1 Year After Attack: CYCI Liberates Yezidi Girls from Islamic State

By Dr. Amy L. Beam:2013 amy beam headshot t

I, Amy L. Beam, am an American human rights activist, researcher and writer. Since the Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL, IS) attack on Shingal, Iraq, on August 3, 2014, in which over 9,000 Yezidis were killed, kidnapped, or sexually enslaved, I have visited all the Kurdish-run Yezidi refugee camps in southeast Turkey (North Kurdistan) where 25,000 Yezidis fled. I am retired and volunteer independently.

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Amy Beam visiting with Yezidi children near Zakho. Girl in red was rescued from ISIS.

I am now focused on the issue of rescuing the estimated 2500 to 3500 Yezidis still under ISIS control.

Last December, I was banned from Turkey without a reason. Secretly I told it was for my “Kurdish politics” and online writing at KurdistanTribune.com. While I appeal my entry ban to Turkey, I am based in Duhok, Kurdistan which is in northern Iraq near the borders of Syria and Turkey.

All 400,000 Yezidis fled Shingal on foot or by car in two days one year ago when the Islamic State terrorists, known in Iraq as Da-esh, swept through the Shingal region in a spree of executions, beheadings, and rapes. Now a quarter of a million Yezidis are displaced persons living in tightly packed camps near Zakho and Duhok, Kurdistan. Their psychology is very bad as they see very little international help on the one-year anniversary of the attack.

I have heard hundreds of gruesome and heart-wrenching stories from survivors. Thousands of Yezidis have a long list of dead or missing family members under ISIS control in Iraq or Syria. The most recurrent theme is the demand on buttons, banners, and t-shirts to “bring back our girls.”

An estimated 3,000 girls and women with their children were kidnapped by ISIS. They are subjected to repeated beatings and rape by ISIS fighters who each was given one girl as a war trophy.

Over 1,000 of these girls and women have escaped independently or been liberated from ISIS. I have been visiting them in their camps and listening to their stories. Often I spend the night in their crowded refugee trailer homes filled with young women and children under age three who were all held by ISIS.

ISIS separated the children over age three from their mothers and are brainwashing them to study the Koran. The boys are being trained with weapons to become ISIS fighters.

I spend my time visiting survivors and escaped women making lists of those still under ISIS control. If the family has had recent contact from their kidnapped sister or daughter or from her ISIS captor, there is a chance of liberating her.

I now believe that all of the kidnapped women and children will be freed within one or two years.

This conflict with ISIS cannot be concluded until all the Yezidis are freed. These women and children are prisoners of war. The reason I am sure they will all be liberated is because it is a lot of work to keep a person a prisoner in one’s own home, especially if there is an ISIS wife and children living in the same house.

Many Yezidi women refuse to submit to sexual relations with their captors, so they are subjected to repeated brutal beatings and rape. Eventually, a combative woman simply becomes too much trouble to keep imprisoned 24 hours a day in one’s home. How long would you keep a person prisoner in your own home? Three weeks, three months, three years?

Even for the most brutal man, how much satisfaction can he take from having to beat and tie up a woman every time he wants his five minutes of sexual release? So eventually the man sells her to another man. Sometimes she is traded for a Kalashnikov gun.

Eventually, some man living in ISIS-controlled territory is willing to return her to her family for money. It may be her captor himself or it may be a broker who has paid for her. She is worth more as a commodity with a price tag than as an uncooperative victim of rape.

That is when the phone contact with the family comes and negotiations begin for the price of her liberation and safe passage to Kurdistan.

Steve Maman, a Jewish business man in Canada, driven by a heritage of the Nazi Holocaust in Germany, decided he had to rescue the Yezidis. He established the “Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children in Iraq” (CYCI) and has raised over $125,000 US dollars in less than one month.

Maman contacted me, Amy Beam when he saw my writing from inside the Yezidi. Together we have teamed up. Maman also has a team on the ground in Iraq who do the actual negotiations and liberation of the women and children. The CYCI team includes Jewish, Christian, Agnostic, Yezidi, Kurdish, and Muslims.

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Daniela Chivu, UN rep Zainab Bangura, Steve Maman president of CYCI

On July 29th, CYCI President, Steve Maman, attended the International Summit on ISIS in Quebec City, Canada. Representatives from 20 countries met to discuss both military and political measures aimed at thwarting the expansion of the Islamic State. Mrs. Zainab Bangura (pictured in the middle), Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, has fully pledged her support to CYCI after hearing about its mission to liberate women and children in Iraq. Daniela Chivu, an active member of the National Women’s Commission of Canada, was also present.

In the last month, the CYCI team has liberated over 35 Yezidis, mostly children with their young mothers. The team on the ground is secret and keeps their names and also the names and photos of those liberated Yezidis confidential. CYCI staff has also been threatened. Others have also claimed to have liberated children who were actually liberated by CYCI. I was present upon their arrival and fingerprinting and vouch for this.

