A young Yazidi woman who’d been abducted in 2014 by the Islamic State (ISIS) in Sinjar (Shengal), Iraq, was freed in the Turkish capital of Ankara after a ransom was paid to her captors, according to a special report by Hale Gönültaş of Kısa Dalga on Thursday.
The 23-year-old Yazidi woman named Rojda was kept in a house in the Kazan district of Ankara for nearly three years. She was delivered to members of her family after 8,000 US dollars was paid to the ISIS member who was keeping her confined.
Rojda briefly spoke to Hale Gönültaş before she left for a European country, where she has reportedly received medical treatment upon her arrival and where her sister has also taken refuge after being freed on ransom following years of enslavement at the hands of ISIS.
Gönültaş says that due to Rojda’s traumatic condition, she chose only to listen to her instead of asking her any questions.
The house she was initially kept in was ‘administered’ by two women, a Turk and an Algerian, Rojda tells Gönültaş. She was subjected to violence and forced to live in accordance with Islamic rules. She says the only ’emotion’ she recalls having is ‘void and nothing else’.
She was kept in the house’s basement for a long time, which was pitch dark for most of the time, cold and mouldy, and infested with rats and insects. She and the other three Yazidi women in the basement were allowed only half a loaf of bread and water each day.
They were eventually taken out of the basement, and their wounds were treated. All four and a small group of Yazidi children were then taken in two vehicles to Deir ez-Zor, Syria, to be placed in several houses.
A few weeks later, Rojda was ‘bought’ by an Egyptian ISIS member and taken to his house, where he lived with three wives and six children.
After the death of the Egyptian, Rojda was taken to a ‘house for widows’ in the same city. She was subsequently sold again, this time to a Syrian ISIS member. The man took his family and Rojda to a place near the Turkish border as the land and air offensives against ISIS intensified.
They stayed in the province of Idlib for a while. Rojda was then sold for 200 dollars to a Turkish national ISIS member living in the city of Idlib and personally witnessed the scene as the money was exchanged.
The man’s wife made an attempt to kill Rojda with a blade and then to commit suicide one day when the two were alone in the house.
During the time of her medical treatment, Rojda was sold to a Syrian.
Her new ‘owner’ took her with him alongside his family when he decided to leave Idlib for Turkey.
After an illegal border crossing, they temporarily settled in a district of Turkey’s southeastern province of Antep (Dîlok). The man’s application at the office of immigration concerning temporary residence and protection for himself, his wife and three children was approved. A fake document of temporary residence was eventually arranged for Rojda as well.
This was when they travelled to Ankara’s Kazan district to settle in a house in the Saray neighbourhood.
The ISIS member finally decided to free Rojda for ransom when she could no longer continue working due to pains, repeated bleeding, and vomiting.
Yazidi genocide, displacement and enslavement
Thousands of Yazidis were killed in their hometown of Sinjar (Shengal) in the ISIS attacks in August 2014, recognised later by the United Nations and several states as ‘genocide’.
While hundreds of thousands were displaced during the ISIS attacks, tens of thousands of women and children were captivated to be sold in slave markets by ISIS.
While ISIS was eventually defeated and driven out of the region essentially by Kurdish fighters and the self-defence units of the Yazidis, Sinjar has consequently begun to be targeted in airstrikes of Turkey, which claims that autonomous administration councils and defence units of the Yazidis are extensions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated a ‘terrorist group’ in Turkey and the European Union.