ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A missing child of Halabja became an Iraqi citizen on Sunday, closing a painful chapter of her life, but also leaving her with no hope she will ever find her real family.
“Your name from now on is Jiyan,” said the judge in the Erbil courtroom on Sunday granting citizenship to Jiyan Kamaran.
“Your place of birth is Halabja province,” the judge said as Jiyan cried.
Jiyan first came into the public eye in 2015 when she was told that she was the child of a family from Halabja that had been separated when Saddam Hussein dropped chemical weapons on the city, killing some 5,000 and causing a panicked evacuation.
A family in Iran adopted her after their own daughter died from an illness. She grew up as Maryam Barootchian.
After a DNA test, she was told her name was Hawnaz Ahmed and was introduced to a family she was told was hers.
But the DNA test results turned out to be mistaken
. She was still found to be a child of Halabja, however, and was given Iraqi citizenship.
Jiyan, which means life, took her new name on the suggestion from Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani.
“This time I won't give up my name Jiyan to anyone. It is not like my previous name Maryam that they took away from me after 27 years, or Hawnaz that they also took after three years,” she told Rudaw on Saturday.
With her new name, however, “I will forever lose any hope of finding my family.”
Some 179 children from 73 families are reported to have gone missing in the aftermath of the chemical weapon attack on Halabja, according to the Halabja Chemical Weapons Victims Society. So far, only eight of them – now adults – have rejoined their families. Another about ten have come forward claiming to be lost children, but are still searching for proof.
Jiyan is writing her autobiography, detailing the challenges and suffering of her life as an orphan of Halabja.
With reporting from Rengin Shero