The United Kingdom’s foreign office on Tuesday declared formal recognition of the 2014 Yazidi Genocide perpetrated by the Islamic State (ISIS), marking the ninth anniversary of the atrocities.
The announcement coincided with a gathering of Yazidi civil society organisations in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, aimed at highlighting the lack of accountability for the perpetrators and the urgent need for the reconstruction of Sinjar (Shengal), the Yazidi homeland.
UK’s Middle East Minister Tariq Ahmad emphasised the profound suffering endured by the Yazidi population at the hands of ISIS nine years ago, with lasting repercussions still felt today. “Justice and accountability are paramount for those whose lives have been shattered,” he added.
The UK recognition of the Yazidi Genocide received praise from Yazidi organisations globally.
Yazidi survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad, renowned for her advocacy against sexual violence in wartime, stated, “I am pleased that the UK government has officially acknowledged the horrors suffered by the Yazidis as genocide. I hope that the British government will now take concrete steps to pursue justice for the victims by holding British-born fighters accountable.”
Murad further highlighted the urgency to hold ISIS affiliates accountable, asserting that it sends a dangerous message to the world that crimes such as murder and rape can be committed with impunity.
In 2016, the UK’s parliamentary House of Commons, made a rare unanimous vote to condemn the treatment of Yazidis and Christians in Iraq by ISIS as genocide. However, at the time the foreign ministry refrained from acknowledging the genocide, adhering to the long-standing policy of leaving genocide determinations to the purview of courts rather than governments.
To date, the UK has only acknowledged four other instances of genocide: the Holocaust, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and acts of genocide in Cambodia.