Bilal Khalil’s Beirut Dungeon for Migrant Domestic Workers

Bilal Khalil was detained for the death of an Ethiopian worker. He’s accused of operating a torture room out of his office. No wonder Isha was scared for her life.

Worker

Isha Sankoh

Sierra Leonean Migrant, Survivor, Victim of Horrific Abuse

Agent

Bilal Khalil

Owns a Recruitment Agency, Accused of Torture and Murder

THE VIDEO

Watch Isha’s plead for help, scared for her life

THE STORY

Life in Sierra Leone was hard for Isha Sankoh. Orphaned at a young age and raised by siblings, she had to leave school and do odd jobs to help the family. Eventually Isha resorted to working as a miner, an uncommon choice for women there. Isha proudly tells how she grew strong through that physically rigorous job.


Having been told she could double her salary for lighter work in Lebanon, Isha paid $500 to an agent in Sierra Leone, who organized her travel to Beirut in June, 2019. There she was assigned by Lebanese agent Bilal Khalil to a family who was nice enough to her, allowed her some contact with her family, and fed her well. But Isha needed medical help, and the family was unwilling to pay for Isha’s medical expenses, so they sent her back to the agency.


The agency re-assigned her to a family with three children. They were even kinder, offered her more, and even invited her to join them at church and for shopping. They also paid for Isha to have the operation she needed. But Isha did not recover well, and realized she was unable to continue work. After discussing the matter with her, Isha’s employer sent her back to the agency, paid her the $600 she was owed for her salary, and told the agent Isha needed to be sent home for her family to take care of her.


Suddenly working in the mines was a delight compared to her current situation. Bilal Khalil took everything she owned: her phone and her $600 salary. Although she was in pain and her large, stapled surgical wound was infected, Khalil refused to buy her the prescribed medicine, offering only whatever pills he had on hand.

Isha found herself locked up in a windowless room, sleeping on a thin sponge mattress on the cold floor

Her captor beat her, kicked her near her incision and insulted her. He gave her the dilemma between either working or paying 6000$ to go back home. 


There were several other women at the agency: some had been there for months, many had been beaten, none had been properly fed, and some were handcuffed. Describing her fear of dying at the agency,

Isha said, “I know they were able [to kill], because I witnessed a girl who was locked up with us die. She was an Ethiopian girl we called Lulu”

“Lulu was beaten every day. She was always handcuffed. She coughed blood and was badly bruised. One day, we noticed she was no longer moving. Police came to look into the death. Bilal warned us that if any of us told the police that he had killed someone, we would be next. So I didn’t say anything. But I was scared. It was the worst time of my life. I even thought about committing suicide.”


One imprisoned woman had managed to smuggle in a phone, though it was soon taken away. Isha seized the opportunity and contacted her sister, who asked for help from This Is Lebanon on January 19. The next day, the agent told This Is Lebanon that Isha had received all her rights, had money in hand, and would be going home as soon as the paperwork was done. He claimed, “She cheated us because she came ill. We paid for it all. She is not entitled to be paid by the insurance company because she had an old illness. We did all the necessary things.” Isha did not return home.


Despite his consistent abuse of African women, Bilal Khalil had an Ethiopian girlfriend who helped him out at the agency and was well aware of the circumstances the other women lived in. According to Isha, the girlfriend was nicknamed “China,” and did everything from administrative work to taking his calls.


This Is Lebanon found a means to communicate with Isha, hear her story, and work for her repatriation. Bilal Khalil was briefly in jail at the time, under investigation for the murder of Lulu. He was soon released. In the meantime, Ghassan Khalil, Bilal’s father, told This Is Lebanon that the agency had no obligation to pay for Isha’s medical expenses, but had paid for her operation because of their “personal feelings.” He claimed the $600 he had taken was money owed by Isha to the agency for being sick and not working. “We’ve lost money on her. She is living and eating here. We’re running a business here.” This Is Lebanon, he said, should have bought Isha’s air ticket if they were concerned.


