Yazidis call on Swiss government to recognise genocide

Yazidi campaigners are calling on the Swiss government to follow in the footsteps of other European governments and recognise the actions of the Islamic State (ISIS) against their community as genocide, as Medya News reports. 

In 2014, the ISIS massacre against the Yazidi people in Sinjar led to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homelands. Thousands more were killed, and those captured by ISIS were subjected to rape, sexual slavery, forced marriages and forced conversions to Islam. 

The Free Yezidi Foundation wrote, in its open letter to the Swiss government: “In August 2014, the Islamic State (known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or by its Arabic acronym, Daesh) launched its genocidal campaign against the Yezidi community in Sinjar, Iraq. The ensuing attacks, enslavement, and array of associated atrocities and criminal acts have been formally recognized as genocide by the United Nations and numerous governments and legislatures worldwide.” 

The letter continued: “The Yezidi community remains deeply scarred and traumatized by the heinous human rights violations perpetrated from August 2014 onwards, which led to mass displacement and the unresolved fate of thousands of missing civilians nearly a decade later.” 

Campaigners have been pushing international organisations and state governments to recognise the genocide against the Yazidi people. In 2021, the Iraqi government officially recognised the ISIS genocide against the Yazidis. As a result, the Yezidi Survivors’ Law of March 2021 mandates the Iraqi government to provide concrete redress to the survivors. 

In 2021, the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Daesh/ISIL (UNITAD) formally recognised the genocide. The Canadian, French and Australian parliaments, the US State Department and House of Representatives, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament all passed resolutions giving recognition to the genocide against the Yazidi people. The British and German parliaments were slower to follow suit, passing their own resolutions in 2023. 

The letter from the Free Yezidi foundation urges Swiss members of parliament to carefully consider the issue. They wrote: “Recognition and remembrance stand as crucial pillars of this ongoing endeavor. It is imperative that law-abiding states and governments worldwide formally acknowledge the atrocities inflicted upon our people through parliamentary resolutions or governmental decrees. 

As we approach ten years since the dark days of August 2014, we urgently call upon the Swiss Government and Members of Parliament to issue a formal resolution recognizing the Yezidi Genocide.” The organisation added that, “Such recognition not only honors the memory of the victims but also underscores the international community’s commitment to upholding justice and preventing future atrocities.” 

They conclude that once a recognition is reached, they hope that they can discuss the ongoing needs of Yazidi survivors. The campaigners “respectfully appeal” to the parliamentarians and Swiss government “to carefully consider this matter and to take all requisite measures to secure formal recognition” of the genocide by 3 August 2024. 

“We remain available to provide evidence and testimony. We also hope that once such a recognition has been enacted, we will be able to engage in discussions with you on the ongoing needs of our community in Iraq,” they said. The letter was signed by over 20 Yazidi organisations, and supporting human rights groups.

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