Iraq to identify remains from Daesh graves in Yazidi area

UN began the joint probe efforts last year, and 12 grave sites around Kojo were exhumed by last month. (File/AFP)
Updated 06 June 2019
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Iraq to identify remains from Daesh graves in Yazidi area

  • Daesh considered the Yazidis as “apostates” and committed numerous crimes against them
  • For every survivor there are 3-5 people missing

BAGHDAD: Iraqi authorities will begin identifying the remains of 141 people exhumed from mass graves in the Yazidi region of Sinjar, the head of Baghdad’s forensic office said Thursday.
“The remains will first be examined, and then DNA samples will be taken to compare with samples gathered from families,” Zaid Al-Yousef told AFP.
The efforts are part of an investigation by the Iraqi government and a special United Nations team to collect evidence of crimes committed by the Daesh group.
Daesh swept across swathes of Iraq in 2014, including the Sinjar region where the Yazidi minority was long based.
The Kurdish-speaking Yazidis follow an ancient religion, but Daesh considered them “apostates.”
The extremists forced thousands of Yazidi women and girls to be “sex slaves,” recruited boys to fight, and executed Yazidi men en masse in what the UN has said could amount to genocide.
The UN began its joint probe last year, exhuming the first mass graves of Daesh victims around the town of Kojo in Sinjar in March.
It said last month that 12 of 16 identified grave sites around Kojo had been exhumed.
But Yousef said the next phase of identifying the victims would be a fraught process.
“We took around 1,280 samples from families in Sinjar, but the problem is that for a lot of them, there’s just a single survivor and the rest are all missing,” he said.
“If we compare it with other terrorist attacks, we would find three, four, or five survivors for every missing person. But here, we have three, four, or five missing people for a single survivor,” Yousef added.
He said the identification process would also be impacted by the rate of intermarriage among Yazidis, who very rarely wed outside the community.
That insularity is part of what made Daesh’s 2014 sweep so scarring, with many Yazidi women who were abducted and raped by Daesh initially excommunicated.
Yazidi spiritual leader Baba Sheikh issued a decision the following year welcoming those women back home, but the fate of children born of those rapes remains unresolved and controversial.
Many Yazidi women who were kidnapped by Daesh have escaped in recent years, and dozens more fled to safety this year as Daesh’s “caliphate” crumbled in Syria, but several thousand remain missing.


Kushner: Trump wants fair deal for Palestinians

Updated 25 June 2019
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Kushner: Trump wants fair deal for Palestinians

  • Fighting new economic plan ‘a strategic mistake,’ White House adviser says
  • Says plan would double Palestinian GDP in 10 years, create over a million jobs

MANAMA, Bahrain: Donald Trump wants a fair deal for Palestinians, the US president’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said on the eve of the launch in Bahrain of the White House’s $50 billion “peace for prosperity” plan.

The Palestinians are missing an opportunity to participate in the Middle East peace process by boycotting the Bahrain conference, Kushner said. “This is a strong package that has been put together. Fighting it instead of embracing it, I think, is a strategic mistake.”

The plan proposes a global investment fund for Palestine and neighboring Arab states, and a $5 billion transport corridor between the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian leaders have rejected it, but Kushner said their criticism was “more emotional than specific.”

“Nobody has refuted our core premise that this would do a lot to stimulate the economy,” he said. “The Palestinian people have been trapped in a situation for a long time and we wanted to show them, and their leadership, that there is a pathway forward that could be quite exciting.”

The Palestinian people have been trapped in a situation for a long time and we wanted to show them, and their leadership, that there is a pathway forward that could be quite exciting.

Jared Kushner, US president’s adviser

Kushner said Trump decisions such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv were evidence that the president kept his promises.

“The Palestinians might not have liked his Jerusalem decision, but he made a promise and he did it,” he said. What the president wanted now was “to give the Palestinian people a fair solution.”

Kushner said the plan would double the GDP in 10 years, create over a million jobs, reduce poverty by 50 percent and bring unemployment to below 10 percent.

“We believe this doable,” he said. “It’s hard, but if there’s a peace agreement and we set up the right structure, we think it could really lead to improving people’s lives in a substantial way.

“I think there is a lot of enthusiasm in the West Bank and Gaza to see if we can find a political solution so that this can be implemented.”

The political element of the White House plan has been delayed by uncertainty in Israel, where there will be elections this year after an earlier vote failed to produce a stable coalition, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may also face a criminal trial for corruption.