Saturday, July 22, 2017

Persecution and Survival

"We're asking to bring that child to be reunited with his mother. That's all we want. That's all the mother wants."
"It's all the child wants."
"A 12-year-old child is not safe unless he is in the arms of his mother. That's what we know; that's the language we understand."
"But he is safe."
"We don't want to be filling applications and documentation and such and such. We even offered to pay for the flight [to reunite the young boy with his mother in Winnipeg]."
Hadji Hesso, Yazidi Association of Manitoba

"We didn't think we would ever see him again."
"I was very saddened [by his condition] when I saw his photo ... I spoke to him on the phone and he said, 'I'm OK, I'm going to be fine'."
"We will never forget what [ISIL] did to us -- the torture, the pain, everything they did to us."
Nofa Zaghia, Yazidi refugee, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Emad Mishko Tamo
Emad Mishko Tamo was separated from his mother in August 2014 when the Yazidi family was captured by ISIS. (Facebook)
Now resident in Canada as a refugee, Nofa Zaghia is making a new life for herself and her four youngest children. She had two older boys with her husband. In 2014 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant arrived to invade her village in Iraq. ISIL targeted the Yazidi minority for extermination looking upon them as unfit to live. They are a minority ethnic group whose religious practises sets them apart from the Muslim majority in Iraq, who consider them to be heretics.

Islamic State terrorists rounded up Yazidi men to slaughter and leave them in mass graves, while the women and children were taken as slaves, to be used and sold on the slave market. Women and girls to be used as sex slaves. Tens of thousands of Yazidis were besieged when they fled the terrorists on Mount Sinjar above the town of Sinjar and their surrounding villages. They, presumably, were the fortunate ones, escaping death and enslavement. But on the mountain they faced winter cold, privation and starvation.

Kurdish forces effected a rescue, and since then rescued Yazidis have sought asylum elsewhere than their homeland of Iraq. Untold numbers of Yazidi women and children are still being held by ISIL terrorists, others have been sold into slavery, ending up in places like Mali. And there are still families of Yazidis marooned on Mount Sinjar. This week Nofa Zaghia received a call from her brother, living in a refugee camp in Iraq. He informed her that her 12-year-old son Emad Mishko Tamo had been rescued by Iraqi soldiers and brought to the camp.

And her brother posted a photograph of the boy through social media, seated in a pickup truck, frail in appearance, wide-eyed, encrusted with blood and mud, but alive. Her two years living in captivity under Islamic State, separated from her husband and their two older boys left her convinced that only she and the four younger children had survived. Now she knows that she will be reunited with her 12-year-old son.

The fate of her other son and her husband is unknown to her. She had somehow managed to escape with her four young children, but she has no idea what happened to the others.

Emad is receiving medial treatment. He has a bullet wound in his arm, and sustained injuries to his stomach. The Yazidi association representing her interests and those of her son, receives assistance from the Kurdish Initiative for Refugees and Winnipeg Friends of Israel. Canadian authorities are being urged to expedite the young boy's journey from the refugee camp in Iraq to Canada, to be reunited with his mother and four younger siblings.

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