Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena, Iraq have aired a harrowing account of their escape from the oppression of the terror group ISIS in Iraq. They told that the horror was to an utmost extent that 23 sisters have died due to heart attacks.
These nuns were based in the Iraqi city, Qaraqosh. The Dominican Sisters have been actively serving the Iraq’s Christian community in Qaraqosh and Mosul for more or less 150 years now. Moreover, regardless of religion, these sisters also taught children in schools and managed to build fine relations with their Muslim citizens.
However, things did not remain pleasant for these sisters after the advent of ISIS in the region. The city of Mosul was attacked by the ISIS militias in early June 2014, which generated a massive exodus of Christians from Mosul-which is the second largest city of Iraq. The horror of the ISIS militants was not just limited to Mosul, soon Qaraqosh, which is the largest Christian city in Iraq, along with its suburban villages fell into the hands of ISIS. This was the worst nightmare for the Christian residents of this area. Christians were crucified, beheaded, shot, kidnapped. While Christian women were abducted and kept as sex slaves by the ISIS militants.
However, after the conquest of Mosul, the ISIS militants presented the Dominican nuns remaining in the city with three choices: To pay a Christian tax, convert to Islam or leave to save their lives. Consequently, on June 8, 2014, these sisters left Mosul along with a group of 30 other people. This was a perilous journey as death was a sure reward for those who did not accept the three conditions of ISIS and tried to escape. Nonetheless, these nuns reveal that they managed to reach village Bashiqa the following morning, still in a state of fright.
The nuns reveal that the Peshmerga Kurdish fighters had guaranteed the local Christian community in Qaraqosh and its surrounding villages that they will protect them from ISIS. Nonetheless, despite assurance five more Christian villages were shelled by ISIS. The ISIS militants were ordering the local Christians to pay them jaziya (tax) or else they continue to bomb their houses.
Meanwhile, a priest was shot dead in the head by an ISIS fighter. The nuns told that this incident deteriorated the situation for Christians and there fears were greatly increased. In August, ISIS militants bombed Qaraqosh. All the Christians evacuated, Qaraqosh, except the Dominican Sisters. Seeing the turmoil, they decided to leave Qaraqosh.
Thirty-five nuns left Qaraqosh, along with four families and two orphans. After they left, in a van they bumped into other Christians on foot, some on donkeys and some on bicycles. “It was a river of people, thousands of people walking slowly out of Qaraqosh,” said Sister Maria.