The majority of lawmakers in the Belgian parliament on Thursday voted to officially recognize ISIS crimes against the Yezidi (Ezidi) religious community in Iraq beginning in 2014 as genocide, local Belgian media reported.
In a resolution submitted by two Belgian opposition MPs – Koen Metsu, member of the New Flemish Alliance and chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, and Georges Dallemagne of the Humanist Democratic Center party – their parties called on the government to declare that the brutal acts against the religious minority met the specific and high bar of genocide.
The resolution was supported by both the ruling parties and others from the political opposition.
In June, the Belgian parliament heard from Yezidi activist and Nobel laureate Nadia Murad and Pari Ibrahim, executive director of the Free Yezidi Foundation, to discuss the mass human rights violations that occurred in the district of Sinjar at the hands of the extremist group, which sees Yezidis as heretics.
Earlier this month, the Dutch parliament also approved a similar motion to formally designate ISIS crimes against Yezidis as genocidal.
The 2014 ascendance of the Islamic State and the subsequent violent assault on the Yezidi-majority city of Sinjar led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of members of the community. Most of them fled to the Kurdistan Region, while others resettled to neighboring countries in the region or to Western states.
Others were not as lucky and remained stranded in the war zone, where they were subjected to atrocities and mass executions at the hands of the extremist group for years. ISIS militants forced women and girls into sexual slavery; kidnapped their children; forced religious conversions; executed scores of men; and abused, sold, and trafficked women and girls across the areas they controlled in Iraq and Syria.
Thousands of Yezidis remain missing still.