German lawmakers recognize Islamic State crimes against Yazidis as genocide

The jihadist group killed thousands of Yazidis, enslaved 7,000 and displaced most of the 550,000-strong community from their ancestral home.

 Iraqi Yazidis attend a ceremony to celebrate the Yazidi New Year at Lalish temple in Shekhan District in Duhok province, Iraq April 19, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/ARI JALAL)
Iraqi Yazidis attend a ceremony to celebrate the Yazidi New Year at Lalish temple in Shekhan District in Duhok province, Iraq April 19, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/ARI JALAL)

German lawmakers on Thursday recognized as genocide crimes committed by Islamic State (IS) militants against minority Yazidis in Iraq in 2014.

The jihadist group killed thousands of Yazidis, enslaved 7,000 Yazidi women and girls and displaced most of the 550,000-strong community from their ancestral home in northern Iraq.

The Yazidis are an ancient religious minority in eastern Syria and northwest Iraq that Islamic State viewed as supposed devil worshippers for their faith that combines Zoroastrian, Christian, Manichean, Jewish and Muslim beliefs.

"Three years ago, I met Yazidi women in northern Iraq: they were abducted, enslaved, raped. I cannot let go of their pain," Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock tweeted.

"The Bundestag has decided to name the IS crimes against the Yezidis for what they are: genocide," she added.

A girl from the Yazidi sect fleeing the violence in Sinjar rests at the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing in Fishkhabour, Dohuk province, in 2014 (credit: YOUSSEF BOUDLAL / REUTERS)A girl from the Yazidi sect fleeing the violence in Sinjar rests at the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing in Fishkhabour, Dohuk province, in 2014 (credit: YOUSSEF BOUDLAL / REUTERS)

The parliamentary resolution is expected to facilitate the further prosecution of IS perpetrators in Germany.

Islamic State's territorial gains 

An offshoot of al Qaeda, Islamic State seized large swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014 before being ousted by U.S.-backed counter-offensives, losing its last territorial redoubt in 2019.

Thursday's move by lawmakers in the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) came after a German court in 2021 jailed a former Islamic State militant for life for involvement in genocide and crimes against humanity against Yazidis in Iraq and Syria, including the murder of a five-year-old girl.

"We know that no parliamentary resolution in this world can undo their suffering," Baerbock added.

"But I am deeply convinced that this decision makes a difference: a decisive step towards recognition of the suffering and towards justice for the survivors."

The genocide motion was sponsored by the three parties in Germany's ruling coalition - the Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats - and the opposition conservative CDU/CSU bloc.