17. Based on interviews conducted with victims and witnesses, and corroborated by other sources, the mission collected information regarding the killing of members of the Yezidi community and acts that caused serious bodily or mental harm to members of this group. Information also pointed to the intent of ISIL to destroy the Yezidi as a group when perpetrating these acts and to the existence of a manifest pattern of attacks against this community whose identity is based on their religious beliefs. If confirmed, such conduct may amount to genocide. Numerous Yezidi witnesses provided credible and consistent accounts, involving separate incidents and attacks, detailing how they were forced to convert to Islam or face death.
18. At the beginning of August 2014, a series of systematic and widespread attacks took place against a backdrop of ISIL incursions into the Ninewa plains and Yezidi populated cities and villages. Interviews with numerous victims and witnesses from al-‘Adnaniya, al-Qahtaniya, Barah, Bazwaya, Dogore, Gogjali, Hardan, Khanasor, Kocho, Qani, Sharf ad-Din, Sinjar city, Solagh, Tel Banat, Tel Qasab and Zummar point to a pattern, whereby members of ISIL systematically separated the men from the women and young children; the men were subsequently taken away to nearby ditches and summarily executed. Some victims and witnesses added that they had been asked to convert to Islam and that the men who refused were killed, while in other instances even the men who converted were still summarily executed. Men who managed to survive such executions, largely through being shielded by the bodies of other victims, relayed their accounts to the investigation team. Women and children who were held captive near execution sites also witnessed some executions. In some instances, villages were entirely emptied of their Yezidi population.
19. For instance, on 3 August, in Qani village (Sinjar) at least 80 men were killed in a single incident. The mission interviewed survivors. One of them recounted how they were rounded up and taken to a nearby ditch where ISIL opened fire on them. He added that at least 50 members of his extended family were killed. In Kocho, at least 700 men were killed in August. A survivor of one of the several Kocho village (Sinjar) massacres recounted that around 11 August, Yezidi men who refused to covert were separated from the women and then taken to a farm. An ISIL fighter told them ‘you will see now what will happen to you, you pagans and peacock worshippers’. Although the villagers were initially given assurances that they would be freed once they handed over their possessions, ISIL divided the men in four groups of 15, and took them to a farm on the outskirts of Kocho village. The Yezidi men were ordered to lay down facing the ground; they were filmed by ISIL fighters before being shot several times. Survivors informed the mission that some residents from surrounding areas assisted ISIL in perpetrating such killings. Witnesses consistently reported that ISIL fighters acted upon direct orders they received via telephone.
20. ISIL fighters abducted Yezidis on a mass scale, and detained many for months. For instance, a group of 196 disabled Yezidis, including elderly, children and ill persons were held captive in Mosul and Tel Afar and only released in January 2015. Many victims were forced to convert to Islam during their captivity. Around 3,000 persons, mainly Yezidis, allegedly remain in ISIL captivity. Further investigation is needed to establish the precise number of those who continue to be held by ISIL as well as the numbers killed, estimated to be in the thousands.
37. Girls and unmarried women who escaped from ISIL captivity consistently recounted the process by which they were raped and sexually enslaved. ISIL members numbered them or recorded names on lists, and inspected them to evaluate their beauty. While some were given as ‘gifts,’ others were sold to local or foreign ISIL fighters. Some victims were privy to price negotiations between ‘vendors’ and ‘buyers.’ An ‘emir’10 would instruct ISIL fighters to inspect and choose girls for ‘marriage.’ Girls would then be prepared for ‘marriage’ (rape) involving, in some cases, full body searches. Mission investigators met with victims as young as 11 years of age.11 A 30 year-old woman detailed how young girls were prepared for sale at a house in Mosul. They were ordered to stand and remove their headscarves to be inspected. Then they were forced to smile while ISIL fighters took photographs.
38. A victim witnessed similar cruel and inhuman treatment following her transfer to Adnaani, a 15-minute drive from Ba’aj, Ninewa governorate. She recounted that an ‘emir’ wrote the names of 14 girls on small pieces of paper and called two ISIL fighters who both picked one piece of paper. The ‘emir’ asked the ISIL fighters to call out the name written on the paper. The 15 and 18 year old girls whose names were called were forcibly taken by the two fighters into another room. The ‘emir’ and a so-called ‘Imam’ who was in the room laughed when they heard the two girls screaming. After around 20 minutes, the two girls were brought back into the room. The witness said both girls were in shock and had blood on their trousers. Both confirmed to the witness that they had been ‘married’ (raped).
39. A 19-year-old pregnant married woman explained that she was repeatedly raped by an ISIL ‘doctor’ for two and a half months in Hawija District, Kirkuk governorate.12 There were visible lacerations on her breast, indicating she may have been tortured. According to the woman, the doctor sat on her stomach, aiming to kill her unborn child, saying, “this baby should die because it is an infidel; I can make a Muslim baby.”
40. The mission obtained credible reports about the rape of young girls, including nine and six year-olds. The former was raped for three days by an ISIL fighter in Tel Qaseb, Ninewa governorate. A witness stated that she could clearly hear the girl being assaulted and screaming out her name for help. The girl told the witness that she was blindfolded, handcuffed, beaten and repeatedly raped. Eventually, her ‘owner’ sold her to another ISIL fighter from Syria. In the same house, a six year-old girl was raped by another ISIL fighter. A witness heard the child screaming.13 She was reportedly sold to an ISIL fighter in Syria.
41. Witnesses reported that a doctor conducted abortions on two women in a school in Ba’aj, Ninewa, who were two and three months pregnant, respectively. Prior to the abortion, one witness reportedly heard an ISIL fighter stating: “we do not want more Yezidis to be born.” Both women received an injection and were made to take pills. A week after the abortion, both women were sold.
42. Women who escaped ISIL custody recounted how they were forcibly transferred multiple times to different locations, including Adnaani, al-Nufus, Ba’aj, Fallujah, Gayara, Hawija, Khaini, Kirkuk, Kocho, Mosul,14 Rambosi, Sheba, Solagh, Tel Afar,15 Tel Qaseb, Tel Banat and Wardya in Iraq. Other women and children were transferred to al-Hassakeh, al-Shadadiyah, Deir-ez-Zoor, Ghazna, Membij, Raqqa and Tel Abyad in Syria.
43. Many survivors of sexual violence experienced the loss of loved ones killed by ISIL. Some witnessed these attacks and are severely traumatised. Suicides and attempted suicides have sharply risen amongst these women and girls. Many survivors interviewed displayed visible signs of trauma and depression. The mission spoke to men who were desperate and felt helpless being separated from their wives and children. One stated: “losing my wife and children to ISIL is the worst nightmare that could happen to a man.”