Mediha, a teenage Yazidi girl who has recently returned from ISIS captivity, turns her camera on herself to process her trauma while rescuers search for her missing family members. This is the story of the Yazidi genocide and its aftermath, shown through the lens of one young survivor as she confronts her past through personal video-diaries, reclaiming her voice and stepping bravely towards the future.
Having survived kidnapping and enslavement by ISIS, Mediha and her younger brothers, Ghazwan and Adnan, must now attempt to rebuild their lives with the whereabouts of their father, mother and baby brother unknown. Faced by local and international complexities, which continue to affect rescue and accountability efforts eight years after the genocide, the siblings must turn to a network of Yazidi rescuers in the search for their missing family members.
The story takes place over three years, across Iraq, Turkey and Syria, highlighting the ongoing and long-lasting impact of ISIS atrocities. Mediha takes us on her quest for justice, confronting her trauma and pain through personal video-diaries, and reclaiming her voice by initiating investigations into her perpetrator.
Ghazwan hangs a framed photo in his family home in Sinjar, which was destroyed by ISIS.
Ghazwan was kidnapped in 2014, when he was only eight years old, and was trained as a “caliphate cub”—a child soldier and prospective suicide bomber. During his time with ISIS, he frequently rebelled, earning himself the reputation of a troublemaker. Yet, since his rescue in July 2016, Ghazwan has demonstrated an incredible level of resilience and kindness. Despite his young age, he has always had a firm grasp on right and wrong, who he is and where he comes from—a Yazidi from Sinjar.
The house in Til Qasab, near Sinjar Mountain, was once home to these three children and their complete family, but now stands in shambles in the aftermath of ISIS occupation.
In August 2014, when Mediha was only nine years old, she was kidnapped by ISIS and sold into sexual servitude. During her three years in captivity, she was owned as a sex slave by four different ISIS fighters who were psychologically, physically and sexually abusive to her. Mediha has since been able to identify one of her captors in a photo database of current and former ISIS members, but the search for his whereabouts is ongoing.
In 2014, when Adnan was five, he was kidnapped by ISIS and brought to Tal Afar. There, he was sold and kept as a house servant. In August 2017, ISIS lost control of Tal Afar and Adnan was rescued by the Office of Kidnapped Affairs, which was created in 2014 in response to the Yazidi Genocide and mass kidnappings. Adnan remembers very little of his time in captivity, and thus struggles to connect with and understand the trauma his siblings experienced.
Ghazwan holds a photo of his father, Ibrahim, who is presumed dead.
Dr. Nemam is a Swedish-Kurdish doctor and humanitarian aid worker. She divided her time between working as a doctor in Sweden and working in multiple capacities in Iraq and Syria. After the Yazidi genocide in 2014, she founded Joint Hep for Kurdistan, a non-profit organization which provided medical aid to survivors of war and genocide. Since then, her work mostly focused on the continued rescue efforts of Yazidi women and their children, as well as on the medical care of these survivors.
Bahzad is a Yazidi that grew up in the relative safety of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, yet he’s chosen to involve himself in the fight against ISIS as a volunteer rescuer. He’s responsible for rescuing Ghazwan—having bought him back from an ISIS fighter in Raqqa for $11,000. Although he’s not the lead rescuer in Barzan’s story, he’s an integral part of this family’s mission, and has taken on the important role of locating Mediha’s captors.
Mediha shows the necklace she wears every day in remembrance of her father, Ibrahim.