The Iraqi Government aided by the UN has exhumed a mass grave in the village of Kojo (Kocho), located in the Sinjar district in Iraq. The village was the site of a genocide carried out by ISIS against the country's Yazidi community.
Four years have passed since ISIS carried out mass genocide campaigns against Iraq’s Yazidi minority in the country’s Nineveh Province. Survivors of ISIS’ massacres against the Yazidi population say that many families are still waiting to know the destinies of their loved ones who they lost during those dark years.
In an attempt to begin to heal the wounds left by the militant group, the Iraqi Government, aided by the United Nations (UN), has finally started exhuming the mass graves that ISIS used to bury their victims.
A tragic ceremony was held in the village of Kojo (Kocho) in the city of Sinjar, which saw the exhumation of the first Yazidi mass grave in Iraq.
The ceremony was attended by dozens of Yazidi survivors and activists, most notably Nadia Murad, the Yazidi woman who recently received a Nobel Peace Prize for her work on raising awareness of ISIS’ brutality against minority groups in Iraq.
As the grave was opened, families of the victims stood in tears remembering their loved ones that were killed by ISIS.
“ISIS militants fired four shots at each person, even those wounded were killed,” said a survivor of the massacre. “7 people and I survived the horrific massacre.”
According to sources in the Iraqi Government, the remnants of the victims will be identified using DNA testing, after which point they will then be given back to their remaining family members so that they can be given proper burial services.
In a statement given by Murad during the ceremony, she said that Yazidis would not reconcile with many tribes in the region unless they provide the names of the tribal members who joined ISIS and assisted them in carrying out these horrific crimes. According to activists, many of those who participated in these massacres are still walking freely amongst their tribes.
The Iraqi Government has stated multiple times in the past that they will hunt down and prosecute all those who were involved in the mass genocide of Yazidis that took place between 2014 and 2017.
This sentiment was reiterated by the head of the UN investigation team, Karim Khan, who said that those who participated would be held accountable for their crimes against humanity.
While at least 73 mass graves holding the bodies of thousands of Yazidis have been found in Sinjar alone, according to the UN, the opening of this mass grave in Kojo marks the first step that has been undertaken by the Iraqi Government and the UN to seek accountability and justice for the innocent souls that were taken by ISIS.