Women freed from ISIS speak out + Desperate Survivors Appeal

”..Women don’t possess any rights under the regime of ISIS. We are left without a will or the possibility of self expression.  Women become prisoners in their own houses; besides giving birth to children, they don’t have any rights or value. We can call this war against women..”

A girl rescued from ISIS terror in Manbij is welcomed by a revolutionary  YPJ volunteer.
A girl rescued from ISIS terror in Manbij is welcomed by a revolutionary YPJ volunteer.

Report on women freed from ISIS in the area of Minbiç and on the situation of refugees (Rojava, Syria)

by Kongreya Star, Rojava womens organisation. shared with thanks. some of illustrations are added.

‘For more than 2 months there is a hard war going on in the area of Minbiç. Minbiç is a very strategic for the control over Rojava; it connects Turkey with the headquarters of ISIS, Raqqa. This area is important for the protection of Rojava and the democratic autonomy in Rojava.’

15/08/2016.Thousands of ISIS hostages passed from a medieval tyranny to  a revolutionary and feminist area as Manbij fell to the SDF
15/08/2016.Thousands of ISIS hostages passed from a medieval tyranny to a revolutionary and feminist area as Manbij fell to the SDF

Because this area is so important for the control in the Middle-East all hegemonic powers are present in this war. There are conflicting interests between the hegemonic powers which impacts and intensifies this war. It is possible to conceive the war in Syria and in Kurdistan as a third world war, where it is the main aim to imply a new division in the Middle East.

Lamiya Aji Bashar, an 18-year-old Yazidi girl who escaped her Islamic State group enslavers, talks to The Associated Press in northern Iraq in this May 5, 2016 photo. She described how she was abducted along with her sisters and brothers when IS overran her village in 2014 and was passed around from militant to militant, trying to escape many times. Finally she succeeded in March, but only after a mine exploded, killing two girls fleeing with her and leaving Bashar's face scarred and blinding her in one eye. (AP Photo/Balint Szlanko)
Lamiya Aji Bashar, an 18-year-old Yazidi girl who escaped her Islamic State group enslavers, talks to The Associated Press in northern Iraq in this May 5, 2016 photo. She described how she was abducted along with her sisters and brothers when IS overran her village in 2014 and was passed around from militant to militant, trying to escape many times. Finally she succeeded in March, but only after a mine exploded, killing two girls fleeing with her and leaving Bashar’s face scarred and blinding her in one eye. (AP Photo/Balint Szlanko)

Although the war in the area of Minbiç is so intensive and many violations against humanity, against civilians take place; this is not reflected in the media. There is a silence and ignorance on this war and the situations of women and refugees of this region as well as neglect of the needs of the refugees of this region.

Civilians have been used as human shields by ISIS and many got hurt as well and until now there is no humanitarian aid for the refugees. Despite many calls for help, still the refugees out of this area are left alone. Humanitarian support is only provided by the local authorities which is not enough due to the huge number of displaced persons.

Civilians celebrate after they were evacuated by the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters from an Islamic State-controlled neighbourhood of Manbij, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria, August 12, 2016. The SDF has said Islamic State was using civilians as human shields. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Civilians celebrate after they were evacuated by the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters from an Islamic State-controlled neighbourhood of Manbij, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria, August 12, 2016. The SDF has said Islamic State was using civilians as human shields. REUTERS/Rodi Said

It is a well-known fact that women and children are the ones who suffer the most in wars. In this war though, the situation of women and children is even worse. ISIS started a special war against women; perceiving women and their bodies as dirty. Under ISIS women are not evaluated as persons and totally become property of men.

Women don’t possess any rights under the regime of ISIS. We are left without a will or the possibility of self expression.  Women become prisoners in their own houses; besides giving birth to children, they don’t have any rights or value. We can call this war against women.

The area of Minbiç is strongly affected by migration, because of the 4 years on-going war in Syria. This area is mostly inhabited by the Arabic population. Refugees came especially from Aleppo and other towns from the beginning of the war. It is a tragedy that the area people fled to, to escape the war, became occupied by reactionary, inhuman and plundering forces of ISIS.isis HORROR

As Kongreya Star, the women’s organisation in Rojava which organises the society in all its aspects out of  a women’s perspective, we wrote this report to share the experiences of the women living under ISIS in the region of Minbiç and now have been freed as well as to describe the situations of refugees out of this area.

