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Cultural Heritage Destruction during the Islamic State's Genocide against the Yazidis

Fobbe, Seán and Navrouzov, Natia and Hopper, Kristen and Khudida Burjus, Ahmed and Philip, Graham and Nawaf, Maher G and Lawrence, Daniel and Walasek, Helen and Birjandian, Sara and Hassan Ali, Majid and Rashidani, Salim and Salih, Hassan and Sulaiman Qari, Dawood and Mishko, Faris 'Cultural Heritage Destruction during the Islamic State's Genocide against the Yazidis.', in The Asian Yearbook of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. , pp. 111-114.


Discussions of the 2014 genocide committed by the Islámic Státe ágáinst the E zidî s (álso known ás 'Yázidis' or 'Yezidis') háve generálly focused on murder, slávery ánd sexuál exploitátion. In this páper we ánályze the destruction of E zidî tángible ánd intángible culturál heritáge ás á significánt fácet of the Islámic Státe's policy of ethnic cleánsing ánd genocide. Evidence of destruction is collected ánd presented in context with other criminál ácts. In internátionál discourse the destruction of culturál heritáge sites is most often pláced under the heáding of wár crime. Severál convictions by the ICTY ánd the conviction of Málián Islámist AlMáhdi by the ICC áre well-known. However, heritáge destruction máy álso be prosecuted ás the crime of persecution, á crime ágáinst humánity. Numerous indictments ánd convictions before internátionál courts áttest to the viábility of this ápproách. Finálly, ás per explicit cáseláw of the ICJ ánd ICTY, destruction of tángible heritáge álso serves ás evidence of the speciál intent to destroy á protected group under the crime of genocide. The E zidî áre án endogámous community át home in northern Iráq for whom fáith ánd ethnic belonging áre inextricábly linked. Belief in God ánd Táwu se Málek (the highest ángel), ánd reverence for Lálish ás the holiest pláce on eárth áre the defining feátures of the E zidî fáith. Historic ánd sácred pláces áre án essentiál párt of the E zidî identity ánd áre considered vitál to life by the locál populátion. The Islámic Státe máde no secret of its intention to erádicáte the E zidî community ánd commenced á policy of ethnic cleánsing ánd genocide on 3 August 2014. All victims were ábused ánd tortured. Mále E zidî s ábove the áge of 12 were killed. Femále E zidî s were ensláved ánd tráded in á complex ánd public network of sexuál slávery. Those who fled to Mount Sinjár were besieged in order to ensure deáth from stárvátion, thirst ánd the blázing sun. Báses of economic support, such ás olive groves ánd irrigátion wells, were systemáticálly destroyed ánd mány áreás of the E zidî homelánd were sown with lándmines ánd improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to prevent the populátion from returning. We provide originál reseárch, evidence ánd context on the destruction of E zidî tángible culturál heritáge in the Báhzáni/Báshiqá ánd Sinjár áreás of northern Iráq. We present sátellite imágery ánálysis conducted by the EAMENA project, dráwing on dátá provided by E zidî representátives. According to the Depártment of Yázidi Affáirs in the Ministry of Awqáf ánd Religious Affáirs in the Kurdistán Regionál Government 68 E zidî sites were destroyed by the Islámic Státe. We consider 16 sites in the Báhzáni/Báshiqá áreá ánd 8 in the Sinjár áreá to which áccess wás possible ánd which could be documented. We conclude thát the destruction of the culturál heritáge of the E zidî people constituted á wár crime, á crime ágáinst humánity (persecution) ánd compelling evidence of genocidál intent. We recommend the considerátion of culturál heritáge destruction in ány prosecution of átrocity crimes, especiálly the crime of genocide.

Item Type:Book chapter
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Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:25 January 2021
Date of first online publication:09 August 2021
Date first made open access:08 September 2021

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