Yezidi women hold up signs during a demonstration outside of the United Nations compound in Erbil. Rudaw file photo
By Halo Kakawais
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The circulation of an ISIS document and a phone call has given much hope to a Yezidi family that their daughter is still alive after she says she was traded 10 times and now lives with the family of a dead ISIS militant.
A father and mother along with their ten children, seven daughters and three sons, fell into the hands of ISIS militants in the village of Tal Qasab during the ISIS attack on Shingal in August 2014. The parents were separated from their children.
“This was a 12-member family. They were all kidnapped," Khairi Bozani, head of the Yezidi affairs at the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) religious affairs ministry, told Rudaw. “The fates of the rest are unknown.”
His office helped to rescue three of the children, a seven-year old girl, a six-year old girl, and a four-year old boy.
Now, the family has received the first news from another child, Fatima*, in nearly three years.
“Fatima made a phone call three days ago from [her location under ISIS control], saying the person who had bought her has been killed. ‘I will be free if the bombardments don’t kill me,’” her cousin recounted to Rudaw.
Fatima said she had been traded 10 times and had no information about her parents or siblings. She also said that she was currently living with the family of the dead ISIS militant who had bought her. She had attempted to escape three times but was arrested every time.
The Iraqi army discovered many documents while liberating the right bank neighborhoods of Mosul from ISIS. One of the documents shows that Fatima was sold to an ISIS militant for $1,500.
The document appears to have been issued by an ISIS justice council in Nineveh.
According to the document, in August 2016, ISIS Fatima was sold from one militant to another. The document refers to her as a sex slave and the militant as the “legitimate owner.” The fingerprints of the two ISIS militants are on the paper, which also bears the stamp of the head of the ISIS court.
The notes of the judge are also written at the bottom of the document. “Both brothers, Abu M and Abu Z, were present in front of me and agreed. Abu M sold his own property, Fatima, to Abu Z for $1,500.00 who has paid all the money and will therefore become her legitimate owner. In return, Abu M will hand Fatima over to Abu Z.”
Two people witnessed the transaction.
The latest figures from the Kurdistan Region shows that 3, 050 people have been rescued from the ISIS captivity since August 2014, of whom 1, 094 are women and 334 are men, and 1, 622 children from both genders.
An earlier figure by the Kurdish office in charge of the Yezidi affairs released in late April put the number of rescued men at 336.
The April figures stated that 3,400 more Yezidis were still believed to be under ISIS captivity.
*Not her real name. Any information that could identify Fatima, her family, or her captors has been omitted from this story to protect her safety.
Correction,: An earlier version of the story misquoted figures that it said they were from the KRG saying that 4, 300 Yezidis have been rescued. The previous figures were from unofficial institutions. The figure has since been changed to 3, 050, per the official numbers released by the office in charge of the Yezidi affairs.