The refugees in this area are mainly women and children.  With the describing of the situation we expect that women’s organisations and humanitarian organisations as well as the international community start to take care:

The Situation of Women under the ISIS Regime


‘ISIS created laws against women.  There are many rules and laws for the whole population, but especially against women. These laws affect the life of the women to an extraordinary degree. ISIS has their own police-forces to control and take care that everybody obeys. A system of punishment and torture is installed to enforce their regime.

Manbij survivors cut off their beards after ISIS defeat
Manbij survivors cut off their beards after ISIS defeat

The women we spoke with who have been freed of ISIS of the region of Minbiç, gave us many examples. It is forbidden for women to leave the house except when they leave the house, they have to hide themselves totally with black clothes. The hands, eyes, legs have to be hidden completely.

When an eye or a small part of the finger of a woman is seen, this woman is arrested and will face torture.  There are many stories the women who have been living under the regimes of ISIS tell.

The police of ISIS have a special car in which the women who crossed the rules have been brought away, ‘to pay for their sins’. For example when a part of a finger or eye has been seen, these women have been brought away and could stay for 3 days among cut off heads. To scare, intimidate and disturb the psychology. Torture like this can be valued as psychological warfare.

A women slave market in ISIS territory
A women slave market in ISIS territory

Another example: once 7 women have been arrested and brought away by the police car of ISIS. A whole day, they didn’t eat. In the evening they got food and fell asleep. Because they were hungry, they ate.

The next morning the women awoke, naked, but not knowing how this happened. They remembered nothing. Most likely the women have been drugged and raped. These women left the prison naked and came home naked. Although their husbands might not be a part of ISIS, seeing their women naked, and perceiving their women with the same mindset, they threw the women out of their houses.

Once a mother fed her child; she didn’t see another possibility because her child was very hungry and crying. She felt sorry for her child and in a camouflaged way, taking care that a part of her breast wasn’t shown, she fed her child. The police of ISIS caught her for sinful behaviour and killed her by putting a instrument with sharp knives in her breast, which cut off the vein.

women removed and sometimes burned their burqas after ISIS defeat in Manbij
Women removed and sometimes burned their burqas after ISIS defeat in Manbij… Comment: This is the kind of positive image that incensed the reactionary male rulers of Assad, Turkey, Hesbollah, Iran and even Russia, who now collaborate in bombing and shelling the civilian barrios of Hassakeh, forcing the SDF to return from liberating ISIS held territory and defend the Rojava Revolution.

Another woman who showed a small part of skin shared the same fate. She was arrested with the charge of sinful behaviour and got the chance to choose between being lashed or being grasped by this instrument. Not aware of the consequences, she choose this instrument and died a slow and painful death.

It is forbidden for the women to grow their nails, apply make-up, shape their eye-brows. The police of ISIS lifts up the black clothes and removes the gloves to control and humiliate women. When long nails have been seen the nails get removed and when women apply make-up they will face torture.

Women under the regime of ISIS are only an object, a thing. Not conceived as a person or a human being with a own will or personality. This attitude of ISIS becomes at clearest with an example. A young woman had been kidnapped against her will and married of with a man who has been a member of ISIS. This man died and the woman got married off with another member of ISIS.

Syrian-Kurdish women carry the coffin of a female fighter in Syria's northeastern city of Qamishli on July 21, 2016 during the funeral of sixteen fighters killed battling the Islamic State (IS) group in Manbij. Thousands of IS soldiers were reported killed in the Manbij battles along with about 150 SDF volunteers, including six from the International Brigade.(William Savage, from the US was killed rescuing civilians).
Syrian-Kurdish women carry the coffin of a female fighter in Syria’s northeastern city of Qamishli on July 21, 2016 during the funeral of sixteen fighters killed battling the Islamic State (IS) group in Manbij.
comment: Thousands of IS soldiers were reported killed in the Manbij battles along with about 150 SDF volunteers, including six from the International Brigade.(William Savage, from the US was killed rescuing civilians)

 

‘He died as well and again she got married off with another man, who has been a member of ISIS. He died as well and again she got married off with another man who was a member of ISIS. Nobody asked her opinion. In this way she got married off 7 times and finally she found herself pregnant, without knowing who the father is’.

