A German court sentenced a former fighter of the Islamic State (IS) for life imprisonment.
(Picture: Camp for Yazidi IDPs near Dohuk in 2014, © Wadi)
Seven years ago, IS crimes in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq shocked the world. After months of fighting, a destroyed region was liberated. IS-fighters regard the Yazidis living in Sinjar as kafir and “devil worshipers”. They were brutally persecuted. In just a few months, IS fighters abducted, raped, enslaved and murdered tens of thousands – mostly women. Many of them have not been able to return to their homeland and are living in refugee camps in Iraq to this day.
In Germany, Taha A. and his wife Jennifer W. were the first perpetrators of this genocide to be tried. They had kept a Yezidi woman as a slave and left their five-year-old daughter to die of thirst, chained in the blazing sun at 50 °C in Fallujah. The trial dealt with one fate of many and followed the principle of universal jurisdiction. Universal jurisdiction deals with crimes so severe that they violate universal legal principles affect humanity in its totality. Genocide, crimes against humanity and human trafficking fall into this category.
Jennifer W. had already been sentenced to ten years in prison a month ago; this judgment, however, is being appealed and will not stand. On November 30th, Taha A. was found guilty as well. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and has to pay a compensation of € 50,000 to his victim for pain and suffering.
Sarah Hasan, a Yazidi team member of Wadi in Iraq, who has helped to care for hundreds of girls, who had previously been kidnapped and abused by the Islamic State, said she was delighted with this verdict. It was, she said, a step in the right direction. “However, hundreds of perpetrators are still at large. We hope this verdict will motivate the judiciary in Germany and Europe to intensify their efforts so that more perpetrators are brought to justice and convicted.” She hopes, this judgment will help to remind the world of the fate of the Yazidis in Iraq. Seven years after the attempted genocide, hundreds of thousands are still living in camps in northern Iraq. More and more people lose all hope for a better future. “So many here, young women specifically, are committing suicide now because they are desperate.” Others are trying to find a way into Europe somehow; among the refugees on the Belarusian-Polish border is a high number of Yazidis from refugee camps in Northern Iraq.
Frankfurt December 1st 2021