This Is Lebanon persisted. It was the agency’s obligation to buy the ticket and return Isha’s salary which she needed to get to her hometown and start again. To avoid additional negative repercussions, the agency sent Isha home in mid-March 2020 with $200 of her $600 salary hoping This Is Lebanon would forget about the remaining. 


Isha warns others against working in Lebanon:

“What happens there isn’t supposed to happen to human beings. There are many African girls who are suffering and dying there. You won’t lose your life or your freedom if you stay home”

The People

“It was the worst time of my life. I even thought about committing suicide” – Isha Sankoh

Bilal Khalil

Reports of physical abuses, starvation and imprisonment of migrant workers in the confines of his office. Admitted to robbing them of their salaries and confiscating their phones. Accused of murder.

Ghassan Khalil

Father of Bilal, was aware of the theft of Isha’s wages by his son. Defended the act by saying it was Isha’s fault for falling ill. Unconcerned with reports of horrific abuses meted out by his son.

Female Silhouette
China

Yet to be identified Ethiopian girlfriend of Bilal’s, co-worker and accomplice in abuse of migrant domestic workers, according to testimony by Isha.

Isha Sankoh

Isha was a hard worker who came to Lebanon to provide for herself and her family, and found herself in the worst place she could think of.

Female Silhouette
Isha’s Sister

Isha’s sister first contacted This Is Lebanon on Facebook and notified us of Isha’s case.

Female Silhouette
Lulu

Yet to be identified Ethiopian woman, whom Isha alleges was beaten to death by Bilal during their confinement.

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COMMENTS

القصة

كانت الحياة في سيراليون صعبة على “إيشا سانكوه”. و لأنها تيتّمت في سن مبكرة و قام إخوتها بتربيتها، كان عليها أن تترك المدرسة وأن تقوم بأعمال غريبة من نوعها لمساعدة الأسرة. في النهاية لجأت إيشا إلى العمل في منجم، لتكون واحدة من عدد قليل جداً من النساء في المنجم. تخبرنا إيشا بفخر كيف أنها أصبحت قوية من خلال قيامها بهذا العمل الجسدي الشاق.


بعد أن سمعت بإمكانية مضاعفة راتبها بعمل أقل جهداً في لبنان، دفعت إيشا 500 دولار إلى وكيل في سيراليون، الذي رتب سفرها إلى بيروت في حزيران 2019. هناك تم تعيينها من قبل الوكيل اللبناني بلال خليل لدى عائلة كانت لطيفة تماماً معها، وسمحت لها بالتواصل مع عائلتها إلى حد مقبول، وقدمت لها غذاء جيداً. لكن إيشا كانت بحاجة إلى مساعدة طبية، ولم تكن الأسرة مستعدة لدفع نفقاتها الطبية، لذلك أعادوها إلى الوكالة.


قامت الوكالة بإعادة تعيينها في منزل أسرة لديها ثلاثة أطفال. وكانوا أكثر لطفاً معها، يغذّونها جيداً، ويسمحون لها بالاتصال أكثر مع عائلتها، و يدعونها لمرافقتهم إلى الكنيسة وأثناء التسوق. كما دفعوا لها كلفة إجراء العملية التي كانت تحتاجها. لكن إيشا لم تستردّ عافيتها سالمة، وأدركت أنها غير قادرة على مواصلة العمل. وبعد مناقشة الأمر معها، أعادها صاحب العمل إلى الوكالة، ودفع لها رواتبها المستحقة، مقدار 600 دولار، وأخبر الوكيل بأنه يلزم إعادة إيشا إلى بلدها لتعتني بها عائلتها.


 فجأة أصبحت الحياة أسوأ من العمل في المناجم. لقد أخذ بلال خليل هاتفها، وراتبها 600 دولار الذي كان كل ما تملك. وعلى الرغم من آلامها و التهاب جرح العملية الكبير، رفض خليل شراء الدواء الموصوف لها، و قدم لها أية حبوب في متناول يده.

وجدت إيشا نفسها محبوسة في غرفة بلا نوافذ، تنام على مفرش إسفنجي رقيق على الأرضية الباردة.

