Thursday 25 December 2014

'They have seen their families murdered in cold blood'

The 'unimaginable' horrors of murder, slavery and sexual abuse revealed in UN report on Iraq

Ned Parker and Denise Calnan

Published 02/09/2014 | 02:30

ISIS member waving the group's flag in Raqqa, Syria
ISIS member waving the group's flag
Iraqi Shiite militia fighters fire their weapons as they celebrate breaking a long siege of Amerli by Islamic State militants
A girl carries water bottles she received from a Kurdish political party after the siege by Islamic State militants was broken in Amerli
Click to see a bigger version of the graphic

Islamic State fighters, formerly known as ISIS, have managed to ethnic cleanse entire communities in Iraq in a matter of weeks, it is reported today.

The fighters (ISIL) have committed systematic and intentional attacks on civilians, including targeted killings, forced conversions, slavery, sexual abuse and the besieging of entire communities.

Amnesty International senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera said the group has been able to do 'what no other actor has been able to do in the past'.

“Islamic State group has managed to do what no other actor has been able to in the past where tension in communities has been rife for some time and ethic minorities have been victims of oppression of past," she told RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland.

"The fighters have managed to ethic cleanse entire communities, ethnic communities that have lived there for hundreds or thousands of years have been forced to abandon their homes, villages, their life time possessions and today they remain displaced," she continued.

"They have seen members of their families murdered in cold blood, other members abducted, today these remain hostages in the hands of Islamic state group.

Ms Rovera said the survivors' stories are 'harrowing'.

“Hundreds of men have been killed," she said.

A child from the minority Yazidi sect, who fled violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, sits on the ground at Bajed Kadal refugee camp, southwest of Dohuk province
A child from the minority Yazidi sect, who fled violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, sits on the ground at Bajed Kadal refugee camp, southwest of Dohuk province
Kurdish Peshmerga forces guard their position at Omar Khaled village near Tal Afar, west of Mosul August 24, 2014. Peshmerga forces intensified their defences in the southern parts of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk on Saturday, defending ramparts just a few hundred metres away from Islamic State militants. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS MILITARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (C) walks next to Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Danaifar (L) upon arriving at the airport in Baghdad
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari in Baghdad August
Members of Kurdish security forces take part during an intensive security deployment on the southern of Kirkuk
Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, who fled violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar
A member of Kurdish security forces walks near a flag belonging to Islamic State militants during an intensive security deployment on the southern of Kirkuk
Members of Kurdish security forces take part during an intensive security deployment in southern Kirkuk
Members of Kurdish security forces stand during an intensive security deployment in southern Kirkuk
Members of Kurdish security forces stand during an intensive security deployment in southern Kirkuk
Mourners carry the wrapped body of a Kurdish Peshmerga soldier who was killed during clashes with militants

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"Some individually, some in small groups, some in larger groups, rounded up generally as they tried to flee as the Islamic State fighters came in to take over their towns and villages. They have been murdered in cold blood.

“Very few have survived these attacks but I have met with some of the survivors of these horrendous massacres over the past weeks.

"The accounts of what they went through were harrowing."

Amnesty International are calling for a 'swift and robust response' from 'all concerned parties'.

"We need a response from the Iraqi government, the Kurdistan regional government, the international community.

“On June 10, these fighters were able to take over the second largest city in Iraq [Mosul] because the security forces and the army just fled and left the civilian community at the mercy of these groups.

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“The same was repeated in the Sinjar regions where hundreds murdered and thousands of people were abducted – the Kurdish forces that were meant to protect them fled and left civilians to their mercy.” 

The UN says the reports from Iraq "reveal acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale".

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The UN Human Rights Council has agreed to send an emergency mission to investigate the ISIL crimes. The unrest in Iraq has escalated dramatically in recent months as ISIL, and allied Sunni rebels have taken control of large parts of northern and western Iraq.

At least 1,420 people were killed in Iraq in August as sectarian violence raged in the country's centre and north, the United Nations said yesterday.

A further 1,370 Iraqis were wounded and 600,000 people forced to flee as ISIL militants, who have grabbed large areas of territory since June, pushed into land controlled by Kurdish troops and targeted religious minorities.

"Thousands continue to be targeted and killed by ISIL and associated armed groups simply on account of their ethnic or religious background. The true cost of this human tragedy is staggering," the UN representative in Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, said.

The UN said the casualty figures could be far higher but it could not get independent verification of reports of hundreds of incidents in areas under ISIL's control.

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Violence killed 1,737 people, mostly civilians, in Iraq in July, and 2,400 in June, the UN data showed.

The fighting continued yesterday as 18 people were killed and more than 50 wounded when two parked car bombs went off in two mainly Shi'ite districts of Baghdad, police and medical officials said.

Both Islamist fighters and Iraqi government forces have committed atrocities in the three months of fighting, senior UN officials said in Geneva during an emergency debate on the conflict.

Meanwhile Iraq's outgoing prime minster pledged yesterday to turn his country into "a big grave" for Sunni militants from the ISIL group and commended security forces who achieved a rare victory over insurgents by ending the siege of a Shiite town.

Nouri al-Maliki made the comments during an unannounced visit to the northern community of Amirli, where he was greeted with hugs. A day earlier, Iraqi forces backed by Iran-allied Shiite militias and US airstrikes broke a two-month siege of the town where some 15,000 Shiite Turkmens had been stranded.

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In footage aired on state TV, Mr al-Maliki was shown sitting at a wooden desk in front of a large poster of Shiite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistsani, ordering promotions and awards for those who fought in the battle.

"I salute you for your courage," he said.

Irish Independent

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