Tags / Burial
This video shows Free Syrian Army fighters preparing a grave to bury the body of a young Kurdish fighter, believed to be a member of the PYD, killed during a battle in a northern area of Aleppo, Syria. It is claimed in some reports that the PYD (Democratic Union Party) is affiliated with the Kurdish PKK in Turkey. The FSA accuses the PYD and PKK of collaborating with the government of Bashar al-Assad. The contributor who shot the video says the FSA also claims the Kurdish militia group is using child soldiers. The Assad regime has in the past admitted to providing support to the PYD.
Drone footage filmed in December 2015 near Suluk, Syria north of Raqqa showing a deep cavern where ISIS militants threw the bodies of their victims.
Video contains some graphic images of human remains.
Gyan Prasad Acharya has tended funeral pyres at Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu for 30 years. Since a massive earthquake devastated Nepal, the Ghats, traditional spaces reserved for cremating the dead, at Pashupatinath Temple have been overwhelmed. The Ghats have gone from seeing 30 bodies cremated a day to hundreds. Every open space along the river has been taken up by survivors trying to bid their loved ones a final farewell.
It took Hajrija Selimovic (not pictured) 19 years to bury her dead husband and her two sons. "It was July 11th, 1995 when I last saw my boys Nermin, 19, and Samir, 25, and my husband Hasan". On July 11, 1995, Bosnian Serb troops led by Ratko Mladic stormed through the UN peacekeeping enclave into the city of Srebrenica, executing over 8,000 Bosniaks, mostly men and boys. Many other hundred inhabitants tried to flee through enemy lines to reach the safe haven of Tuzla, Bosniak territory. At least 8,372 men and boys were killed in the Srebrenica area and burried in so called primary grave sites. Soon after the massacre the perpetrators tried to cover their traces of this genocide and opened the mass graves in order to rebury the dead all over Bosnian Serb territory in so called secondary mass graves. During this attempt many dead bodies were "broken" leading to the fact that some parts of a body went to one grave and other parts to other graves. It took several years after the war to identify the most of these 300 secondary mass graves. In 1997 the ICMP was set up in order to search and identify the dead people from Srebrenica. But it wasn't before 2002 until the first identification was possible through DNA.
Dragana Vučetić (pictured), Senior Forensic Anthropologist at the International Comitee for Missing Persons (ICMP): "The greatest problem we have is that we do not find a complete body in one grave. So we have to identify each and every bone. Sometimes we find human remains of one person in up to four secondary mass grave sites." That is what makes the work so complicated.
After bones are found - either in mass graves or above the surface (pictured) - these bones are collected by the ICMP. Dragana Vučetić then cuts out a piece of the bone (pictured) and sends it to Tuzla's Identification Coordination Division (ICD) where they try to extract DNA. The ICD is also responsible for the collecting of Blood samples by relatives. The closer the relatives are the better the chance to identify someone. Blood samples are stored in the ICD (pictured).
If a blood sample - like the one from Hajrija Selimovic - fits with DNA from newly found bones the ICMP is contacting the relatives. Hajrija Selimovic: "The ICMP called me and told me that they found my husband, but they don't know where his head is". It isn't difficult to understand that Hajrija didn't let the body of her husband be reburied but wanted to wait until the head was found. "I got another call", Hajrija says. "they have found my son! But the problem was they didn't know which son it was". Hajirija had to wait another two years before also her other son had been identified. In 2013 she was able to put her husband (with his head) to rest... In 2014 she had to attend (and didn't want to be photographed during the burial, acutally was just lying next to fence during the ceremony) the burial again and had to lay her two boys to rest! It took her 19 years!
Jasmin Agovic was the head of press at that time (in 2014) and told me following thing: "Imagine you are one of these women and you know that your brothers, your husband, your sons are dead. You can't be sure because their dead bodies haven't been found yet. Then you receive a call and someone tells you that they have found some bones and that one of your sons is dead. But they don't know which one, they can't tell you. And they haven't found everything of the human remains. On which point do you decide to burry your loved-ones or wait if the maybe find more bones. As an ICMP forensic team member you aks yourself if you identify onother bone: Should I call the women and tell them I have found one more bone or do I wait until I find more bones and they can burry their loved-ones. When do I call them and when do I not? What if they die in the meantime and you weren't able to give them their dead sons' bodies back?"
