ISIS rule marked by executions, cruelty in Iraq: Rights group
July 10, Beirut: The Islamic State ruled Iraq’s Makhmur district for 21 months with summary executions, torture, and collective punishment of villagers. The extremist armed group, also known as ISIS, prevented civilians from fleeing and placed them at unnecessary risk of attack.
“Out of the headlines, ISIS routinely destroys lives and families in the Iraqi towns and villages it occupies,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “Simply trying to escape ISIS’s cruel rule can be a death sentence.”
In May 2016, Human Rights Watch interviewed 20 residents from villages in Makhmur district, in northwest Iraq, who had fled to a displaced persons camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). ISIS forces captured Qayyara, Khabata, and Makuk, among other towns and villages in mid-2014.
The villagers told Human Rights Watch that before Iraqi government forces retook the area in March, 2016, ISIS executed or “disappeared” government security personnel, civilians attempting to flee, and suspected government informants.
Villagers described ISIS mistreatment of those suspected of violating the group’s strict version of Islam. One man said ISIS fighters beat him in custody every day for 18 days to force him to confess to selling cigarettes, which ISIS bans. He said he also witnessed 15 female ISIS guards biting a woman in public as punishment for not covering her face.
The villagers also said that ISIS put them at grave risk of attack by firing artillery next to homes without moving civilians away, subjecting them to return fire. Villagers said that ISIS deployed weapons and fighters in or near schools, leading in one instance to an airstrike that damaged the building.
ISIS frequently enforced its rules through collective punishment, which is prohibited by international law, Human Rights Watch said. Villagers said that ISIS blew up at least six homes of families as punishment after their relatives fled. ISIS also mined areas to deter people from fleeing. When a police officer died in May 2015 after stepping on an IED while trying to flee, ISIS sent the man’s family a photo of his remains and ordered them to leave.
“Executions, collective punishment, and a disregard for civilian life are part and parcel of ISIS rule,” Stork said.
The Oslo Times International News Network/HRW