Human rights in ISIL-controlled territory

The state of human rights in territories controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has been criticised by many political, religious and other organisations and individuals. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights has stated that ISIL "seeks to subjugate civilians under its control and dominate every aspect of their lives through terror, indoctrination, and the provision of services to those who obey".[1]

UN determinations

In November 2014 the UN's Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic said that ISIL was committing crimes against humanity and that the group "seeks to subjugate civilians under its control and dominate every aspect of their lives through terror, indoctrination, and the provision of services to those who obey."[2] In October 2015, the UN Human Rights Council "strongly condemn[ed] the terrorist acts and violence committed against civilians by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Daesh), al-Nusrah Front and other extremist groups, and their continued gross, systematic and widespread abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, and reaffirm[ed] that terrorism, including the actions of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Daesh), cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality or civilization."[3]

Statements of human rights groups

A report by Human Rights Watch in November 2014 accused ISIL militants in Libya's Derna of war crimes and human rights abuses and of terrorizing residents. Human Rights Watch documented three apparent incidents in which captives were killed and at least ten public floggings by the Islamic Youth Shura Council, which joined ISIL in November. It also documented the beheading of three Derna residents and dozens of seemingly politically motivated assassinations of judges, public officials, members of the security forces and others. Sarah Leah Watson, Director of HRW Middle East and North Africa, said: "Commanders should understand that they may face domestic or international prosecution for the grave rights abuses their forces are committing."[4]

Amnesty International has held ISIL responsible for the ethnic cleansing of ethnic and religious minority groups in northern Iraq on a "historic scale". It issued a special report in late 2014 describing how ISIL has "systematically targeted non-Arab and non-Sunni Muslim communities, killing or abducting hundreds, possibly thousands, and forcing more than 830,000 others to flee the areas it has captured since 10 June 2014". Among these people are Assyrian Christians, Turkmen Shia, Shabak Shia, Yazidis, Kaka'i and Sabean Mandeans, who have lived together for centuries in Nineveh province, large parts of which are now under ISIL's control.[5][6]

Religious minorities

Shia Muslims

Despite being the religious majority in Iraq, Shia Muslims have been killed in large numbers by ISIL.[7] By June 2014, ISIL had already claimed to have killed 1700 Shia Muslims.[7] ISIL, attempting to create a Sunni Muslim caliphate, has labelled all Shia Muslims infidels.[7] As a result, they have specifically targeted Shia communities.[8] According to witnesses, after the militant group took the city of Mosul, they divided the Sunni prisoners from the Shia prisoners.[8] 650 Shia prisoners were then taken to another location and executed.[8] Kurdish officials in Erbil have reported similar incidents where Sunni and Shia prisoners were separated and Shia prisoners were killed.[8]


Further information: Genocide of Christians by ISIL

Iraqi Christians, the majority being the Chaldean Christians of Northern Iraq, have also been targeted by ISIL.[7] The group tells Christians they must either convert to Islam, pay a fine, or face execution.[7] ISIL has also taken Qaraqosh, Iraq's largest Christian city.[7] Christians who fled the city reported summary executions and mass beheadings.[9] Some have also been kidnapped and held for ransom.[9] Others have been publicly whipped for refusing to convert to Islam.[9] Many Christians have been displaced and have fled their villages to escape ISIL.[7] The group has also systematically destroyed Christian churches and shrines.[10] ISIL fighters have destroyed and vandalized many Christian monuments, and they have taken down crosses from the tops of churches, replacing them with ISIL flags.[11] They've marked Christian homes with an Arabic "N" which stands for "Nasrane", a common anti-Christian slur in Iraq.[9]


The persecution of Yazidis has been labelled a genocide. This religious sect has been subjected to massacres, forced conversion, forced exile, rape, torture, slavery, sexual slavery, and forced conscription. There have been numerous massacres in attacks on Yazidi villages. In many of the massacres, militants separate the men from the women.[12] Afterward, the men are lined up at checkpoints along the side of the road, shot, and bulldozed into mass graves.[12] Sometimes, men are also given the option of converting to Islam or being executed, so there have been many instances of both forced conversions and killings for refusal to convert to ISIL's version of Islam.[12] Other Yazidi men have been forced into Yazidi temples and blown up inside or taken into captivity.[12] Yezidi boys taken captive are typically forced to become ISIL fighters.[13]