The process of contacting family members is a psychologically stressful one from start to finish, as survivors re-live the agony of the loss while deciding to hold a funeral immediately or to wait until all the remains have been found.
Not all of the dead are found in mass graves. Many were killed while they were trying to flee the enclave through Bosnian Serb enemy lines. Zijad Ibrić (pictured) who fled the enclave on Juy 11th, 1995 through enemy lines and survived is now working as a deminer in the region for Norwegian People's Aid. The area surrounding Srebrenica is still scattered with landmines and UXO. No anti-mine-vehicle and no dogs can operate in that area. Only the deminers themselves. And they have to see and collect the bones as well as clothings and personal belongings for ICMP for identification.
Zijad Ibrić: "I was fleeing Srebrenica with my younger brother on July 11th. My younger brother didn't make it. One moment he was next to me, the other he was vanished. Bosnian Serbs were coming and telling us they are refugees themselves and we should come out of the woods. Many did. They were arrested and later murdered. They also were firing granates on us. Many died. But today I am not angry. Norwegian People's Aid is a multi-ethnical family. I am working with Serbs and Croats. It wasn't my collegues who killed someone. It was those criminals and politicans at that time. Not today. Today I come back here and I am happy for each bone I find, for each individula I can help to be identified through ICMP. That is what I am doing today."
Dragana Vučetić (pictured): "Sometimes it is not easy to get useful DNA out of bones that were lying on the ground for nearly 20 years. We have some bones in our mortuary (pictured) we were trying to identify for four or five years now." But technology increases. In Sarajaevo ICMP now runs hyper-modern cubes that are able to multiply short DNA parts so that the DNA can be compared with the blood samples and so they were able to identify more and more people.
Every year on July 11th, the anniversary, a commemoration is happening in Potocari (the place where the UN Dutch peacekeeping bataillong was stationed - pictured) and all the dead who were identified in the last year are burried. 6,241 victims have been buried so far during the annual anniversaries of the massacre in Potocari, Bosnia. The number of burials decrease every year. While burrying their relatives (burial of Nermin, 19, and Samir, 25 - pictured / more images available including the names on graves and coffins) the women cry and collapse and faint (pictured). But finally they were able to say goodbye to their loved-ones. Only because of the work of ICMP.
More quotes and pictures available on request.
Mined area near Srebrenica. On July 11th, 1995, when Bosnian Serb troops led by Ratko Mladic stormed through the UN peacekeeping enclave, hundreds of inhabitants decided to flee through the woods. Many of them were killed or captured.
Human remains found in a mined area near Srebrenica.
Human remains found in a mined area near Srebrenica.
Human remains and a key of a missing person found in a mined area near Srebrenica.
Deminer from Norwegian People's Aid demining the area around Srebrenica where hundreds of inhabitants tried to flee through enemy lines on July 11, 1995 when Bosnian Serb troops stormed trough the UN peacekeeping enclave. Deminers are trying to find human remains to identify missing persons.
A deminer from Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) holding human remains found during demining activities in the Srebrenica area.
Deminers from Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA) are finding human bones and clothings of thoses who died while trying to flee through enemy lines after Bosnian Serb troops stormed Srebrenica on July 11, 1995.
Human remains and clothings found during demining activities by Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) in Srebrenica area. After the enclave had been stormed by Bosnian Serb troops hundreds of people tried to escape through mined area.
Human remains found in a mined area near Srebrenica. After Bosnian Serb troops stormed the enclave hundreds tried to flee through enemy lines and were captured or killed.
Newly found human bones were marked. Soon they will be covered until they got collected by ICMP for identification process.
A deminer from Norwegian People's Aid is clearing a lot in Srebrenica area.
A deminer from NPA showing clothings found during demining activities in the Srebrenica area.
A deminer from NPA showing clothings found during demining activities in the Srebrenica area.
