Leaders of Armenia’s Yazidi community inaugurated in Yerevan on Thursday a memorial to Yazidis and other people massacred by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in what the United States has recognized as genocide.
The statue of a Yazidi woman holding a child was unveiled in a public park in the city center at a ceremony that was attended by parliamentary leaders of Armenia’s main political parties and the head of the European Union Delegation in Yerevan, Piotr Switalski. It symbolizes the suffering of Yazidis and other minorities in a region in northern Iraq that was overrun by the ISIS in 2014.
Amo Sharoyan, the chairman of the Yazidi Armenian organization Midia-Shangal, drew parallels between the massacres committed by the ISIS and the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.
“The Armenian and all other genocides must be recognized and condemned so that such crimes are not repeated,” Sharoyan said at the ceremony.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said last month that the ISIS, an extremist group also known as Daesh, is “responsible for genocide” against Christians, Yazidis, and other religious and ethnic groups in both Iraq and Syria. “We must hold the perpetrators accountable," he declared.
There are an estimated 50,000 Yazidis living in Armenia, making them the country’s single largest ethnic minority.
President Serzh Sarkisian condemned the mass killings and deportations of Iraqi Yazidis as “absolutely unacceptable” shortly after they were first reported in the summer of 2014. Sarkisian instructed Armenia’s Foreign Ministry and diplomatic missions abroad to “redouble their efforts to adequately raise the issue in the international arena.”
The move followed a series of street protests staged by Yazidis in Yerevan. They said that the Armenian government is slow to react to the atrocities committed against their ethnic kin.