September 12, 2016 / 12:06 AM / 3 years ago

Amnesty condemns detention of Yazidi woman in Iraqi Kurdistan

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Rights group Amnesty International called on Monday for the release of a Yazidi woman detained by Iraqi Kurdish authorities for nearly two years following her escape from Islamic State enslavement.

Bassema Darwish, a 34-year-old mother, has been held without trial since October 2014 on charges of cooperating with Islamic State in the killing of three Kurdish Peshmerga fighters who stormed a house in northern Iraq where she was being held captive, Amnesty said in a report.

Kurdish forces backed by U.S. air strikes seized the nearby town of Sinjar, home to the Yazidi minority, from Islamic State about a year later. They have rolled back the ultra-hardline insurgents across the north, effectively annexing territory claimed by Baghdad to their autonomous region.

The Kurds have advocated on behalf of Yazidis, a religious sect that has faced killings, sexual slavery and other crimes at the hands of the jihadist group since 2014.

U.N. investigators said in June those actions amounted to acts of genocide against the Kurdish-speaking Yazidis, whose beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions. The Sunni Arab militants of Islamic State view them as infidels.

“It is shocking that the Kurdistan Regional Government, which has consistently condemned IS atrocities against the Yazidi community, is holding a survivor of these abuses on terrorism charges and denying her basic legal rights,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.

Darwish, who is being detained at the Erbil Women and Juvenile Prison, gave birth to her daughter while in custody.

Reporting by Saif Hameed; Editing by Peter Cooney

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