Category Archives: Iraq, Kurdistan

The silent grief of the Yezidi women

Publication: MO* (also translated in Dutch and French).

Over the past year thousands of Jezidi women were made a slave and raped by Islamic State (IS) fighters. Some of them got away. They returned to Northern Iraq: ill, broken and severely traumatised.

The temperature is over 30 degrees, but Aniya is shivering. Now and then she wipes the sticky sweat off her forehead with her black headscarf or firmly rubs her hands. ‘He raped me’, she says at the beginning of the conversation, Continue reading The silent grief of the Yezidi women

Balkanroute: Mee met de vluchtelingentrein

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PHOTOS: MARIELLE VAN UITERT

Publicatie: De Tijd

Iedere dag reizen duizenden vluchtelingen met de trein door de Balkan, op weg naar een beter leven in West-Europa. Ze zijn uitgeput, want voor slapen of douchen is geen tijd.

Overal staan sporttassen en zakken vol spullen. De muren van de wagon zijn bespoten met graffiti. Het ruikt er naar zweet, eten en viezigheid. De vluchtelingen uit Syrië, Afghanistan en Irak hebben al dagenlang geen douche gezien. De meesten vallen uitgeput in slaap, anderen lopen nerveus heen en weer. Continue reading Balkanroute: Mee met de vluchtelingentrein

Terrorists turn month of peace into time for war

Publication: Al-Monitor, July 14, 2015

For most Muslims around the world, the month of Ramadan marks a period of fasting, abstinence and contemplation. Besides a month for spirituality and reflection, Ramadan is also a month in which extra attention is paid to tolerance, generosity, charity and solidarity.

For some, however, the concept of “holy month” also carries a more violent meaning. Extremist groups such as the Islamic State (IS)— but also groups such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda — perceive Ramadan to be a month of jihad and martyrdom, Continue reading Terrorists turn month of peace into time for war

After mass rape by the Islamic State, Yazidi women still struggle to break the silence

Publication: Al-Monitor

DAHUK, Iraq — The first man Aniya was forced to marry was an Islamic State militant called Abu Safouan. She was 41 and he was 22, but still he bought her and her 3-year-old daughter at a slave market in Raqqa. After he had raped and abused Aniya for 20 days, he told her he was fed up with her and sold her to a 27-year-old man who called himself Abu Ali Sham.

“He used to rape me when my daughter was outside the room. She often screamed and cried, because she knew something was wrong, Continue reading After mass rape by the Islamic State, Yazidi women still struggle to break the silence

Kurdish fighters struggle to pay bills

Publication: Al-Monitor

ERBIL, Iraq — When Hemin Zangana was sent to the front line in August 2014, he and his fellow peshmerga fighters were determined to recapture the Mosul Dam from the Islamic State. They told each other they would rather die during this important mission than accept the fact that IS was in full control after Kurdish forces partially retreated from the area. For several nights, Zangana wasn’t able to sleep properly.

“The peshmerga were weak, too weak. It was the hardest battle I had ever experienced. Yet we were convinced we had what it took to defeat IS,” he told Al-Monitor. Continue reading Kurdish fighters struggle to pay bills

Iraqi children traumatized by IS violence

PHOTO: Brenda Stoter
PHOTO: Brenda Stoter

Publication: Al-Monitor

ERBIL, Iraq — Mohammed was 5 years old when August 16, 2015his little brother was shot dead before his eyes. This happened in June 2014 when Islamic State (IS) militants stormed the city of Mosul and took over large parts of northern Iraq.

“IS terrorists shot my child because I was a soldier in the Iraqi army,” Mohammed’s father, a skinny man with deep lines in his face Continue reading Iraqi children traumatized by IS violence

Radicalized Western mothers lead children into Islamic State

Publication: Al-Monitor

AMSTERDAM — For Aysha and Luca Opdam’s father, it is still hard to accept that his children, born and raised in the Netherlands, are now living in Syria. In a letter, he describes how his ex-wife radicalized after she devoted her life to Islam around six years ago. After it was made public that Aysha, 7, and Luca, 8, were taken by their mother to join the Islamic State (IS), the letter was published by a local newspaper.

“If my kids — if I ever get them again — become Muslims that would be fine by me. But only at an age when they are able to make their own choices with full awareness,” he wrote on March 22. Continue reading Radicalized Western mothers lead children into Islamic State

Iraqi Christians find safe haven in Jordan’s churches

Publication; Al-Monitor

AMMAN, Jordan — His teenage daughter being married to an Islamic State (IS) fighter, his wife being forced to convert to Islam and his sons being trained by militants in the Islamic State’s children’s training camps.

