A United Nations report highlighting the human rights violations of the Islamic State’s jihadist campaign in Iraq found that while over 24,000 Iraqi civilians have been injured or killed by ISIS in the first eight months of 2014, and the extremists have taken up the practices of recruiting 12- and 13-year-old soldiers and forcing women and girls into sex slavery.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in conjunction with the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq released a report last Thursday that investigated ISIS’ violations of human rights by conducting interviews with over 500 internally displaced witnesses. The witnesses told the UN investigators of the atrocious ways in which the terrorists were killing, kidnapping and persecuting citizens of all religious beliefs, including those holding ISIS’ own faith of Sunni Islam.
Using information obtained from a variety of governmental, non-governmental and local media sources, the report states that in the first eight months of 2014, ISIS terrorist and militants from associated groups have killed approximately 8,493 Iraqi civilians, while injuring 15,782.
Many of the casualties occurred in the final two months of the reporting as 11,159 casualties and 4,692 deaths were reported from June 1 until Aug. 31, the time period in which ISIS was able to seize the majority of Iraq’s northern Nineveh province.
“The actual numbers could be much higher,” the report states. “Additionally, the number of civilians who have died from the secondary effects of violence, such as lack of access to basic food, water or medicine, after fleeing their homes or who remained trapped in areas under ISIL control or in areas of conflict are unknown.”
As of Aug. 30, the report finds that over 1.8 million Iraqi citizens have been displaced from their home due to the ongoing violence. The report notes that over a million citizens, or two-thirds of those displaced, are in areas that are under ISIS control, making it hard for humanitarian aid workers to access them.
Although the death and injury toll is alarming, what is equally as shocking is how the militants are patrolling the streets. Witnesses in Mosul and Tal Afar also told investigators that they have seen children as young as 12-years-old being trained as soldiers and patrol guards. The witnesses also say these children have been given the ability to arrest people and the majority of the militants’ patrol forces in the streets of Mosul are children.
The report also found that the number of children manning ISIS checkpoints is increasing.
“Witnesses in Mosul and Tal Afar have confirmed seeing children armed and wearing attire similar to ISIL fighters. Sources also spotted underage children accompanying ISIL patrols inside both cities,” the report stated. “Children were seen carrying weapons, sometimes too big for them to carry. Other witnesses claimed that the majority of ISIL elements patrolling the streets of Mosul were underage children, aged 13 to 16 years.”
The report states that women are treated “particularly harshly” by the militants. Witnesses provided the investigation with some light into the various ways that the extremists are treating women and girls.
The report states that on Aug. 5 over 150 mostly Yazidi and Christian women that were detained by ISIS two days earlier were transported to Syria and were allegedly awarded to ISIS militants or sold as sex slaves.
“On 3 August, ISIL herded approximately 450−500 women and girls to the citadel of Tal Afar in Ninewa where, two days later, 150 unmarried girls and women, predominantly from the Yezidi and Christian communities, were reportedly transported to Syria, either to be given to ISIL fighters as a reward or to be sold as sex slaves,” the report stated.
Many females that refuse to wear veils covering their face as ISIS requires, are usually beaten, and sometimes killed, the report stated. For female doctors, they find it hard to do their job while wearing a veil over their face and many of them went on strike. Witness reports said that in some instances ISIS militants would stand outside of the entrance to hospitals and prevent doctors or nurses from entering that were not covered with a veil.
“On one occasion, a female doctor reported that she was stopped from attending to an urgent case because she was not covered properly,” the report stated. “After a long heated discussion with the ISIL fighter, she was allowed to perform her duties.”
With ISIS’ “convert or die” mentality, many of the deaths reported by this investigation were due to failure to pledge allegiance to ISIS. Although ISIS has become notorious for “religious cleansing” as they claim to “properly implement Islam” the investigators found that the militants also kill and persecute other believers of their Sunni faith.
Witnesses say that on July 22, ISIS killed a Sunni Imam because he had denounced the terrorist organization. Then on Aug. 31, witnesses say that 19 Sunnis were executed for failing to pledge allegiance to the group and then on Sept. 9 another Sunni Imam was executed for the same reason.
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