Armenia Marks August 3 a Remembrance Day for the Yazidi Genocide

Marking the Yazidi New Year celebrations in Armenia, the country’s National Assembly passed a vote on Tuesday, April 16, to make August 3 a day of remembrance for the Yazidi Genocide.

Armenia and the Yazidis:

Both nations were survivors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey being the successor state). Armenia had officially recognized the systematic killing of thousands of Yazidi people in 2014 by ISIS as genocide in 2018.

Armenia is home to a considerable Yazidi population, which is the largest ethnic and religious minority in the country, currently numbering about 37,000 people, whose ancestors first settled in the Caucuses throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Genocide

During ISIS’s persecution of the Kurdish-speaking Yazidi minority living in their ancient ancestral homeland in Sinjar, Iraq, more than 6,000 women and children were taken captive, enslaved and subjected to torture and sexual violence.

“Sexual violence was strategically used as a weapon of war and codified in ISIS manuals that explained how to traffic Yazidi women”, according to genocide survivor and human rights activist, Nadia Murad.

As Murad also testifies: “ISIS considered Yazidis “infidels” and ordered men to either convert or die. Women, on the other hand, were given no choice. They were taken captive, married off to the highest bidder, sexually enslaved, and forced to convert.”

More than 4,000,000 were displaced and 5,000 men and elderly women were killed in the Sinjar district of the northwestern Iraqi province of Ninewa as approximately 2,800 captured women remain missing to this day.

The US, which spearheaded the international coalition’s effort to defeat ISIS in Operation Inherent Resolve, was the first to recognize ISIS’s campaign against the Yazidi as genocide. In late 2015 it started providing air support to assist a coalition of local proxy forces comprised of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdish Democratic Party’s (KDP) Peshmerga and the then newly established Sinjar Resistance Units, or YBS, to drive out ISIS from Sinjar. The YBS is an all-Yazidi militia group founded in 2014 in response to ISIS’s ongoing genocide.

As of today, the genocide is officially recognized by the US, the UK, the European Parliament, Germany, Armenia and Canada among others.

Notably, on January 17, 2023, the German Federal Court of Justice passed, in a historic first, a judgment convicting Taha A.-J., an ISIS member, to life in prison for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes against members of the Yazidi community in Fallujah, Iraq.

The Court ruled that “. . . the organised enslavement of women and girls, especially in connection with religious re-education […] served to destroy the Yazidis religious minority in order to establish an Islamic caliphate. All in all, the approach was capable of bringing about . . . the (partial) destruction of this group as such.”

On a related note, two Iraqi citizens were arrested last week by German authorities on suspicion of ISIS membership, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Konstantinos K
Konstantinos K
Konstantinos is postgraduate student, researcher and founder of Polity21. He writes primarily on Greek-Turkish relations, conflict and power politics in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. Academic and journalistic interests also include among others Astropolitics, Remote Warfare and U.S. Grand Strategy.


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