GENEVA – The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties (GCRL) calls on the Iraqi authorities to open a serious investigation into the mass grave which was discovered south of the city of Tikrit, and demands efforts to uncover the identity of the victims and hold accountable those involved in “extrajudicial killings.”
The Geneva Council is deeply distressed by the announcement of al-Ishaak tribal leaders and notables in the Iraqi governorate of Salah al-Din of the discovery of a mass grave in the Ishaaqi district, south of Tikrit, specifically, the “Galli” region, which included dozens of the bodies of the disappeared during the restoration of those areas from the control of the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014.
According to the clans’ statement, the bodies discovered in the cemetery belong to the families that were forcibly disappeared by the militias. On May 25, 2015, the village of Al-Khater in Al-Jazira province was raided by militias and a large number of citizens were arrested, and this was repeated on June 2 of the same year, and contact with most of them was cut off. The residents said that during that period, ISIS militias committed collective kidnappings, extrajudicial killings, and many mass graves were reported, which requires intensive government efforts to search for.
According to the statement, there are more than 25,000 missing people in that area, some of them were missed after the Popular Mobilization Forces took control.
Reports documented 12,000 cases of missing persons registered with the United Nations High Commissioner, and some of them were not registered as they were internally displaced or forcibly disappeared by the militias, including about 10,000 missing people in Salah al-Din Governorate, nearly 4,000 of them were registered with the United Nations Commission, including more than 1,200 from the Ishaqi side and 100 in Mukishifa, more than 2,000 in Samarra, 160 in Yathrib, more than 1,000 in the vicinity of Balad, more than 1,800 in Mosul and more than 4,700 in Anbar, including 2,000 in the Saqlawiyah massacre, more than 2,000 in Hawija in Kirkuk, and more than 250 in the Baghdad belt.
GCRL calls on the Iraqi authorities to conduct a serious investigation into the discovered mass grave and extensive work to identify the victims, as well as to investigate the circumstances of their killing and to bring those involved in it to justice.
It also calls for intensifying work to uncover the fate of the disappeared, and whether there are more graves, and to identify all those involved in extrajudicial killings and abuse, whether from the militia of ISIS, the Mobilization Forces, the regular forces, or other armed forces.
The Council urges the United Nations special procedures to open an investigation into these crimes, especially since most of the mass killings involve people who have been detained and forcibly disappeared by militias and regular forces in Iraq.
The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties affirms that it is high time to get to the truth and reveal facts about the horrific crimes and violations that the Iraqi people witnessed in this dark period, to ensure access to justice for the families of the victims and accountability for all those involved in these crimes.