Two Yazidi sisters who were freed by the YPJ from ISIS captivity in Hol camp in northern Syria have returned home.
Fighters of the People’s/Women’s Defense Units (YPG/YPJ) have freed Yazidi sisters Besê Xidir Xelef Şemo and Aliya Xidir Xelef Şemo from ISIS and handed them over to their family.
The two sisters had been kidnapped by ISIS from the village of Solax during the ISIS onslaught on the Yazidi town of Shengal (Sinjar) in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq) on 3 August 2014. Having remained trapped inside the structures of ISIS for nine years, two young Yazidi women were freed and reunited with their loved ones in Shengal.
The two women were first handed over to the Shengal/Women’s Resistance Units (YBŞ/YJŞ). With the support of the Yazidi Women’s Freedom Movement (TAJÊ), they were able to reach their relatives in the town of Khanasor (Xanesor).
Speaking during the family reunion, TAJÊ spokesperson Naem Bedel said: “Today we are overjoyed that two young Yazidi women can finally return to their country and homeland. The whole world has been silent and looked the other way while immeasurable suffering has been inflicted on the Yazidi people. We have witnessed genocide, but the world has been deaf, blind and silent. To this day, the Iraqi government has neglected its duty to search for the missing young Yazidi women. It has failed to defend our rights and investigate the fate of these women. Moreover, it is silent on the current attacks of the Turkish state on our people.”
Xelîl Xidir, an uncle of Aliya and Besê, thanked the SDF, YBŞ and YJŞ for liberating his nieces and said, “We consider all the liberated women as our own children. Nine years have passed since the genocide and yet hundreds of women are still in captivity. We demand that these women be freed and brought home.”
In a video published by the YPJ Media Center, the two sisters spoke about what they have been through at the hands of ISIS during the past nine years.
‘All women should be rescued and return home’
Besê Xidir: “ISIS kidnapped me, my sister and my mother and took us to Deir ez-Zor in Rojava. They separated my brother from us and took him to join their mercenaries. After a few months, they separated my mother from us and took her somewhere else. When I asked where they were taking her, they told me ‘We are taking your mother to the Islamic State’. After a month, I was told that my mother had died in an airstrike.
After a while, my brother asked them to take us to him so he could raise us. He was 12 years old at the time. His request was rejected and we were taken to the Baghouz and Hol Camp. In the Hol Camp, we wanted to have a blood test to determine that we came from Shengal, in which case, they were going to send us to Shengal and even take responsibility for the process.
We heard that the YPG was sending people from Shengal to their hometown. At first, we couldn’t believe it. Then we saw on the digital media how the YPG freed women from Shengal and reunited them with their families. I hope that all women from Shengal are freed from the clutches of the gangs and return to their own people in their homeland.”
‘We didn’t know our real families’
14-year-old Aliye Xidir: “We were living with families in the camp. We know that those were not our families, but we didn’t know where our real families were. When we first reached the camp, we had difficulty coming to terms with what we were going through. I do not even want to think about the evil the ISIS gangs have done. We lost our mother as a child. We have grown up now but we don’t have the chance to see our mother again. I would be very happy if I did. Those freed from the camp reunite with their own families and relatives.
One is horrified to see how ISIS gangs mingle freely with the people and kill them. We were also very frightened . I am so happy we have been rescued today. The YPJ treated us friendly. They understood us and I thank them very much for that. I will never forget the favour they did to us. I hope that all those kept captive by ISIS are freed, reunite with their families and live freely.”