The CYCI team members each has his or her separate role. While Steve Maman is busy raising funds and meeting with government leaders such as Canada’s Minister of Defense and parliamentarians, Amy Beam is busy researching names and locations of missing persons who have made contact with their families.

The CYCI liberation team on the ground works with the family to conduct negotiations and logistics for safe passage out of ISIS territory. The escape often includes nine hours of walking through the mountains and desert in scorching temperatures that reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the persons are returned to safety, their names are documented and they are fingerprinted and photographed before visiting the government genocide office in Duhok. Beam has been present in private homes to witness this final step of the liberation.

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CYCI staff meticulously photograph, document and fingerprint liberated Yezidis when they return to Kurdistan.

Persons may donate to the Kocho Shingal Fund, managed by Amy Beam (do not confuse with the unrelated Facebook page with the same name). Donations are made in cash into the hands of women who have been recently liberated from ISIS. Their most pressing need is to have taxi fare to go to Duhok and Baghdad government offices to replace their lost IDs and to get a passport so they can leave Iraq. There is no bus service.

Persons may donate to the Liberation for Christian and Yazidi Children in Iraq (CYCI) fund. This money is used to negotiate the liberation of Yezidis. Much more money is needed to continue this liberation operation.

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Amy Beam gives small donations to escaped Yezidi woman to pay for taxi trips to replace her ID documents.

Dr. Amy L. Beam promotes tourism in eastern Turkey at Mount Ararat Trek and writes political and historical commentary on Kurds and Yezidis in Turkey and Kurdistan atKurdistan Tribune.  She has been reporting on the Yezidis since September 2014. Twitter @amybeam; amybeam@yahoo.com

7 Responses to 1 Year After Attack: CYCI Liberates Yezidi Girls from Islamic State
  1. Dr.Azad
    August 3, 2015 | 20:45

    Which military units or intelligence services supplied IS recently with chemical weapons to be utilized against Kurdish Civilians population in Rojava? What were their primary political objectives? Kurdish NGOs and Human Rights Groups must launch an independent investigation into subject matter.

    Dr. Azad is a volunteer reporter to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

  2. sheila samuel
    August 4, 2015 | 09:26

    AMY,SO YOU WOULD SAY THAT THE BEST WAY TO HELP IS WITH A DONATION TO CYCI ? THANKS,
    SHEILA.

    • Amy L Beam
      August 5, 2015 | 08:08

      One can donate to CYCI for the fund to liberate the women and children. Donate to Kocho Shingal Fund to help them get their documents and passports after they are liberated.

  3. Carolyn Coble
    August 5, 2015 | 17:48

    Hello, Amy. I could have been you! That is, we have shared much of the same path. I traveled back to Kurdistan last April in order to try to make contact in Duhok (where I have lived and worked)in order to fund efforts like yours. Unfortunately, my two contacts, one Yesidi man and one Muslim woman were denied visas to the US where we planned to do fundraising in Rhode Island where I live.
    They are quite depressed about our lack of success and would be relieved to make contact with you and your fellow-volunteers. Since they are both teachers of English in the public school system, I want to suggest to them that they organize classes (in all teaching fields. They already have contacts in at least two of the Duhok camps which we visited together in April.

    I have many wonderful friends in Duhok and Erbil. They are all teachers and/or artists. All open-minded and internationalist in mentality.

    In particular, I have a friend/colleague in the Planning Dept at U of Duhok who is working on her PhD about women in electoral politics. She could be useful for you, as she knows people in the Kurdish Parliament.

    I have been in touch with one of my senators and been given a contact in the US Immigration (etc) Dept. Have you thought of working through one of your political reps to promulgate change through our system? In Rhode Island, since we are so small, it is easy to think in such terms.

    Some of the friends are musicians–write their own music and perform (on traditional oud, for example). I am sure they would like to perform for people in the camps.

    Best of luck to you and I hope our paths cross directly sometime soon.

    Let me know if you want my friends to contact you.

    Carolyn

    • Amy L Beam
      August 18, 2015 | 22:16

      you can contact me at amybeam@yahoo.com. I just saw your comment by accident as I was searching for something else. thanks

  4. Reza
    September 1, 2015 | 07:49

    Is CYCI trying to teach ISIS that kidnapping innocent women and children is a profitable business with bright future?
    I hope we don’t see more kidnapping for business sake.

  5. […] von toten oder vermissten Familienmitgliedern unter ISIS-Kontrolle im Irak oder in Syrien“, schrieb sie. „Ihre Psyche ist sehr schlecht, da sie sehr wenig internationale Hilfe sehen beim […]

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