Iraqi President at Burial Ceremony for Yazidi Victims at Kocho: All Iraqis Must Work Together to Create A Country Where such Inhumane, Heinous Acts can Never Occur Again


On Saturday, February 6, 2021, the adviser on Yazidi affairs to the President of the Republic of Iraq, Barham Salih, attended the burial ceremony for exhumed victims of the Kocho massacre. 
During this event, on August, 2014, hundreds of inhabitants of the village of Kocho, Sinjar, in northern Iraq were murdered by the extremist group known as the Islamic State. A number have been exhumed and identified and are now being re-buried.
President Salih's adviser, Sagvan Murad, gave the President's speech on behalf of Barham Salih during the ceremony. In it, the President expressed his condolences to the victims' families and to all victims of the extremists' inhumanity and violence. The President said that what had happened to Iraq's Yazidi people must never be allowed to happen again. 
This would involve the efforts of all Iraqis, their government and their allies, President Salih said, as they worked together toward an environment where extremism and terrorism could not flourish.  
It would also involve the instatement of legislation to prevent incitement or the targeting of any particular group of people in Iraq, based upon their religious, ethnic or sectarian affiliations, as well as methods to prevent logistical or other support for extremist groups in Iraq. 
In his speech, President Salih also called upon both local and international security forces, not only to continue the fight against the remaining Islamic State cells in the country, but to redouble efforts to determine the fate of around 2,000 Yazidis who were still missing. 
There were also other steps that needed to be taken to bring security and peace back to the Yazidi community, the President added. This included assisting the displaced to return to Sinjar and ensuring that the Sinjar area was properly administered and serviced. 
Finally in the speech, President Salih urged the Iraqi Parliament to pass the Yazidi Female Survivors Law as quickly as possible and advocated for ongoing professional exhumation from the mass graves in Sinjar, so that the results could be used as evidence in court against members of the IS group, in the future. 
The text of the speech follows:
In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful, 
Ladies and gentlemen, 
As we gather here on this painful and sad occasion, we remember the atrocities committed against our people by the criminals and murderers belonging to the extremist Islamic State group. The crimes that this group committed against our Yazidi community are some of the most heinous, the most shameful and the most inhumane. 
That is why it is absolutely essential that we continue to work together to completely rid the world, and the Iraqi people, of these extremist groups and their threats. 
A list of atrocities – mass graves, thousands of missing men and women, other women and girls sold into slavery, devastated cities, towns and villages, the destruction of holy shrines – reflect the abnormal mindset of the terrorists, their contempt for basic humanity and decency and even their indifference to the most basic rules of combat and warfare. 
This requires the humanitarian community to redouble our efforts to determine how to completely eradicate terrorism and extremism. Its sources of financing must be cut off, and its disinformation campaigns and strategies to radicalize shut down. It must be denied any further human resources. 
We did manage to defeat the extremist Islamic State group. Iraq's cities, towns and villages have been liberated from this scourge. This was achieved through the determination of the Iraqi people themselves and the bravery of the Iraqi armed forces of all kinds, along with support from our friends and allies. 
But there are still many tasks ahead of this government. The state must continue to work towards ending any remaining Islamic State cells, to destroy their hideouts in the desert and any cells located near our cities. This land must be cleaned of this terrorist menace. 
There is also much to be done in cooperation with other nations and with the international coalition, to continue the fight against extremism. This includes not just eliminating the group themselves but working toward alleviating tensions in our region and dismantling any logistical or other support these groups are getting. Acting together with international friends and allies in other sectors - such as politics, law, economics and trade – will eventually result in an environment where extremism can no longer grow or flourish, one that is free of threats and that doesn't allow any terrorist organization any opportunity. 
We have paid a high price for peace and security in Iraq. But we must continue to fight against terrorism and extremism.
Today, it is our duty to honor all the victims of terrorism – the martyrs and the wounded – and to draw lessons from our losses which will help ensure that these never happen again. We can do this on a personal level by promoting peaceful co-existence. Gains we have made here, in rejecting discrimination in all its forms, stepping away from judging our neighbors based only on their religious, sectarian or ethnic affiliation, must not be in vain. 
Our unity – the unity of the Iraqi people – is key to our people's resilience and courage and is based upon decency and good citizenship. This is how we can defeat terrorism and extremism.
If we all agree on the fundamental values of a democratic, free, sovereign and just state, then we can progress toward peace and security. We can truly start on the serious work of building this nation and giving Iraq the position among the international community that it deserves. 
The kinds of genocidal actions taken against our Yazidi people, starting August 3rd, 2014, must never happen again. We need laws that will end terrorism and strictly punish any acts that incite hatred and target particular racial, ethnic or religious groups. 
That would help us emerge from this dark, inhumane chapter, during which the Iraqi people have suffered all manner of horrors, including not just terrorist acts but mass murder of civilians, forcible displacement, chemical weapons and the destruction of villages and rural areas by arson. 
As the Presidency of this Republic, this office will take up the Yazidi cause, just as we have taken good care to defend the rights of all other Iraqis, no matter what their background or affiliation. 
On this painful occasion, I reaffirm my position of support for Yazidi victims of extremism and particularly the female survivors of these terrible acts. We have now reached the final stage before the approval of the Yazidi Female Survivors Law and I call upon the Iraqi parliament to pass this bill swiftly so that these Iraqi citizens can receive the compensation due to them.  
I also want to again encourage the Iraqi state, our security forces and the international community to intensify their efforts in the search for those people from the Yazidi community – there are more than 2,000 of them, male and female – who are still missing, and to secure the release of any abductees and survivors. 
I also urge the various responsible authorities in our federal Government, within the government of the Kurdish region and inside the Ninawa provincial authority, to complete the organization of the administration in the Sinjar district. This includes ensuring security, delivering basic state services and assisting displaced locals to overcome the challenges of returning home. 
I would also like to call upon the international community to assist the Iraqi people in the reconstruction of liberated areas so as to help ensure that displaced locals may return more easily, and to help us preserve cultural and architectural heritage. This will promote solidarity among all the peoples involved. 
I extend my deepest condolences to the families of the martyrs and victims and through them, to the wider Yazidi faith community. I also extend condolences to other sectors of our society who suffered from terrorist acts, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice as they struggled to liberate our cities and bring peace and security to all of the Iraqi people. I also send appreciation to international organizations who have been tireless in their efforts to assist us. 
Finally, I want to stress how important it is to continue to exhume the bodies of victims from mass graves in the Sinjar district. We should be doing this in a professional, exacting and scientific manner so that we will have evidence to use against the extremist Islamic State group in a court of justice in the future. 
May God's mercy be upon all of our martyrs. 
We wish freedom and peace for all the missing and abducted.
God bless and save all the Iraqis.
May peace be with you.


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