After another woman was released, the mother of a Canadian woman detained in a Syrian camp wanted an answer
The mother of a Canadian woman was held in a detention camp for family members of ISIS militants in northeastern Syria for four years. She wondered why her daughter stayed there while another Canadian woman was assisted by a former US diplomat The next was released more than a week ago.
“You know, I am happy for her,” the mother told CBC News by phone in a rare interview. “I am happy for her family. But why is this woman rescued while my daughter and her two children are still in that terrible place?”
Sara—CBC did not use her real name to protect the identity of her family—she said her daughter knew that she had made a terrible mistake when she left home in 2014 for ISIS-controlled territory.
Since the collapse of the so-called Caliphate in 2019, she has been trying to help her daughter escape the Islamic State.
But when her daughter tried to escape ISIS-controlled territory in 2017, she was eight months pregnant and dragged a toddler with a toddler. She was fought against the Islamic State by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and was resettled. A detention camp for ISIS families near Syria. It borders Turkey and Iraq. The camp houses more than 700 families of suspected ISIS fighters.
Sara said that at the time, she fully expected Ottawa to return her daughter to Canada in order to face any justice deemed appropriate.
When this did not happen, she traveled from Canada to Al Roj camp in Rojava in the Kurdish enclave in Syria in 2018-more formally known as the Autonomous Government of Northern and Eastern Syria (AANES).
“I met Rojava’s senior managers,” Sara said. “They told me that they would not release anyone without the cooperation of the Canadian government.
“They have been saying this for years. Now they have released a woman, and the Canadian government said they were not involved? How is this possible?”
Her confusion is understandable.
Mother and daughter released with assistance
Just a week ago, the Canadian woman who was released to the care of former US diplomat Peter Galbraith made headlines in March when he helped her 4-year-old daughter leave the camp to relatives in Canada.
At the time, she said that no matter how painful the decision was, she was unwilling to sentence her daughter to a concentration camp.
Galbraith claimed to have a good relationship with the Canadian Department of Global Affairs, while insisting that he was acting privately and returned to the area at the end of last month to help the mother of a four-year-old child.
In an interview with CBC News last week, Galbraith provided a “repatriation document” provided by a senior Syrian Kurdish official, stating that after “investigation”, there was “not enough evidence” to connect the Canadian woman with the Syrian Any criminal or terrorist acts are linked. The area.
It did not contain the conditions for her release, and specifically stated that the woman was handed over to Galbraith according to her own wishes.
“How did he do it alone?” Sara said. “Other families and people in the camp said that Peter Galbraith did this with the cooperation of the Canadian government. I need to know if this is true.”
Critics say that Canada’s policy is flawed
In an interview on Monday, Canadian Foreign Minister Mark Garno denied Ottawa’s involvement.
“There is no relationship between Peter Galbraith and the Canadian Department of Global Affairs-I certainly don’t know,” he told CBC News.
“He may have notified us that he intends to help in these two cases and take the little girl and mother out of the camp,” Gano added.
“But they are his initiative. He told us that they will be allowed to leave the camp and they will stay in Iraq eventually.”
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News asked AANES why it changed its previous insistence that Canadians can only be released with the approval of the federal government, but it has not received an answer so far.
Critics say that when dealing with Canadians accused of Islamic State crimes or overseas membership, it has joined forces to discredit Ottawa’s already flawed policies.
Leah West, a former attorney at the Federal Department of Justice, national security expert and assistant professor of international affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa, said: “None of this makes sense.”
“Why is he special? Why is she special?”
At least eight Canadian women, including Sara’s daughter and approximately 24 Canadian children, remain in the camp. It is estimated that 5 to 8 Canadian men accused of being ISIS fighters are being held in prison.
“I just don’t understand why [Galbraith] Have the ability to get women out of the camp without the involvement of Canadian authorities,” West said.
“We are losing control of the situation”
Galbraith is the son of the late Canadian-American economist John Kenneth Galbraith and the former US ambassador to Croatia.
He boasted of close ties with the Kurds in Iraq and Syria, and helped several Yazidi mothers to reunite with their children after they were freed from the bondage of slaves to ISIS.
However, Galbraith’s apparent ease of persuading the Syrian Kurds to investigate and release the Canadian women he helped—there is no clear evidence that other detainees received the same treatment—incited those who say that Canada is giving up its humanitarian grounds. The fear of the person who has the obligation of the law.
“Then what do you need to do to drive these people away [from the camp]? “West asked.
Galbraith publicly stated that he believed that the woman he helped would not pose a threat to society and would be able to recover.
He also said that because of the help of the radical Islamic State supporters in the camp, she was given special consideration for helping the authorities and because of the potential threat to her.
According to West and Sarah when talking about her own daughter, other women in the camp also assisted the authorities.
“We are losing control of the situation,” West said. “We are losing control of the ability to understand where Canadians are, manage their return, and prosecute (if we will).
“When we consider the rule of law and Canada’s commitment to human rights, the arbitrariness of all this runs counter to our thinking.”
Garno seemed to imply that it was not a matter of course that the woman with Galbraith’s help would automatically return to Canada.
“Mother is in Iraq. She has not returned to Canada. She is in Iraq,” he said.
This seems to contradict the previous recommendation of the Canadian Department of Global Affairs that although Canadian diplomats cannot travel to northeastern Syria for security reasons, Canadian citizens who seek consular assistance and can appear at the Canadian embassy will receive consular assistance.
“We have already said that we are very concerned about extremist travelers. We have always been completely consistent. We are fully aware that there are young children who have nothing to do with the conflict,” Gano said.
“But adults are not there just because they are innocent people crossing the area. There is a reason, and this is why it is complicated.”
Mother said Ottawa is responsible
However, the pressure on Ottawa to repatriate detainees is increasing—not to make them hopeless in the legal process, and not to burden the Syrian Kurds who initially helped defeat the Islamic State—is increasing.
Especially from the Kurdish leadership itself.
For years, they have been begging countries to take back their foreigners. It is estimated that 60,000 ISIS women and children from more than 50 countries live in a larger and more dangerous camp, Al Hol.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Brinken called on partners in the fight against ISIS to bring their foreign terrorist fighters home, “to prosecute where appropriate, and to recover and reintegrate into society where appropriate.”
He said at a conference in Rome: “This is a very important thing in terms of ensuring that we keep people away from the battlefield.”
Sara said she never considered asking a third party or someone like Galbraith to retrieve her daughter and granddaughter from the camp.
She believes that this responsibility lies with Ottawa.
“In my opinion, I think, I believe in my government, do you know? I believe in my government.”
Even now, she said, with all her problems, she believes Canada will bring them home.
“Yes. Really,” she said. “Because I have to.”