Germany’s federal lawmaking body, the Bundestag, on Thursday voted to recognize the systematic persecution and murder carried out against the Yazidis by the Islamic State (IS) in 2014 as “genocide,” making it the first of any major European parliament to do so.
The resolution, submitted jointly by the parties in the governing traffic light coalition along with the CDU/CSU (Union), was adopted unanimously, with the parliamentary factions of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and Die Linke (The Left) also voting in favor of the bill, despite not having been involved in its drafting.
“The German Bundestag bows to the victims of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by IS,” the resolution reads, while adding that the crimes committed against the minority ethnoreligious group “are a matter of genocide within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”
The resolution urged Germany’s executive body to take steps to provide additional financial support to the persecuted ethnoreligious group and called on the country’s courts to take more meaningful action against those involved in the crimes.
In the summer of 2014, the increasingly powerful Islamic State terrorist group attacked the town of Shingal, in the Sinjar Mountains in northern Iraq, killing and kidnapping thousands of Yazidis, many of whose fates remain unknown. Women and children were systematically raped and sold, while an estimated 5,000 were murdered. 3,000 are still missing.
AfD MP Martin Sichert, himself married to a Yazidi, said that Bundestag’s recognition of the genocide was long overdue. While lauding the motion, Sichert said that “nice words” must be followed by concrete actions. He called for the perpetrators to be prosecuted and pointed out that all federal governments, thus far, have failed in this task.
Sichert argued that indications war criminals existed among the many asylum seekers were all too often ignored, accusing the other parties of being blind to the “eye of radical Islam.”
“We have to talk about the fact that Sharia ideas are not compatible with the Basic Law if we want to protect minorities like the Yazidis,” he said.
Sichert’s comments were met with applause by members of the Yazidi community who were present at the parliamentary session, oddly resulting in several parliamentarians—including Bundestag Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt (Greens)—demanding that members of the persecuted minority be tossed out of the chamber.
Speaking to the Berlin-based newspaper Junge Freiheit about the incident, Sichert said: “For Katrin Göring-Eckardt and the Greens, the suppression of the debate about the radical Islamic perpetrators is more important than respect for the victims of the genocide. I’m stunned how quickly the Greens dropped their facade of sympathy for the victims.”
The Bundestag’s decision was lauded by Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, who thanked Germany for its support. “We hope that other European countries and others in the world follow suit, and justice is served for the victims,” he said.
The United States, Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands too have formally recognized the Islamic State’s atrocities against the Yazidis as “genocide.”