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Turkish ministry handed over kidnapped Yazidi child to ISIL-linked family that sold her: report

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The Turkish Ministry of Family and Social Services last year handed over a kidnapped Yazidi child to a family associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group that had listed her for sale on the dark web, according to a report by the Artı Gerçek news website on Thursday.

The report revealed that the Yazidi 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 back 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 the indictment accepted 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,” making it the first example. 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.

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 report has prompted some social media users to call on Family and Social Services Minister Mahinur Özdemir Göktaş to resign.

Turkish journalist Cevheri Güven, who lives in exile in Germany, said that in a normal country, not only should the family minister resign but also be prosecuted.

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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