Jaysan the man who sold

"The man bought me with my two sisters"

Ms. Gil, can you remember your childhood?

Gil: Unfortunately only very shadowy. I was born in the country. My family moved to Pyongyang when I was three. My mother was a fish seller. She went from house to house with a basket of fish on her head. My father ran a junk shop. We only had one big blanket under which the whole family slept: both parents, five children. My father once bought things that were stolen, which he didn't know. That got him into trouble. He was supposed to pay a lot of money as a fine, which we didn't have.

They went to school and ...

Gil: ... no! Back then, only boys were allowed to go to school. I only started to learn to read and write eight years ago.

How did you get into the hands of the Japanese?

Gil: I was 13 when I met people who promised me that I could not only earn money in Manchuria, but also learn a trade. I believed it.

Manchuria, located in northeast China, was then occupied by the Japanese.

Gil: It started with the train. As we drove on and on, I got scared and started crying. They just scoffed: “Crybaby!” Finally arrived, everything was very different from what had been promised. I have been betrayed. My whole life is ruined. It doesn't help that I regret going with you today.


Persecuted minority

Around one million people worldwide belong to the Yazidi religion, which is 4000 years old. About 150,000 Yazidis live in Germany.

The traditional settlement areas are in northern Iraq, Syria and southeastern Turkey. For centuries they have been in the minority there and exposed to the pressure of their Muslim neighbors. For example, Saddam Hussein had Yazidi cities evacuated and destroyed as early as the 1970s. He wanted to forcibly convert the population to Islam.

The attack and its consequences

On August 3, 2014, the Islamic State terrorist militia attacked the main Yazidis settlement area in Sinjar. Over 400,000 people were driven from their homeland, around 15,000 were murdered, and over 7,000 women and children were kidnapped. The women and girls were then sold to IS fighters. IS declared Yezidism to be a “pagan religion from pre-Islamic times”, which is why trafficking in women is “legal”. In a fatwa, a religious opinion, the jihadist militia even regulated how to deal with the enslaved women. For example, pregnant slaves are not allowed to have abortions, it said. IS uses enslavement for propaganda purposes: Videos of slave markets in Syria should attract men from abroad.

The genocide continues

Yazidis who were able to free themselves are heard worldwide: In June, for example, Angela Merkel invited Yazidis to the Bundestag congress on rape as a weapon of war. But very few people really get help. Most of those who were released live in precarious conditions in refugee camps in the region. Around 3,000 women and girls are still in the hands of the terrorists. According to a report published in August by the UN Commission of Inquiry into Syria, the genocide of the Yazidi minority in Iraq is ongoing. So far, no IS fighter has been brought to justice for his crimes against a Yezidi. The highest religious leader of the Yazidis has meanwhile decreed that no raped woman should be considered unclean.

Ms. Al Aliko, you have been forcibly abducted. Could you please describe the circumstances?

Al Aliko: I was arrested with my family at 2:30 in the morning on August 3, 2014. We were first taken to a neighboring village, where we were separated from the men. At five o'clock the women, girls and boys went on to Mosul, where we were locked in a hall. At eleven o'clock, IS fighters drove us younger women into trucks with sticks as if we were cattle. They told us that they would take us to the male family members. We still believed that too. Instead we ended up in a warehouse in Raqqa ...

... the capital of IS.

Al Aliko: It wasn't until I saw women being sold to IS fighters - for five or ten dollars - that I got a first idea.

What was the mood like between Yazidis and their Muslim neighbors before the attack?

Al Aliko: Relaxed. We lived in a farming village, 3000 people. My family had fruit trees. With us it is a religious custom to choose a different family than "Kiriv" as godparents for the circumcision of a boy. We Muslims have often taken as kiriv. That is why I was so upset when I recognized some of the IS fighters, many of whom came from abroad, when we were arrested.

Tens of thousands of Yazidi women and girls were married to IS fighters after the Islamic State occupied their settlement areas. Who were you sold to in Raqqa?

Al Aliko: First to an Egyptian. He was a tall man in his 50s. He lived in a spacious house with a garden, where six Yazidis already lived. The man bought me together with my two sisters. So we were nine women.

Was the Egyptian a middleman?

Al Aliko: No, owner-occupiers. Buy, rape, sell. He wanted to force us to accept the Muslim faith, but we said: “We will remain Yazidis, even if you kill us for it.” After 15 days, I went on to a high-ranking personality, an emir who came from Syria: He was around 30, married. His family lived in a different house. My little sisters were sold elsewhere. The thought of how they are doing is hard to bear. They were always so afraid during our captivity.

Have the girls been missing since then?

Al Aliko: My uncle does cross-border business and therefore has many contacts. Two months ago he met someone who knew where my youngest sister was. It had been sold many times: from Raqqa to Iraq and back to Raqqa again. My uncle tried to buy them with ransom, but it didn't work. We haven't heard from my sisters since then.

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