The remains of 41 Yazidis, killed by the Islamic State (ISIS), were interred in Sinjar (Şengal), northern Iraq, during a ceremony on Wednesday.
This follows the discovery of mass graves in the region, where thousands of Yazidis were massacred and thousands of women sold into slavery after ISIS’ attack on 3 August 2014. So far, 92 mass graves have been identified in Sinjar.
The Iraqi government, under the supervision of the United Nations (UN), began exhuming these graves on 15 March 2019. To date, only 55 graves have been opened, revealing the remains of 1,032 individuals. Iraq has managed to identify 242 Yazidis through DNA testing, returning their remains to families. Currently, the Baghdad Forensic Medicine Institute holds 790 unidentified bodies pending DNA identification.
The recent ceremony in Sinjar, as reported by Rojnews, marked the burial of 41 identified individuals. The event saw participation from the Sinjar Autonomous Administration’s executives and members, alongside numerous Yazidi citizens, across three separate ceremonies in the villages of Qinê, Herdan and Koço.
Xwedêda İlyas, Co-chair of the Sinjar Autonomous Administration, emphasised the ongoing challenges in Sinjar, highlighting the mass graves that have yet to be opened. Speaking at a ceremony in Herdan, he criticised the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), holding it responsible for the mass graves and accusing it of attempting to obscure its role in the Yazidi massacre.
İlyas stressed the need for the Yazidi community to remember the betrayal of the Barzani family, which contributed to their plight. Despite nine years since the genocide, many graves remain unopened, hindering the return of Yazidis to their lands.
In Brussels, a conference titled “Sinjar: A Community Under Genocide Threat. Reconstruction as a Guarantee for Peace in the Middle East” will be held in the European Parliament on 30 January. Organised by the Yazidi Women’s Councils Umbrella Organisation (Sîwana Meclîsên Jinên Êzidî-SMJÊ) in cooperation with the Yazidi Associations Federation Centre (Navenda Yekîtiya Komelên Êzdiyan), the conference will address the states’ obligations for recognising the 2014 ISIS attack, known as the 74th Ferman, as genocide, reconstruction methods for Sinjar, and the impact of Sinjar’s autonomous status on the region.
The conference will feature two panels, moderated by former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Feleknas Uca and Şîlan Bedel Xidir. The program, starting at 09:00 local time, will conclude with the announcement of the conference’s final declaration at 18:00 local time.