Armenia Officially Condemns Yazidi Genocide, Calls for the Perpetrators to Be Held Accountable

YEREVAN (A.W.)—Armenia’s National Assembly voted on Tuesday to officially condemn the Yazidi Genocide perpetrated by ISIS/ISIL and other terrorist groups in Iraq. The resolution, supported by all four parliamentary factions, was adopted with 91 votes for and none against (one abstention).

Defend International provided humanitarian aid to Yazidi refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan in Dec. 2014 (Photo: Defend International)

The resolution emphasizes efforts of the international community aimed at implementing the provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and highlights the responsibility of states to respect the rights of ethnic and religious minorities stipulated by international law.

The resolution also reiterates Armenia’s commitment to fight to prevent genocides and other crimes against humanity and calls for an investigation of the crimes against the Yazidi people through international structures and hold the perpetrators accountable.

Following the adoption of the resolution, Yazidi human rights activist and UNODC Goodwill Ambassador for dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking Nadia Murad said  this was a historic moment for the worldwide Yazidi community and for the genocide victims and their families.

“I am touched by today’s decision and I would like to express my gratitude to the people of Armenia and their representatives in Parliament. Acknowledgment of the genocide means a lot to me and all the victims of genocide,” Murad said.

Murad Ismael, the Executive Director of Yazda—a multinational Yazidi global organization established in the aftermath of the Yazidi Genocide—called the genocide “the latest capital crime of our century.” “The world should recognize this crime and accept the fact it happened, not only recognize it, but take the steps to stop it and adopt mechanisms to ensure it will not be repeated in the future,” said Ismael.

In a joint statement, both Murad and Ismael also expressed their gratitude to Armenia’s Standing Committee on Foreign Relations, Yazidi Member of Parliament Rustam Makhmudyan, leader of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) parliamentary faction Vahram Baghdasaryan, the leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) faction Armen Rustamyan, as well as the Tsarukyan and Yelk factions.

It is estimated that over 50,000 Yazidis live in Armenia, making them the country’s largest ethnic minority. Thousands of Yazidis immigrated to a part of the Russian Empire spanning present-day Armenia and Georgia during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Escaping religious persecution from Ottoman Turks and Sunni Kurds, many Yazidis were killed alongside Armenians during the Armenian Genocide.

Two villages in Armenia’s Armavir Province—Yeraskhahun and Ferik—are inhabited predominantly by Yazidis. In 2012, the Yazidi community opened the first temple outside their “Lalish” homeland (in Iraq)—the temple of Ziarat, in the Aknalich village of Armenia, approximately 22 miles outside of Yerevan.

Subsequently, in the summer of 2016, reportedly the world’s largest Yazidi temple was said to be in the process of being built in Aknalich. The temple, named Quba Mere Diwane, is being built from Armenian granite and Iranian marble and will house a 200 square meter prayer hall.

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