HEADLINES

Iraq: Girls Who Escaped ISIS Are Speaking Out And Fighting Back

By Alistair Reign, March 10, 2016. Alistair Reign News Blog.

The Yazidi women – who call themselves the 'Force of the Sun Ladies'. (Photo: Alalam). 

The Yazidi women – who call themselves the ‘Force of the Sun Ladies’. (Photo: Alalam). 

Several hundred Yazidi And Kurdish women and girls who had been kidnapped by ISIS in Northern Iraq and Kurdistan – sold to the Islamic extremist fighters and used as domestic and sex slaves – have joined an all-female battalion to launch a massive assault against their abusers in Iraq.

Who are the Yazidis?

“Estimates put the global number of Yazidis at around 700,000 people, with the vast majority of them concentrated in northern Iraq, in and around Sinjar. A historically misunderstood group, the Yazidis are predominantly ethnically Kurdish, and have kept alive their syncretic religion for centuries, despite many years of oppression and threatened extermination.

Islamic State considers the Yazidis to be devil-worshippers. 

The spread of Islamic State’s violent control of Iraq and Kurdistan reached the Yazidi in August of 2014, when gruesome images of brutally slain people emerged, with local officials saying at least 500 Yazidis, including 40 children, had been killed.

“Roughly 130,000 residents were forced to flee to Mount Sinjar in the Iraqi northern region – or face slaughter by Islamic State jihadists.” [01]

The Yazidi women who call themselves the ‘Force of the Sun Ladies‘ have taken up arms in the quest for revenge but also to preserve the future of their race.

The 'Force of the Sun Ladies'. (Photo: US Chronicle).

The ‘Force of the Sun Ladies‘. (Photo: US Chronicle).

They are among around 2,000 captives who have escaped their terrorist tormentors who subjected them to horrific torture and rape and massacred thousands of their loved ones after storming their villages in the summer of 2014.

Survivors have recounted horrendous stories of sexual abuse and torture.
One Yazidi mother, who gave birth while being held as a sex slave, told how she was not allowed to feed her newborn son.

Her captor then beheaded the boy when he cried.

Now, driven by a collective desire for vengeance, the battalion is preparing for an offensive on the ISIS stronghold of Mosul where many were exchanged by militants to serve as their sex slaves.

Capt Khatoon Khider, a member of the Sun Ladies, told media: ‘Whenever a war wages, our women end up as the victims.

Now we are defending ourselves from the evil. We are defending all the minorities in the region. We will do whatever is asked of us.

But the United Nations says ISIS is still holding an estimated 3,500 people captive in Iraq, the majority women and girls from the Yazidi community. [02]

Escaped Yazidi sex slaves need mental health support-aid group.

“A year after their capture by Islamic State militants, escaped sex slaves from the Yazidi minority are reaching northern Iraq, but get almost none of the psychological support they need after their ordeal of rape, torture and captivity, an aid group said.

I have seen (escaped) girls in their early teens coming out of the (YAZDA) office and they are so traumatized they have difficulty making eye contact with other women who would normally be approachable,” Barber said.

They can’t connect emotionally… these girls need professional therapists and it’s more than what we are able to provide at the moment.

A centre set up by the Yazidi support group YAZDA in Kurdish-controlled Dohuk, northern Iraq, has received more than 400 Yazidi former captives, YAZDA staffer Jameel Chomer said.

We are still receiving three or four escaped slaves each week,” Chomer told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The girls who have run away from ISIS, they don’t even have a place to live, they are living in crowded tents with other refugees,” he said, speaking by phone from Dohuk on Tuesday. “They continue to suffer… treatment and therapy is lacking.

Neither central government nor local authorities in Kurdistan have set up a psychological support centre for victims, 

“”Some local people have gotten some training to deal with trauma,” Chomer said. “But they are not experts at dealing with people who were traumatized by torture,” reports Chris Arsenault in Thomson Reuters Foundation, August 19, 2015. [03]

Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi MP in Iraq, broke down in tears as she called on the parliament and the international community to “Save us! Save us!” from Isis.