Yazidi women and children have also faced persecution at the hands of ISIL. Yazidi women and girls have been subjected to systematic rape, forced marriage, child marriage, and sexual slavery.[13] Some of them have been as young as eight years old.[13] These "marriages" are often abusive, and the captives are often raped by multiple men, typically friends of their captors.[13] They believe that if a woman is raped by ten ISIL fighters, she will become Muslim.[14] Some are chosen through "lotteries" in which ISIL fighters draw names in order to choose which captive to rape.[13] Many have also been sold as sex slaves to ISIL fighters.[15] There are also reports that women forced into sex slavery have been subjected to forced abortions.[14] Many of these captives have tried to take their own lives.[16]

LGBT rights

Laws regarding same-sex sexual activity

Law enforcement in ISIL controlled areas purport to carry out punishments that are in accordance with Sharia law. They interpret this as meaning that homosexuals caught engaging in same-sex affairs should be thrown from rooftops. If the person does not die on impact then they should be stoned to death.[17][18]

In some areas beheading is used due to a lack of tall buildings for the accused to be thrown from.[19]

ISIL has published a list of offenses that will result in automatic execution, including homosexuality.[20]


On March 31, 2014, Ab Issa Al-Andalusi, an ISIL fighter, in a video, compared gays to drug dealers and pedophiles and calling them the "worst of creatures" and "animals."[21]

On November 23, 2014, ISIL fighters stoned to death a 20-year-old unidentified man in Mayadeen, Syria and fighters stoned to death an 18-year-old unidentified man in Deir Ezzor, Syria. The men were known opponents of ISIL, and their supporters say ISIL had used the allegation that they were gay as justification to execute them. This was the first reported execution of LGBT people by ISIL.[22][23]

On December 10, 2014, believed to be somewhere in northern Iraq, the Islamic court found a unidentified man guilty of "practicing sodomy." Heavily armed, balaclava clad fighters read the judgement which said the man who was found guilty of being gay, should be thrown off the highest point in the city. The Islamic court ruled that he should also be stoned to death. After the conviction, fighters dragging the man to the top of a building and threw him off. It is not known whether the man died instantly after being thrown from the roof. A statement issued on a Jihadist website was accompanied by photos of the man as he was being thrown from what appears to be a two- or three-story building. The statement read, "The Islamic court in Wilayet al-Furat [a frontier land straddling Syria and Iraq] decided that a man who has practiced sodomy must be thrown off the highest point in the city."[24][25]

On January 15, 2015, photographs of Islamic State fighters in what appears to be Mosul, Iraq, threw two unidentified blindfolded men off a building because they were believed to be gay.[26]

On March 4, 2015, photographs of ISIL fighters in what appears to be Raqqa, Syria, threw one young unidentified blindfolded man off a building because he was believed to be gay. A crowd gathered in the city to watch.[27]

On June 3, 2015, photographs were released showing ISIL fighters throwing three unidentified men off a 100-foot building in Mosul, Iraq. The photos were released via social media and in a report by the terror group entitled, “Implementation of the Punishment of Those Who Have Committed Acts of Homosexuality” on the jihadist online forum Shumoukh Al-Islam, according to the research group. The terror group also recently has employed "flirt squads," in which militants pose as homosexuals in an attempt to lure gay men out into the open for death by public execution.[28]

On June 26, 2015, photographs of ISIL fighters, in the Al Anbar Governorate, threw four unidentified blindfolded men head-first off a fourth-storey building for "being gay" as a massive crowd watched and shouted "Allahu Akbar." On Twitter, several Islamists tweeted the hashtag #LoveWins in response to this event.[29][30]

On July 24, 2015, photographs, in what is believed to be Homs Syria, showed ISIL fighters throwing two unidentified blindfolded men being thrown from the roof of a building, before their crumpled bodies are stoned to death.[31]

