Monday, December 21, 2015

ISIS Selling Yazidi Women and Children in Turkey - Uzay Bulut

by Uzay Bulut

  • "Some of those women and girls have had to watch 7-, 8-, and 9-year-old children bleed to death before their eyes, after being raped by ISIS militia multiple times a day." — Mirza Ismail, chairman of the Yazidi Human Rights Organization-International.
  • "An office has been established by ISIS members in Antep [Turkey]; and at that office, women and children kidnapped by ISIS are sold for high amounts of money. Where are the ministers and law enforcement officers of this county who are talking about stability?" — Reyhan Yalcindag, prominent Kurdish human rights lawyer.
  • "Five thousand people have been taken as captives. Women and children are raped, and then sold. These must be considered crimes." — Leyla Ferman, Co-President of the Yazidi Federation of Europe.
  • "Turkey has signed several international treaties, but it is the number one country when it comes to professional non-compliance with human rights treaties." — Reyhan Yalcindag.
This month, the German television station, ARD (Consortium of Public Broadcasters in Germany), produced footage documenting the slave trade being conducted by the Islamic State (ISIS) through a liaison office in the province of Gaziantep (also known as Antep) in Turkey, near the border with Syria.

In August 2014, Islamic State jihadists attacked Sinjar, home to over 400,000 Yazidis. The United Nations confirmed that 5,000 men were executed, and as many as 7,000 women and girls made sex slaves.

While some have escaped or been ransomed back, thousands of Yazidis remain missing.

A news report from German broadcaster ARD shows photos of Yazidi slaves distributed by ISIS (left), as well as undercover footage of ISIS operatives in Turkey taking payment for buying the slaves (right).

Last month, after Kurdish forces recaptured the area from ISIS jihadists, mass graves, believed to contain the remains of Yazidi women, were discovered east of Sinjar.

The German TV channels NDR and SWR declared on their website:
"IS [Islamic State] offers women and underage children in a kind of virtual slave market with for-sale photos. ... The transfer of money, as the reporter discovered, takes place through a liaison office in Turkey. ...
"For weeks, NDR and SWR accompanied a Yazidi negotiator, who, on behalf of the families, negotiates with the IS for the release of the slaves and their children. ... the women are sold in a digital slave market to the highest bidder. 15,000 to 20,000 US dollars are a typical price. Similar sums for ransom are also required to free Yazidis. The money is then transferred via IS-liaison offices and middlemen to the terrorist group.
"NDR and SWR were present at the liberation of a woman and her three small children, aged between two and four years old, and followed the negotiations. How many Yazidi slaves are still 'owned' by IS is unclear. Experts estimate that there still could be hundreds."
The negotiator told NDR and SWR that in the course of a year, he transferred more than USD $2.5 million to ISIS from the families of 250 Yazidi women and children, in order to free them.

He also said that to advertise the slaves, ISIS assigns numbers to the female and child slaves, and posts their photographs on the WhatsApp Messenger smartphone app.[1]

In response to these reports, the Gaziantep Bar Association filed a criminal complaint against "Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and law-enforcement officers that have committed neglect of duty and misconduct by not taking required measures, and not carrying out preventive and required intelligence activities before the media covered the said incidents."

The bar association also demanded that the prosecutors start prosecuting and punishing perpetrators engaged in crimes of "human trafficking, prostitution, genocide, deprivation of liberty, crimes against humanity, and migrant smuggling," according to the Turkish penal code.

"The tragic reality," said lawyer Bektas Sarkli, the head of Gaziantep Bar Association, "is that Gaziantep is a crowded city; the suicide bombers easily cross [to Syria and Iraq]. Unfortunately, Gaziantep exports terrorism."

Sarkli added: "When you see the ammunition captured and especially take into account the money transferred here [it is clear that] ISIS easily shelters in this city. Gaziantep is the logistic site of ISIS."