و قام “سجّانها” بضربها وإذلالها وركلها بالقرب من مكان الشق الجراحي. قال لها بأنه عليها إما أن تعمل أو تدفع 6000 دولار للعودة إلى بلادها.


كانت هناك عدة نساء أخريات في الوكالة: بعضهن منذ شهور، وتعرضت كثيرات منهن للضرب، ولم يتم إطعام أي منهن على نحو لائق، و أخريات كنّ مكبلات اليدين. قالت إيشا وهي تصف خوفها من الموت في الوكالة:

«أعرف أنهم كانوا قادرين على [القتل]، لأنني رأيت فتاة محبوسة معنا وهي تموت. كانت فتاة إثيوبية نسميها “لولو”.

تعرضت لولو للضرب كل يوم. وكانت دائماً مكبلة اليدين. كانت تسعل دماً ومصابة بكدمات شديدة. ذات يوم، لاحظنا أنها لم تعد تتحرك. جاءت الشرطة للتحقيق في أمر الوفاة. فحذّرنا بلال من أنه إذا أخبرت إحدانا الشرطة بأنه قتل شخصاً، فستكون هي التالية. لذلك لم أقل شيئاً. لكنني كنت خائفة. لقد كانت أسوأ فترة عشتها في حياتي. حتى إنني فكرت في الانتحار».

 

 تمكنت امرأة تشاركهنّ السجن من تهريب هاتف إلى الداخل، مع أنه سرعان ما تم أخذه منها. اغتنمت إيشا الفرصة واتصلت بشقيقتها، التي لجأت للمساعدة بالاتصال بجمعية “هذا لبنان” في 19 كانون الثاني. وفي اليوم التالي، أخبر الوكيل “هذا لبنان” أن إيشا حصلت على جميع حقوقها، وتحمل معها نقوداً، وستعود إلى ديارها بمجرد الانتهاء من تجهيز الأوراق. وزعم قائلاً: «لقد خدعتنا لأنها جاءت إلينا مريضة. لقد دفعنا كلفة ذلك كله. فلا يحق لها أن تدفع لها شركة التأمين لأنها كانت تعاني من مرض قديم. قمنا بكل الأمور اللازمة». لكن إيشا لم تعد إلى بلدها.


 وجد “هذا لبنان” وسيلة للتواصل مع إيشا، والاستماع إلى قصتها، والعمل على إعادتها إلى الوطن. حينها كان بلال خليل في السجن لفترة وجيزة، قيد التحقيق بتهمة قتل لولو. أُطلِق سراحه بعد وقت قصير. في غضون ذلك، أخبر غسان خليل، والد بلال، “هذا لبنان” أن الوكالة ليست ملزمة بدفع نفقات إيشا الطبية، لكنها دفعت ثمن عمليتها بسبب “موقفهم النبيل”. وادّعى أن مبلغ الـستمائة دولار الذي أخذه كانت إيشا تدين به للوكالة بسبب مرضها وتوقفها عن العمل. «لقد أنفقنا الكثير من المال عليها. إنها تعيش وتأكل هنا. نحن ندير عملنا هنا». وقال بأن على جمعية “هذا لبنان” أن يشتروا تذكرة طيران إيشا إذا كانوا قلقين على أمرها.


 واظب “هذا لبنان” في مساعيه. لقد كان من واجب الوكالة شراء التذكرة وإعادة راتب إيشا الذي كانت تحتاجه للوصول إلى مسقط رأسها والبدء من جديد. لكن لعدم رغبتهم في مزيد من الإشهار السلبي في تلك اللحظة المشينة من تاريخهم، أرسلت الوكالة إيشا إلى وطنها في منتصف آذار 2020 مع 200 دولار من راتبها البالغ 600 دولار. ويبدو أن الوكالة كانت تأمل بأن ينسى “هذا لبنان” أمر المبلغ المتبقي والبالغ 400 دولار. هذا مُستبعَد!


