In former territories of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist militia in Iraq, more than 200 mass graves containing the bodies of up to 12,000 victims of the extremist group have been found, according to UN figures. The UN has now called on Iraqi officials to dig up the mass graves in order to create a mourning opportunity for the relatives and friends of the victims.
The United Nations Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) called on the Iraqi authorities in the report presented on Tuesday to clear the sites completely to provide families with certainty about the fate of their relatives.
„The mass graves documented in our report are evidence of gruesome human losses, severe suffering and shocking cruelty,“ said UN envoy for Iraq, Jan Kubis. For the relatives it is important for the funeral work to have certainty about the circumstances of death. The mass graves could also help to deal with IS crimes.
The graves were created between 2014 and 2017, when the IS had large parts of the country under its control. „The graves contain the remains of all the mercilessly killed, including ethnic and religious minorities, who did not agree with the perverted ideology and IS rule,“ said UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet.
The exact investigation of the graves and victims must be the basis for the persecution of the perpetrators. Truth and justice required a salvage of the remains, their identification and return to the families, including Bachelet.
Of the 202 mass graves discovered, only 28 were excavated and more than 1,250 were exhumed there, according to the UN report. The IS militia had conquered large areas of Iraq in 2014 and killed thousands of police, soldiers and civilians. After fierce fighting, the Iraqi army and allied Kurdish and Shiite militias managed to recapture all areas with international support last year.
Massacre of recruits
As a particularly horrible crime by the IS is the mass shooting of recruits. ISIS, in June 2014, boasted that it had shot 1,700 army recruits near the city of Tikrit following its advance in Iraq. These had fled from the military base camp memory and surrendered to the extremists. The human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimated the number of deaths at up to 770.
IS supporters published pictures on the Internet showing how the lined-up soldiers were shot dead. After the liberation of Tikrits, Iraqi authorities discovered at least 14 mass graves in April 2015, in which victims of the shootings had been buried.
The massacre sparked severe criticism of the government and the army in Iraq. Relatives of the victims stormed the parliament in Baghdad in 2014 and demanded that the responsible officers be held accountable. Some senior soldiers are reported to have fled the IS and left the unarmed recruits behind.