The Yazidi community of northern Iraq has brought home 104 of its members who were killed by the Islamic State group during its reign of terror in 2014.
Their remains had been identified and exhumed from mass graves, and they were laid to rest in the village of Kocho near Mount Sinjar in Ninevah province. Thousands of men were killed and women and children enslaved and raped when IS overran the Yazidi’s homeland. The UN says IS carried out genocide against the community.
The 104 were all men who had been killed by IS militants in August 2014, the head of the Yazidi Organisation for Documentation, Khairi Ali Ibrahim, was quoted as saying. A funeral was held for them at the Unknown Soldier memorial in Baghdad on Thursday before they were brought home to Kocho. Each coffin was adorned with a photo of the man who had been lost.
“This is a first step in respecting the remains of these victims and it will be also a step of transitional justice that the other victims, the women, the children, who survived the genocide will be compensated,” said Yazidi human rights activist Mirza Dinnayi. “I hope that we can do far more in protecting the Yazidi and to say never again for the future.”
Yazidis practise a form of religion which combines elements of Zoroastrianism and ancient Mesopotamian religions. They were considered heretics by IS, a Sunni jihadist group. There were believed to be an estimated 550,000 Yazidis living in Iraq before IS invaded on 3 August 2014. Some 360,000 Yazidis escaped and found refuge elsewhere. Amnesty International said in July that some 2,000 Yazidi children who had survived brutal captivity at the hands of the IS were still not getting the care they needed and were suffering severe physical and mental health problems.