 تحذّر إيشا الأخريات من العمل في لبنان:

من غير المفترض أن يحدث لأي بشر ما يحصل هناك. ثمة العديد من الفتيات الأفريقيات يتعذّبن ويلقين حتفهنّ هناك. لن تخسري حياتكِ أو حريتكِ إذا بقيتِ في وطنكِ

በአማርኛ ለማንበብ

በምዕራብ አፍሪካ ሲየራ ሊዮን ሃገር ተወላጅ የሆነችው ኢሻ ሳንኮህ በልጅነቷ ነበር ወላጆችዋን ያጣቸው። ታላቅ እህቶችና ወንድሞችዋ የኑሮ ውድነትና ችግርን እየተጋፈጡ ኢሻን አሳድጓታል። ኢሻህ አደግ ስትል ቤተሰቦቿን ለመርዳት ወስና የማዕደን ቁፈራ ስራ ትጀምራለች። በማእድን ስራ ማግኘቱ ለሴት ልጅ ብርቅ መሆኑን የምትገልጸው ኢሻ ስራው ጠንካራ እንዳደረጋትም ታስረዳለች። 


ደሞዟ እጅግ በጣም ዝቅተኛ በመሆኑ ታላቅ ወንድም እህቶቿን የማገልገል አቅሟ ውስን ነበር። ስለሆነም ወደ ሊባኖስ ተሰድዳ በሰው ቤት ሰራተኝነት ለመቀጠር ወሰነች። በሲየራ ሊዮን ለሚንቀሳቀስ ደላላ 500 የአሜሪካ ዶላር ከፍላ በሰኔ 2011 ወደ ሊባኖስ ዋና ከተማ ቤሩት ትበራለች። ሊባኖስ እንደገባች አንድ ቢላል ኻሊል የተሰኘ ደላላ በቤሩት ከተማ ስራ ያገኝላታል። ኢሻ እንደምትለው አሰሪዎቿ ጥሩ ሰዎች የነበሩ ቢሆንም ኢሻ በገጠማት የጤና ችግርና አሰሪዎቿ የህክምና ወጪዎቿን መሸፈን ባለመፈለጋቸው ስራዋን አቋርጣ ወደ ደላላዋ ቢሮ ተመለሰች።


ደላላው ቢላል ኻሊል ወደ ሌላ ቤት አዘዋወዋት። ኢሻ ሶስት ልጆች ባሉበት ቤት ተቀጥራ መስራት ጀመረች። አዲሶቹ አሰሪዎቿ ደግሞ እጅግ በጣም ደግ ከመሆናቸው የተነሳ የህክምና ወጪዎቿን ሸፍነው አሳከሟት። እሁድ እሁድ አብረዋቸው ወደ ቤተ ክርስትያንም እንድሄድም ፈቀዱላት። ኢሻ በቤቱ ደስተኛ ብትሆንም የጤናዋ ሁኔታ ሊሻሻል ባለመቻሉ ምክንያት ስራውን መቀጠል አልቻለችም። አሰሪዎቿ የደሞዟ 600 ዶላር አስረክበውላት ወደ ደላላው ቢሮ ተላከች። አሰሪዎቿ ደላላው ቢላል ኻሊልን አግኝተውት ኢሻ ወደ ሃገሯ ተልካ ህክምናዋን መከታተል እንዳለባት አማከሩት።


ይሄንን ሲነገረው ደላላው ቢላል ኻሊል እጅግ በጣም ይበሳጫል። ኢሻን በደብደብ፤ በእርግጫ መምታትና መሳደብንም ጀመረ። የእጅ ስልኳንና የተሰጣት 600 ዶላር ደሞዟንም ቀማት። ኢሻ በከባድ ህመም ላይ ነበረች። አልፎ አልፎ በቢሮዉ የነበሩት ኪኒኖች እየሰጣት ወደ ሆስፒታል መሄዱን ከለከላት። በቢሮዉ የሚገኝ አንዲት መስኮት የሌለው ክፍል ውስጥ ተቀምጣ በር ተቆልፎባት መሄጃ አጣች። አብረዋት የቢሮዉ እስረኛ ሆነው ለወራት የተቀመጡ ከኢትዮጵያ ከጋና ከስሪ ላንካ የመጡ ሌሎች ስደተኞች ነበሩ። ቢላል ኻሊል እያንዳንዳቸውን እየደበደበ እየቀጠቀጠ ያሰቃይ የነበረ ሲሆን በካቴና ታስረው የተቀመጡና ለቀናት ሳይበሉ ተርበው ይቀመጡ የነበሩት ሴቶችም ጭምር አንደነበሩ ኢሻ ታካፍለናለች። ታጉረው ለተቀመጡት ስደተኞች የ6000 ዶላር ቅጣት ከከፈሉ ብቻ እንደሚለቀቁ ቢላል ኻሊል ይነግራችዋል።