Mahmut Togrul, an MP of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), in a motion to Efkan Ala, Turkey's Interior Minister, asked about the alleged office where ISIS members engage in slavery and the sex trade. His questions included: "How many liaison offices affiliated with ISIS terror organization are there in Gaziantep? If there are, do those liaison offices have any legal basis? Under what names do these offices operate? Are those offices affiliated with any institution?"

Interior Minister Ala has not yet provided any answers.

"According to the local press of Gaziantep, as well as the national press," Togrul said, "Gaziantep has been turned into a city with sleeper cell houses for the ISIS terror group; ISIS members abound and travel freely." [2]

The "Struggle Platform for Women Forcefully Seized," the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) and the Kurdish Congress of Free Women (KJA) in Diyarbakir also filed a criminal complaint, calling for the prosecutors to investigate allegations and bring the perpetrators to account.

Reyhan Yalcindag, a prominent Kurdish human rights lawyer, said, "An office has been established by ISIS members in Antep; and at that office, women and children kidnapped by ISIS are sold for high amounts of money. Where are the ministers and law enforcement officers of this county who are talking about stability?"

"Turkey," she said, "has signed several international treaties, but it is the number one country when it comes to professional non-compliance with human rights treaties."

The Co-President of the Yazidi Federation of Europe, Leyla Ferman, referred to the number of the genocides to which the Yazidis say they have been exposed throughout history. "The Yazidis have been given 73 death warrants," she said, "The people are massacred under the Islamic State. Thousands of Yazidi women are missing. Five thousand people have been taken as captives. Women and children are raped, and then sold. Today, due to the war, women have been scattered all around. These must be considered crimes."

This is not the first time the presence of ISIS in Antep appeared in the news.

In November 2015, after the terrorist attacks in Paris, a group waving black ISIS flags appeared, honking the horns of their cars and celebrating in the streets of Antep. The footage was shared widely on social media. One user wrote, "This is Turkey supposedly struggling against ISIS. This is the ISIS convoy in Antep celebrating the Paris massacre."

The Yazidis, a historically persecuted community, are ethnically Kurdish, but not Muslim; their native religion of Yazidism is linked to ancient Mesopotamian religions. The Yazidis are indigenous to northern Mesopotamia and Anatolia; part of the Yazidi homeland is located in what is modern Turkey; other parts are in Syria and Iraq.

Yazidis have been exposed to campaigns of forced Islamization and assimilation, according to the Turkish sociologist Ismail Besikci, a prominent expert on Kurdistan:
"During the 1912-13 Pontic Greek deportations and the 1915 Armenian genocide, Yazidis were also driven out from their lands. Throughout the history of republican Turkey, all methods have been tried to Islamize the Yazidis. Before 1915, for instance, Suruc was an entirely Yazidi town. So was the town of Viransehir. Today, there is not a single Yazidi left in Suruc. Furthermore, the Islamized Yazidis can be seen exhibit insulting behavior towards those who remain Yazidis."
Because they are Kurds, the state has not recognized their Kurdishness; and because they are Yazidis, the state has not recognized their religion. The section of 'religion' in Yazidis' identity cards has been left empty; or the religion of some has been registered as 'x' or '-' .

"Research states that in 2007, there were only 377 Yazidis left in Turkey," an Assyrian MP of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Erol Dora, said.
"Yazidis, just like other minorities in Turkey, have also been exposed to discrimination and hate speech; that is why they have had to leave their lands. ... Their villages and lands have been seized; their agricultural areas have been appropriated, their holy sites have been attacked. All these racist attitudes continue today; the language, religion and culture of Yazidis face extinction."
Yazidis say they have been subjected to 72 attempts at extermination, or attempted genocide. Today, they are the victims of yet another attempted genocide in Iraq -- at the hands of ISIS jihadists.

