Yazidi refugees flee for their lives from Islamic State forces near the Syrian border, August 11..
(photo credit: RODI SAID / REUTERS)
She was a 19-year-old Yazidi girl. Full of spunk and charm and dreaming of the day she would finish school and, hopefully, become a pharmacist. She lived in a nice house with six brothers, three sisters and lots of love. But she would never become a pharmacist. And Jilan Barjas would never see her 20th birthday
Islamic State had arrived.
Alerted by screams, ringing telephones, and gunshots, the entire village began to flee at once, most on foot.
As her family lived in Tel Azir, near Mount Sinjar, they were attempting to reach the relative safety of the mountain on foot. But, before arriving, ISIS has closed the way and surrounded them. They were immediately asked to covert to Islam. Jilan’s father refused and before the entire family her father, four uncles and two of her brothers were killed. Both brothers had graduated with medical degrees not long before their sudden deaths.
As with the entire village, most of the adult males were killed and the women and children taken captive to be used and sold as slaves. This was to be the fate of Jilan, her three sisters, Jihan, Xalia and Alia, her younger brothers and her mother. The only one untouched was a brother, Hussein, who was 13 and elsewhere at the time, helping an uncle herd his 300 sheep.
The remaining family was immediately separated. Months later, word trickled down to the remaining uncle that Jilan had been taken to Ba’aj where an ISIS leader took her as his sex slave. Due to the constant rapes and pressure to convert to Islam, she cut her arteries and died. A long time after that, her sister Jihan, who had been taken to Raqqa, chose the same fate, for the same reasons.
It took a little over three years to drive most of ISIS out of Iraq.
Now, at the time of this writing three-and-a-half years later, Jilan’s mother, two remaining sisters and two brothers are living in a tent in Kurdistan. They have received no medical or psychological help. Like all others in the tents, they have little food, intermittent electricity, no heating oil in the freezing weather and are suffering terribly.
Of the six boys, one was never captured and is safe, two were murdered, two liberated and nothing is known of the whereabouts of the last brother.
The author is a Yazidi refugee.