On Thursday 23rd March, the Scottish Parliament held a sobering debate in recognition of the brutal genocide currently being perpetrated by ISIS against the Yazidi people. Scotland now joins the ranks of the many nations and institutions that have recognised and condemned the actions of ISIS as genocide, including the United Nations, the European Union, the USA, the UK, and France.

The Yazidis are an ancient ethnic and religious tribe concentrated predominantly in northern Iraq. In 2014 they became the target of a campaign of targeted genocide at the hands of ISIS due to their non-Muslim religious beliefs. It is estimated that since then approximately 10,000 Yazidis have been murdered, with as many as 40,000 currently seeking refuge. It is reported that as many as 7,000 Yazidi women have been captured as sex slaves, with atrocious rape and sexual violence being used on a mass scale.

Local MSP, Ruth Maguire, focused her speech on the plight of Yazidi women and girls in particular, and called on the UK Government to do its part in acting to end the horror.

Speaking in the debate, Ruth said:

‘In pursuit of its abhorrent and deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing, Isis has separated hundreds of young women and girls—some as young as 12—from their families. They have been sold, given as gifts or forced to marry Isis fighters and supporters. Many have been subjected to torture, rape and sexual violence, and forced into sexual slavery.

Every day, members of all parties will hear upsetting and difficult stories from our constituents about the challenges and hardships that they have in their lives, but I cannot even begin to comprehend having to come to the chamber and beg my colleagues to help me to protect the people I represent in Ayrshire from rape, torture and slaughter.

Isis is committing war crimes, it is committing crimes against humanity and it is perpetrating genocide—not only that, but it is boasting about doing so. We cannot stand by and allow this to continue. It must stop.

The UK Government can request that the UN Security Council refer the genocide committed against the Yazidi people to the International Criminal Court. I hope that it listens to the calls of the Scottish Parliament and the UK Parliament, and acts. The genocide must stop and justice must be achieved.’

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