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Kordi, 33 years old, from Sinjar, Iraq

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Part 1

“On the day of the genocide, it was a special day of celebration for us, the Yazidi people. So when the IS soldiers (Islamic State) came, it took us by surprise. They came into our house and took the men; my husband, three cousins and my uncle were caught. They took them outside into the street to kill them. My cousins, husband, and uncle had to put their hands on the back of their heads, and we heard them praying to God; they were saying “We know you will kill us right now, and God is seeing it.


All of a sudden, an Arab man appeared, dressed with a black cloth that covered his face, but he knew he was our neighbor and friend. He put his hand on the IS soldier’s gun and said “Put it down because this woman can’t flee; let’s go somewhere else.” My husband, uncle and cousins quickly ran back inside, and their skin turned yellow because of what they had just experienced there in front of our door.


After that, we saw that the IS soldiers started taking men out of other houses, and killed them all, in front of our eyes. They piled up all the bodies on top of one another in a huge pile. Women were screaming, running through the dead bodies and trying to wake them up. The IS soldiers pulled them by their hair and threw them into cars. We ran into our backyard and the whole family hid there all night, until 6 in the morning. We could hear they were searching for us in the houses but we mad ourselves small so they wouldn’t see us. I held my children’s’ mouths so they wouldn’t scream. In the morning, we slowly sneaked through the sides, walking step by step not to be seen, so we could flee.”

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Part 2

“We were walking from village to village, hiding, walking at night, side by side close by so as not to be seen. Our children suffered a lot because they didn’t get anything to drink or anything to eat, and all the sand and dirt that got on their bodies was so much that after a while it was just too much for them.


We saw cars going by and we said, “We can’t let our kids suffer anymore. We have two choices: if they are IS people, they should just kill us right away because the children will die here anyway. Or maybe they are people who can help us”. So we got out in front of the car and said “Stop, please.” And they said, “We will help you, we are Yazidis, too.” We were so relieved. We found out that they were from our village, and they gave us water and something to eat. They brought us to Shafardine [one of the main religious areas for the Yazidis].”

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Part 3

“From that day on, my daughter doesn’t speak anymore, still to this day [three years later]. A doctor here in Greece told me that she was traumatized, and that’s the reason why she isn’t speaking since that day. She saw a lot of terrible things. We all did. I saw how they killed men, women, people who were the age of my children. To this day, I feel lost, like I lost everything, all the information in my mind, because I saw so many horrible things and I’m still so afraid of the Islamic State soldiers.


I didn’t want to come here. [crying.] If it wasn’t because of these bad people, we wouldn’t risk our lives over water and mountains, to flee. But it’s all because of them, because they did this to us.


It’s like we don’t exist anymore. So many of us died and so many of us are gone or fleeing. How can I live with that? No matter where you look, no matter which country you look in, we are not so many anymore.”

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Part 4

“My husband has been in Germany for a year. He says he is in a transferring center, and that he feels unhappy because he is not with his family. He says: “If my wife would be here with me, it would be much easier to calm down and be happy again. My wife and the children, together, with me.”


I don’t know when I’ll get to Germany. We spent a lot of money to get all the right documents translated into German, like our marriage certificate and the birth certificates of our children. My husband even went into debt to get all the paperwork ready for us to go there. But I would even get in more debt just to see my husband and my children together again. We don’t have family members anymore. I don’t know where my siblings are, or my cousins. My father passed away a few months ago too. We just want to be together again to be a family.”

Photos: Shannon Ashton (Instagram @shannon__ashton) / Story: Kate Hubrich (Instagram @advo_k8)

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