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Yazidi Woman, having escaped from ISIS, Awaits Aid

But on her way to freedom outside the Iraqi town of Hawija, Bashar, 18, lost her sight in a blast from a land mine explosion. Her face was severely disfigured

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Lamiya Hachi Bashar
Lamiya Hachi Bashar, VOA
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May 7, 2016:
When Lamiya Hachi Bashar escaped the house of an Islamic State fighter in Iraq in mid-April, she thought months of enslavement and IS terror were finally over.

But on her way to freedom outside the Iraqi town of Hawija, Bashar, 18, lost her sight in a blast from a land mine explosion. Her face was severely disfigured.

“Her right eye is pretty much gone, but her left eye can recover,” said Kurdish doctor Husain Bahrari, who treated her. “She also suffers from extensive facial laceration.”

Lamiya Hachi Bashar
Lamiya Hachi Bashar, Youtube

IS violence

Bashar, one of the thousands of Yazidis who have suffered under systematic violence by IS, is facing a bleak future. Her doctor told VOA that her complex injuries require treatment that is not available in Iraq.

“There needs to be a plastic surgery quickly to avoid scars that are unrecoverable,” Bahrari said. “A young girl her age needs that.”

But Bashar is waiting to get an entry visa to Germany and is facing uncertainty about who is going to pay for medical procedures, a German charity attempting to help her said.

She’s ‘traumatized’

“We are trying to get her to Germany, but the visa process is slow and we’re limited on resources,” said Mirza Dinnayi, head of the German-based Air Bridge Iraq. “The poor girl is traumatized and needs to resettle somewhere else. But this is not possible now.”

When IS attacked Bashar’s village of Kojo in August 2014, she and 12 members of her family were taken prisoner.

Around 5,000 Yazidi men and women were captured by the militants that summer. Some 2,000 of them managed to escape or were smuggled out of IS’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria, activists say.

Related Article: ISIS eyes on the land of Tagore and Nazrul (Bangladesh)

“I was kept in a prison with my family for one month before they took me and my two sisters along with hundreds of the girls to [IS capital] Raqqa,” Bashar told VOA.

Lamiya Hachi Bashar before she was taken into slavery by Islamic State in 2014.
Lamiya Hachi Bashar before she was taken into slavery by Islamic State in 2014 (Photo courtesy of Bashar’s uncle, Idris Kojo)

VOA could not independently verify Bashar’s story.

While in IS captivity, Bashar said she was sold five times as a sex slave and faced mental and physical abuse. One IS leader in Mosul forced her into making suicide belts and preparing car bombs.

Marriage refused

IS fighters were coming many times to take them,” she said. “He [one IS militant] asked me to marry him. … I told him, ‘I won’t do this and I won’t help you.He hit me with hoses and floor squeegee handles. There was nothing left he didn’t use to beat me.”

Bashar was later sold to an IS doctor in the Iraqi town of Hawija, where she met two other Yazidi girls, Almas, 8, and Katherine, 20. They were able to secretly contact their relatives, who arranged with a middleman to facilitate their escape.

In mid-April, the girls started their dangerous journey to escape IS slavery to Iraqi Kurdistan. An Arab family also accompanied the girls, Bashar said.

Their facilitator took the group out of the city in a car, Bashar said. Their guide told them to avoid land mines that IS placed to stop people from fleeing.

“Katherine stepped on a mine, and all I saw after that was a bright light in front of my eyes,” Bashar said. “I called Katherine and Almas but all I heard was an ‘ah’ from Katherine.”

The girls died at the scene, their bodies left in a field. Bashar, who was injured, does not remember how she was rescued. Family members say her guide took her to the Kurdish Peshmerga.

Lamiya Hachi Bashar before she was taken into slavery by Islamic State in 2014. (Photo courtesy of Bashar’s uncle, Idris Kojo)

After initial limited medical treatments, Bashar is waiting at the home of relatives.

The German group trying to help her said it could take six months before Bashar can get a resettlement visa.

“To avoid further delays, we have applied for a three-month treatment visa, which I hope will be ready soon,” charity worker Dinnayi said.

Future medical care

When she is in Germany, there will be donation campaigns to get her the funds she needs for medical care.

However, “I can’t say how long this will take,” Dinnayi said.

The mayor of the Yazidi town of Sinjar, Mahma Khalil, said the Kurdistan region has done its best to help thousands of Yazidi victims but has limited resources.

“We ask the U.N., humanitarian organizations and other countries to help them recover,” he said.

Despite her trauma, Bashar remains optimistic and grateful.

I would rather stay here blind than being with them [IS] sighted,” she told VOA.

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  • Pritam Go Green

    It’s high time now. World superpowers should take some initiative to eradicate this evil from our society .

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Juneteenth: A Proclamation From The Executive Of The United States

Another Independence Day

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Deborah Smith and her husband, Kuma, watch festivities at a Juneteenth celebration at Leimert Park in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, June 19, 2010.
Deborah Smith and her husband, Kuma, watch festivities at a Juneteenth celebration at Leimert Park in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, June 19, 2010. VOA

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves free.”

That proclamation, June 19, 1865, was the spark for a day that has come to be known in the United States as Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of U.S. slavery.

The proclamation in Texas actually came 2½ years after slavery ended with President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. That document, which made emancipation effective in slaveholding states January 1, 1863, was signed in the middle of the Civil War. But it was not until federal troops arrived thousands of kilometers west in Texas, two months after the official end of the war in 1965, that many Texas slaves were informed that they were free.

The reason for the delay in notification of the slaves is unclear. It could have been slow communications at a time when telephones and email did not exist; it could have been that such a proclamation could not have been enforced until federal troops arrived in Texas after the war.

Life for freed slaves

The proclamation did not immediately make life easy for freed slaves. They had to find their own work for wages and grapple with prejudice that causes racial divides in the United States today. But emancipation was a legal victory that came as welcome news to the 250,000 African-Americans who had been illegally enslaved in Texas for 30 months after the signing of the document that was meant to free them.

Today, Juneteenth supporters are still working for recognition of the holiday, which is celebrated with picnics, parades, prayer and public celebrations of African-American culture.

The holiday was once celebrated mostly in the western United States. Texas-dwellers took the holiday with them as they followed job opportunities west. But the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s brought a new surge in interest in the holiday in the East, and now 45 out of 50 states have designated the mid-June celebration as an official state holiday or day of observance. Texas was the first state to make Juneteenth a state holiday.

Slaves
Slaves, Pixabay

Community celebrations

This Saturday and Sunday, many Juneteenth celebrations are taking place before the official June 19 anniversary of the proclamation. In Salisbury, Maryland, close to the eastern U.S. coast, residents held an outdoor festival featuring dancing and local crafts at a cultural center.

Community organizer Amber Green told a reporter that Juneteenth “is basically Black Independence Day.”

Juneteenth celebrations tend to be generated by the community, highlighting ties among family and friends.

Also read: Islamic State (ISIS) Terrorist Group using Thousands of Women as Sex slaves in Mosul, Iraq

“Today is our festival,” Green said. “We have local artists, local vendors, local music, and we are just bringing the community together through good food, good music and good fun.” (VOA)