Iraq begins exhuming mass Yazidi grave left by Daesh

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Iraqi Yazidi and Nobel Peace Laureate Nadia Mourad (R) speaks with an elderly Yazidi cleric during the exhumation of a mass-grave of hundreds of Yazidis killed by Daesh militants in the northern Iraqi village of Kojo in Sinjar district on March 15, 2019. (AFP)
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Iraqi Yazidi women attend the exhumation of a mass-grave of hundreds of Yazidis killed by Daesh militants in the northern Iraqi village of Kojo in Sinjar district on March 15, 2019. (AFP)
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An Iraqi Yazidi woman mourns while attending the exhumation of a mass-grave of hundreds of Yazidis killed by Daesh militants in the northern Iraqi village of Kojo in Sinjar district on March 15, 2019. (AFP)
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Iraqi Yazidis attend the exhumation of a mass-grave of hundreds of Yazidis killed by Daesh militants in the northern Iraqi village of Kojo in Sinjar district on March 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 March 2019
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Iraq begins exhuming mass Yazidi grave left by Daesh

  • Daesh militants rampaged across Sinjar in 2014, killing Yazidi men and abducting thousands of women and children
  • Many followers of the minority faith are still missing, after women were forced into sexual slavery and boys were indoctrinated in extremist ideology

ERBIL: The Iraqi government has started exhuming a mass grave left behind by Daesh in the northwestern Sinjar region in the presence of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad, whose slain relatives are believed to have been buried in the area.
The exhumation, which is being carried out with UN support, began Friday in the village of Kocho. Murad’s official website said it marks the first exhumation of a mass grave containing the remains of Yazidis, a religious minority targeted for extermination by the extremists.
Daesh militants rampaged across Sinjar in 2014, killing Yazidi men and abducting thousands of women and children. Many followers of the minority faith are still missing, after women were forced into sexual slavery and boys were indoctrinated in extremist ideology.
“I pay my condolence to the Yazidis and the whole humanity. There is not a single Yazidi family that didn’t taste the bitterness of this extermination,” said Murad. “They all lost their loved ones, their properties and their dreams, and especially in this village,” she said.
Murad was one of an estimated 3,000 Yazidi women and girls who were kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery. She was raped, beaten and tortured before she managed to escape after three months in captivity.
Over 70 mass graves have been discovered in Sinjar since it was liberated from Daesh in November 2015.
In November, UN investigators said they have verified the location of more than 200 mass grave sites from the time of Daesh rule in northern Iraq, containing the bodies of between 6,000 and 12,000 victims.
Nada Selo, an activist from Kocho, lamented the slow pace of efforts to identify and recover victims.
“Negligence has been going on for four years and until now. The people were hoping during all this time to see their relatives alive. So honestly, this is a huge disappointment for us as Yazidis, and it is a real tragedy,” she said.
A statement issued earlier this week by Murad, global Yazidi NGO Yazda and their joint legal counsel Amal Clooney welcomed the process in Kocho. They expressed hope it would be part of a “comprehensive effort which will result in the exhumation of all Daesh mass graves in Sinjar and beyond, the return of victims’ remains to their families and the investigation of the relevant crimes, leading to the prosecution of the responsible Daesh militants.”
Daesh is on the verge of losing the last area it controls in Syria as US-backed fighters squeeze the extremists in the village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border. Over the past months a number of Yazidi women and children have been freed in eastern Syria.


Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

Updated 36 min 26 sec ago
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Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

  • Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country
  • The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation

PRISTINA: Kosovo prosecutors have requested the house arrest of 16 women repatriated from Syria, saying they are suspected of joining or taking part as foreign fighters there.

The women appeared on Wednesday in court in Pristina, a day after 10 other women were put under house arrest. None have been charged with a crime.

Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country.

The women and children were sent to the Foreign Detention Centre in the outskirts of Pristina but were freed to go home after 72 hours.

Ten women were seen entering Pristina Basic Court in a police escort on Tuesday. The court said in a statement later that they had been placed under house arrest on charges of joining foreign armed groups and terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq from 2014 to 2019.

The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation and more of them are expected to appear in front of judges on Wednesday. The prosecution has yet to file charges.

After the collapse of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, countries around the world are wrestling with how to handle militants and their families seeking to return to their home countries.

Kosovo's population is nominally 90 percent Muslim, but the country is largely secular in outlook. More than 300 of its citizens travelled to Syria since 2012 and 70 men who fought alongside militant groups were killed.

Police said 30 Kosovan fighters, 49 women and eight children remain in the conflict zones. The government said it plans to bring back those who are still there.

International and local security agencies have previously warned of the risk posed by returning fighters. In 2015, Kosovo adopted a law making fighting in foreign conflicts punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

On Saturday, 110 Kosovar citizens — the four alleged foreign fighters, 32 women and 74 children — were returned to Kosovo with assistance from the United States, the first such move for a European country.

Authorities say there are still 87 Kosovar citizens in Syria.