assistance to the 400,000 Yezidis who have sought shelter in Kurdistan. They are among the 1.8 million displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees who have fled to the Region.

3) To continue to facilitate the rescue of the women and children held as slaves by ISIS. Many have been rescued but more than 3,200 are still captive.

4) To collect evidence and protect mass graves while also lobbying governments around the world for the United Nations to refer the genocide to the International Criminal Court.

The Kurdistan Region is the last refuge for many Yezidis that managed to escape. In Duhok governorate alone, 65 percent of the displaced are Yezidi. The KRG was the first government to designate ISIS’s crimes as genocide. Overseas, KRG Representations continue to advocate for more support for all of the religious and ethnic components of Kurdistan and Iraq.

The KRG understands that the Yezidi community has expressed a sense of abandonment and Yezidis feel forsaken by security forces throughout Iraq. The KRG has borne its responsibility in this regard and remains committed to making every effort to ensure security, freedom of expression, and equal rights for all minorities. It is now more essential than ever that Yezidis, Assyrian Christians and other components of our society are given every opportunity to play meaningful roles in the social and political future of the Kurdistan Region.

Over the past decades, Iraq has seen cyclical genocide. Instrumental to this cycle is a culture of impunity, where many of those who are guilty of committing atrocities are never brought to justice.

After crimes of such magnitude, it is the responsibility of the entire world to help the shattered communities of Shingal and Nineveh reconcile with each other and to prevent future genocides. But there can be no reconciliation without robust, meaningful and clear justice and accountability. The KRG is prepared to play a leading role in this effort, but needs technical assistance and capacity-building in its legal system to handle the volume and complexity of cases. We call on the international community to help provide such assistance as essential to future peace in the region. We also urge the International Criminal Court to open the case against ISIS whose crimes are well-known and of such enormity that they warrant a global judicial response.

Representative Abdul Rahman said, ‘There is no crime more terrible than genocide, and the sorrow created by this horrible tragedy will be felt for generations. So many times we have heard the call of “Never Again”, but today this phrase rings hollow. We must stop the cycle of genocide in Iraq and we must support the victims who continue to need our help.’
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