Yazidi refugees talk about being tortured by ISIS jihadists
Iraq/Aleteia (Aleteia.org/ar) – A Christian named Bashir stated, “When I met with Mulham Khalaf in Lebanon, he expressed a desire to help the Kurdish refugees fleeing from ISIS militants. I told him that the Yazidis were the ones that needed the most help. He did not have a problem with this and said that he was ready to help anyone, whatever their religion.”
“During the next few weeks we succeeded in establishing a camp in Dohuk where we helped approximately 650 people who had fled from Sinjar Mountain near the Iraqi-Syrian border when ISIS was closing in on them,” Bashir said.
The camp is primitive and dirty. It only has two toilets and, of course, no hot water. Nevertheless, at least these refugees are living in tents as a temporary shelter with the snows of winter fast approaching. The scene is always the same. There are children in the camp who are half-naked most of the time. Women are washing clothes and cooking. The unemployed men are following the news, sitting around chain-smoking and drinking liters of tea to keep themselves warm.
Bashir continued, “There are not sufficient schools here for all of the children. Due to this we are in desperate need of help from the Iraqi government, which is currently preoccupied with other concerns.”
He pointed out that the needs of the camp with regards to food are only being provided by the area’s Christian churches and the Joy of Giving Society. A significant number of these families have fled from certain death; or according to some women, being used as sex slaves or sold as slaves by the Islamic State. Many of them say that this is a fate worse than death.
Ruwayah Tahsin Khalaf’s account is a good example of this situation.
“When we found out that ISIS militants were approaching Sinjar in vehicles we fled to the mountain," she said. "There, we met a Sunni Arab who tried to reassure us. The ISIS militants asked us why we had run away and then told us to go back to our villages and said that no harm would befall us.”
“They asked us if we were Yazidis or Muslim”
Rawa stated, “We returned to our villages. Then the Sunni militants stopped us at one of the checkpoints and asked us if we were Yazidi or Muslim. They allowed the Muslims to pass but gathered together the Yazidi. Then they divided the men from the women. When one of the husbands objected to this treatment they cut off his head in front of everyone and then shot him twice. Therefore, we began to fear for our lives. In the beginning, we did not lie to them in order to earn their trust.”
He continued by saying, “They put me in a car with another Yazidi family and then returned us to Sinjar where they placed us in a government building. Prior this they took $4600 from me in addition to my wife’s jewelry, which I was carrying. After this they gathered the men on the first floor and the women and children on the ground floor. When evening fell they transported the women and children to another building opposite to where we were. This building was the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. On the following day, we could hear screams and crying. We then saw the militants forcing the women onto buses. They took approximately 300 women.
“After this they gathered the men together on the public square where they were blindfolded. I noticed from their dialect that many of them belonged to a Sunni Arab tribe living in the region; a tribe with which we have lived in peace until now. There were others with them who we could tell by their Arabic dialect were not from this area.
“The following day a man came along carrying a sword. He told us that we needed to choose between converting to Islam or death. He said, ‘If you do this, you will become one of our brothers and live among us in peace. Otherwise, we will treat you as infidels and cut of your heads.’ After this, two men from our group expressed their refusal to convert, so they cut off their heads in front of us. The result of this was that 200 men decided to convert to Islam. Following this, a Sheikh came to give us lessons in the religion of Islam.”
The women who converted to Islam were not spared from being raped.
“Immediately after that, they took us to stay in the houses of a Shiite village that had been abandoned when its inhabitants fled. Then, one day an elderly man came into my neighbor’s house. This neighbor had a beautiful daughter who was ten years old. The elderly man took her by her hair and dragged her out of the house despite the fact that her mother was crying. A while later the girl was returned completely exhausted. Due to the fact that I had become Muslim, I was allowed speak to them. So, I told them that no religion would accept such behavior; especially Islam. However, they told me that this behavior is permitted in Islam because the Prophet Muhammad married Aisha when she was only nine years old.
“The wives and mothers were also not spared from being raped, even when they had converted to Islam. On another night they took four young girls and when they were returned their genitals were covered with blood. The girls told us that a man had anesthetized them with some kind of chloroform to prevent them from resisting, and attached them to the blades of fans so that they would lose their balance.
“Then, one of our women slit her wrists, but they were able to treat her wounds and then raped her later. When three women committed suicide by hanging themselves with their hijabs, they would not allow any other women to wear one. It was at this time that I understood that converting to Islam would not protect us. So, I decided to escape with three other men. Sometime later we met up with members of the Peshmerga who then took us to this camp in Dohuk.
“According to ISIS militants we were worse than animals and we were infidels. As for our women, they were considered spoils of war. These ISIS militants are obsessed with sex.”
This article appeared in Aleteia’s Arabic edition and was translated by Donald Puhlman.