German lawmakers to recognize Yazidi ‘genocide’ in Iraq

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Germany’s lower house of parliament is set next week to recognize as “genocide” the 2014 massacre of Kurdish-speaking Yazidis by the ISIS terrorist group in Iraq, lawmakers told AFP Friday.

The three parliamentary groups of Germany’s ruling center-left-led coalition were joined by conservative MPs in agreeing on a motion they plan to present in the Bundestag next Thursday, Social Democratic (SPD) deputy Derya Turk-Nachbaur said.

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The chamber “recognizes the crimes against the Yazidi community as genocide, following the legal evaluations of investigators from the United Nations,” the draft declaration seen by AFP said, after similar moves by Australia and Belgium.

ISIS fighters in August 2014 massacred over 1,200 Yazidis, members of a Kurdish-speaking community in northwest Iraq that follows an ancient religion rooted in Zoroastrianism and whom ISIS viewed as “devil worshippers.”

The Yazidi minority has been particularly persecuted by the group, which has also forced its women and girls into sexual slavery.

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

“There is no statute of limitations on genocide,” Turk-Nachbaur, one of the motion’s sponsors, said in a statement to AFP.

“Our declaration gives the survivors a voice,” she said, adding that the German parliament wanted to “strengthen the identity of the Yazidis after all their suffering.”

The Bundestag last July approved a petition asking for the recognition, but still needs to hold a final vote in a plenary session in order to complete the process of recognition.

Germany, home to what is believed to be the world’s largest Yazidi diaspora of about 150,000 people, is one of the few countries to have taken legal action against ISIS.

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

And this week, a German woman went on trial in the southwestern city of Koblenz accused of aiding and abetting war crimes and genocide with ISIS in Syria by “enslaving” a Yazidi woman.

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

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German woman goes on trial over ‘enslaving’ Yazidi woman

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