A Yazidi girl and her family at a refugee camp where thousands of Yazidis arrived in 2014 after fleeing from Islamic State militants. (Photo: U.K. Department for International Development)
The United Nations' Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic has determined that the Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh) is committing genocide against the Yazidi people.
Following an explanation of what constitutes genocide and a detailed overview of violence perpetrated by ISIS against the Yazidis, the commission's report, released on Thursday, June 16, stated:
"The public statements and conduct of ISIS strongly indicate that ISIS intended to destroy the Yazidis of Sinjar, composing the majority of the world's Yazidi population, in whole or in part. ... ISIS has committed, and is committing ... the crime of genocide."
The commission did not determine that genocide has been committed by ISIS against other religious groups in the region.
"No other religious group present in ISIS-controlled areas of Syria and Iraq has been subjected to the destruction that the Yazidis have suffered," the report explained.
"While the Christian communities still living in ISIS-controlled territory live difficult and often precarious existences, are viewed with suspicion, and are vulnerable to attack if ISIS perceive they are seeking protection from non-aligned forces, their right to exist as Christians within any Islamic State existing at any point in time, is recognized as long as they pay the 'jizya tax.'"
By contrast, "it is impermissible for Yazidis to live as Yazidis inside its so-called caliphate."
The commission's report contrasts with that of other governments, organizations and faith leaders who included other religious groups, along with the Yazidis, in their determination of genocide.
The U.S. State Department announced its conclusion on March 17, 2016, that ISIS was committing genocide "against groups in areas under its control, including Christians, Yazidis and Shia Muslims."
This determination followed similar findings announced by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Knights of Columbus, the U.S. Holocaust Museum as well as the European Parliament and many members of the U.K. Parliament.
Bishop Angaelos, general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, stated on March 10, 2016, that genocide against Christians and other religious minorities was taking place.
Pope Francis said in July 2015 that "a form of genocide" was happening in the Middle East.
A U.N. press release is available here, and the full commission report is available here.