On 5 March 2023, the Martyrs Foundation, the Iraqi government authority in charge of exhuming mass graves and identifying the victims, in cooperation with the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and the United Nations Investigative Team for Accountability of Da’esh /ISIL (UNITAD), will begin exhuming mass graves in the village of Hamadan, on the South side of Sinjar Mountain.
Yazda welcomes this important milestone as it will allow the families of victims from Hamadan to uncover the truth about what happened to their beloved ones, to bury them and to begin their healing process.
Since March 2019, a total of 43 mass graves have been exhumed in Sinjar including 17 in Kocho, 1 in Solagh, 6 in Hardan, 6 in Qiney, and 6 in Ger Zarik. There are 4 known mass graves in Hamadan and 3 will be exhumed with UNITAD’s technical support. Like many other villages, Hamadan was attacked by ISIL on the 3rd of August 2014 and Yazidi families were executed or captured. According to survivor testimonies collected by Yazda through its documentation project since early 2015, ISIL systematically separated families, killing the men and enslaving women and children.
Tomorrow, an opening ceremony organized by the families will take place in the presence of Yazidi community members. Yazidi religious rituals will be performed in honor of the victims before remains are taken to the mortuary in Baghdad for identification purposes. After identification, the remains will be returned to the families for dignified burial ceremonies.
Yazda and its partners will be in Hamadan to support the Yazidi community during this difficult period. Yazda’s Mobile Medical Unit and case managers will provide medical and mental health services. Yazda teams will also be there to answer families’ questions about the exhumation process and community members will be invited to provide feedback on the processes to ensure exhumations and identifications are carried out in a survivor-centered way.
Yazda calls on the relevant authorities to expedite the exhumation process for the remaining mass graves in Sinjar in line with international standards and in a community-centered manner.
(c) 2023, Yazda