October 29, 2015 6:03 pm
Updated: October 29, 2015 10:34 pm

‘I don’t know if they’re alive’: B.C. mom says dad has taken children to Iraq

Extended: A B.C. mom tells Global News why she fears her children have been taken to Iraq by her ex-husband.

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A B.C. mom says she is sick with worry about what has happened to her four children.

“I don’t know where they are, I don’t even know if they’re alive,” said Alison Azer on Vancouver Island. “But they deserve better than this. They’ve deserved better than this all along.”

Canadian and international police have been searching for Azer’s children since August, when they were allegedly abducted by their father overseas.



Story continues below
WATCH: A Vancouver Island mother is growing more worried after not hearing from her children for more than two months. The woman is alleging the children’s father abducted them and took them to Iraq. Kylie Stanton reports.

Azer and her ex-husband, former Comox Valley doctor Saren Azer, have shared custody of the children.

At the beginning of August, he traveled with the children to Paris. They were last seen in Germany on Aug. 13.

It’s believed Azer’s ex-husband, a Khurdish Canadian, took the children to Sulaimaniya, in Northern Iraq.

“The B.C. Supreme Court granted Saren the permission to take the children to Germany and France for about three weeks, a little bit less, this summer,” said Azer. “He was to have the children call me every 48 hours and another adult was court-ordered to travel with the children throughout. The last time I heard from the children was August 13 from a really busy street, really noisy street, in Cologne, Germany.”

“And by the 15th, which was the next time I was to hear from the children, he had already abducted them and got them on a plane from Dusseldorf to northern Iraq.”

She has not heard from her children since.

Policing agency Interpol lists the children — Sharvahn, 11, Rojevahn, 9, Dersim, 7, and Meitan, 3 — as missing on its website.

Azer said she feared Saren would take the four children.

“What went through my mind was ‘I was right’,” she said. “I knew that one day he would abduct these kids. And everything I had done to convince the courts, the police, our parenting coordinator, I was just dismissed as, and I hate the term, but an ex-wife with an ax to grind.”

“And all I was trying to do was to protect my kids and that didn’t work.”

Azer said she is concerned for her children’s safety in Iraq as it is an unstable country with an unstable government.

WATCH: A vigil was held in mid-October for the missing children:

Immigration lawyer, Richard Kurland, said there is little the law can do for Azer to try and get her children back.

“They’re gone when you’re dealing with a country like Iraq,” he said. “The only practical way is going public, and making it a political issue between the two countries.”

“If I were representing her, I’d be telling her ‘you find a way to talk to the ambassador from Iraq to Canada and you try to make your case there’. And that way it makes it a headache for the guy in Iraq. And then her other choices — you keep stirring the pot, go to Amnesty International, go to other human rights organizations. You never know.”

Kurland said this is a difficult case, given where the children are alleged to be living now. “In Iraq, it’s beyond the reach of Canada. It’s as simple as that,” he said, adding that Passport Canada should have been notified that the children were only allowed to travel to Germany and France and then back to Canada.

“If the fellow enters Iraq, Iraq has an entry control system and it’s whether Canada has a communication with Iraq about this sort of thing – that’s where it gets political,” said Kurland. “Because Canada can then say ‘hey wait a minute, we got you, you know, you had passports.’ The work around again is that what happens if that father then applies for Iraqi passports for the kids. Then it’s completely game over.”

Azer said the support of the community on Vancouver Island has been amazing and she is not going to give up searching for her children.

“Hope is a funny word,” she said. “I have fight in me more than I have hope.”

She plans to return to northern Iraq imminently to meet with officials.

 

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