A wallet from a missing person found during demining activities. ICMP is collecting all clothings and human remains in order to identify missing persons.
A toothbrush from a missing person found during demining activities. ICMP is collecting all clothings and human remains in order to identify missing persons.
Zijad Ibrić who fled the enclave on Juy 11th, 1995 through enemy lines and survived. He is now working as a deminer in the region where he is also finding human remains of those who didn't make it through.
New roads had to be build in order to enter the mined area around Srebrenica to start demining activities and search for human remains.
A young Bosnian woman is walking next to some of the tombstones at the Potocari memorial cemetary.
Born 16 july 1968 in Shahrestan village, near the northern Iranian city of Rasht, Mohammad Ali Hasanjani was only 18 years old when he was deployed by the Iranian Army on the frontlines of the Iran-Iraq war. Soon after he was killed and his body never recovered. For 27 years he lay missing, buried amidst the wreckage of war, his family having no remains with which to mourn. However, after missing for 27 years, Mohammad's body was found and he was recently returned home to his village for a hero's funeral.
During the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1989) hundreds of thousands of soldiers were killed on both sides. In Iran, people who were killed in the conflict were declared martyrs, or heroes for their country. Due to the chaotic and exceptionally deadly nature of the war, many soldiers went missing in battle. At the end of the war, the search began to find those missing in action and the mission continues to this day. Many of those soldiers who are found are never identified. However, in some cases, like that of Mohammad Ali Hasanjani, missing soldiers are indentified and returned home for a long overdue funeral.
These photos chronicle the funeral of Mohammad Ali Hasanjani 27 years after he was killed.
February 1, 2015
Dozens of Kurdish fighters killed in various battles were buried during a large ceremony at the Martyr Khelil Sarukhan cemetery in the city of Hasaka, northeast Syria.
There have been heavy battles between ISIS and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) for several months, mostly centered in the city of Kobane. Unprecedented clashes also erupted on January 17 between the YPG and Syrian regime forces outside the city of Hasaka, killing more than 20 Kurdish fighters and civilians were killed in this fighting.
Hasaka is part of the autonomous region in Syria proclaimed in by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the umbrella group with which the YPG is affiliated.
The PYD has been previously accused by members of Syrian opposition of collaborating with the Syrian regime.
This video shows the burial ceremony, during which families of killed fighters appear gathering, holding YPG flags and reading verses from the Quran. Video also includes interviews with a female Kurdish political militant and the wives of two fighters killed in battles with ISIS.
SHOTLIST AND TRANSCRIPT
Various of Asayesh (Kurdish security force) members
Various of women weeping next to graves
Medium of boys watering plant on a grave
Wide of fighter talking to woman in the graveyard
Various of woman crying next to fighter’s grave
Wide of male and female fighters standing next to a grave
Wide of people at cemetery entrance
Various of children holding YPG flag in the cemetery
Wide of people at cemetery entrance
Various of mourners near the grave of Asayish member
Wide of graves
Wide of women sitting near a grave
Medium of woman reading Quran
Wide of a dug grave
Wide of people at cemetery entrance
Wide of female militants searching a woman at the entrance of cemetery
Various of cemetery entrance
Wide of convoy
Various of procession to carry bodies of fighters to the cemetery
Wide of coffin
Various of female fighters preparing for ceremony
Wide of people gathered at the entrance of cemetery
Wide of Nawal Kelo, Kurdish Political Militant
SOUNDBITE (Kurdish, Woman), Nawal Kelo, Kurdish Political Militant
04:49 - 07:06
“About the latest events in Rojava [Syrian part of Kurdistan], the Syrian regime was not convinced that the YPG was an umbrella for all the free people in Rojava and Syria, without consideration of religion or race. The regime did not acknowledge that the YPG will win against ISIS, which the regime has created, especially in Kobane.
“The regime tried to relieve ISIS from pressure in Hasaka, thinking that it could have full control over the events. The regime wanted to destroy everyone and then destroy the YPG, but it was faced with strong fighting form the side of the YPG, which has also been strong in the face of ISIS.
