Do you love your father? Yes, I do. What does he do to you? He ties and beats me! It is a video which is a few seconds long. It had followed the murder of the five-year old Nahla Othman who lived in a refugee camp in Syria.
Most of those who live there know about that chained little girl. However, silence prevailed!
A cage and chains! These are, briefly, the elements that made up the life of Nahla who comes from Kafrsignah, a town located near southern Idlid.
Nahla’s story, which has preoccupied the public opinion, is one of dozens of stories of the Syrian children who were born during the harsh conditions of the war. The story began with the dissemination of news about the death of a five-year old girl living with her family in Faraj Allah camp, northern Idlib.
Nahla appears in a photo carrying a chain tied to her leg with a lock. The chain was twice her height! This photo went viral through all social media pages in a few hours. Yet, it was accompanied by the terrible news of the girl’s death. She had already died at hospital a while ago.
Nahla was put to death by her father! This should be the most important title of the little one’s case. In fact, many a story recounted what happened to the little girl, of which some accused her father of chaining her and starving her and her brethren.
The mother said, “He tried to kill me. He ties our children with chains in cages.”
No sooner had the news of the girl’s death had circulated than her mother started telling the media about Nahla’s father and the way he used to treat his children born by his divorcée Walida al-Muhaimeed, Nahla’s mother. She left to Turkey three years ago, after they had got divorced.
The mother who begat six children by her divorced husband-four girls and two boys-says that Nahla was the youngest of her sisters. She indicates that the father compelled their eldest daughter, 15 years old, to get married. Yet, the child got divorced one month after her marriage! Their eldest son fled in 2012 because of the father’s cruelty. He was then less than twelve years old. Nobody knows anything about him so far.
The mother denied the account that Nahla and her brethren suffer from hereditary diseases. In fact, some of the father’s relatives claimed this made him tie her that she might not hurt herself or others. On the contrary, the children have been suffering from skin ulcers because of negligence and lack of medical treatment.
The mother had fled her husband’s attempts to strangle her several times. However, two months later, she returned to file for the children’s custody at Sarmadā Court. Yet, the case has not yet been resolved. The mother recounts the torture her children would go through by their father. That is because he would tie them with chains in cages, torture and starve them. After the girl’s death, the father was detained. Meanwhile, his divorced child-a 15-year old, a 13-year old girl, a 12-year old girl, and a 9-year old boy are staying at their stepmother’s (also maternal aunt.)
The girl’s corpse was examined by a medical jurisprudent who issued a report. The report indicates that, “No signs of tortures or recent beating appear thereon. Neither are there any bone fractures or bruises. There are traces of old burns and beatings which had healed. There are lesions resulting from a fungal disease. The death resulted from the cessation of heart and breathing due to failure in breathing and inhaling food remains. The corpse was examined 24 hours after the girl’s death.”
Our website as well as other media tried to contact the girl’s relatives or neighbors at the camp. However, nobody would give any interview or statement to the press. That is because some story indicated that the father is a fighter in Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) (Organization for the Liberation of the Levant). He is said to be a fierce person who would not hesitate to hurt whoever speaks about him. On its part, HTS issued a statement, denying therein its association with the girl’s father. It stated, “We do not know the girl’s father. He is by no means associated with the HTS. Also, as far as the case is concerned, and having scrutinized the parties’ accounts, we found a clear discrepancy. The concerned bodies have opened an investigation about the accident.” Meanwhile, the police of the Syrian Salvation Government, which runs Idlib Governorate, had taken the father into custody for interrogation. They had found proof for his maltreating his children. His only reason is that they are “children with special needs.”
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