WASHINGTON (JTA) – The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum urged the Obama administration to stop what it called the Islamic State’s genocide of the Yazidi, citing inaction during the Holocaust as a predicate for action now.
“As part of its deliberate campaign of terror, I.S. singled out Yazidi populations for genocide and continues to perpetrate genocide against Yazidi trapped under I.S. control,” the Washington, D.C., museum said in a statement Thursday, unveiling its report on minorities targeted by the Sunni Islamic extremist terrorist group.
“The self-proclaimed Islamic State is carrying out a widespread, systematic and deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity against religious minorities in Iraq solely because of their religious beliefs,” museum chairman Tom Bernstein said in the statement. “We have a moral responsibility not just to bear witness to these crimes but to act to prevent them.”
A U.S.-led coalition, using airstrikes, is backing Kurdish and Yazidi fighters on the ground attempting to push back Islamic State forces.
Officials at a news conference Thursday morning said early signs of the genocide were missed. The report, based on research and oral testimony culled from survivors, says virtually no members of Yazidi and other targeted minorities remain in the Iraqi province of Ninewa after Islamic State sweeps in the summer of 2014.
“In a deliberate campaign, the Islamic State kidnapped thousands of women and children and killed hundreds, likely thousands, of ethnic and religious minorities,” the statement said.
During the news conference, Holocaust survivor and museum volunteer Margit Meissner invoked inaction during the Holocaust to call for intervention now.
“When we witness crimes against humanity ethnic cleansing and genocide, we must speak out,” she said. “In doing so we are doing what was not done on behalf of the Jews during the Holocaust.”