“On the day of August 3rd, 2014”, says Amsha Ali Elias Khalty, “we were in Ger Ezer village”. Having seen ISIS terrorists approaching, she remembers, “we ran for three hours until we arrived at Khabazya neighbourhood, which is near Gadala (a village by the mountain)”.
“As we were crossing the street, heading towards Gadala, we saw many white cars and we expected them to be Peshmerga so we did not worry. Suddenly, however, they lifted their black flags. We scattered and tried to run away”.
“We figured out that they were coming from Chlo (a village in Shingal). Even though there were about 200 of us, they soon had us surrounded. Having called us to stop, they shot the ones who tried to escape. Then, they ordered all of us (women, men, and children) to sit down”.
“They started to kill people randomly”, Khalty recounts. “Women were shouting and screaming, and the children were crying because they were very frightened. Then, they isolated the men from the women, and began to kill the men, who had previously been told to lie on the ground”.
“I saw with my own eyes that they killed my husband (Khalil Khalaf Rasho) and his brother (Nayef Khalaf Rasho). I also saw my father in law (Khalaf Rasho) lying down on the ground, but I didn’t see them shoot him. My little son Muayad, my husband’s sister, my mother-in-law, and I were now they only family members left. I saw with my own eyes that they killed more than fifty people”.
“In the meantime”, Khalty remembers, “some of the Faqir clan showed up with a herd of sheep, and the ISIS terrorists didn’t know what to do. They began to shoot in all directions, trying to kill all of the men they could see. Then, three of them came to me and asked me get in their car, but I refused. They ordered me to give them my child so they could kill him, but they were distracted because of my screams”.
“Soon afterwards, they saw a child of about ten years old (who I knew was my relative). I shouted at them, and attacked them in order to save the child. At the same time, a person from the Hassan Meho family began to shoot at them, defending us with honour. Because he was alone, though, among a sea of ISIS terrorists, they soon hit him with two bullets, before showering him with bullets as he tried to take himself to safety. Because they were busy firing at the brave Yezîdî man, however, the ten-year-old boy was able to run away”.
“Then, the terrorists forced me into a car”, she recalls. “It was nine o’clock in the morning”.
“They took us all to a police station on a hill to the north of Ciba Sheikh Khider village. The place was full of women and children, all of whom were screaming, howling, or crying. The situation was terrible”.
“We were soon offered some breakfast (bread and yogurt), but everyone refused to eat. In the following hour, a woman from the Qairani clan (and from Ciba Sheikh Khider) questioned the extremists, asking ‘why are you treating us like this if we have never fought against you?’ They responded by saying: ‘you are faithless, and we will save you from hell and make you enter heaven by converting you to Islam’”.
“Then, we were put onto buses and told that we were being taken to Baaj (an area near Shingal). They separated me from my mother-in-law (Khanav Khalaf Qaso) and, on the way to Baaj, we saw many dead Yazidis scattered on the sides of the road and on top of the mounds which had been built up to resist the ISIS terrorists”.
“When they drove us past the Ger Zark checkpoint, they celebrated by shooting into the air and by throwing sweets up into the air (believing that this action would save them from hell). Then, when we arrived in Baaj, they took us to a school. There were around a thousand of us, and we stayed there for four hours. Some of them came to us and asked us to convert. We answered by saying ‘you killed all of our men. How can we leave our pure religion which has taught us to respect, help, and trust each other for the religion you follow?’ Understandably, their attempts to convert us were useless, so they gave us ten days to think. After that period, they said, they would ask us again and if we did not convert we would all be killed”.
“Then, they took us to Mosul on large buses, passing by the city centre of Shingal where we saw many dead bodies in the streets. Here, many other Yezîdî women and young girls were brought on board with us. Every now and then, they stopped the buses to film us”.
“I asked them to bring me some milk for my baby”, recalls Khalty, “but they just gave me some expired milk which the child could not drink it. As a result, he cried for the whole journey, shouting out ‘Mimi, Mimi’ [‘milk, milk’]”.
“Eventually, we arrived at the Galaxy hotel in Mosul”, she remembers. “They gave us each one piece of bread, and I put mine in some water to feed it to my little child, choosing to remain hungry myself. My husband’s sister (Hadya) offered me half of her bread, but I refused to eat it because the image of ISIS terrorists murdering my husband and his brother kept replaying over and over in my head”.
“The Quran was playing over the loudspeakers, so the children did not have a chance to sleep. ISIS guards, meanwhile, were always inside the hall where we were supposed to sleep, so we did not feel comfortable lying down or trying to sleep – for fear that they would do inappropriate things to us”.
“They didn’t allow us to talk to each other, and there was a camera in every corner of the hall where we were staying. We all had one cell-phone, which we were using to contact our families and those relatives who had been kidnapped by ISIS. We spoke to them mainly between three o’clock and six o’clock in the morning, as the guards were sleeping. We would talk to our families underneath our blankets. Soon, however, they realized that we had a cell-phone, and they searched everyone, especially the kids. Finally, they found it in one girl’s socks, and moved her to another room as a punishment. She would stay there alone and without food and water for three days, before being brought back to the hall. She could hardly breathe”.
“Then, they told us they would take us somewhere else”, Khalty says. “We were all around 20 years old or younger”.
“We stayed there for ten days before they took us to a house in Mosul, where a number of other girls were also being kept. It was a very large house with four floors”.
“One of their leaders came to the house, and he took thirty unmarried young girls, telling them they would be taken to Syria. He seemed to be from Mosul as he spoke in an Iraqi dialect. The most beautiful girls were chosen and, when they refused (causing us all to cry and scream), the guards took them out to their cars by force”.
“The guards were all from Mosul, and they carried sticks which they used to beat the girls. They then began to sell us to random people. Every day, elderly people from Mosul would come to buy some of us. Each one would be sold for only 15 thousand Iraqi dinars ($12)”.
“We screamed and cried, and refused to go with those who bought us, but the guards took us by force nonetheless. Soon, all of the unmarried girls had been sold, and only the married ones were left. There were more than forty of us, but then they began to sell us off too. Eventually, I remained alone with my little kid. The guard told me he would kill my child, who was crying uncontrollably, if he didn’t shut up. On the same day, my child began to cry at midnight and woke me up. There were three guards, and I asked one to open the door for me, but he refused”.
“Later, when the guards were sleeping, I broke the door, drank some water, and gave some to my child. Then, at about two o’clock in the morning, I left the house. Without knowing where I was going, I walked with my baby for a few hours until I got to a main road. It was four o’clock, and there was an old man nearby. I told him my story. He responded by saying: ‘the Yazidis are my people. Screw the ISIS militants, their actions and their whole organization’”.
“I gave the elderly man my brother Murad’s phone number, and we called him. He asked him if I was indeed his sister and, when Murad said yes, he told him I would be treated like his daughter and that he needn’t worry about me. The man swore to my brother by Tawes Malak (the Peacock King) that I would be in safe hands. Eventually, he found a way to take me to my brother”.