Yazidi ‘ex-sex slave’ trapped both in Iraq and in German exile

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Ashwaq Hajji
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Yazidi woman Ashwaq Haji, allegedly used by the Daesh as a sex slave, visits the Lalish temple in tribute to the Daesh’ victims from her village of Kocho near Sinjar, in Lalish, northern Iraq, on August 15, 2018. (AFP)
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Yazidi woman Ashwaq Haji, allegedly used by the Daesh as a sex slave, visits the Lalish temple in tribute to the Daesh’ victims from her village of Kocho near Sinjar, in Lalish, northern Iraq, on August 15, 2018. (AFP)
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Yazidi woman Ashwaq Haji, allegedly used by the Daesh as a sex slave, visits the Lalish temple in tribute to the Daesh’ victims from her village of Kocho near Sinjar, in Lalish, northern Iraq, on August 15, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 18 August 2018
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Yazidi ‘ex-sex slave’ trapped both in Iraq and in German exile

  • Life in Iraq is not easy for Ashwaq or for the 3,315 other Yazidis who escaped from the Daesh
  • The Yazidis are a Kurdish-speaking religious minority that was brutally persecuted by the terrorists who despise them as heretics

LALISH: A young Yazidi woman who fled to Germany but returned home to northern Iraq says she cannot escape her Daesh captor who held her as a sex slave for three months.
Ashwaq Hajji, 19, says she ran into the man in a German supermarket in February. Traumatized by the encounter, she returned to Iraq the following month. Like many other Yazidis, she was kidnapped by Daesh when the extremists seized swaths of Iraq in the summer of 2014.
In their ancestral region of Sinjar in northwestern Iraq, thousands of Yazidi women were killed or sold off as sex slaves.
The teenager was held from Aug. 3 until Oct. 22 of 2014, when she managed to escape from the home of an Iraqi extremist using the name Abu Humam who had bought her for $100, she told AFP in the Yazidi shrine of Lalish, north of second city Mosul.
The Yazidis are a Kurdish-speaking religious minority that was brutally persecuted by the terrorists who despise them as heretics.
Under a German government program for Iraqi refugees, Ashwaq, her mother and a younger brother were resettled in 2015 in Schwaebisch Gmuend, a town near Stuttgart.
Her refuge in Germany, where she took language lessons, was cut short on Feb. 21 when a man called out her name in a supermarket and started talking to her in German.
“He told me he was Abu Humam. I told him I didn’t know him, and then he started talking to me in Arabic,” she said.
“He told me: ‘Don’t lie, I know very well that you’re Ashwaq’,” she said, adding that he gave her home address and other details of her life in Germany.
After that experience, she immediately phoned the local police, who told her to contact a specialized department.
The judicial police in the Baden-Wuerttemberg region of southwestern Germany said an inquiry was opened on March 13 but that Ashwaq was not present to answer questions.
A spokesman for the German federal prosecutor’s office said that so far the man’s identity could not be confirmed “with certainty.”
Germany says it has opened several investigations over terrorism charges or crimes against humanity involving asylum seekers linked to extremist groups in Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan.
Ashwaq said she had viewed surveillance videos filmed in the supermarket together with German police and was ready to keep them informed of her whereabouts.
But she said that she was not willing to return to Germany for fear of seeing her captor again.
She is back in northern Iraq with her mother and brother, but living in fear because she says Abu Humam has family in Baghdad.
She wears black in a sign of mourning for five brothers and a sister still missing since their own capture by Daesh.
At a camp for the displaced in nearby Iraqi Kurdistan where he has been resettled, her father, Hajji Hamid, 53, admits returning was not an easy decision, even though the government proclaimed victory over IS at the end of last year.
“When her mother told me that she’d seen that jihadist... I told them to come back because Germany was obviously no longer a safe place for them,” he said.
Life in Iraq is also not easy for Ashwaq or for the 3,315 other Yazidis who escaped from the jihadists. A similar number are still being held or have gone missing, according to official figures.
“All the survivors have volcanos inside them, ready to explode,” warned Sara Samouqi, a psychologist who works with several Yazidis.
“Ashwaq and her family are going through terrible times.”


Turkey frees prominent opposition lawmaker Berberoglu

Turkish lawmaker Enis Berberoglu was accused of leaking footage to opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper suggesting Turkey had smuggled arms to Islamic rebels in Syria. (Reuters)
Updated 11 min 28 sec ago
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Turkey frees prominent opposition lawmaker Berberoglu

  • Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s pro-secular Republican People’s Party, or CHP, welcomed the release of Berberoglu
  • Kilicdaroglu led a 450-kilometer (280-mile) march from Ankara to the prison where Berberoglu was jailed

ISTANBUL: A Turkish court on Thursday released a prominent lawmaker from the main opposition party who had been sentenced to more than five years in prison for revealing state secrets and espionage.
State-run news agency Anadolu said Thursday the sentence of Enis Berberoglu, re-elected in June, has been suspended for as long as he remains a lawmaker.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s pro-secular Republican People’s Party, or CHP, welcomed the release of Berberoglu, tweeting: “We will continue to chase justice for everyone.”
Berberoglu met his family and CHP members, including Kilicdaroglu, after his release from an Istanbul prison, Turkey’s private Demiroren news agency reported.
Berberoglu, a 62 year-old former journalist, was initially sentenced to 25 years in prison in June 2017 for allegedly leaking footage to opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper suggesting Turkey had smuggled arms to Islamic rebels in Syria. In February, the sentence was reduced to five years and 10 months.
In July 2017, Kilicdaroglu led a 450-kilometer (280-mile) march from Ankara to the prison where Berberoglu was jailed to protest the government’s crackdown following an attempted coup.
Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people since the failed coup and fired at least 110,000 others from government jobs. The crackdown was initially launched to deal with alleged coup-plotters, but critics say it has expanded to include other government opponents, such as academics, journalists and legislators.