New York

20 July 2014

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the systematic persecution of minorities in Mosul

The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the systematic persecution of minority populations in Iraq by Islamic State (IS) and associated armed groups. He is particularly disturbed by reports of threats against Christians in Mosul and other IS-controlled parts of Iraq, including an ultimatum to either convert, pay a tax, leave, or face imminent execution.  Equally repugnant are reports that Turkoman, Yazidis and Shabaks are facing abductions, killings or the destruction of their property, and that the homes of Christian, Shia and Shabak residents in Mosul have been marked.

Over the course of a few weeks, minority communities that have lived together for thousands of years in Mosul and the Ninewa province have come under direct attack and persecution by IS and associated armed groups. Tens of thousands of members of these ethnic and religious minority groups have been displaced or forced to flee and seek refuge, while many others have been executed and kidnapped.

The Secretary-General reiterates that any systematic attack on the civilian population, or segments of the civilian population, because of their ethnic background, religious beliefs or faith may constitute a crime against humanity, for which those responsible must be held accountable. All armed groups, including IS and associated formations, must abide by international humanitarian law and protect civilians living in areas they control.

The United Nations will continue to intensify its efforts, in cooperation with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government, to address the urgent humanitarian needs of those displaced by the current conflict and the terrorist threat facing Iraqi minority groups, the country, and the region.