Teens Tell of ISIS Brutality

yazidi refugeesSome of the teenage girls who were kidnapped by ISIS terrorists but managed to escape are opening the eyes of the world to the barbaric treatment they endured while in captivity.

According to the Global Post, some of the girls, who are members of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq, claim they were captured and then sold off or given away as “gifts” to ISIS men.

A 15 year-old teen, Sara, (not her real name) was among the estimated 5,000 women and 7,000 men who were captured or killed in a three day period beginning August 3 when ISIS fighters took control of dozens of villages in the Sinjar region of Iraq. She is one of just 47 women who have thus far managed to escape the grips of these brutal killers and the stories they tell are not for the faint-hearted.

Sara’s ordeal began on August 3 when she and her mother, her brother and his pregnant wife tried to escape the approach of ISIS fighters by running toward the nearby mountains. They ran for two hours and finally took refuge in a stone farmhouse where many neighbors and relatives were sheltering. ISIS soon surrounded the building.

“There were about 20 cars. They all had heavy weapons,” said Sara. “They separated the men from the women. Some of the men tried to run. They shot them. They locked my mother in a room with some of the older women.”

Sinjar mountains

Sinjar mountains

The younger Yazidi women were then loaded onto the backs of seven pickup trucks.

“I don’t know how many of us there were but they were pushing us into the trucks, as many as they could hold in each one,” she said. “The children they didn’t care about. Some women took their children. Others got left behind.”

They were taken to a site that had a large hall in a three-story building. “They told us if we didn’t convert to Islam, they would kill all the men in our families, so we said to ourselves, ‘It’s just words. In our hearts we are still Yazidi.’ So I did it to save my brother.”

After this, the girls began to be carried off by the men and either raped or sold as sex slaves for anywhere from $100 to $1000.

In order to avoid being raped, “we would try to make ourselves look ugly,” she said.  “Some women would cry or scream or fight, but it made no difference. They were always taken anyway.”

They were treated so badly that even death became more appealing and at least one girl hung herself.

“Another tried, but the ISIS guards stopped her and beat her very badly,” Sara said. “No one else tried after that.”

Sara was given as a “gift” to an old man who frequently beat her.

“They didn’t feed us much. I used to pass out a lot, but I would make trouble for him as much as possible and fight when I could. Many times I thought of suicide but I kept thinking of my family and my brother. I lived only for them.”

sinjarShe and other captured girls were also forced to watch videos of Yazidi men being decapitated.

“In some [videos] they put the heads into cooking pots,” Sara described. “Sometimes they would stand on them. There were so many heads. And they would ask us, ‘Do you know this one?’ and laugh.”

Parwen Aziz of the Kurdistan National Congress has heard similar tales from dozens of Yazidis who report being captured and abused or forced to witness mass executions of members of their community. Aziz is presently lobbying the Kurdish government and other aid groups to provide more support for former ISIS prisoners like Sara.

At first, Aziz was concerned that the local honor system would compel family members to reject or even kill the women who managed to escape and return home but she has yet to hear of any woman who was not immediately welcomed back into her family.

However, they are still facing grave risks because of their experience, particularly that of suicide.

“Psychological support programs are not accepted here so we are trying to start income programs that will help [women] psychologically at the same time,” she said. “Some of these women do not want to talk at all. They need time. Some of them speak of frequent rape, up to six times a day. Others were not tortured or raped at all. Their situations vary often according to age or the area where they were held.”

Sara has now joined more than 2.8 million internally displaced Iraqis who have lost their homes and families to ISIS.

She admits to being still haunted by thoughts of suicide as she struggles to come to terms with her shattered life and the death of her beloved brother, a young newlywed who was about to become a father for the first time. He was shot by ISIS fighters.

“The thought of seeing my brother and my parents again was the only thing that kept me alive,” she said. “I do not want to live, not like this, but I have to become both a son and a daughter to my parents now. I live only for them, but I don’t know how long I can last if we remain in Iraq.”

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