YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia’s parliament unanimously passed on Tuesday, January 16, a resolution recognizing as genocide the 2014 mass killings of Yazidis in Iraq which were committed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.
The National Assembly also called on the international community to track down and prosecute those directly responsible for the killings and “take measures to ensure the security of the Yazidi population.”
Thousands of Yazidis were seized by IS when it overran Iraq’s northwestern town of Sinjar in August 2014, and most of them remain unaccounted for. The town was regained from IS in late 2015 and 30 mass graves of Yazidis have since been found there. But an unknown number of the ethnic minority, which practices a unique religion that IS considers heretical, was moved to neighboring Syria.
The US government officially declared in March 2016 that IS is “responsible for genocide” against Yazidis as well as Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria. A subsequent report released by United Nations investigators similarly concluded that the Islamist militants’ actions against Yazidis meet a 1948 UN convention’s definition of genocide.
In its resolution, the Armenian parliament said it “recognizes and strongly condemns the genocide of the Yazidi people perpetrated by terrorist groups in 2014 in Iraqi territory controlled by them.”
The main sponsor of the resolution is Rustam Makhmudian, the parliament’s sole ethnic Yazidi member representing the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). Presenting the document to fellow lawmakers on Monday, Makhmudian drew parallels between the 2014 atrocities against Iraqi Yazidis and the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.