The shepherds of the country’s border areas are not safe from PJAK.
During the past years, the members of PJAK that roam the country’s border areas and enter and leave the country from Iraqi Kurdistan, where their camps are based, have been attacking the shepherds and the villages in order to get the necessities of life, and sometimes they try to rob the shepherds of some sheep, and sometimes these shepherds are children who do not have a proper understanding of war and these groups. Therefore, they try to deceive and kidnap these children.
Yasin Ghoroui was a shepherd child who fell into the trap of PJAK members at the age of 14.
Yasin described the incident as follows:
“One summer day during the school holidays, I was working as a shepherd as usual, suddenly I came across a group of armed people who were wearing Kurdish clothes, but I did not know who they were or where they belonged to. At the first moment, I was afraid of them. I ran away, but they spoke to me softly and asked me to sit next to them for a few minutes and listen to their conversation. In all their words, they claimed that my life as a shepherd is very difficult and without a fruitful future. If I join them, they will provide me with a comfortable life. At that age, their words were very pleasant for me, and that is why I left without any news to my family. I took the sheep to the vicinity of our house and ran off with them. I was a child, and got lured into something that only resembled an adventure I could tell them later.”
“The whole way I was with them, I was constantly fantasizing about their conversation and I said in my heart that I will finally have a good and comfortable life, of course, these fantasies did not last more than a few days; Because when we arrived at their headquarters, there was no news of houses, cars, or facilities, the only thing we could see were holes in the ground that we could hardly enter and go underground. No matter how much I begged them, they did not allow me to return home and told me that you no longer belong here. At that age, I couldn’t do anything and I didn’t know where I could run away. I had to share a blanket with another boy, and used my shoes as a pillow. I cried myself to sleep that night, longing for my mother’s embrace.”
“Almost 20 days had passed there. I was placed in a training course. Two people escaped from there, but they were found and imprisoned after. There is no prison, they were placed in a pit with a large piece of plastic on it, under the burning sun. This issue scared me more and more, and I decided to comply and not complain. Yet, I still cried in secret at night.”
“Little by little, they gave us ideological classes and during these classes they kept talking about Öcalan, PKK and PJAK and militants that have died and were supposed to be an example for us, and their only purpose was to brainwash us and they always told us that there is only one way for us and that is to do as Leader Apo told us, and that is to fight.”
“They expressed issues that were completely incomprehensible to a child. There were children in that battalion who could sometimes forcefully carry weapons on their shoulders, as they were simply to short, and the barrel of the weapon would drag through the sand. Very little militants would pass this came, and no one was allowed to enter that headquarters, only the special commanders could enter there. This work was just so that they could easily brainwash children without the intervention of other people. We were seen as clay, and they had to mold us into shape. They tried to do so by tiring us with hard labor, which left us without any energy to protest.”
“I went through very difficult conditions there, from carrying heavy food (f.e. bags of rice that weigh 50kg) to cooking and making bread with just a few children for the entire battalion.”
“Little by little, I had become familiar with the areas and communication routes there, and established a bit of trust by complying and working as hard as I could. I would sit in front in class and repeat the ideological sentences they taught us whenever I was asked a question. Acting like I had adjusted made me able to save myself before I would be sent to fight in Turkey or elsewhere, further away from home, and escape from there one night while on guard duty.”
“Now several years have passed since that incident and I have built a new life for myself, but I will never forget those terrible memories. Still, I never roam around in the village or its surroundings alone.”