Significantly, the motion could push the government to boost funding to rebuild Yazidis’ fractured communities and urge the German judiciary to further pursue criminal cases against ISIS suspects in Germany.
A member of the Yazidi House council in the Jazira Region, Elias Sido, said that the Bundestag’s decision was the “most significant one, particularly for the victims, in the sense that it could pave the way for financial compensation, home return, lead to justice and hold perpetrators accountable for the heinous crimes committed” against the Yazidi religious minority.
Welcoming the decision, Sido told North Press that “Germany’s recognition, the 12th worldwide, could encourage other countries to follow suit.”
On August 3, 2014, a few months after the proclamation of the self-styled ‘caliphate’ by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS fighters converged on the Yazidi’s largest community in Iraq’s Nineveh Province, close to the Syrian border. Within hours, Yazidis were displaced en masse, a majority of which sought shelter on top of nearby Mount Sinjar.
According to official figures, more than 6000 Yazidis were abducted when ISIS attacked the Yazidi bastion of Sinjar. Over 2000 remain missing.
After only three days, ISIS controlled most of the Sinjar region. Only the mountain itself remained beyond reach. On its barren peaks, thousands of people were trapped without food, water or shade from the scorching summer sun. However, for those remained behind, a darker story was about to be told.
In the villages which dot the landscape east and south of Mount Sinjar, a massacre was ensuing. The elderly – men and women alike – were killed on the spot. Yazidi girls were taken to be sold as so-called ‘sex slaves’, while boys were forced to join the ‘Cubs of the Caliphate’ – ISIS’ minor training program.
The recognition by the German Bundestag follows years of legal evaluations and investigations into the genocide by UN officials.
Germany’s recognition of the Yazidi genocide is especially important given that the country is home to the largest Yazidi diaspora. Yet its actions should go beyond mere symbolism, say experts. “It would now be of central importance to hold the perpetrators accountable,” said German journalist Christopher Wimmer.
Germany is one of the few countries that have taken legal measures against ISIS. Today’s decision could be a watershed for other countries to follow its lead.
However, “the German government has so far refused to repatriate all German ISIS-members in order to investigate them in German courts – so that justice can finally be done,” Wimmer added.
In November 2021, an Iraqi man accused of genocide, human trafficking, and the torture and murder of a Yazidi girl appeared before a German court.
Taha al-Jumailly, then aged 27, was sentenced to life in prison for the 2015 death of a five-year-old Yazidi girl in Iraq’s Anbar Province.
Notably, al-Jumailly was the very first member of the radical group to be convicted of genocide against the Yazidis.
The territorial defeat of ISIS by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in 2019 raised hopes among the Yazidi community that they could return home and that justice could be done. They were soon disappointed by the lack of action taken.
Eight years on, the voices of Yazidis – especially that of women – has yet to be fully head. Today’s decision by the German government can only be a step towards fully addressing the plight of surviving Yazidis.
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