"According to many escaped women and girls to whom I spoke in Northern Iraq, the abducted Yazidis, mostly women and children, number over 7,000," said Mirza Ismail, founder and chairman of the Yezidi Human Rights Organization-International, in his speech at the U.S. Congress.
"Some of those women and girls have had to watch 7-, 8-, and 9-year-old children bleed to death before their eyes, after being raped by ISIS militia multiple times a day.
"I met mothers, whose children were torn from them by ISIS. These same mothers came to plead for the return of their children, only to be informed, that they, the mothers, had been fed the flesh of their own children by ISIS. Children murdered, then fed to their own mothers.
"ISIS militias have burned many Yezidi girls alive for refusing to convert and marry ISIS men. Young Yezidi boys are being trained to be jihadists and suicide bombers. All of our temples in the ISIS controlled area are exploded and destroyed. Why? Because we are not Muslims, and because our path is the path of peace. For this, we are being burned alive: for living as men and women of peace."
The Yazidis, one of the most peaceful people on earth, are struggling to survive yet another Muslim genocide, before the eyes of the entire world.

While much of the world has been silent, a NATO member, Turkey has been openly complicit -- the enabler of jihadist terrorism. Reports and eyewitnesses testify that Turkey has contributed to the rise of the Islamic State by letting fighters and arms over the border. Some of the fighters go on to join the jihadist terrorist group.

The latest reports reveal that in Turkey, a country that fancies itself as a candidate for EU membership, Yazidi women and children are enslaved and forced into sexual slavery. Meanwhile, the Turkish government has not even bothered to make a single statement about these reports.

That is what happens when a regime is never held responsible.
Uzay Bulut, born and raised a Muslim, is a Turkish journalist based in Ankara.

[1] Using chat logs, documents, photographs and witness statements, the footage of ARD shows Abu Mital, a Yazidi man who works as an intermediary for ISIS, purchasing a Yazidi woman, her three children aged between two and four, and an 11-year-old boy from ISIS, and returning them to their family.
Mital contacted and bargained with ISIS members on the internet and set a price for the sale of the woman and the children. He then went to the southeastern province of Gaziantep in Turkey. During his visit to the office in Gaziantep, he was secretly filmed. The office had a number of money-counting machines. It employed only Syrians.
ISIS demanded $20,000 for the woman and $15,000 for the 11-year-old boy. The footage shows Mital handing the money to the Syrians in the office, who then counted the money using the money-counting machines.
After he paid the money, he went to a hotel in Syria, where he waited for another WhatsApp message. He was then told he would be contacted by someone for the delivery of the woman and her three children. When members of the Yazidi family were reunited with their relatives in Syria, they burst into tears. (Source: "German TV channel films ISIL slave trade in Turkey", December 03, 2015, Today's Zaman.)

[2] Other questions of Togrul's motion included:
"If the amount of money that ISIS earns from the slave trade of women and children is correct, who is the intermediary that transfers this money? Through what means does he transfer the money to ISIS?
"Is the governor informed about the slave selling office of ISIS in Gaziantep? If he is, has he made any statement or research on the issue?
"How many of the Yazidi women and girls ISIS has kidnapped from South (Iraqi) Kurdistan region have entered Turkey and Gaziantep?
"Do you have information about how many Yazidi women and other refugee women live in Gaziantep and where they shelter?
"How many ISIS cell houses have been raided so far? How many people have been detained from those cell houses? Have you accessed any finding as to whether the members of that terrorist organization have engaged in the slave trade of Yazidi women and children?
"How many cell houses affiliated with ISIS are there in Gaziantep? Do Turkish intelligence units have any data about this issue? If they do, why do they not intervene in the ISIS terrorist organization that commits slave trade? Does the fact that they do not intervene not mean they are complicit?
"ISIS terrorist organization uses Gaziantep as a base. What kind of a precaution is your ministry planning to take against that?"

Uzay Bulut born and raised a Muslim, is a Turkish journalist based in Ankara.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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