ኢሻ ለህይወቷ መስጋት ጀመረች። “ከተወሰነ ቀናት ቦኋላ ደላላዬ እኔን ከመግደል ወደ ኋላ የሚል አይነት ሰው እንዳነበረ መረዳት ቻልኩ” ብላ አስረድታናለች ኢሻ። “እዛ በተቀመጥንበት አንዲት ሉሉ የምትባል ኢትዮጵያዊት ተዋውቄ ነበር። ሉሉ ላይ እጅግ በጣም ዘግናኝ ድብደባ ይፈጸምባት ነበር በየቀኑ። ደላላው እጆቿን እግሮቿን አሣስረው በትክክል መተንፈስም አቃታት። ሰውነቷ ቁስል በቁስል ሆኖ ሁሌ ደም ትተፋ ነበር። አንድ ቀን እዛው በተቀመጥንበት መንቀሳቀሱን አቆመች። ሉሉ ስትሞት የከተማ ፖሊስ መጥተው ጎበኙን። ከመምጣታቸው በፊት ለፖሊስ አንዲት ነገር የተነፈሰ ይገደላል ብሎ ዛተብን ቢላል ኻሊል። ስለዚህ ፈርቼ ዝም አልኩ። በህይወቴ መፈጠሬን የጠላሁበት ሰሞን ነበር። እራሴን ስለማጥፋት ሁሉ ማሰብ ጀመርኩ።”


ደላላው ቢላል ኻሊል እጅግ በጣም ጨካኝ አረመኔና በቤቱ በነበሩት አፍሪካውያን እስያውያን ሴቶች አሰቃቂ ግፍ ይፈጽም የነበረ ቢሆንም ሰውየው አንዲት “ቻይና” ተብላ የምትጠራ ኢትዮጵያዊት ፍቅረኛ እንደነበረው መረዳት ቻልን። አልፎ አልፎ ቢሮ እየመጣች እንደምታገለግለው ኢሻ አካፍላናለች። ለግዜው የቻይና ማንነት አልደረስንበትም።


በዚህ ሁኔታ ውስጥ በታጎሩበት አንዲት ተጨማሪ ስደተኛ ትቀላቀላችዋለች። ልጅታዋ ስልኳ የተቀማቸው በሁለተኛዋ ቀን ስለነበር በአንደኛው ቀን ኢሻ አጋጣሚውን ተጠቅማ ወደ እህቷ ደውላ ስለሁኔታዋ ያለውን ሁሉ ታስረዳታለች።


ቀጥሎ የኢሻ እህት ትብብራችን ፍለጋ ወደ “ይህ ነው ሊባኖስ” ደውላ እርዳታችን ጠየቀች። ከጥር 2012 ዓም ጀምሮ ይህ ነው ሊባኖስ የኢሻን ጉዳይ መከታተል ጀመረ።


ወደ ደላላው ቢሮ በመደወል ስልክ የመለሱትን በቢሮዉ እየተከሰተ ስላለው ድርጊት ሁሉን ማወቃችን አስረዳናቸው። ቢላል ኻሊል ገመናው ወጥቶ ተቋማችን ጋር በመድረሱ ተደናግጦ ኢሻ በቅርብ ቀን ገንዘቧን ይዛ ወደ ሃገሯ እንደምትመለስና ነገረን። እንደ እስረኛ ተቀምጣ መሰቃየቷ ምክንያቱ ምንድነው ብለን ጠየቅነው።


