SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A United Nations report has provided new evidence of what it calls a staggering list of human rights abuses by Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq. It revealed systematic violations carried out since IS began its advance across Iraq in July.
The report, based on 500 interviews, provides evidence of mass executions, the kidnapping of women and girls to use as sex slaves, and the use of child soldiers.
“This report is terrifying,” the UN’s special representative for Iraq Nickolay Mladenov said.
The report detailed how Iraqi police officers, soldiers and journalists had been killed in a series of mass executions.
It said religious and ethnic communities had been surrounded and starved of food and water, while women and girls had been abducted as sex slaves and children used as soldiers.
The UN said the violations might amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
It also found the Iraqi government had caused “significant civilian deaths” when its air strikes on the Sunni Muslim militants hit villages, a school and hospitals in violation of international law.
Thousands of civilians killed in weeks
The UN report said at least 9,347 civilians had been killed and 17,386 wounded in the nine months to September – half of them since the IS insurgents started seizing large parts of northern Iraq in early June.
It said the widening conflict had forced 1.8 million Iraqis to flee their homes.
“The array of violations and abuses perpetrated by ISIL (IS) and associated armed groups is staggering, and many of their acts may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said.
He called again for Iraq’s government to join the International Criminal Court because The Hague court could prosecute such massive abuses and the direct targeting of civilians on the basis of their religious or ethnic group.
As well as gross human rights violations, the 29-page report by the UN Human Rights Office and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq detailed how the violence by Islamist forces was of an “increasing sectarian nature” against groups including Christians, Yazidis and Shiite Muslims.
“These include attacks directly targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, executions and other targeted killings of civilians, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual and physical violence perpetrated against women and children, forced recruitment of children, destruction or desecration of places of religious or cultural significance, wanton destruction and looting of property, and denial of fundamental freedoms,” the report said.
The report detailed how IS fighters had captured and killed about 1,500 Iraqi soldiers and security officers from the former US Camp Speicher military base in Salahuddin province in a single massacre on June 12.
It said unarmed Iraqi military recruits were led off the base near Tikrit and machine-gunned in their hundreds into mass graves before IS fighters boasted of the killings on the internet.
Captured women sold, given away as rewards: UN
The report said women had been treated particularly harshly with IS fighters attacking and killing female doctors and lawyers, among other professionals.
It said in August, IS militants took 450-500 women and girls to the Tal Afar citadel in Iraq’s Nineveh region where “150 unmarried girls and women, predominantly from the Yazidi and Christian communities, were reportedly transported to Syria, either to be given to ISIL fighters as a reward or to be sold as sex slaves”.
The report also said IS and allied groups had attacked and destroyed places of religious and cultural significance in Iraq that did not conform to its “takfiri” doctrine referring to the beliefs of Sunni militants who justify their violence by branding others as apostates.
But it also voiced deep concern at violations committed by the Baghdad government and allied fighters, including air strikes and shelling that may not have distinguished between military targets and civilian areas.
Source: Reuters/ABC News