‘Schools have been closed and forbidden. Guys can get education in the mosque, where their learn the religion according to the doctrine of ISIS and learn their rules and laws. They learn about justice and life according to the views of ISIS. Besides this, there is no possibility for education under the regime of ISIS. For girls there are no chances at all to learn. Asking the girls about their wishes, they told us: ‘We only want to go to school’. Education is seen as a threat in the doctrine of ISIS. People who are able to think, reflect, ask questions, are curious are seen as a threat’.

‘The system of ISIS is based on blind obedience and fear. To be able to continue their regime, there is a need to stop people thinking and reflecting, so they can accept their doctrines and obey blindly. There is no space for education or schools in a system like this. Thinking by yourself, interpreting religion by yourself, colourfulness in opinions and beliefs are forbidden under the regime of ISIS. There is only space for one opinion, one doctrine, one interpretation of religion, one way of living.

Other beliefs or religions are not accepted, and people with different religions or of different ethnicities can be killed. For example Kurdish people always live under the fear of torture and killings. They have no chance to live according their own beliefs and customs. They have to hide their identity in order to survive. Only by behaving totally in the way ISIS prescribes,  has there been a chance to survive under the regime of ISIS’.

Syrian-women-burn-burkas-to-celebrate-liberation-from-Isil-in-Manbij-Syria
Syrian-women-burn-burkas-to-celebrate-liberation-from-Isil-in-Manbij-Syria

The last three months the war started, life became even worse for the people in the region of Minbiç. Television, internet and telephone became forbidden and satellite dishes have been destroyed, to prevent the people having any connections with the outside world. In this way the women have been stuck in houses, cut off of any information from other people or contacts with other people.

Even before their houses were turned into prisons, but without information, connection, the possibility to use internet, they became totally isolated and even more subjected to the regime of ISIS.  Besides information and propaganda of ISIS, no information or contacts were available. With this regime of isolation and disinformation ISIS put the people under their control.

In the times that telephone and internet were still available, the police of ISIS controlled the phones and facebook all the time, their content and pictures. If the police of ISIS detected any ‘wrong’ pictures, for example with the colours of Kurdistan, these people could be charged and face torture.syria3

‘There is one example of a man who shared his happiness about the death of a fighter of ISIS on facebook. This man has been killed; his body been torn apart and his head shown to the public for three days. The dead body hasn’t been handed over to his family. Measures like this serve to intimidate and spread fear.

Smoking is banned under the regime of ISIS and the police control it. They search in the houses for ash, ashtrays, control for smell and search for packets. If ash or a packet has been detected, these people face punishment. An older woman told us that she has been lashed 50 times and kept three days in prison for the detection of a packet of cigarettes’.

The regime of ISIS can continue because it is based on fear, intimidation and divisions. Many people support ISIS and will report the ‘mistakes’ of family-members or neighbours. In this way a regime of mistrust is installed, where nobody can trust anybody and everybody is isolated’.

A YPJ volunteer helps rescue civilians from ISIS in Manbij.
A YPJ volunteer helps rescue civilians from ISIS in Manbij.

For example, a man killed his own brother, because he believed in the doctrine of ISIS and according to his views his brother, who didn’t believe in this doctrine, was considered to be a pagan, and deserved death.

Life became forbidden. Laughing about the wrong jokes, playing music, songs, playing football, wearing colourful clothes; all are forbidden in the regime of ISIS. The women freed from ISIS in the region of Minbiç told us that some foods which weren’t available in the time of the prophet Mohammed were forbidden. Some vegetables (the cheapest and best available vegetables), lemon, salt and some spices have been forbidden.

In the last months before the liberation a new law was announced which stated that gas was forbidden and all food should be prepared with wood, like in the times of the prophet Mohammed. With the only difference that in the town of Minbiç wood it is difficult to find. This law didn’t come into practice though, because the war started.

Man accused of being gay publicly executed by ISIS in Manbij
Man accused of being gay publicly executed by ISIS in Manbij

When gas was allowed, it was very expensive for the people, but not for the members of ISIS. Gas cost 147 euros for the people and 6,30 euros for members of ISIS. These women who lived under the regime of ISIS and their war against women, against life, told us, that they survived day by day, but that they didn’t consider their lives as life. They lived as if they were dead’.

