26 August 2014
International community must take all necessary measures to protect members of ethnic and religious communities in Iraq
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, condemned the appalling and horrific crimes against humanity being committed daily in Iraq by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and associated armed groups.
‘[ISIL] is systematically targeting men, women and children based on their ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation and is ruthlessly carrying out widespread ethnic and religious cleansing in the areas under its control’, said Mrs. Pillay. The violations include targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, trafficking, slavery, sexual abuse, destruction of places of religious and cultural significance, and the besieging of entire communities because of ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation. Among those directly targeted have been Christians, Yezidi, Shabaks, Turkomen, Kaka’e and Sabaeans.
‘The Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and the international community must take all necessary measures and spare no effort to protect members of ethnic and religious communities, who are particularly vulnerable, and to secure their return to their places of origin in safety and dignity’, she said. She added that ‘cold-blooded, systematic and intentional killings of civilians, after singling them out for their religious affiliation may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity’. ‘I urge the international community to ensure that the perpetrators of these vicious crimes do not enjoy impunity. Any individual committing, or assisting in the commission of international crimes, must be held accountable according to law.’