“We got a call that ‘Daesh’ (the Arabic acronym for IS) was coming. In just a few hours, all Christians in our village decided to flee. People even forgot to take their passports. It was a huge mess,’’ Nadjm, 43, recalls. He and his family members stayed in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) region in northern Iraq for a few months. Continue reading Iraqi Christians find safe haven in Jordan’s churches

‘Christenen zijn nergens meer veilig’

Publicatie: De Tijd

AMMAN- Door de opmars van Islamitische Staat vluchten christenen massaal uit Irak. In de Jordaanse hoofdstad Amman worden ze in kerken opgevangen, maar ook daar willen ze weg. ‘Er is geen plek meer voor ons in het Midden-Oosten.’
Zijn tienerdochter die moet trouwen met een IS-strijder, zijn vrouw die gedwongen wordt zich te bekeren tot de islam of zijn zoons die in de beruchte kindertrainingskampen terechtkomen. Het zijn slechts enkele beelden die door Najms hoofd schoten toen hij in augustus in een sneltreinvaart vanuit de omgeving van Mosul naar Noord-Irak reed. Kleding, foto’s en andere persoonlijke bezittingen werden Continue reading ‘Christenen zijn nergens meer veilig’

Deel 1: Vrouwen in het kalifaat ‘Mama, ik ga’

Publicatie: De Groene Amsterdammer

Naar schatting 35 tot 50 jonge Nederlandse vrouwen zijn vertrokken naar het kalifaat van Islamitische Staat. Moeder Monique vond vorige week dochter Aïcha terug aan de Turks-Syrische grens. ‘Ik had niet verwacht dat ze nog zou leven.’ 

MONIQUE LEEFDE maanden op sigaretten en koffie. Slapen lukte amper, hooguit een paar uur per nacht. En als ze eenmaal sliep, hoorde ze haar roepen: ‘Mama, doe eens open.’ Maar haar negentienjarige dochter Aïcha (de naam die ze na haar bekering aannam) stond nooit voor de deur. Die woonde in Raqqa of Al Bab, Syrische steden die overgenomen zijn door islamitische militanten. Tenminste, dat vermoedde Monique, want van de ene op de andere dag werd Aïcha’s telefoon niet meer beantwoord en bleven de dagelijkse updates op Facebook achterwege. Continue reading Deel 1: Vrouwen in het kalifaat ‘Mama, ik ga’

European women convert, join IS

Publication: Al Monitor

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Vanessa, 19, was always a rebellious and spontaneous teen. Someone who liked being the center of attention and didn’t let anybody tell her what to do. After she became a teenager, she was always hanging around “tough boys” from school. They made her feel protected and safe. And just like other teens, she had boyfriends: Some were really nice, but others treated her badly.

“And when she had a nice boyfriend, she started calling him constantly, testing his limits. On the one hand she denounced rules. Continue reading European women convert, join IS

Iraqi refugees in despair in Jordan long for Saddam era

Publication: Al Monitor 

AMMAN, Jordan — In a small cafe in Amman, Syrian, Palestinian and Iraqi customers are smoking the hookah and drinking coffee. They enjoy a quiet evening watching the World Cup on a large TV screen. King Abdullah’s portrait hangs on the wall next to the screen.

The Iraqi owner of the cafe, Farouq, moved from Baghdad to Amman in 2004 to escape the war in Iraq. He went back and forth several times in the first few years, until he realized that it was better for him to start a new life in Jordan, as he could not have a normal life in Iraq. Now he lives with his wife and two children in Amman. Continue reading Iraqi refugees in despair in Jordan long for Saddam era

European women find appeal in Syrian jihad

Publication; Al Monitor

AMSTERDAM — Khadija (not her real name) enjoyed a quiet life in the Netherlands, the country she grew up in. She had a place to stay and the opportunity to study.​ However, over the last couple of years, she found it more difficult as a devout Muslim and felt increasing hostility. ​

She came across images of black al-Qaeda flags in Syria on the Internet, and she found out that several Dutch Muslims had joined the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). They were talking about Sharia, creating an Islamic state Continue reading European women find appeal in Syrian jihad

Bomaanslag Erbil grote schok ‘Koerdistan is geen Irak’

ERBIL- Aan de opluchting over de democratisch verlopen verkiezingen kwam prompt een einde toen een serie autobommen afging in de hoofdstad van Iraaks Koerdistan. De bevolking is verdrietig, verbijsterd en kwaad. In tegenstelling tot in de rest van Irak was er in hun regio sinds 2007 geen bom meer ontploft. Maar juist door de veiligheid, stabiliteit en welvarendheid was Erbil ook een perfect doelwit.

Eén dag nadat de resultaten van de Koerdische parlementsverkiezingen werden bekend gemaakt, ontploften vier autobommen in de buurt van het hoofdkwartier van de veiligheidsdiensten en het Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken. Door Continue reading Bomaanslag Erbil grote schok ‘Koerdistan is geen Irak’

Verbonden door het oorlogsleed

Artikel in het AD

Syrische vluchtelingen liefdevol opgevangen in Irak

Geschreven voor het Algemeen Dagblad 25-05-2013

DUHOK- Miljoenen Syrische vluchtelingen leven in mensonterende omstandigheden in een van de buurlanden. In het Iraakse Domiz is alles anders. Geen krotjes, huilende kinderen of wanhopige ouders, maar lachende gezichten, keurige tentjes en veel winkels. De Koerdische Irakezen waren ooit zelf het slachtoffer van een oorlog en staan daarom nu voor hun Syrische buren klaar. ,,Wij zijn één volk.”

De tenten ogen schoon. Buiten spelen kinderen lachend een spelletje in keurige straten, die ruiken naar versgebakken brood. Continue reading Verbonden door het oorlogsleed