Washington, D.C. – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today joined communities around the world in commemorating the eighth anniversary of the Yazidi Genocide perpetrated in Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“Today, USCIRF remembers the thousands of Yazidi people who perished in the campaign of ethnic and religious cleansing by ISIS,” USCIRF Commissioner Stephen Schneck said. “As we honor the many lives lost, USCIRF remains deeply concerned for the human rights and religious freedom of the survivors. Over 2,760 Yazidi women and girls are still missing following their reported abductions, sex trafficking, and enslavement. We must also not forget the many Yazidis languishing in displacement camps in Iraq and Syria while their Sinjar homeland suffers continued attacks.”
ISIS launched the Yazidi Genocide in 2014, targeting Iraq’s Yazidi minority for mass execution, mass rape, systematic sexual slavery and forced labor, and forced religious conversion. In 2019, the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, which includes the United States, and its local partners liberated all territory controlled by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. However, the lives and homes of Yazidi Genocide survivors remain in peril, with over 360,000 in displacement camps throughout Iraq and Syria. ISIS maintains a presence in Yazidi-populated areas and Turkey continually wages military attacks on Sinjar. Recently, in May 2022, an Iraqi military operation against Yazidi fighters forced 3,000 Sinjaris to flee the region.
“USCIRF urges the U.S. government to support a multilateral end to continued attacks on Sinjar and help stabilize the region for the return of its traumatized Yazidi communities,” USCIRF Commissioner Frank Wolf added. “We further call on the United States to encourage the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to fully implement the Sinjar Agreement, in consultation with Yazidis and other religious minorities.”
USCIRF’s 2022 Annual Report and March 2022 Country Update on Iraq highlighted continued threats against Iraq’s Yazidis and made recommendations for U.S. government action to support the human rights and religious freedom of the Yazidi people.