My mother was raped in front of me – Yezidi child

HASAKAH, Syria (North Press) – Pondering while looking at the outskirts of his village Tel Banat northwest of Iraq, the 15-year-old Hoshyar Hassan still hears his mother screaming for help and the sound of the bullet which pierced his father’s chest.

The 7-year-old boy then did not know that the attackers will slice open the innocence womb and pull him and his five years old little brother Horyan out.

It was the darkest night of 2014 when Islamic State Organization (ISIS) attacked the predominantly Yezidi village, and raped his mother in front of his eyes while hearing her screams calling for help, the screams that he is trying to get them out of his head. Hoshyar even forgot the name of his mother who is featured to him as a mirage.   

Despite the pain of the unfolded details, the young man stares in cold and soulless looks that cannot identify his real psycho-emotional status. He adds in a manly voice “We were five people in the house, after raping my mother, they killed my father.”  

No one is left from the child’s family but his elder brother who was out of the village, and his uncles who are currently living in the village.

The Black Prison  

ISIS kidnaped both Hoshyar and his younger brother, to be shifted later to Syria, and the dark exhausting journey of moving from one place to another started. It was so hard for the brains of these two children to think or even get familiar with such situation. The first station was “The Black Prison” or Point 11 which was located in the National Playground, to find them later on in Baghouz, ISIS last stronghold.   

Hoshyar and other children learned martial arts with weapons, booby traps and ambushing, according to what he told North Press. The young man’s body was a witness to the horrible torture and punishments he faced at the hands of the organization.

“I once made a mistake, so they nailed my foot to the ground, and the mark of the nailing is still until now.”

They pounded three railroad spikes through Hoshyar’s younger brother just because he torn the food sheets up.

“We were dozens of Yezidi children and they [ISIS] used to take us to execution place and made us see how it was done to terrorize us from getting back to our old belief,” he added.

In firmed and fixed looks straight to North Press camera, Hoshyar continues with high manly-like voice, “The executions were done by firing and chopping the heads off.”  

I lost Horyan

Hoshyar was injured in his face, head, and thigh when he was in Aleppo countryside, the day the building that he and other Yezidi children took as a shelter to protect themselves from the shelling was bombed.

A moment of awkward silence for what it seems a painful memory smashed his frozen facial expressions like a melting iceberg. He continued but with more warm and hurt voice “I lost my Horyan in a shelling over al-Shaafah town in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor in 2018.”   

I did not know that he was dead, I held his hand and dragged him thinking that he was hiding from the flying debris, but when I saw his forehead severely injured and his non-stop bleeding I started to scream and cry, I cannot believe that he is not breathing no more, I cannot believe that he left this world, and left me alone in it. Then I passed out.” Hoshyar unfolds the painful details without shedding even a tear.  

Among 57 Yezidi children only 25 were left alive, according to Hoshyar.

After a sequence of withdrawals resulted in defeating and getting rid of ISIS in Baghouz 2019, without saying or speaking of himself that he is Yezidi, the 13-year-old Hoshyar turned himself in to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for three years. 

The number of Yezidis who were found in Hawl Camp and ISIS prisons in northeastern Syria by the SDF and the Yezidi House in the Jazira region, reached 3.570, including 1.220 women, 345 men, 958 boys, and 1.047 girls, according to the Yezidi House.

At the same time, thousands of Yezidis who were kidnaped from Sinjar are unaccounted for.

Going back home

Hoshyar was transported with thousands of ISIS members to al-Sinaa prison in the city of Hasakah. Like soaking in quicksand, Hoshyar had again to survive in the prison.   

He kept saying “ISIS kept killing Yezidis inside the prison; I did not know when my time will come.”

He explained to North Press that “They had judges, police, and executers inside the prison. They were committing executions through multiple ways such as strangling, drawing, and injecting the other prisoners’ veins who suspected to decline in their loyalty to the organization with scabies.”  

Hoshyar confessed that he was Yazidi to the prison management before the events of al-Sinaa prison, “after I confessed, they transferred me to the central prison near al-Sinaa prison in Guweiran for five months, then they got me back to the al-Sinaa prison and isolated me from the other prisoners,” until handing over to the Yezidi House and finally getting him back home.

On January 20, 2021, ISIS attacked al-Sinaa prison, and Hoshyar was a witness to all the details of the attack, “We had a person named Khattab 700 who was responsible for all the prisoners and plans. He told us that the attack would start from the outside and that we should rebel from the Inside.”

Since January 20, the city of Hasakah has been witnessing sporadic clashes between the SDF alongside the Internal Security Forces of North and East Syria (Asayish) with support of the US-led Global Coalition, and ISIS sleeper cells in the vicinity of al-Sina’a Prison in the Guweiran neighborhood. 

The clashes began after ISIS sleeper cells’ militants attacked the prison, which houses thousands of ISIS members, coinciding with three explosions in an attempt to take out ISIS prisoners.

Through loudspeakers, the SDF continued to call out to the ISIS militants in al-Sina’a prison to lay down their weapons and get out to the main gate of the prison. 

He added, “They started to go out and clash with the guards. In one of the rooms there were 40 armless SDF members. They were all killed.”

Hoshyar remained in prison throughout the period of the clashes between the ISIS and the SDF until the latter managed to take control over the prison and handed the child over to the Yezidi House. 

The Yezidi House took the child to send him to what remained of his family in Iraq.

After he finally got back home, Hoshyar said, “I am still terrified, I do not think that I will see my life at ease ever again.”

Reporting by Jindar Abdulqader