Observations on life

In the name of …

One of them at the clinic last week is named Sahira (Mr. Kizil­han asked that I use only the first names of his patients). She pulls out her smart­phone and scrolls through pho­tos until she finds the right one. It shows a smil­ing baby girl in polka-dot pa­ja­mas play­ing with a big pink ball. When ISIS in Au­gust 2014 over­ran the Yazidi strong­hold of Sin­jar, the 26-year-old Sahira and her three chil­dren, in­cluding Lozin, the 2-year-old in the pho­to­graph, were en­slaved and transferred to the caliphate’s cap­i­tal in Raqqa, Syria.

There, she says, they became the prop­erty of an ISIS com­man­der named Abu Ji­had, who was bent on Ara­biz­ing and Is­lamizing Sahira’s chil­dren. (The Yazidis are a Kur­dish minor­ity whose faith blends elements of Chris­tian­ity and Is­lam with the re­gion’s pre-Is­lamic religions.) After Lozin re­peat­edly failed to say Is­lamic prayers correctly, Abu Ji-had locked the tod­dler inside a small box in the scorch­ing heat. No one was al­lowed near the box for seven days.

Af­ter the box was fi­nally un­locked, her mother says, Lozin was proba­bly al­ready close to death, but then the ISIS com­manner punched her in the small of her back, fin­ish­ing off the baby be­fore handing her over. Sahira says that when she protested, Abu Ji­had lifted her daugh­ter’s body high above his head and dropped her on the floor, and said: “The Yazidis are not be­liev­ers. We can do anything we want with you.”

Sahi­ra’s or­deal wasn’t over. For months she had re­sisted Abu Ji­had’s attempts to rape her—un­til he raised the stakes by tying her 4-year-old son to a car and threat­en­ing to drag him to his death. She relented, and en­dured what fol­lowed. Even­tu­ally, Sahi­ra’s fam­ily secured her and her two sur­viv­ing chil­dren’s re­lease by buying them back from ISIS.

Helping the Escaped Slaves of ISIS, At this clinic in Iraq’s Kurdish north, women who have suffered unspeakable cruelty come for help.
Wall Street Journal 11-24-15

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