Victims of ISIS' crimes against humanity arrived at the International Forum on ISIS, organised by the Rojava Centre for Strategic Studies, to call for their tormentors to be prosecuted.
Those who suffered from ISIS rule in Syria were invited to participate in the international forum in Amuda, in the north-east of Syria, close to the Turkish border. Women made up the majority of the panel as they retold stories of the violations committed by ISIS against them and thousands of others.
“ISIS militants have committed all kinds of crimes against us. They sold us, raped us, and sold us among them, some women were sold to 20 different militants”, recounted Makbula, a Yazidi woman. The crimes committed against Yazidis in both Iraq and Syria by ISIS have been well documented.
Women from other religious and ethnic denominations who were targeted by ISIS militants and subject to human rights violations also made use of the forum’s platform to retell their stories and demand transitional justice. There are currently thousands of ISIS militants that have been arrested by the military forces in northern Syria. Victims of their crimes are expecting the judicial authorities to punish the militants, despite the difficulties in connecting the evidence to the crimes of specific individuals within the terrorist group.
“The international community must recognize that crimes have been committed here and that the judicial system here should be granted greater privileges in the trial of ISIS militants. The perpetrators of the crimes currently deny the charges against them and claim that they were just chefs or drivers for ISIS. We must realize that every militant is guilty and involved in the crime and must be held accountable, even if we cannot connect any specific person to a specific crime”, noted Michel Rouben, an American expert who attended the forum.
Many of those detained claim to have not played a direct role in any crimes, however their membership to the group is considered to be sufficient for the victims in terms of subjecting them to the powers of the judicial authorities.
The forum also represents a platform for experts in the field of extremist groups and terrorism to discuss strategies for tackling the influence of ISIS, despite the loss of the group’s physical hold on territories in Syria and Iraq.