On August 14, 2015, a video was purportedly released by ISIL shows fighters reading charges against the two unidentified men accused of homosexuality being thrown from a building and stoned by a crowd once they hit the ground. A crowd of men wait below and once their bodies hit the ground, they stone them. Afterwards they wash both bodies and prepare them for burial.[32]

Allegations of organ trafficking

The group released a fatwa permitting the removal of organs from non-Muslim captives.[33] The document says that "The apostate's life and organs don't have to be respected and may be taken with impunity."[33] The document seems to define apostate as non-Muslim though Shia Muslim captives may also be endangered by the fatwa due to ISIL's extreme interpretation of Islam.[33] The document also claims ISIL authorizes the removal of organs from captives even when it may kill them.[33] Iraq has accused the group of harvesting human organs for profit.[33]

See also


  1. "Rule of Terror: Living under ISIS in Syria" (PDF). United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  2. Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic: Rule of Terror: Living under ISIS in Syria, 14 November 2014. (PDF) Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. Human Rights Council Resolution 30/10. The grave and deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, 1 October 2015.
  4. "Libya: Extremists Terrorizing Derna Residents". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  5. "Iraq crisis: Islamic State accused of ethnic cleansing". BBC News. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  6. "DOCUMENT – IRAQ: ETHNIC CLEANSING ON HISTORIC SCALE: THE ISLAMIC STATE'S SYSTEMATIC TARGETING OF MINORITIES IN NORTHERN IRAQ". Amnesty International. September 2014. Archived from the original on September 12, 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Which groups are under threat by ISIS in Iraq?". CNN. Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Harding, Luke; Irbil, Fazel Hawramy in. "Isis accused of ethnic cleansing as story of Shia prison massacre emerges". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  9. 1 2 3 4 Griswold, Eliza (2015-07-22). "Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  10. "ISIL 'kidnaps scores of Christians' in Syria's Homs". Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  11. "Isis is trying to destroy all traces of Christianity in Mosul". The Independent. Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  12. 1 2 3 4 "Isil carried out massacres and mass sexual enslavement of Yazidis, UN confirms". Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 "Children as young as eight raped by brutal ISIS fighters". Mail Online. Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  14. 1 2 "ISIS 'forced pregnant Yazidi women to have abortions'". CNN. Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  15. "ISIS soldiers told to rape women 'to make them Muslim' -". CNN. Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  16. "'Hundreds' of Yazidis killing selves in ISIS slavery". CNN. Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  17. Steve Robson (28 February 2015). "Sick ISIS killers blindfold 'gay' man, throw him from roof then stone his corpse". mirror. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  18. "ISIS Hurls Gay Men Off Buildings, Stones Them: Analysts". NBC News. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  19. "Blindfolded men are beheaded by ISIS executioner in Iraq". Mail Online. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  20. Report: Former Arsenal Football Player Joins Syria Jihad, Calls upon Westerners to Follow Suit. YouTube. 2 April 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  21. "ISIS stones 2 'gay men' to death in Syria: observer". Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  22. "Reports: ISIS Executes Two Gay Men In First Antigay Attacks". Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  23. "ISIS throws man off roof to his death for being gay in Iraq". Mail Online. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  24. "Another 'Gay' Man Thrown From Building, Stoned to Death by ISIS". Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  25. "In Graphic Photos and On Twitter, ISIS Members Record and Tout Executions of Gays". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  26. "ISIS barbarians throw 'gay' man off building in another sickening day in Raqqa". Mail Online. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  27. Perry Chiaramonte. "Death Plunge: ISIS throws gay men off buildings under guise of Sharia law". Fox News. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  28. "ISIS execute gay men by pushing them off a fourth-storey building in Iraq". Mail Online. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  29. Jim Hoft. "ISIS Celebrates Gay Love by Tossing 4 Gays from Roof of Building". The Gateway Pundit. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  30. Tom Batchelor. "Islamic State murder 'gay' men by throwing off building and stoning bodies". Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  31. Sam Prince. "WATCH: ISIS Throws 2 'Gay Men' Off Roof & Stones Them". Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  32. 1 2 3 4 5 "Exclusive: Islamic State sanctioned organ harvesting in document taken in U.S. raid". Reuters. 2015-12-25. Retrieved 2015-12-25.
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