ISIS builds up a system of fear. The people obey them because of intimidation and fear. For small wrongdoings, heavy punishments are given. For example a child who plays football, lives in the danger of having his head being cut off. This head will be shown to everybody for three days. This had the consequence that finally nobody dared to play football.

The people don’t obey because they believe in the rightness of the laws, but because they don’t have another choice. In many places which have been freed from the regime of ISIS the people show their happiness that they can live normally and breathe again. Mostly they are especially happy about the possibility to smoke and play football’.

Boys celebrated ISIS liberation playing football
Boys celebrated ISIS liberation playing football

According to ISIS, women’s bodies are dirty and shameful. Therefore they can’t see a doctor in a normal way. Women can explain their problems to a nurse who will tell them to the doctor and then the nurse will provide the treatment. Whether the women can be healed in this way is not what counts.

No man saw a part of their bodies and that’s what counts. Even in the hospitals the police of ISIS control for ‘shameful behaviour’, i.e. so a sick or injured women doesn’t show parts of her body. Again the well-being of the women is not that what matters in this vision.

It was impossible to leave Minbiç, for meeting family-members or going to a hospital in another town. It was possible to go to Cerablus, Raqqa and Babe, which are also in the hands of ISIS. Besides these places, even if people were seriously ill, there was no chance to leave the area which was under the control of ISIS.

Women treated worse than animals
Women treated worse than animals

ISIS kidnapped the men and boys to strengthen their army. Many families have lost their male relatives and have no clue where they are. ISIS kidnapped them and since then the families haven’t received any message. This also impacts the families in a strong way and affects their lives and psychology enormously. Even though they are free themselves, they are scared to speak or act in a way which might upset ISIS, out of fear that something can happen with their male relatives.

This war against life, against women has a deep impact on the society and the personality. It seeds mistrust and fear. It creates deep divisions in the society and in the families. It creates isolation. This in a society which has traditionally had a strong connection and cohesion. In this way it destroys the society.

It sows deep wounds in the society and in the people. The regime of ISIS destroys solidarity, trust and love for the self and for other people. It only sows hatred, pain and mistrust. In this way the regime of ISIS has a strong impact on the psychology and health of the people’.

Civilians being used as human shields

Civilians are used as human shields in the war in the region of ISIS. ISIS doesn’t give permission to civilians to leave the town or the villages. ISIS knew quite well that the military council of Minbiç would do everything to protect civilians; even putting their own soldiers in danger to protect and rescue civilians.

Therefore no civilian could leave the town or the villages. ISIS shot the civilians when they try to leave and put mines around the houses to prevent the civilians from leaving. All refugees we spoke with told the same story: when they tried to leave ISIS shot at them with snipers rifles (karnas).

When people tried to rescue their injured family-members, ISIS shot them as well. In this way many civilians got hurt or killed. Women, old people, children, even babies got hurt or killed by mines or gunshots of ISIS. When people tried to rescue their injured family-members, ISIS shot at them as well.maxresdefault

There are many stories like the story of Aliya. Aliya is a young mother from Minbiç. Her father got shot, when they were trying to leave Minbiç. Her father died. When she tried to save her father, she, her mother and her brother got injured as well. Aliya is now in the hospital, but she doesn’t got any information about her brother or mother.

There are many families like Aliya who have been seperated and since then, haven`t had any information from their family-members. ISIS surrounded the area and shots at all the civilians who try to leave. The military council of Minbiç put themselves in danger to save the civilians.

50,000 refugees are waiting to return to the ruined city
50,000 refugees are waiting to return to the ruined city

The dire abandoned situation of the refugees

‘According research of the people’s council of Minbiç 50.000 people have been freed. These people became refugees. Only the People’s Council of Minbiç supports the refugees. The support mainly comes from the canton of Kobanê, but the situation of Kobanê is not well itself. Rojava still face an embargo, the borders are closed and Kobanê faced a terrible war with total devastation of its infrastructure and a lot of a damage to its people. (continues below)


YOUR HELP NEEDED

Rojava and the SDF liberated area are blockaded by Turkey, ISIS and Assad and get ZERO international aid. Now you can help HERE You can contribute to the Tactical Medical Unit (UMT) of YPG HERE
Monitoring UMT page Facebook Macer 
Explanatory video of the UMT (in English):


Therefore the canton of Kobanê is not in a situation to support 50.000 refugees; its resources don’t suffice.  The People’s Council of Minbiç has appealed many times to the international organisations for humanitarian aid for the refugees, but untill now no humanitarian support has been delivered, although there is an urgent need for all  basic supplies for the refugees.

