In Iraq, for the first time a mass funeral was held for Yazidis murdered by the Islamic State in 2014. 104 victims who had initially ended up in mass graves have been identified and buried in the locality of Kocho.
“ Among the victims are my friends, neighbors, and two of my brothers. I miss them every day,” says Yazidi activist and Nobel Prize laureate Nadia Murad, who attended the solemn ceremony. “I am glad to be able to honor them with a worthy burial, but my heart is still bleeding for the thousands of families who still have loved ones lying in mass graves.”
The region around Kocho, in northern Iraq, was occupied by the Islamic State seven years ago. The terror group committed genocide on the Yazidis, a religious minority in the Islamic country. Men were murdered, boys became child soldiers and girls and women became sex slaves.
More than 3000 people were murdered, many of the 7000 women who were abducted are still not back. 120,000 people fled. Murad won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for her commitment to the population group. She was herself held for three months by IS.
After IS was driven out of the area, at least 80 mass graves were found. Since March 2019, nineteen of them have been excavated. The remains were brought to Baghdad for research by an international team.
Identifying the victims is difficult, as many Jezidis have become scattered across the country. In addition, there are no survivors of some families left to compare DNA with.
Murad calls for the work to continue. Not only to give the victims a worthy final resting place, but also to gather evidence about the perpetrators.
“ Most of the perpetrators have not yet been identified, arrested and tried,” says Murad. “They walk freely and disrupt the dreams of freedom and security of my community.”