Yazidi groups and activists welcome the recent decision by France and Sweden to organize a joint investigation to help prosecute Islamic State ex-soldiers who have committed crimes against members of persecuted religious minorities in Syria and Iraq. are doing.
The two European countries formed a joint investigation team last week on crimes against humanity and war crimes against Yazidis by foreign militants linked to IS during the group’s brutal rule over parts of Iraq and Syria.
The French and Swedish investigation efforts are being coordinated by the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust). The group said the joint team wants to streamline those efforts and enable information and evidence to be shared more effectively.
The main objective of “JIT. [Joint Investigation Team] FTFs need to be identified [foreign terrorist fighters] which were involved in major international crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, primarily crimes against members of the Yazidi minority during the armed conflict in Syria and Iraq,” Eurojust said in a statement.
Yazidi volunteer Jabir Zendo, who has helped rescued Yazidi women and children from IS in Syria, said the effort shows there is still time to get justice for Islamic State victims.
“Such moves give hope to Yazidis who have committed crimes against us cannot escape the judicial system and will be held accountable for their horrific actions,” he told the VOA. He added that France and Sweden’s initiatives “should be an incentive to other countries.” To strive together in the pursuit of justice for the Yazidi community in Europe and elsewhere.”
“The presence of some of these individuals in Europe poses a direct threat to the many Yazidi survivors who now live there and suffer the trauma that these individuals may have inflicted on them,” Zendo said.
pursuit of justice
The Yazidis are a Kurdish-speaking religious minority viewed by IS extremists as infidels.
In August 2014, IS launched a massive attack on Sinjar, which was once home to the world’s largest Yazidi community. At least 5,000 Yazidis, mostly men and boys, were killed during the attack on the northern Iraqi city.
IS then kidnapped thousands of Yazidi children and women, who were later used as sex slaves and child soldiers.
Some of those abducted were rescued after IS’s territorial defeat in March 2019, but rights groups say about 3,000 Yazidi women and children are still missing.
In May 2021 a UN investigative team said that there is “clear and strong evidence that the crimes committed by IS against the Yazidi people” are clearly genocide.
According to Ali Isso, director of the Ezzdina Foundation, a group that advocates for Yazidi rights, the formation of a joint team by the Eurojust agency “is a real step in the search for terrorists participating in the genocide campaign against Yazidis.”
“It can now be said that the terrorists, some of whom had fled to the European Union, no longer have a place of refuge after the formation of this team,” he told the VOA, “because one of its main powers is obtaining banks.” There is information on the suspects, and thus there will be effective cooperation between the intelligence officers of this team and the members of the European Union.”
Isso urged other countries to follow suit in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere “to crack down on the remnants of the terrorist organization”.
Eurojust said authorities in several EU countries have already made charges of terrorism and major international crimes related to IS, also known as ISIS. For example, in a German court, an Iraqi man was sentenced in November to life imprisonment for his involvement in crimes against Yazidis.
The United States has deported more than two dozen Americans who supported Islamic State and filed criminal charges against some of them. However, the Biden administration has not publicly indicated whether it supports a broader investigation into Islamic State atrocities. Last year, the United States and 17 other countries issued a joint statement expressing their willingness to help Yazidis displaced by Islamic State and advocate for their rights.
six years delay
Some experts said the establishment of this joint investigation team is an important development in the search for justice for Yazidi victims, but it is delayed by six years.
“The atrocities and genocide of ISIS were well known and documented until 2015, when several mass graves were found in and around Sinjar,” said Seth Frantzman, author of the book “After ISIS”, who wrote extensively about the Yazidis. ”
“That it took six years to do basic work means that forensic evidence is out, memories may be hazy, thousands of missing Yazidis probably won’t be found, and ISIS criminals are starting to return to those societies for a long time. They’ve come from what they came from,” he told VOA.
Frantzman said, however, that “if this task force and coordination can produce many symbolic trials it will be worth it. It is important to build an archive of the testimony of survivors and to remember the victims of ISIS and to show that its There is no punishment for the offender.”
This story originated in VOA’s Kurdish service.