The harrowing story of Dilveen – a 14-year-old Yazidi girl from Iraq kidnapped by ISIS when she was just 11 – was told at an event held at Congregation Machzikei Hadas on June 5.
Dilveen, who now lives in Canada with several members of her family, was at the event presented by the congregation, One Free World International, and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
The evening began with a screening of “Dilveen,” a 12-minute documentary about her story produced for CBC TV.
Dilveen was 11 when ISIS fighters attacked her hometown of Sinjar, Iraq, murdered her father and kidnapped her. Dilveen was taken from her mother and brought to an ISIS compound in Mosul and was sold to a 65-year-old man who planned to take her home to Syria for marriage.
However, Dilveen and another captive Yazidi girl were able to escape by cleverly tricking their captor into drinking tea laced with sleeping pills. The girls ran for nearly six hours until a car eventually picked them up and brought them to her uncle.
The Yazidis are a Kurdish-speaking people indigenous to northern Iraq. Their religion, Yazidism, combines aspects of several monotheistic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism.
“This is a difficult evening, but at the same time we keep our humanity, we keep our passion for our fellow human beings, we keep our will and our resilience to move forward,” said Conservative MP Tony Clement (Parry Sound-Muskoka) who spoke at the event.
Reverend Majed El Shafie, president and founder of One Free World International, an international human rights organization that advocates for religious minorities, was the main speaker of the evening. In 1998, el-Shafie was arrested in Egypt after converting to Christianity.
“For many days I was in an Egyptian prison, and I was tortured for days for converting from Islam to Christianity. But in this dark cell, I understood that our enemy can hurt our body, but nobody can touch our soul,” said Reverend El Shafie, the 2016 recipient of the Raoul Wallenberg Citation for Courage in the Face of Anti-Semitism.
In the past four years, Reverend El Shafie said, One Free World International has rescued more than 600 Yazidi girls from ISIS fighters. However, there are still some 3,200 Yazidi girls languishing in ISIS captivity.
Reverend El Shafie invited Dilveen and her aunt, Adiba, who was also an ISIS captive, to the podium to speak, referring to them as “victors, not victims.”
As Adiba spoke about the plight of Yazidis still languishing in refugee camps, Dilveen held Reverend El Shafie’s hand.
After the event, Reverend El Shafie, Dilveen and Adiba gathered to speak with the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin.
“I am not holding the hand of a 14-year-old girl,” Reverend El Shafie said during the interview. “I am holding the hand of a hero. I am not just proud of her, I am honoured that we have become so close.”
Dilveen has been learning English at school. She said she is not finding it difficult and is learning fast. Gym is her favourite class at school and she enjoys playing soccer and volleyball.
When she grows up, Dilveen said, she would like to help people and thinks she might become a lawyer.
Adiba has been volunteering with One Free World International to speak about her experiences across Canada. Discussing them, she said, helps her to heal and gives her the opportunity to educate people on the plight of the Yazidis.
“Nobody knows what is happening to the Yazidis except when we speak of them,” she said. “We have to educate people.”
Visit www.cbc.ca/shortdocs/shorts/dilveen to watch the documentary “Dilveen” online.