ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A local rights group in Iraq on Thursday announced the discovery of a new mass grave in the Yezidi (Ezidi) town of Sinjar (Shingal) that contains the bodies of close to ten members of the religious minority.
The Ezidi Organization for Documentation is a civil rights group concerned with gathering information to record the acts of genocide that the Islamic State committed against Ezidis, who have traditionally lived primarily in the Shingal district of Nineveh province.
The group said its members and local authorities first found the site, located next to Shingal Police Directorate and estimated to contain the remains of up to 10 persons. They specified that their preliminary investigations, also in coordination with local authorities, had found traces of gunshots on the bodies of the victims.
Relevant officials in Baghdad have been informed of the situation and the area had been cordoned off, members said.
So far, dozens of such sites containing victims of the Islamic State have been found in the country, 16 of which were discovered in the small village of Kojo in Shingal. In May, the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by ISIS (UNITAD), tasked with investigating the crimes of the terror group, announced it had completed the excavation of 12 of those graves with the help of locals.
On March 15, the Federal Government of Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and UNITAD marked the beginning of national efforts to unearth the first mass graves of Ezidi killed by the Islamic State in Shingal in August 2014.
Ezidis suffered heavily at the hands of the Islamic State following its emergence in Iraq in 2014. The occupation of the town of Shingal led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of their community, considered heretics by the terror group.
Islamic State militants subjected women and girls to sexual slavery, kidnapped children, forced religious conversions, executed scores of men, and abused, sold, and trafficked women across areas they controlled in Iraq and Syria.
In late July, the head of UNITAD, Special Advisor Karim Khan, called for Nuremberg-style trial of members of the terrorist organization to bring them to justice.
Khan and his almost 80-person team have been working in Iraq for about a year in this endeavor. They have been analyzing up to 12,000 bodies exhumed from 200 mass graves left behind by the Islamic State, 600,000 videos showing the group’s crimes, and 15,000 “internal ISIS documents.”
Editing by John J. Catherine