Many died from the regime’s side, also about 20 Kurdish civilians and fighters died. The YPG will protect the area and all of Syria, and it will not disappoint the public. ISIS is the creation of the Syrian regime and its former friend [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan. At the end, they will taste their own medicine and they will be forced to acknowledge the power of the Kurdish people and its free will, which are above all other laws.”
“The resistance and victory in Kobane proved to the world the free will of the Kurdish people as well as the rest of the Syrian population. We will lead ourselves. We have institutions lead by the Kurdish administration; we have councils and military forces. We will resist until the last drop of blood. Our people have free will and are bonded to their land. Those who do not have free will or a higher aim are ISIS and the Syrian regime.”
Various of Zouzan, Female Asayish Member whose husband was killed in a battle with ISIS
SOUNDBITE (Kurdish, Woman) Zouzan, Female Asayish Member whose husband was killed in a battle with ISIS
07:18 – 08:28
“I am a member of the Asayish, the Kurdish security forces, and the wife of martyr Hoker. I carried my husband's weapon after he died and swore to continue his fight until we clean Rojava from ISIS and the regime. I have children, and I insist to avenge my husband and defend my country and my land, we will fight until the last drop of blood.” “I do not know why everyone is against us, Kurds. They want to take our women, kill our children, evict us, murder us. We are Kurds and Muslims. What do they want from us? With the blood of our martyrs we will destroy the terrorists, and live safely and freely.”
Medium of Zouzan, Female Asayish Member whose husband was killed in a battle with ISIS
Various of Salma Muhammad, the widow of a fighter killed during a battles with ISIS
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman) Salma Muhammad, the widow of a fighter was killed by ISIS
08:49 – 09:50
“What is happening is not in ISIS’ interest. If ISIS goes a step or two in the direction of Rojava, especially Qamishli, the young and adults will carry weapons. We will not leave them. We will resist in the west of Kurdistan. The regime should recall what the sacrifices and martyrs offered by the Kurds to revive Syria. Now, we want Syrian to be a democratic nation. We are not demanding independence. Why are these martyrs falling? Each martyr… we send a thousand salutes to the leader Abdullah Ocalan – salutes that bear the scent of martyrs’ blood. ‘Apo’ should know that we are sacrificing to have democracy according to his great ideas. We do not accept any other form of democracy.”
Cutaway – medium of Salma Muhammad
Various of burial
Wide of group carrying flags
Working inside Donetsk presents various challenges for photojournalists. One major challenge involves working directly with rebel forces defending one of their last bastions against government forces. Each day their defensive perimeter is shrinking due to constant shelling. Journalists can only work if granted proper accreditation approved by the Donetsk People Republic. In theory, the accreditation allows journalists to work in military areas, though most suspect it is also used to control the information gathered and shared with the world. The following funeral series is both rare and hard to come by, as the rebels never give access to events that show their demise or military loses. In this case, however, we happened to come across a convoy of rebel cars and two armored vehicles, carrying troops and two coffins each. We decided to follow it and try our luck. After a mile, troops from the convoy stopped us, pointed their machine gun at us and demanded to know why we were following them. When we expressed interest in documenting the funeral, they uncharacteristically agreed. After driving another 20 minutes, the convoy reached a small village right on the front lines, as could be deduced by the constant shelling heard whenever government forces are nearby. For one hour, we photographed the entire ceremony, only to be arrested as soon as it ended under the pretext that their faces could be seen in the pictures. Some soldiers forced us in different cars and drove us to their headquarters back in Donetsk, where they forced us to delete all the photos. Though we obeyed, we were able to retrieve all of them once back at the hotel.
Bosnian women mourn at the coffin of a relative prior to the mass burial at Potocari on the 19th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.
In the mortuary of Tuzla’s Podrinje Identification Project (PIP) rest several hundred body bags with the remains of victims from the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. The dead have been identified through DNA analysis but not yet all of their remains have been found. Sometimes family members of the killed victims decide to wait to hold a burial until all bones have been excavated. The identification process is complicated by the fact that in the days and weeks following the Srebrenica massacre ‘primary mass graves’ were unearthed and the remains buried in many different ‘secondary mass graves’ to cover tracks.
