Yazidis are "being burned alive" simply because they aren't Muslim, US Congress heard this week.
Mirza Ismail, chairman of the Yazidi Human Rights Organization-International, stood in front of Congress' house subcommittee on global human rights last week and detailed the horrific atrocities inflicted upon the Yazidi population in Iraq because ISIS consider the religious sect to be infidels.
"Because we are not Muslims, and because our path is the path of peace [...] we are being burned alive," he said.
He went on to tell the panel in graphic detail how Yazidis, an indigenous ethno-religious group from Kurdistan, are being treated which he described as "nothing less than genocide."
"There are thousands of young Yazidi women, girls, and even children, who as I speak have been enslaved and forced into sexual slavery. These girls are subjected to daily, multiple rapes by ISIS monsters," he testified.
"According to many escaped women and girls whom I talked to in Northern Iraq, the abducted Yazidis, mostly women and children, number over 7,000.
Some of those women and girls have had to watch 7-, 8-, and 9-year-old children bleed to death before their eyes, after being raped by ISIS militia multiple times a day," said Ismail.
"I met mothers, whose children were torn from them by ISIS. These same mothers came to plead for the return of their children, only to be informed, that they, the mothers, had been fed the flesh of their own children by ISIS.
Children murdered, then fed to their own mothers. "ISIS militia have burned many Yazidi girls alive for refusing to convert and marry ISIS men.
Young Yezidi boys are being trained to be jihadists and suicide bombers. All of our temples in the ISIS controlled area are exploded and destroyed. "The entire Yazidi population was displaced in less than one day on August 3, 2014, in Sinjar.
The Yazidis and Chaldo-Assyrian Christians face this genocide together. "Why? Again, because we are not Muslims, and because our path is the path of peace. For this, we are being burned alive. For living as men and women of peace.
Activists have recently pushed for the word "genocide" to be used when describing the religious persecution of Yazidis at the hands of ISIS. "For Yazidis, it is very important to secure recognition that a genocide was committed against us," one activist, Pari Ibrahim, told Middle East Eye.
"The word genocide is important, and starting an ICC (International Criminal Court) case will eventually bring recognition, reparations and ensure the protection of civilians in the future."
Luis Moreno Ocampo, former chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, said in a statement to Reuters in September that it is "very clear" the Yazidis are experiencing persecution.
"It's up to us to provide information that allows the ICC to understand, yes, we have jurisdiction in this case in this way," Ocampo continued. "It's difficult to predict who will be prosecuted because this is the beginning."
by Harry Farley