The remains of 104 Yazidis killed during the Islamic State (IS) group’s genocide against the ethno-religious minority in 2014 were returned to their community in northern Iraq for burial on Saturday.
The bodies were exhumed from mass graves last year and were subsequently sent to Baghdad for identification.
A funeral was held for the victims at the Unknown Soldier memorial in Baghdad on Thursday before they were brought home to Kochonear Mount Sinjar in Ninevah province.
Kocho was the site of one of the worst atrocities committed against the community, with nearly all the village’s boys and men shot dead, and the young women and girls sold into slavery.
The UN says IS carried out genocide against the community and thousands of men were killed and women and children enslaved and raped when the Islamic caliphate overran the Yazidis’ homeland.
The 104 were all men who had been killed by IS militants in August 2014, the head of the Yazidi Organisation for Documentation, Khairi Ali Ibrahim, was quoted as saying.
At the memorial in Baghdad, each coffin was adorned with a photo of the man who had been lost.
“This is a first step in respecting the remains of these victims and it will be also a step of transitional justice that the other victims, the women, the children, who survived the genocide will be compensated,” said Yazidi human rights activist Mirza Dinnayi.
“I hope that we can do far more in protecting the Yazidi and to say never again for the future.”
Yazidis practise a form of religion which combines elements of ancient Iranian religions with parts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. They were considered heretics by IS, a Sunni jihadist group.
There were believed to be an estimated 550,000 Yazidis living in Iraq before IS invaded on August 03, 2014. Some 360,000 Yazidis escaped and found refuge elsewhere.
Amnesty International said in July that some 2,000 Yazidi children who had survived brutal captivity at the hands of the IS were still not getting the care they needed and were suffering severe physical and mental health problems. (Source: BBC)