ICC Note: As ISIS continues to grab international headlines its threat to the West should not be underestimated, but for Christians and other religious minorities ISIS is not just a threat but a genocidal reality. Thousands of religious minorities have been kidnapped, killed, and injured by the murderous advance of ISIS as it strengthens its hold on large parts of Iraq and Syria. The realities are strikingly similar to the genocidal acts that occurred in those same lands 100 years ago.
02/27/2015 Syria (Open Security) The threat posed by Islamic State (IS) to security in the West has captured headlines and provoked fierce debate in recent weeks. But in its original zone of operation in Iraq, the devastating effect of IS on many communities in the north of the country may prove permanent. IS has pursued a systematic strategy of removing minority populations forever from large areas of Iraq—and it may well have succeeded.
Within days of IS taking control of Mosul in June 2014, members of minority communities had to alter their behaviour drastically, to conceal their identities and renounce their traditions lest their lives be put at risk. For too many, survival became the paramount concern. And within weeks, nearly all minority communities in IS-held areas were forced to flee or be killed. Families were compelled to alter their life entirely or watch it crumble to pieces.
Minorities lack the tribal-protection structures majority groups possess, leaving their members particularly vulnerable to human-rights violations. This became increasingly clear as IS advanced into the Anbar and Nineveh governorates, where ethnic and religious minority inhabitants were left vulnerable to a series of attacks, with catastrophic consequences.
But the problems of Iraq’s minority communities did not start with the IS campaign. Religious and ethnic minorities have long been marginalised in its political and social life.