Family Buys Back Toddler Out Of Islamic Slavery

From National-Post:
Hanzad Morat was only three when she was kidnapped by Islamic State. By the time she was released back to her family, two and half years later, she could not remember her own name or native language.

Speaking from a refugee camp in Duhok, the northern Kurdistan region of Iraq, the newly freed six-year-old Yazidi recalls the day Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants captured her family, separated them and sent them to their fates.

Her father and brothers were taken one way, while she, her sisters and mother were driven to Mosul, where she was sold at a slave market to an Iraqi ISIL leader she knew only as Abu Bakr, and his wife Umm Bakr.

Umm Bakr, who had four children of her own, took Hanzad home and told her that she was her aunt and that her mother had died.

The woman gave Hanzad a new name, Nada, and spoke to her only in Arabic. As a Yazidi, Hanzad spoke the local Kurdish dialect Kurmanji. “She treated me very badly,” Hanzad says, playing with the frills on her smart-looking dress. “She was nice to her own children, but not to me. She would hit me if I didn’t do what I was told.

“She would make me peel potatoes for hours every day and help prepare meals for the family.”

Hanzad was never allowed to join them, however, instead given one meal of leftovers in the evening.

“I was only four but I had to learn to wash myself as Umm Bakr never gave me a bath,” she says. “I was always dirty while her real kids were clean.”

She was not allowed to play with the other children or leave the house, and says all she did most days was sleep, do chores and eat her one meal.

They tried to convert her to Islam, teaching her the Koran and telling her if she did not memorise passages from it that they would kill her father.

“I cried every day, thinking of my family. Every day I remembered them a little bit less,” she says, with a wisdom much older than her years.

One day an air strike hit the house next door and Abu Bakr made Hanzad, then five, go out and look at the bodies of those killed. He told her that they were martyrs and that America, the kuffar, or infidel, was responsible.

She laughs as she tells The Daily Telegraph about a dream she had of escaping and killing all the Isil commanders along the way.

Her uncle managed to strike a deal with a smuggler to buy her back in the autumn of last year. He was asked to pay $12,000 (pounds 9,300), which was raised by Kurdistan president Masoud Barzani’s office and local NGOs.

She was brought back to a refugee camp in Duhok, where her uncle and cousins live. The Yazidis’ homeland in Sinjar near Iraq’s western border with Syria was destroyed in the battle to liberate it from Isil in late 2015 and has yet to be rebuilt.

Her father, mother, five brothers and a sister are still missing, presumed to still be living under ISIL or dead. One other sister, 17, has also since returned after being bought back from ISIL.

Hanzad said at first she was unhappy at being in the camp as she could no longer speak Kurmanji and did not recognise any of her remaining relatives.

She has since settled into life in Kapartu camp and will start school later this year. The family is receiving help and counselling from International Medical Corps, which runs a psychosocial centre for children and adults suffering from the effects of their time living under ISIL.

Asked what she would say to Umm Bakr if she saw her again, Hanzad said: “I would tell her that she is not my real family, and that I found my real family. I would tell her I know now that she is Daesh and that she did terrible things to my sisters.”

Kapartu camp, which hosts more than 28,000 refugees, is full of Yazidis with similar stories.

It is estimated that some 5,000 girls and women from the ancient minority were taken captive by ISIL to be sold or given to fighters as slaves in August 2014. Nearly three years on, fewer than half have returned.

As ISIL came under pressure in Mosul, it is believed most of the women and children were moved to Syria, from where it will be even more difficult to get them home.

Joman Khalaf, six, was also recently bought back from her ISIL captors. She has been left so traumatised that she now hardly speaks. While Hanzad is outgoing and happy to talk about her experience, Joman is painfully reserved. Her uncle Hassan Haji Hassan says she has said very little of the two years she was held since returning late last year. “She has told us that she was beaten if she did not clean the house.

“Whatever happened to her must have been very bad as she wets herself several times a day. She eats and eats, as if she’s never seen food, until she throws up,” said Hassan.

She came back eating only with her hands as the jihadists had told her cutlery was “haram”, or forbidden by Islamic law.

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