Manbij refugees shelter under bushes from the fierce heat
Manbij refugees shelter under bushes from the fierce heat

The people’s council of Minbiç and the military council of Minbiç do what they can to support the refugees; sharing their own limited resources with the refugees. There is a lack of everything: a lack of food, medicines, hygienic facilities, clean water, soap, medicines, blankets. The refugees sleep on the naked earth.

In the beginning phase, the refugees lived in the desert. Now, there are camps set up for the refugees, but the facilities in these camps are very poor. Besides tents there is nothing. The people have nothing to sleep on. Most refugees live in the emptied villages. But here the situation is not good as well.

refugees escaped but are destitute
refugees escaped but are destitute

The villages are being cleaned of mines, and there is still the chance that mines will explode. The public buildings are so badly destroyed that they are not in any shape to be used. The living standards are far below human standards and the refugees face serious problems in meeting their basic needs. 30.818 refugees are registered as living in the villages.

We speak of a humanitarian problem, because there is a lack of food, clean water, hygienic facilities and healthcare. Therefore contagious diseases spread fast. The refugees only receive bread once in three days. There is no milk for the children. Hunger and diseases threaten the life of the refugees, who are mainly women, children and elderly people.

refugee children and babies are the most vulnerable
refugee children and babies are the most vulnerable

Call for help from international institutions and women’s organisations

For three years ISIS ruled in the area of Minbiç and left deep injuries in the souls of the people and in the society. For three years the women in this region lived as slaves. Their life wasn’t counted as life. They weren’t valued as humans.  For three years women and children lived under the fear of this regime.

The regime of ISIS has a very deep influence on the psychology, health, personality and society. These deep injuries won’t heal soon. The influence is on the self-perception, self-valuation and confidence as well in the perception of others. A system like this creates deep divisions, which don’t heal easily.

Now the people have been freed, but at present the same situation continues. They are displaced with nothing and nobody takes care of them. The same threats continue. Diseases, hunger, and unclean water threaten the lives of women and children.islam-state-wasteland

Although this situation has been shared with international institutions and has broadly been evaluated, humanitarian support has not been given. If these women and children are valued, humanitarian support should be given to them. In this way, it is possible to state that the special war against women and children continues.

Maybe they have been liberated, but nobody, besides the People’s Council of Minbiç takes responsibility for them. The hegemonic powers state that they want to intensify the war against ISIS, but they don’t take care about the people who have been suffering under ISIS. We call on the international institutions to carry out their responsibility for humanity.

This war is especially a special war against women. Therefore we also call on women’s organisations to show solidarity with the women who have been living under the system of ISIS. There are many ways to express solidarity.

Conclusions

The people in the war region of Minbiç who have been forced to leave their houses and livelihoods are in an urgent need in the support of food and health-care. The restricted means of the People’s Council of Minbiç don’t suffice.

There is still a part of the population who haven’t been reached and whose needs are not known. There is a shortage of clean water, food and medicines. Dirty water, rotten food, insufficient nutrition and bad housing conditions are the cause of illnesses and the fast expansion of illnesses.

a-woman-embraces-a-syria-democratic-forces-sdf-fighter-after-she-was-evacuated-with-others-by-the-sdf
Religious fascism defeated by Feminist Revolution:  a-woman-embraces-a-Syria-Democratic-Forces-sdf-fighter-after-she-was-rescued-with-others-by-the-SDF


Lastly

We believe that this human tragedy shouldn’t be ignored. According to our opinion, it is the duty of everybody who believes in universal human values to get rid of the marks of the traumatic experiences of this society which were created by the devastating actions of the enemy of humanity: ISIS. It is not the aim of the offensive to free the area and incur losses because of restricted possibilities.

There is an urgent need for food, clean water, medicines. In this way we call on humanitarian, international and women’s organisations to provide humanitarian assistance.


Committee of Diplomacy of Kongreya Star

Mail: r.women.d [at] gmail [dot] com

 

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This entry was posted on Thursday, August 18th, 2016 at 2:31 pm

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