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News

YEZIDI AND CHRISTIAN GENOCIDE IN IRAQ AND THE ACTUALIZATION OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE IMAGES

21.08.2014

By Suren Manukyan








©Armin Wegner Collection, 1915
©Reuters, 2014





In late June the radical Islamic organization of ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) by some information backed by Turkey [1]. declared the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate in Iraq and in a part of Syria. This quazi-state declared the laws of Sharia on the territory under its control. Christians and Yezidis on the territory of ISIS control are also subjected to harsh pressures. The fled of tens of thousands of Christians and Yezidis from the area occupied by ISIS is accompanied by the daily-increasing danger. The Islamists regard Yezidis as Pagans which is a crime worthy of death in Islam.

A large number of Yezidis have left their homes and hidden in the mountains. The situation can cause a humanitarian catastrophe, because they are deprived of food and water. Yezidis are forced to accept Islam unconditionally. Objectors are killed immediately. According to some sources, several thousands of Yezidi men have already been killed and women sold into slavery.

The situation gives a number of conclusions:

a. Although it is difficult to get accurate and complete information, the incidents fully fit into the definition of genocidal act. The Yezidis and Christians are intentionally killed just because of their religious identity. The Convention "Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide" adopted by the UN on December 9, 1948, considers the intended partial or complete destruction of a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as genocide [2].

In addition to the killings, the enslavement of Yezidi and Christian women, as well as the fact that people are forced to leave their homes and the harsh conditions which bring to physical destruction, are also qualified as genocide by the Convention: “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part” [3].

b. The reaction to the threat of genocide has been delayed again. In the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, violence against Christians was alarmed long ago and though the actions of ISIS against the Yezidis started two months ago, only on 12 of August USA president announced about the readiness of his country to interfere, relying on the principle “Responsibility to Protect” adopted by the UN in 2005 [4], according to which, if the government is unable to protect its people then the responsibility passes to the international community, which is required to carry out actions if there are massive atrocities crimes, such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing. The delay was more than surprising, because the country at issue is Iraq, where the USA placed its troops in 2003-2010 and is familiar with the area and its conditions.

To understand what the delay of two months means we remind that genocide in Rwanda was carried out in 4 months, 800 thousand people were exterminated between April and June, 1994 [5]. This fact once again raises the necessity to improve the quick response mechanism to genocidal acts by the international community. In this case the efforts of the Republic of Armenia, that regularly comes up with improvement proposals for the Convention of 1948, the resolutions "Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide" of 2005 [6] and “Prevention of Genocide” of 2013 seem more than actual [7].

c. Violence against Christians and Yezidis, revives the memories and the images of the Armenian Genocide. The removal of Christians and other non-Muslim elements from the region is continuing, a process which started in the years of the Armenian Genocide during which thousands of Armenians, Assyrians and Yazidis were exterminated [8].

Even the visual series are leading to 1915. It can be said that in order to imagine how the Armenian Genocide was carried out we can look at the killing scenes of thousands of people belonging to religious minorities carried out today by ISIS, deportation scenes, which even by the natural environment and cloths remind the Armenian tragedy.

e. At the same time what happens shows that it is wrong to talk about genocide in the past tense. It is naive and even dangerous to say that in the 21st century, in case of access availability to information and in qualitatively new level of international community and human rights, genocides cannot occur. It is dangerous because the mankind forget that the call “Never Again” becomes real only in case of vigilance and utmost attention on this issue in the highest level, because genocide is the most dangerous crime against humanity.

Notes:

[1] In Turkey, a late crackdown on Islamist fighters, By Anthony Faiola and Souad Mekhennet, August 12, 2014 , http://www.washingtonpost.com ; Turkey should close its border to ISIS by http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/06/turkey-isis-border-close.html

[2] http://genocide-museum.am/eng/genocide.php

[3] http://genocide-museum.am/eng/genocide.php

[4] http://www.who.int/hiv/universalaccess2010/worldsummit.pdf

[5] Mark A. Drumbl (1999): Sobriety in a postgenocidal society: Good neighborliness among victims and aggressors in Rwanda?, Journal of Genocide Research, 1:1, 25

[6] ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/CHR/resolutions/E-CN_4-RES-2005-62.doc

[7] http://ungeneva.mfa.am/en/news/item/2013/03/22/ResolutionPreventionofGenocide

[8] Genocide Prevention Now, Special issue 5 (Armenian genocide and co-victims: Assyrians, Yezidis, Greeks), Winter 2011





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