Since the entrance of ISIS into Sinjar which is the stronghold of the Yazidi people in northern Iraq in August 2014, and until June of 2018, official UN statistics revealed that 3,300 Yazidi Kurds were able to escape ISIS’s grip out of 6,417 others who had been kidnapped by the extremist group.
Samira Hassan, one of ISIS’s Yazidi survivors in Sinjar, now resides in a camp in Erbil, the capital city of the Kurdistan region in Iraq, tells a story of defiance and strength in the face of war and darkness brought on her people by the extremist group.
Samira said that she was only 18-years-old when her family, along with12 other families, “miraculously” escaped the atrocities of ISIS in their region in Sinjar.
Four years later, Al Arabiya English met with Samira and her family who are living in a building which is still under construction in Erbil, to share a story of love and war.
Samira said in the middle of the night in June, 2014 while paying a visit to a family friend, she and others were told that ISIS has surrounded Sinjar and that there’s no way out, otherwise they will “just be an added number to ISIS victims”.
The young Yazidi added that she and her family ran away through a border crossing with Syria, escaping an attack by ISIS.
Arriving in a northern town called Zakho, it became a temporary home for them until they moved towards Erbil looking for shelter and work to survive.
Despite her agony of the continuous move and displacement, her love for Saeed (her husband) conquered all odds, meeting him in the camp in Erbil where they got married and later had her daughter Freiha.
She said her daughter Freiha was deprived from living in her grandparents’ home as ISIS put an end to her childhood before it even began.
She is now pregnant with their second child, hoping that one day they will reunite with all loved ones in their land.
Gang rapes and brutal crimes
Moving from her happy moments, she starts with tears in her eyes telling her accounts of the atrocities of ISIS. She tells how three young girls, family related, were gang raped, while another Yazidi woman who just gave birth to her child, lost her mind and committed suicide when ISIS slaughtered her infant child and cooked his flesh and gave it to her to eat, then the extremist group told her that she just ate her child.
She said that the road to escape this brutality was not easy, as they got lost many times when trying to reach the Syrian border.
Samira described their trip to Erbil as being full with fear and blood, saying after they escaped an ISIS attack, they were faced with a flat tire causing a car crash leading to a head injury to a family relative in her thirties who had witnessed the execution of her brother by ISIS because of his religion.
The impossible return to Sinjar
Despite that seven months have passed since the Iraqi government declared victory over ISIS, still the security situation in Sinjar and other nearby areas in Mosul, are unstable.
Khodr Hassan, one Yazidi who escaped ISIS atrocities and lives in Erbil said to Al Arabiya English that the reason why it is impossible to go back to Sinjar, is because the place is completely destroyed and full of diseases resulting from corpses left unburied.
He added that there are many land mines left by ISIS in many areas, while the security situation is unstable, as armed militants from the Kurdish group PKK and the mobilized forces are taking over Sinjar as stronghold.
Khodr called on all concerned parties and the UN agencies to interfere and look into their situation to provide a safe return to their homes.
The Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking minority came to the spotlight when ISIS took over large parts of Iraq, victimizing its members, committing massacres and subjecting them to forced conversions, sexual slavery and other reported atrocities.