Middle East

Islamic State: Iraq minorities 'threatened with eradication'

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Iraqi minorities, such as the Yazidis, have been subject to genocide by IS, the report argues

Islamic State militants are trying to eradicate Iraqi minority groups from large parts of the country, human rights organisations have warned.

A report details summary executions, forced conversions, rape and other abuses suffered by minorities.

Such acts are tantamount to war crimes, and in some cases, genocide, it argues.

Iraqi minorities face a "threat to their existence", said the Institute of International Law and Human Rights (IILHR), one of the groups involved.

Focusing on Iraq's Christian, Kaka'i, Shabak, Turkmen and Yazidi populations, the report looks at their plight after the fall of Mosul to IS in June 2014, a key point in the rise of a group that now controls swathes of the country.

Minorities were soon targeted, the report details. Christians were told to leave Mosul or face execution.

At least 160 Shabak were killed. Others were forced out and left their belongings behind, which turned them "into beggars", one Iraqi MP is quoted as saying.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mosul fell to IS fighters in a lightning advance last year

Testimony: Mother of an abducted woman

How could they do this to her? They cut her hair and beat her.

She still has a lot of bruises on her body and I don't want to think about how she got the scratches on her back. Look at her... She doesn't say a word.

Her children are with their father and his family because we do not want the children to see her like this.

She was a happy person and a good mother before ISIS [IS] took her away.

Source: "Between the Millstones: The State of Iraq's Minorities Since the Fall of Mosul"

Elsewhere, after their assault on Sinjar, IS reportedly used Yazidis as human shields. Others were abducted or killed.

Across the country, minorities are facing "a systematic strategy to remove them permanently from large areas of Iraq", the report concludes.

"Minorities were first caught by wholesale discrimination and violence well before the arrival of ISIS," said the IILHR director, William Spencer.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A disproportionate number of those displaced in Iraq come from minority groups

"Now they face a new threat to their existence from ISIS attacks."

"The research done for this report shows very clearly that IS has committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly even genocide," said Alison Smith from No Peace Without Justice, another of the organisations involved.

The report makes a number of suggestions, including additional help for the large numbers displaced by the conflict, prosecution of crimes by the International Criminal Court, and better planning for the post-IS era.

It comes after IS seized more than 200 Christians from north-eastern Syria.