On 4 February 2021, in the presence of Iraqi and international officials and Yazidi community members, the funeral ceremony of 104 Yazidi victims of ISIS will take place in Baghdad. These victims were executed in Kocho village, Sinjar, in August 2014. The exhumation process in Kocho started in March 2019 and the last mass grave was excavated in October 2020. The identification process of the remains was carried out by the Iraqi Medico-Legal Department of the Martyrs Foundation, with the assistance of the UN Investigative Team for Accountability of Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) and the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).
On 6 February 2021, the remains will be taken from Baghdad to Kocho, Sinjar, where the families will finally be able to bury their loved ones. The burial ceremony in Kocho will be attended by Iraqi and international officials, as well as thousands of community members. Dozens of Yazidis will also travel from abroad to attend the ceremony and Yazidi religious rituals will be performed on site.
Yazda will accompany the Yazidi community during this difficult and crucial time and will deploy its team of Case Managers, who conducted focal group discussions prior to the burial and who will provide psychological support on the day. Yazda Mobile Medical Unit will provide medical assistance to the community where needed. Yazda Documentation Team will film the official speeches, report on the ceremony and interview the authorities and partners, including the Iraqi Forensic Team and representatives of UNITAD and ICMP. The community will be invited to provide feedback on the process and report any concerns.
As the legal representative of many Yazidi survivors as well as Yazda, Amal Clooney comments on the significance of this event:
“For years, Yazidi survivors have told me of the pain and indignity of not knowing the whereabouts of their loved ones. Many feel that they cannot go home or move forward with their lives so long as their loved ones have not had a proper burial. Finally, after tireless advocacy by Yazda, Nadia Murad, and other brave survivors, some families will have some closure. But of course, so much more needs to be done for this community, the victims of genocide. Although I represent Yazidi victims in a handful of cases before national courts. there is still no global legal strategy on the prosecution of ISIS crimes. Investigations led by the UN are an important step; but they have not led to an international trial. And around 2,800 Yazidis are still missing. I hope that, with a new spotlight on human rights in Washington DC, this can now change.”
Yazda’s President Haider Elias adds:
“For the first time in Yazidi history, the remains of Yazidi victims are returned to their families to be buried in a dignified way. We commend the Iraqi authorities and all the parties involved in the process for this milestone and hope that more remains will be identified in the near future. The identification of the remains is an important step that helps the families and the community to start the healing process.”
Yazda and Amal Clooney wish to extend their sincere condolences to the families of victims and renew their commitments to continue their fight for justice and accountability.
*You can read the Arabic version of the statement in this link or download it in the below link: