Public outcry has forced Turkish authorities to arrest ISIS member Sabbah Ali Oruç and place his abducted Yazidi (Êzidî) victim under state protection. Initially, an Ankara court had controversially returned the girl to Oruç, based on a social worker’s unsubstantiated claim that she was not Yazidi and was happy with her ISIS-affiliated family.
The first hearing unfolded at Ankara’s 15th Heavy Penal Court, where legal associations and human rights organisations were denied participation. The social worker, who had no background information on the child’s abduction or sale, claimed that there was no evidence to prove the child’s Yazidi heritage and claimed she was content with her current family.
Journalist Hale Gönültaş, known for her extensive series on ISIS’ resurgence in Turkey, has been closely tracking the child’s situation from Iraq. Gönültaş was removed from the courtroom by police after challenging social worker Kübranur Akçora’s claims, stating, “Ankara’s anti-terror police conducted a raid and rescued this child; you are lying.” Her request to testify as an expert witness was also denied by the court.
Following the hearing, lawyers criticised the court’s actions, stating that the child had been returned to the ISIS-affiliated family. However, the Ankara Governor’s Office intervened after the story gained traction and public outcry ensued, announcing Oruç’s arrest and the child’s placement under state protection.
Meral Danış Beştaş, an MP for Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party, criticised Turkey’s Family and Social Affairs Minister for the incident, calling for her to resign. “The Ministry has turned into a ministry of scandals. It can’t get enough of making scandalous decisions for women and children!” Beştaş stated, sharing her concerns on social media on Wednesday.
The case has raised serious questions about child safeguarding in Turkey and the judicial system’s handling of such sensitive issues, particularly the court’s willingness to hear from a social worker with no factual background on the case while denying testimony from experts like Gönültaş.