My name is Khawla, I am 31 years old and come from Iraq. I am Yazidi. In Iraq very few Yezidis live, we lived in a small area, for us it was a very beautiful area. My village was Shangal, I had many friends there, people who loved me. I worked as a seamstress and had my own shop, I loved my work. My friends always came to the shop with clothes, they just wanted to talk, I sewed their things and we talked. We had the same language, the same faith. There is no place for Yezidis in Iraq, that is a big problem.
We Yezidis understand each other with all peoples, we lived in peace with all people. Our faith has existed for a long time. What we are suffering today is not for the first time. We were often oppressed, the Arabs in Iraq wanted to force us to give up our faith. They wanted to force us to become Muslims. But no people give up their faith voluntarily. We should read the Koran and pray, we did not do it, we wanted to live our faith and hold on to it. I hate to say I’m Iraqi. In Iraq, we Yezidis have no place to live.
We were not allowed to rent houses, our house was rented in someone else’s name. This has always been like this. We didn’t get any houses either, we lived in clay huts, after a while we moved on. ISIS came to my village and killed 400 men. They destroyed our village, killed the older women and took the pretty girls with them. The girls were raped, then they sold them at a market in Mosul. They impregnated young girls, Nadia is one of them, they killed her entire family and took her away. She was carrying the Prince of Isis in her womb. She was later resold.
They say we are non-believers, I wonder what they are? With all they’ve done to me and my people? We had to flee to the mountains. We slept on rocks without food and drink. The children almost died of hunger. Pregnant women lost their babies out of fear, we buried the bodies with scarves. Others left their children lying on the ground, afraid ISIS would catch up with them. I won’t tell you anything I haven’t experienced. We haven’t done anything to anyone to be treated like this. The ISIS killed our men when they refused to go to the mosque and pray, they killed our men because they did not want to become Muslims.
There is no place for us Yezidis in Iraq. We fled to a camp, we had lost everything, ISIS destroyed our village. We ate on cartons, we didn’t have any cutlery. For four years we lived in the camp, I started working there as a seamstress. We collected money and I bought a sewing machine. We built a small room out of wood, which became my workplace. My parents are still in that camp today. They had strokes and the situation is unbearable. We lived in peace with our neighbors, we visited each other, loved and respected each other. They were Muslims, we Yezidis, religion never played a role. We were neighbors, that connected us. Since the war, we’ve been killed just because we’re Yezidis. There’s no place for us in Iraq.
Today I live in Germany, I have four children. My oldest is 18 and my youngest is 8 years old. I work very hard to give my children a good life. I attend the German course twice a day. In the morning to noon, then I go home and prepare the food, in the afternoon I attend the second course. I do all this to understand the language and the country I live in. I want to give my children a good future. I don’t want them to experience what I’ve experienced, ever. I want them to have a good life and be good at school. Education is very important to me. Thank God my children are very good at school.
I have a younger brother, he is 17 and lives in Germany. Unfortunately, he doesn’t live in the same city as I do. It’s hard to bring him here, but it’d be a lot easier for us. I wish my brother would live here, if not with me, then at least in the same place. He’s alone there, he’s really sick, which makes me very sad. My children are fine. My daughter never forgot what happened in Iraq, she wrote a story about it at school. Her teacher was crying. My daughter is still suffering today. Despite the terrible experience my children have had, they succeed in everything they do. In sports, at school, everywhere. Let them look forward, not back. They get tired of looking back, the past is over, they say they don’t want to hear about it anymore.
We Yezidis have always been oppressed, even today, now in this moment Yezidis are being killed in Iraq for trivialities. There is no one to protect us Yezidis, we have no place to live. I remember Angela Merkel’s visit to Iraq. She came to help us Yezidis, it made me very happy and I felt protected. In Germany we were helped very much, we got a stay immediately. If one day I had to go back to Iraq, I would rather die than live there again. I didn’t live there for a day in my life, I was always living in fear and oppression. In Germany I learned what real life means, for the first time I live. This is our home.
I’m comfortable here, but it breaks my heart to think about my family in Iraq. My parents and siblings. I often think of them and get sad. If they were with me I would feel better and I could certainly concentrate better on learning. I would speak German like my mother tongue, for sure. But the situation makes it difficult for me, I forget a lot and can hardly concentrate. I never went to school in Iraq, I can’t write or read. I’m relearning everything here.
My father was in the military, we were children and we had no money for school. I have to make it, I want to make it, so I work very hard for it. I say to myself every day, you must learn the language, everything that has to do with the country. You have to help your children and your friends. I want to help, I want to work and forget everything that has happened, I don’t want to look back. Enough, we’ve seen enough suffering, enough. I want to live at last.
6000 girls who look like angels were raped and resold. What kind of life is this? Some days, I can not carry my cell phone with me, constantly these reports about the people in my people, constantly the reports about the girls. There’s nothing I can do about it, so it makes me sad to read it. Enough, we’ve heard enough. The world can’t understand what happened to us because it hasn’t experienced it. The whole world should understand him, the pain that the Yazidi people carry within themselves. Nothing is more difficult than this pain that I carry with all my heart.
The elderly died of this unbearable pain while sleeping. If the people here saw how the Yezidis live in the camp. You’re in pain, you don’t have electricity. A life no one can stand. We lost everything, our girls were sold. Our neighbors took all our furniture. We have worked hard for it and in the end people come and take our furniture and burn our houses? Our men often stayed away from home for more than a month to earn money. We bought everything with great tiredness, we worked for it, so that others take it from us. Our house was nice, I raised four children there. I love my old house, it hurts to think about it today. I could never sleep anywhere else. It was small, but beautiful. I built it with love. We want nothing from the people except that they understand our pain, that they see what is happening to our people.
I ask all European countries to save the Yezidis from Iraq, we have no place there. I wish for the future that my children are successful in school and get a good results, I wish that they feel comfortable here. I also wish for a nice house, until today we never had a place in Iraq.
My big wish is that my brother come here. He’s tired of his situation. He lives in Germany but in another city. I understand that it is not easy with so many people coming to Germany. But my brother just wants to be with me, nothing more.
Telling my story relieved me, I wished for someone who understood my pain. For four years I was sad, today I was allowed to speak. I thank the project for that. I want to stay in Germany, forget the past and lead a good life. I wish people would understand us and that this will never happen again.
Storyteller’s name: Khawla
Interviewer’s name: Sarah El Desoke
Country of origin: Iraq