Exhumation of six mass graves begins in Sinjar
SINJAR (Kurdistan 24) – The exhumation of six mass graves near Sinjar's Qini village began on June 28.
Dozens of grief-stricken Yezidi mothers who have lost loved ones walked to a barren field of Qini village, where special teams have designated six mass graves for exhumation.
Yezidi women were crying along with hundreds of men, who were commemorating the victims by reciting religious rituals and singing traditional hymns.
The six graves contain the remains of Yezidis killed and buried there by ISIS militants in August 2014.
"They have been under the soil in unidentified spots for too long. We want them identified so we can mourn knowing where their graves are; our heart's wound is too deep," Layli, a woman who lost her husband and a brother, told Kurdistan 24.
The Yezidi Organization for Documentation in Sinjar specializes in documenting crimes committed against the Yezidi minority. Its head, Khayri Ali, said that the mass grave exhumation and protection section of the Iraqi Martyrs agency started the process of exhuming six mass graves in Qini village close to the Sharfaddin shrine in Sinjar.
He explained that the number of bodies buried in the mass graves is unknown since ISIS militants killed civilians across the Sinjar region. However, the six graves may contain about 100 bodies based on survivors' accounts.
Ali said that ISIS began massacring Yezidis on Aug. 3, 2014, and dumped the bodies of 1,200 Yezidis in 87 mass graves within days.
Thirty-four mass graves with the remains of at least 500 people have been exhumed so far. DNA tests have identified 146 of those bodies, which were later buried separately in accordance with Yezidi religious rituals.
After excavation of each mass grave, the remains of the victims will be sent to Baghdad, awaiting identification through DNA testing.
On Mar. 15, 2019, the first exhumation of mass graves started in Kocho village near Sinjar. However, such exhumations were halted for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Families of the victims criticized the Iraqi government for the prolonged exhumation process, noting that the time that has passed and harsh weather conditions have deteriorated the grave sites.