Demands for unified burials for the victims that bear witness to the brutality of ISIS
Although more than 6 years have passed since the liberation of Sinjar district in Nineveh Governorate, northern Iraq, from the grip of ISIS, which occupied it in August 2014, killing and capturing hundreds of Yazidi citizens, the Yazidi wound is still open to the tragedies of cemeteries Collectivization, loss, and enslavement of women, to the extent that a Yazidi girl managed last week to escape from the grip of ISIS elements in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor and return to her relatives in Sinjar. Meanwhile, some Yezidi trends are calling for a unified mass grave for all the victims in Sinjar, because “distributing and burying the remains in separate cemeteries will lose the Yezidis value of the genocide and the symbolism of its cause.” According to some circulating statistics, ISIS has killed and captured more than 8,000 Yazidis, women, men and children, of different age groups, and the fate of hundreds of citizens is still unknown.
Yesterday (Tuesday), as part of the search for the bodies of the victims that began nearly three years ago, 6 mass graves containing the remains of Yazidis killed by the terrorist organization were opened in the village of Hardan, in the Sinjar district. The operation was carried out in cooperation between an international team of the United Nations, the teams of the General Directorate of Mass Graves of the Federal Government and representatives of the Kurdistan region. This is the third time that mass graves have been opened in villages and regions in Sinjar. In 2019, a mass grave was opened in Kocho village, and in 2020 another mass grave was opened in Solagh village.
According to a representative of the Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs in the Kurdistan Region, “so far, the remains of 360 victims have been recovered from 21 mass graves and transferred to the forensic medicine in Baghdad for DNA testing and identification of the victims’ identities.”
Most of those concerned with the Yazidi cemetery affairs assert that they do not know the sufficient time to finalize this tragic file. According to statistics published by the “Office for the Rescue of Yazidi Abductees” yesterday, Tuesday, regarding the conditions of the Yazidis in the Sinjar district and the real numbers of abductees and survivors, “the number of Yazidis who were living in Iraq is about 550,000, and the number of displaced people as a result of the invasion of (ISIS) is about 360,000. IDPs inside and outside the country.
The rescue office revealed in a statement that the number of those who returned to Sinjar is estimated at 150,000, and the number of victims in the first days of the attack was about 1,293. The office adds that “the number of mass graves discovered in Sinjar has so far reached 82 mass graves, in addition to dozens of individual grave sites.” He pointed out that “more than 100,000 Yazidis have migrated outside the country, and there are 6,417 abductees, including 3,548 females, 2,869 males, and that the number of survivors and survivors from the grip of ISIS reached 3,552 people, including 1,207 women, 339 men, 1,050 girls, 956 a child.” In turn, the former Yazidi MP Saeb Khader believes that “the excavation of the Hardan tombs and the removal of the remains is an important step for the families of the victims.”
In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, Khader stressed, “The demand to open the rest of the mass graves in Sinjar continues because these graves represent evidence and legal evidence for the crime of genocide that occurred against our people and supports the file of genocide internationally and locally.”
Khidr recalls the repeated Yazidi demands from the competent official authorities on the “necessity of opening all mass graves in Sinjar, which exceeds 84 cemeteries.