With today’s vote, Germany is joining the growing list of more than 18 governments and international bodies that have officially recognized the Yazidi Genocide. Today, the voices of survivors are heard.
Germany was one of the first active supporters of the Yazidis, stepping forward to assist with the immediate recovery efforts after the trauma the community suffered at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014. In the subsequent years, it continued to provide support, offer funding, and welcome refugees. Germany is now home to one of the largest Yazidi populations in the world.
Germany has also led globally in its prosecution of these atrocities, reinforcing it will hold those accountable who took part in the genocide. It was the first country to try ISIS members for genocide specifically, and so far, it is the only one. German courts have also convicted several ISIS members of crimes against humanity and war crimes for their brutality against Yazidis. These convictions are unprecedented, but there should be so many more.
Germany’s action today not only illustrates its moral leadership on global human rights issues and serves as a symbol of solidarity from the German people and government but is also a significant gesture to the Yazidi people and a necessary step for justice and accountability. It sends a message to survivors and the community that the world sees and recognizes the crimes committed against them, which is a vital part of the healing process for survivors and their families. Amal Clooney, who is counsel to Nadia Murad and represents Yazidi genocide survivors in national courts, including in Germany, France, and the U.S., commented:
“Germany is showing the world what needs to be done: to call these crimes genocide, to prosecute the ISIS members who have committed them, and to provide refuge to their victims. Just two days ago, the first ever conviction against an ISIS member for genocide, handed down in court in Frankfurt, was confirmed on appeal. I had the honor of representing the victim in this case, who will now see her abuser face life behind bars. This is an important milestone, but justice for the victims of ISIS remains dangerously elusive.”
Today’s recognition shows Germany leading by example and I call on all governments who have not yet done so to formally recognize the Yazidi genocide. Sadly, most countries across the globe still fail to engage in recognizing this genocide, let alone trying and convicting the ISIS criminals who committed it. This genocide must be called out and recognized by all countries. They must not shirk their moral and ethical responsibilities to hold criminals accountable who commit mass murder, force women and girls into sex trafficking, and coerce young boys to be child soldiers. Only when that happens can we then truly help provide relief for survivors and their families and help prevent another genocide from occurring. We must unite in the cause for survivors and for this fight for justice. And that requires every country to step forward.
In addition to formal recognition of the Yazidi genocide, here are actions every country must undertake to support the Yazidi community:
1. Reunite those displaced or missing: We must locate the 2,700 enslaved women and children who are still unaccounted for and rebuild the ancestral Yazidi homeland in Sinjar, Iraq so the approximately 200,000 individuals residing in internal displacement camps can return home.
2. Hold perpetrators of violence accountable for their crimes: Germany has begun holding trials, but many more trials and convictions are needed to ensure justice is served. Perpetrators must face the consequences for their crimes, not only to help survivors heal, but also to prevent similar atrocities from occurring in the future. The world cannot afford to let ISIS members walk free after committing genocide and enslaving thousands of women and children. We must prosecute perpetrators for their crimes in domestic courts and support prosecutions internationally, including at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
I thank the German government and the German people for their ongoing support. And I call on other governments and international bodies who have not yet formally recognized the Yazidi genocide or committed to aiding recovery efforts and the pursuit of justice to do so today. The genocide will not end until we reunite and rebuild the Yazidi community in Sinjar.
(c) 2023, Nadia's Initiative