Stoned to death, but not afraid.

05.08.2017, 12.36   Context

When ISIS gangs were in full power and were overrunning city by city, mother Şemsa said: “I am not afraid of them.”

ISIS was overtaking a large area of Syria with a myth of commanding an invincible army with a high number of members and a lot of military engineering, that could occupy the whole world at once. In 2014 the city of Tebqa, which is situated close to Raqqa, fell in the hands of ISIS as well.

Shortly after occupying the city in 2014, the ISIS gangs started a war against the culture, ethics and beliefs of Tebqa’s people. Their aim was to force their oppressive model on the society. This is why they started to subjogate children, girls and women first. Mother Şemsa was one of the victims of ISIS’ mentality to colonise women. They caught her together with her son and her husband and brought them to Raqqa. Her husband and her son have been released shortly after. Şemsa also had the possibility to be released, if the family would agree to turn their daughter in to ISIS instead of her.

Şemsa’s big son Hisen says, that the ISIS gangs didn’t leave them alone, neither day nor at night. They even couldn’t leave their house, because to leave their homes was forbidden for all of Tebqa’s citizens.

Hisen and his father tried hard to get his mother free, but they didn’t achieve. Hisen says: “The gangs told to my father: ‘Until you don’t give us your daughter, we won’t release your wife.’ So we understood that nobody can negotiate with them. My father answered them: ‘When my daughter heard you are searching for her, she ran away to Damascus.’ But still the islamists don’t think of letting Şemsa go.”

She was a mother of 53 years. One and a half month she has been tortured by ISIS without incessantly. When her husband and her children asked for them, everyone told them not to know about her whereabouts. In the end, ISIS members tell them: “A court decided about your mother, you should get ready.” Then Hisen, his brother and father went to Raqqa.

In Raqqa they found their mother and could finally meet her again. Hisen says: “We found out, that the islamists heaped thousands of reproaches on her. They said, she would have betrayed her religion. My brother, father and me went to see her in her prison. It was underearth and around 15 women were penned up together. Everyone of them got tens of different reproaches. We sat in a room together with my mother. She cried and couldn’t talk to us. I asked all of the women, what they had done to them and what they had told them? But they didn’t give an answer. My mother showed her leg to my father and said: ‘Look, how they beat me.’ and on her back there were signs of the torture as well.”

Hisen continues his remarks: “In the end they sentenced my mother to get stoned to death. My sisters wanted to go visit her for the last time. So the whole family went to see her. My mother was a really resistant person, she was not afraid. She said: ‘They are not afraid of god, so I am also not afraid of them. I am innocent. I just hope, god will accept me as a martyr.’ In the end she repeated: ‘I am not afraid of them!’”

Şemsa’s daughter Xedîce, 17, says about their last meeting: “She has changed and was very thin. Two islamists were breathing down on my neck, so we couldn’t see each other for long. I told my mother: ‘Your sentence is stoning to death.’ and she answered: ‘Don’t be afraid!’ When she hugged my small brother, he was afraid, because he didn’t recognise her anymore. He said: ‘You are not my mother!’”

Her other son Zên promised vengeance for his mother. About the stoning, he says: “Here they stoned my mother. They took her in a blanket. About 20 people were gathering around her. They threw the first stone, then the islamists picked up huge stones and threw them right on my mother’s head, until her brain was draining on the street. We were standing far away and just couldn’t say anything.”

After their mother had been stoned to death by ISIS, the three brothers Zên, Ebdulrehman and Ebdulqadir promise to take revenge and join the SDF. Zên and his two brothers fought in the Raqqa Liberation Offensive. He says: “For six month now, me and my two brothers are participating in the Raqqa Liberation Campaign. We see it as taking revenge for our father, mother, uncle and cousin on ISIS.”

Mother Şemsa and her daughter went to an internet cafe. To surf in the internet was a reason for ISIS to accuse her daughter of working with the Assad regime. Under the pretext of having ties with the regime, ISIS wanted to catch her. With the aid of her family she managed to flee to Damascus. After Şemsa had been stoned to death, her family buried her in Tebqa. Mother Şemsa sacrificed herself for her daughter and didn’t put down her head under ISIS’ brutality. He had 12 children. Mother Şemsa wrote history of women’s culture in the Middle East for the struggle against occupation in the age of 53.

Media and Press Center YPJ

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