A UN investigation has led to the discovery of pits containing up to 12 thousand corpses. They are located in the north and west of the country, most (95) in the Nineveh Plain. Don Paolo: “Sign of memory” etched “on the people faces, even those of children”.
The graves contain “Yazidis, Muslims, foreigners captured and then executed; we do not know if there are also Christians of the Nineveh Plain “of whom” we have not had any news for some time “, but on this there are no” certain news “to this day, Asia News reports.
This is how Don Paolo Thabit Mekko commented to AsiaNews on the news of the discover of over 200 mass graves containing thousands of corpses massacred by the Islamic State (IS, ex Isis). Found thanks to a UN investigation, they are located in the governorates of Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Anbar, in the north and west, territories once controlled by jihadist militias.
“The mass graves – says the Chaldean priest – are a sign of memory, they are traces that will remain for a long time, a reminder of what has happened”. A tragedy, he adds, that has struck an entire people and that “today is etched on the faces of people, even those of children who bear the signs of trauma” which are not only physical but also psychological.
According to UN estimates, the graves contain the remains of at least 12 thousand victims. They represent a further confirmation of the brutality, the violence, the slaughter of those who rejected or criticized the jihadist ideology and the insane murderous violence of the militia.
“They are a reminder of the harrowing loss of life and shocking cruelty,” emphasizes Ján Kubiš, UN special representative for Iraq.
The investigation has allowed the creation of remains from which we can trace the identity of the victims. Furthermore, discoveries can be a fundamental test in (future) trials for war crimes and crimes against humanity, without excluding the hypothesis of genocide, against senior officials or ISIS top members. Of the 202 mass graves found so far, 95 are located on the Nineveh Plain, 37 in Kirkuk, 36 in Salah al-Din and 24 in Anbar. There are between 6,000 and 12,000 victims among them, including women, children, the elderly and disabled people, foreign workers and members of the Iraqi security forces.
After a rapid rise between the second half of 2014 and 2105 in Syria and Iraq, coming to conquer half of the territory and committing atrocious crimes against humanity, the jihadists gradually lost ground under the military drive of Damascus (with its Russian ally) and the Iraqi army, supported by Kurds and a US-led international coalition. Today they control only some limited areas straddling the two countries; however, their ideology remains alive and military defeat does not erase the threat.
“The traumas of the jihadist domination are still alive and have entered common parlance and everyday life”, says don Paolo. “Often those who wear a beard – he says – are associated with ISIS. The word itself, Daesh [Arabic acronym for SI] is used to terrorize people, to speak ill, to indicate unbecoming conduct. When someone hurts, he is told he is from Isis. All this shows how the tragedy is still alive “.
There are “open wounds” of those who “lost their loved ones”, says the Chaldean priest, who are added “to the destruction of houses, churches, public buildings. To say that ISIS is not forgotten, it is not erased, it cannot be filed away as if it were in the past “. In terms of reconstruction “the work continues”, concludes Don Paolo, but what is really needed “is a stable occupation and a profound process of psychological recovery of victims’ traumas”.