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ICC Note: Yazidis are expressing concern that Muslim villagers who participated in the crimes of ISIS, including participating in the massacre in Shingal, are being allowed to return to a village east of Sinjar. ISIS attacked the Yazidis just days before moving into the Christian lands. The potential return of those who actively joined ISIS in committing genocide shows yet another complexity of challenges facing the victims who are unsure about returning home and the place of religious minorities in Iraqi society.         

08/31/2018 Iraq (JPost) –  Yazidi activists accused Baghdad of allowing people who “took part in the 2014 genocide” to return to villages near Sinjar in northern Iraq. On Tuesday, video and photos were posted online showing a long line of trucks and cars waiting near a checkpoint to return to a village east of Sinjar Mountain.

“Yazidis concerned over return of families involved in Islamic State Shingal massacre,” tweeted one activist. “The return of these people will become a threat to the lives of people in Shingal, and bad things may happen which we do not accept.”

In August 2014, Islamic State attacked the area around Sinjar mountain where hundreds of thousands of Yazidis, members of a religious minority, live. ISIS captured more than 10,000 people and systematically separated women and men, murdering the men and selling women and children into slavery. The horrific crime has been called genocide by international organizations. More than 3,000 Yazidi women and children are still missing.

Since Sinjar was liberated in 2015, many Yazidis have not returned due to an unstable security situation and changing control of the area from Kurdish Peshmerga to Iraqi federal forces. However, since Iraq’s federal government and Shi’ite militias took control in October 2017, some Arab families who fled the area have returned. The Shi’ite militias are called Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU).

Local Yazidis accuse some of the local Arab tribes of having supported ISIS and think that the government hasn’t screened the returnees. They are also angry that Yazidis have not been given infrastructure in Sinjar and security, even though these other groups displaced by the fighters are able to return.

The recent statements came after Amy Beam, a human rights advocate for Yazidi survivors of the 2014 genocide, posted a video on Facebook Tuesday showing more than 35 cars and trucks waiting at a checkpoint on a road that leads from Tal Afar to Snune in northern Iraq.

“Video of Sunni Arabs returning August 28 to Gholat village on the east end of Shingal mountain,” she wrote on Facebook. “Residents of Gholat are accused by Ezidi [Yazidi] neighbors of participation with ISIS to attack them August 3, 2014.” She says that she is hoping for “peace and justice” and would try to speak with some of the returnees. “Shia and Sunni Arabs also suffered from Daesh and lost their family members and houses. How will the innocent Arabs be separated from the guilty Daesh,” she wrote.

YAZIDIS EXPRESSED concern when they heard of the return. One man noted in reaction to the video that he had also passed the same convoy of vehicles. “They were waiting for their names to be checked on the security forces’ computer.”

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