Human remains from a secondary mass grave. Forensic anthropologists from Podrinje Identification Project (PIP) have tried to extract DNA from the bones and connect it to blood samples in ICMP’s databank. Until now they didn’t find a match. Sometimes it is not easy to extract enough intact DNA from bones, and often identification is not possible because of the lack of blood samples from relatives.
Dragana Vučetić, Senior Forensic Anthropologist at the International Comitee for Missing Persons (ICMP), with human remains from a Srebrenica-massacre related ‘secondary mass grave’. For four years now ICMP has tried to extract DNA and connect it to blood samples in their databank. Until now they didn’t find a match. Sometimes it is not easy to extract DNA from bones, often identification is not possible because of the lack of blood samples from relatives.
Dragana Vučetić, Senior Forensic Anthropologist at the International Comitee for Missing Persons (ICMP), with human remains from a Srebrenica-massacre related ‘secondary mass grave’. For four years now, ICMP has tried to extract DNA and connect it to blood samples in their databank. Until now they didn’t find a match. Sometimes it is not easy to extract DNA from bones, and often identification is not possible because of the lack of blood samples from relatives.
Blood samples store in Tuzla's Identification Coordination Division (ICD). Identification of missing persons with DNA tests is only possible if a blood reference sample of a close relative is available. ICMP and ICD have made numerous campaigns to encourage relatives of war victims (many of them already living in diaspora abroad) to give blood samples to make identification possible.
In the mortuary of Tuzla’s Podrinje Identification Project (PIP) rest several hundred body bags with the remains of victims from the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. The dead have been identified through DNA analysis but not yet all of their remains have been found. Family members of the killed victims have decided to hold a burial until all bones have been excavated. The identification process is a complicated one because in the days and weeks following the Srebrenica massacre, perpetrators unearthed ‘primary mass graves’ and scattered the remains in many different ‘secondary mass graves’ to cover their tracks.
A team member of Tuzla's Identification Coordination Division (ICD) shows a bone sample taken from a mass grave near Bosanski Brod. He will soon try to extract DNA from the bone and hopefully the sample will match with a blood sample given by a relative of a missing person to be identified. Identification of missing persons with DNA tests is only possible if a blood reference sample of a close relative is available. ICMP and ICD have made numerous campaigns to encourage relatives of war victims (many of them already living in diaspora abroad) to give blood samples to make identification possible.
A team member of Tuzla's Identification Coordination Division (ICD) is working on a blood sample taken from a relative of a missing person and extracting DNA for further identification process. Identification of missing persons with DNA tests is only possible if a blood reference sample of a close relative is available. ICMP and ICD have made numerous campaigns to encourage relatives of war victims (many of them already living in diaspora abroad) to give blood samples to make identification possible.
A team member of Tuzla's Identification Coordination Division (ICD) shows a blood sample taken from a relative of a missing persons. Identification of missing persons with DNA tests is only possible if a blood reference sample of a close relative is available. ICMP and ICD have made numerous campaigns to encourage relatives of war victims (many of them already living in diaspora abroad) to give blood samples to make identification possible. "We have received blood samples even from Australia" says Edin Jasaragic, ICD's managing director.
Staff members of Tuzla's Identification Coordination Division (ICD) try to match blood samples of relatives from Bosnian war victims with samples from exhumed bones from mass graves.
20KM South of Donetsk, Donbass, Ukraine. The lonely grave of a fallen separatist soldier who died fighting Ukrainian army forces.
20KM South of Donetsk, Donbass, Ukraine. Separatist soldiers stand by during the burial of four of their fellow soldiers.
20KM South of Donetsk, Donbass, Ukraine. Separatists carry the coffin of one of their fallen soldiers back to his local town and now final resting place.
20KM South of Donetsk, Donbass, Ukraine. Separatists ready the graves of four soldiers who died fighting Ukranian army forces. The soldiers were locals from a small village South of Donetsk near the front lines- now their final resting place.