Armenia becomes first country to recognise Yazidi genocide

YEREVAN, Jan. 16 (The Conway Bulletin) — The Armenian parliament voted to recognise the killing of 2,000 – 3,000 Yazidi in Iraq by IS militants in 2014 as a genocide, drawing praise from human rights campaigners but also some criticism for politicising the deaths.

At the core of Armenia’s recent foreign policy is its determination to persuade its allies and neighbours that the death of 1.5m Armenians in 1915 during attacks by Turkish Ottoman forces should be called a genocide.

Turkey denies this and has said that the attacks, centred on Armenian communities that lived around Lake Van in eastern Turkey, were a consequence of the chaos and disorder of the First World War and the break up of the Ottoman Empire.

Armen Ashotyan, a politician from the ruling party in Armenia, was quoted by media as saying: “As a nation that has lived through genocide, the Armenian people understand the significance of this recognition.”

Nadia Ismael, executive director of Yazda, a lobby group set up to promote Yazidi rights, thanked Armenia for labelling the deaths as a genocide.

“The Yazidi genocide is the latest capital crime of our century, the world should recognise this crime and accept the fact it happened, not only recognise it but take the steps to stop it and adopt mechanisms to ensure it will not be repeated in the future,” she said in a statement.

The United Nations has called the attack on the Yazidi a genocide but no other national governments had yet given it this label. Armenia’s enemies and detractors, though, may say that it is playing politics with a sensitive issue.

Armenia has no trade, and limited diplomatic, relations with Turkey and is still officially at war with Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

An estimated 500,000 Yazidi fled from IS militants who reportedly killed men and enslaved women. Many younger girls were forced to become sex slaves.

Armenia is home to 35,000-50,000 Yazidis, one of the largest diaspora in the world. Before the attack by IS, 550,000 Yazidis had lived in Iraq.


— This article was first published in issue 358 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newspaper

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