Bodies of Yezidis are exhumed from a mass grave in Tel Afar, Iraq, on October 15, 2018. Photo: Submitted to Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A mass grave in the village of Kasr Mihrab near Tal Afar has been found containing the bodies of 18 people believed to be Yezidis will be exhumed and transferred to Shingal on Monday. Seven are confirmed to be from Kocho.
“This Yezidi mass grave was discovered in the village of Kasr Mihrab after Tal Afar was recaptured. They contain 18 Yezidi bodies, most of them from the village of Kocho. Eight of these bodies have been exhumed in cooperation with an Iraqi government team, and their identities have been established,” said Hizni Murad who was at the scene.
Eight bodies will be transferred on Sunday back to Shingal.
“Seven of these eight bodies are from the village of Kocho, one from the village of Hatimye. They are all Yezidi Kurds killed by ISIS in August 2014,” said Murad.
He is the brother of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad
, an ISIS survivor who has worked over the past four years to share her story and the genocide committed by the extremists with the world.
“When ISIS militants attacked Shingal in 2014, they tried to kill Yezidis en masse. There are eight bodies in the mass grave discovered in Tal Afar. There are women and men in the grave,” added Hizni Murad.
Men and women were separated on August 3, 2014 by ISIS. Men were killed for being non-believers or “devil worshipers,” while young boys, girls, and women were largely enslaved, abused, raped, and traded between ISIS members.
“They were all killed collectively by ISIS. Identities of eight of them have been established. They will be transferred to the village of Hatimye and be buried there with the attendance of their relatives,” Hizni explained.
Tel Afar in Nineveh province is administered by the Iraqi federal government. ISIS used the city as a primary operating base that linked Mosul to Raqqa in Syria. The number of mass graves
is unknown. As people seek justice for the genocide, preservation of evidence in an unknown number is key.
The Yezidi homeland of Shingal remains a disputed or Kurdistani area claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil more than four years after the genocide began.
According to Khairi Bozani, the Yezidi representative to the KRG’s Ministry of Religious Affairs, 1,193 individuals were slaughtered on the first day of the ISIS attack alone.
More than 1,100 Yezidis, mostly women and young girls, are still missing.