Policy Brief

Endless ISIS Persecution: Abducted Turkmen Women

Serious human rights violations occurred when the terrorist organization ISIS took control of Iraq's Mosul and Saladin provinces in June 2014. The most well-known of these are events such as the killing of 1,700 soldiers who were trained at the Spiker Military Base, the massacre of the Yezidis living in Sinjar, and approximately the 80-day siege of Amirli. In addition to the Yazidis that were exiled by ISIS, Turkmen women in Tal Afar and Beshir were kidnapped by ISIS as well, due to their ethnic and religious identity. However, the abduction of the Turkmen women received less attention in the media and in the legal sphere because of their small numbers compared to the abducted Yazidis and the inadequate support of international public opinion. Many institutions, either private or supported by the public, were founded to ensure the liberation of the Yazidi women from ISIS.

Almost all of the Turkmen women kidnapped by ISIS are from the Turkmen city of Tal Afar near Mosul. The figures for the kidnapped Turkmen women remain inconsistent due to insufficient attention by the Iraqi government and international organizations. Efforts to keep records about the kidnapped Turkmen women were undertaken by local activists and civil society organizations that were working on an individual level. Due to the central government’s neglect, there is no official statement regarding the number of kidnapped Turkmen women. Nevertheless, a media leak has revealed that 400 Turkmen women are missing as of the current situation.

The terrorist organization ISIS has declared members of other sects of Islam, including Sunnis, who do not agree with its ideological impositions, as apostates; kidnapped the Turkmen women and killed the Turkmens in Tal Afar and the Yezidis in Sinjar, who are over the age of 12, by throwing them into the Allav Anter well located in the north of Talafar, which is fifty meters in diameter and one hundred meters in depth. It is estimated that approximately one-thousand dead bodies currently remain in the Allav Anter well. ISIS has also put to death many people from Tal Afar who did not agree with its religious and political ideology. Iman Muhammet Yunus Al-Selman, a Turkmen member of the 2004-2005 Transitional National Council, was executed with his wife a few months after he was kidnapped by ISIS. There are also Shabaks, in addition to Yazidis and Turkmens, among those who were executed by ISIS. The violence against Turkmen women was not limited to kidnapping and rape. According to Yazidi women rescued from ISIS, ISIS militants raped the Turkmen women abducted from Tal Afar and burned them to death.