Kidnapped Yazidi child put back under state protection after outrage

The Ministry of Family and Social Services building in Ankara

A kidnapped Yazidi child who last year was handed over by the Turkish Ministry of Family and Social Services to a family associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group has been placed under state protection again following a news report revealing her ordeal, which led to outrage, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Artı Gerçek news website.

A report by Artı Gerçek earlier on Thursday revealed that the girl, who was abducted and taken to Turkey by ISIL in 2017, was offered for sale on the dark web and later rescued from an ISIL-affiliated family in Ankara in 2021, was handed over to the same family in June 2022.

An operation carried out by police and intelligence teams in Ankara resulted in the rescue of the child in February 2021. The details of the raid and the child’s rescue were made public through a press release and video footage.

Iraqi citizens Anas V., Nasır H.R. and Sabbah Ali Oruç had been questioned over allegations of kidnapping the child and holding her hostage in their homes. Anas V. and Nasır H.R. were released under judicial supervision on Feb. 27, while Oruç was arrested.

In an indictment accepted by a court on March 8, 2021, all three were charged with membership in the ISIL terrorist organization and involvement in the organization’s leadership.

Charges were also filed against Oruç on accusations of “international human trafficking.” According to the case file, the Yazidi girl, who was handed over to an orphanage affiliated with the ministry by Ankara police on Feb. 24, 2021, was sent to the ISIL-affiliated family on weekends approximately three months later.

Artı Gerçek said, citing a document in the possession of the lawyers linked to the case against Oruç, that the child was handed over to the ISIL-linked family on June 21, 2022, by orphanage officials, after the protection order was lifted with the ministry’s approval.

According to another report by Artı Gerçek later on Thursday, the Ankara Governor’s Office announced after Artı Gerçek’s initial news report exposed the girl’s ordeal that she was replaced in state protection and that Oruç had been arrested.

The Ministry of Family and Social Services also released a written statement saying that the Yazidi child was again put under the protective care of the government “to prevent any harm.”

Artı Gerçek said the government “took a step back” in response to the angry reactions that followed after their news report revealed with documentation that the child had been handed over to Oruç’s family.

The first hearing in the trial of Oruç on charges of international human trafficking took place on Thursday. Despite objections made for the child’s protection, the court decided to postpone the trial to a later date without making a decision to address the situation.

The Yazidi girl’s own family was believed to have been killed in the ISIL massacre in the Sinjar district of northern Iraq in August 2014.

The Yazidis are a Kurdish people who follow an old religion related to Zoroastrianism but which has remnants of Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Their origins are in Iran, Iraq and Turkey. In Iraq they have been persecuted so many times in the last couple of decades that some have fled to Turkey in the hope of finding safety and the possibility of moving to the West.

Starting in 2014, ISIL carried out a massacre of Yazidis who were living in the Sinjar district of northern Iraq, killing Yazidi men and forcing Yazidi women into sexual slavery. Many Yazidis had to leave their homeland in Upper Mesopotamia. Some 5,000 Yazidis were reportedly killed during the massacre after the withdrawal of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Peshmerga force, leaving the Yazidis defenseless.

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