“ኢሻ አጭበርብራናለች!” ብሎ ምላሽ ሰጠን። “ከሃገሯ ስትመጣ ታምማ ነበር። እዚህ እንድመጣ ወጪ አውጥተን ከጤናዋ ምክንያት ከሁለት ወር በላይ እንኳን አንድ ቤት ተቀምጣ መስራት አትችልም ነበር። የተከፈላት ገንዘብ አይገባትም! አጭበርባሪ ናት!”


ትንሽ ቆይቶ ቢላል በስልኩ ከኛ ቢሮ የሚደውልለት ሁሉ ብሎክ በማድረግ እራሱን ለማሰወር ሞከረ። ቢላል ቃሉን አልጠበቀም፤ ኢሻም አልተለቀቀችም።


የሟቿ ኢትዮጵያዊት ሉሉ አገዳደልን የመረመረው የሊባኖስ ፖሊስ ለተወሰነ ቀናት ቢላል ኻሊልን አሳስረውት ነበር። እንደተለመደው በሰው ቤት ሰራተኞች መሞት ለፍርድ የሚቀርብ ሰው ጠፋ፤ ቢላል ያለምንም ቅጣት ከእስራት ተፈትቶ ወደ ስራው ተመለሰ።


በዚህ ግዜ ይህ ነው ሊባኖስ የአባቱ ጋሳን ኻሊል ቁጥር አፈላልፈን አገኘነው። ለአባትየው ያለው ሁኔታ አስረዳንና በኢሻ ጉዳይ ለቀቅ እንደማናደርጋቸውም ነገርነው። 600 ዶላር ከሷ ስለ መስረቃቸው አንስተንለት “ልጄ ኢሻን ስራ ለማስገባት ሞክሮ በመታመሟ ምክንያት ቢሮ አስቀጣት እያኖራት ነው ያለው። በነጻ እኛ ቢሮ ተቀምጣ እየበላች እየተኛች 600 ዶላርዋን ብንወስደው ምንድነው ጉዳቱ?” ብለው ምላሽ ሰጡን።


ከብዙ ግፊት ቦኋላ ለአባትየው ያለውን ነገር ካልፈትቱ ሙሉ ታሪኩ ከነፎቶዋቸው ከ120 ሺህ በላይ ተከታይ ባለው የፌስቡክ ገጻችን ላይ እንደምንለጥፈው ገለጽንለት። ጉዳዪ በመላው ሊባኖስ መነጋገርያ እንደሚሆን ሲረዱት አባት ልጁን አሳምኖ ለኢሻ የአየር ቲኬት ቆርጠውላት ወደ ሃገሯ ተመለሰች። ከ600 ዶላሩ 200 ዶላርን ብቻ መለሱላት።


ኢሻ ከነነፍሷ ወደ ሃገሯ በመመለሷ ደስተኛ ብትሆንም በቢሮዉ ጥላቸው ለሄዱት እህቶቿ በየቀኑ እንደምታስብላቸው ነገረችን።


“በሊባኖስ ያለው ሁኔታ በጣም መጥፎ ነው። ብዙ አፍሪካዊ እህቶቼ እየተሰቃዩ እየተገደሉ ነው ያሉት። ስራ ፍለጋ ወደ ሊባኖስ እንዳትሄዱ። ትልቅ ስህተት ነበር የሰራሁት። 


በይህ ነው ሊባኖስ ያለን ሁሉ እስካሁን ድረስ በቢሮዋ የሞተችዋና ሉሉ ተብላ የምትጠራ የነበረችዋ ኢትዮጵያዊት ማንነት ልናውቀው አልቻልንም። ሉሉ ማን ልትሆን እንደምትችል ለምታውቁ በውስጥ መስመር መጥታችሁ ታሪኳን በማካፈል የእህታችን ሞት ተቀብሮ እንዳይቀር ተረባረቡላት። 

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