Detained in Syria for having lived under the Islamic State (IS) group, French women say they are “ready to do anything” to “return to France” and show that they have committed “no crime”, in interviews broadcast on Thursday .
“I am ready to go all the way,” said Estelle, 31, interviewed on site at the beginning of March by a journalist from Radio France.
“We made a mistake”
She is one of ten French detainees in Roj camp (north-east) on hunger strike for more than three weeks to demand to be repatriated to France with their children. “We made a mistake” by joining ISIS, but “we have no possibility of defending ourselves”, regrets this woman from Yvelines. Detained for more than three years with her three children of 5, 8 and 10 years old, she assures, like many of these French detainees, not to have participated in any criminal activity under IS.
“If I am to be judged, be judged. But how do you expect us to prove our good faith if we are not listened to? For two weeks, she “drinks only water, and a coffee in the morning”, and “lost 4 kg”. “It’s difficult”, but “we are determined to put our lives in danger so that we can go home and bring our children back,” she said. “Life is very hard here. We are in prison ”, but“ without any visit ”and with barely enough to eat, explains Saida, 33, from Hérault and who came to Syria in 2015 to join her future husband, a Frenchman she met. on the Internet.
“It saddens me that they are afraid of us”
“I know that people hate us, but there are some who sincerely regret” and “have come out” of the jihadist straitjacket, she adds, while admitting, like Estelle, that part of the French detainees remain marked by Islamist ideology. She does not understand why France refuses to repatriate them and to judge them. “I did nothing at all, they (the French) know it very well”, says the one who says to herself “anything but radical” and “does not wear the veil”. “It saddens me that they are afraid of us. We are all put in the same basket ”.
She says she ran away from the camp once before being caught. “If they don’t come to get me, I’ll run away.” Some 80 French women and 200 children are detained in camps in northeastern Syria. Their possible return to France worries the public, but their relatives and lawyers stress that only France will be able to judge them fairly and that we cannot let them live locked up in these precarious conditions and a region which remains very unstable. Paris has so far repatriated children on a case-by-case basis (35, mostly orphans) but believes that adults should be tried on the spot.