Global organisation calls for Syria peace talks to protect minorities

The organization representing the Yazidi people says talks must introduce internationally guaranteed measures to protect vulnerable peoples

Global organisation calls for Syria peace talks to protect minorities

Iraqis from the Yazidi community inspect their house that was badly damaged by Islamic State fighters, 07-Dec-2016. Image: P Photo/Hadi Mizban

A global human rights organization has called for any future peace agreement in Syria to include specific protections for the rights of minorities. 

Yazda, the global organization representing the Yazidi people has welcomed plans for peace talks to bring an end to the conflict in Syria. 

The Yazidi people, an ethnic minority based mainly in northern Syria and Iraq, have been the victims of attempted genocide and brutality at the hands of ISIS since 2014. 

Last June, the UN Commission of Inquiry into Syria reported that “genocide has occurred and is ongoing” against the Yazidis with women and girls as young as eight subject to systematic psychological, physical and sexual torture by ISIS. 

Welcoming the prospect of peace talks, Yazda president, Haider Elias said initiatives to end violence in the region “must be accompanied by internationally guaranteed measures to protect vulnerable groups and populations.” 

He said any future agreement must also involve the “prosecution of the perpetrators of genocide, murder and destruction in the region in recent years.” 

Yazda is calling for the establishment of an international force to provide protection zones for at-risk populations and to ensure the right of return to their homes for thousands of Yazidis who were forced to flee ISIS violence. 

The organization is also calling for UN measures to bring ISIS perpetrators of torture to justice through an international court of justice as well as the expansion of the peace talks to include the United States and the EU.

“The attempted genocide of the Yazidi population by ISIS in 2014 led to US military intervention and aid to save the lives of over 100,000 Yazidi men, women and children trapped on Mt Sinjar,” said Mr Elias. 

“Yazda believes international involvement in protection of minorities is fundamental to establish trust within these communities.” 

Murad Ismael, Yazda Executive Director said that while “Yazidis have been subject to the most systematic attacks, the rights of all groups in the region must be protected and respected. 

“In Iraq minorities are being attacked for who they are,” he said. “ISIS has specifically targeted Shia, Christians, Kakaian, Shabak, Mandaeans and all those who oppose their views. 

“The ongoing systematic displacement of minorities shows the extent of the terror that vulnerable people face every day in the Middle East.”