Mark J. Wood
The world knows of the atrocious acts carried out by the self-proclaimed Islamic State. However, a recent trial was held in Germany on April 9, 2019, over the alleged murder of a five year-old Yazidi girl who was chained outside the house of a member of the Islamic State and died of thirst. The girl and her mother, Nora, were bought as slaves. This trial brings about increased condemnation and a stronger will by the international community to bring ISIS members to face the rule of law.
The trial in München is the first trial of an ISIS militant against the Yazidi community anywhere in the world. According to CNN, a woman known as “Ms. W” is potentially responsible for the crime involving Nora’s daughter, along with being accused of multiple crimes, including murder as a war crime, did not even react when the judge read out her list of alleged crimes.
The National reports that the girl wet her bed, and as punishment was chained outside by Ms. W who allowed her husband, an ISIS fighter, to carry out the punishment. This resulted in the girl dying of thirst in the heat.
Ms. W left her home in the North-Western State of Lower Saxony at the age of 22. CNN reports her aim was to join ISIS and be a part of the morality police. She worked as a member of this dissident group and married an ISIS fighter. The couple later bought Nora and her daughter to work for them, like many other Yazidi people who are also forced to give up their religion, face physical and mental abuse, torture, and sexual violence, as reported by Foreign Affairs.
The Yazidi people are mainly located in parts of Syria and Iraq, but since ISIS targeted attacks, they have been sought refuge in Armenia, Turkey, and Germany. Yazidis are members of an ancient and often persecuted religious minority. Their beliefs include elements of both Christianity and Islam.
Last year Ms. W wanted to return to the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The New York Times reports she found a willing driver to take her back to Mosul, North of Baghdad. She was unaware that she was part of a sting operation and the driver was working for the German Secret Services. The driver was recording the whole conversation in which she spoke of joining ISIS and the torture of and death of the young Yazidi girl.
Nora and her deceased daughter are being represented by International Human Rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who also represented Nobel Laureate and victim of ISIS, Nadia Murad. Murad in a statement quoted by CNN said “every survivor I have met and spoken to is waiting for the same thing – for the perpetrators to be prosecuted for their crimes against Yazidis, including women and children. So this is a very big moment for me, and for the entire Yazidi community.”
The actions against the Yazidi people constitute genocidal crimes according to the Human Rights Council. Genocide as defined by the 1948 convention is “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” ISIS has proclaimed, its intent to destroy the “pagan” Yazidi minority, as reported by Foreign Affairs.
The case is not only one that speaks on legal matters, but on the moral obligation of the International Community. This case is an important step towards justice for the Yazidi people. A verdict is expected in the fall.