Yazidi buries father seven years after massacre

At last - a chance to say goodbye.

Thikran Kamiran Yousif was 15 when Islamic State militants surrounded the village of Kojo in northern Iraq and killed his father, brother, grandfather, and aunt, along with several hundred other Yazidis.

That was nearly seven years ago. Now their bodies have been exhumed from mass graves and identified by DNA testing.

Last week, Yousif returned from a new life in Germany to attend an official funeral in Baghdad.

"The Prime Minister and the President of the Republic being here is important to us, of course. But the martyrs deserve even more."

Yousif also returned to Kojo,to rebury his father according to Yazidi rites.

Islamic State viewed the ancient Yazidi minority as devil worshippers. Their beliefs combine elements from Islam, Christianity, and other faiths.

Daesh, as the militants are also known, killed more than 3,000 Yazidis, and they enslaved women and girls.

"They were laughing at our families, and the women, telling them: 'we will kill your men and take you as 'sabaya' - sex slaves - and we will get you pregnant'. Such terrible words."

Most Yazidis were displaced, and much of Kojo still lies in ruin. This was Yousif's grandfather's house.

"It is hard for me to see this place empty, no one here, a destroyed place. Especially since most people from this house were martyred by Daesh."

Yousif and his mother were taken captive after the massacre.

He was used as a human shield in Mosul and forced to attend an Islamic State school, where they indoctrinated him and taught him killing Yazidis was halal, or religiously permitted.

In early 2016 he got away, fleeing to Iraqi Kurdistan with his mother and sister.

The burials mean a lot for the Yazidis, he says, but what they want most is for the government to recognize this as a genocide.

"It would be a big step if they recognised that. And we hope for it, that they side with the Yazidi cause, because we are Iraqis too."

An Iraqi reparation law for female survivors of Islamic State captivity awaits ratification, but it excludes male former captives like Yousif.