Yazidi teenager escaped Islamic State, appeals for help for sex slaves.

Nihad Barakat Shamo Alawsi in Zakho, northwest of Dohuk, Iraq, February 29, 2016. (Photo: AMAR International Charitable Foundation).

Nihad Barakat Shamo Alawsi in Zakho, northwest of Dohuk, Iraq, February 29, 2016. (Photo: AMAR).

On Wednesday, Magdalena Mis reported in Thomson Reuters Foundation:  

It was a “black morning” two years ago when Islamic State militants seized the Yazidi town of Sinjar in northwest Iraq, abducting thousands of civilians including a 15-year-old girl and 27 members of her family.

The teenager, Nihad Barakat Shamo Alawsi, was taken to Syria and then to the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul in northern Iraq, she told an event in London on Wednesday.

They raped us, they killed our men, they took our babies away from us,” Alawsi, now 17, said at the event organised by the UK-based AMAR Foundation, a charity that provides education and healthcare in the Middle East.

The worst thing was the torture in Mosul. We were beaten and raped continuously for two weeks,” she said, speaking through an interpreter. “Girls were taken from their families and raped constantly and then they were handed out to “emirs.” (military commander)”

Alawsi said a man who took her as a slave died a few weeks later, and she was sold to another man who already had a wife and another Yazidi sex-slave. He beat and raped her and a month later she became pregnant.

I thought the child I was carrying was a member of Daesh and would become a Daesh criminal when he grew up,” Alawsi said quietly, using a pejorative Arabic name for Islamic State.

Alawsi gave birth to a baby boy, but three months later she managed to escape after the baby’s father decided to marry her to his cousin.

I managed to make a phone call to my family with someone’s help, and I managed to escape, but I had to leave the baby behind,” she said.

Alawsi now lives in one of the camps with her mother, father and siblings, and works with AMAR, volunteering to come to London to speak of her people’s plight.

Two of her brothers and two sisters are still held by Islamic State.

It’s not a life, we are not living a life until the rest of our people are released by Daesh,” Alawsi said.

I beg you to help my people, to save them from Daesh, and to free especially the sex slaves, the young girls and children that have been taken.” [04]

Yazidi slave survivor urges Britain to help free women in captivity.

Nihad Barakat Shamo Alawsi is not alone in appealing to the British government, and another young Yazidi survivor of slavery will advocate for the thousands of women and girls who remain captives of Islamic extremist militants in northern Iraq.

Nadia Murad Basee Taha, age 21, is in London to address the parliamentarians on behalf of the women still forced into ISIS slavery, as well as appealing for more help for displaced Yazidis living in refugee camps, and to investigate whether the militant group has committed genocide against the Yazidi people.

Taha took her message to the U.N. Security Council in December, and has spoken to successive governments, appealing to the international community to act.

Nadia Murad Basee Taha, 21, a Yazidi activist who says she was held captive by Islamic State militants in 2014, in London, February 8, 2016

Nadia Murad Basee Taha, 21, a Yazidi activist seen here in London, February 8, 2016. (Photo: Trust.org).

Alex Whiting wrote in Thomson Foundation: “The places I’ve spoken to have given me hope … but a year and a half has passed and nothing has happened yet,” she (Nadia Taha) said in an interview.

“She said she was abducted by Islamic State militants from her village in Iraq in August 2014, and taken to the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, where she and thousands of other Yazidi women and children were exchanged by militants as gifts.

She was tortured and repeatedly raped before she escaped three months later.

“Last month (January 2016), director of the U.N. human rights office in Iraq, Francesco Motta, said the militant group is seeking to “destroy part or the whole of the Yazidi people“.

“Taha will be returning to the United Nations in March, to attend a meeting on women’s affairs.

“”Since the U.N. Security Council (meeting in December), no women or girls have been rescued, and the things I demanded have not been met. But I’m still waiting,” she said.” [05]

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