Germany Pursues Justice for Survivors of Yazidi Genocide


The Central Office for Combating War Crimes under International Criminal Law is gathering evidence for history's latest genocide: The mass killing of the Yazidis by the Islamic State (IS).

The crimes in question happened five years ago in northern Iraq. In early August 2014, IS fighters attacked the Yazidis, a heterodox ethnoreligious group of Kurdish heritage and language, around their sacred mountain, Sinjar. IS branded them "unbelievers" and "devil worshipers." The jihadists targeted them systematically and mercilessly.

Nearly 10,000 people — mainly men and boys over 12 — were murdered. More than 70 mass graves have been discovered in the region. About 7,000 Yazidi women and children were abducted, sold as slaves, abused, and raped. Hundreds of thousands fled — and only a few now dare to return home. Many survivors remain traumatized. This is especially true of the around 3,500 women and children who were able to escape their enslavement and today are important witnesses of the atrocities.

In Germany, the International Criminal Code came into force in June 2002. Under its provisions, the German judiciary can always prosecute crimes under international law, such as those of the Yazidi genocide, even if they were not committed on German soil and neither the perpetrators nor the victims are Germans.

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