For Immediate Release: A Statement by Nadia Murad on 2016 Sakharov Prize Award

Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar, two Yazidi survivors of enslavement by the Islamic State (ISIS) have been awarded the 2016 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The prize, established in 1988, recognizes those who have made an “exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe.  Ms. Murad and Ms. Bashar have been campaigning for the survivors of the Yazidi genocide since their escape.

Following is Ms. Murad’s statement on receiving the prize: 

“It is with great honor, on behalf of thousands of kidnapped Yazidi women and girls and on behalf of all victims of the Yazidi Genocide that Lamiya and I accept the Sakharov Prize,” Ms. Murad said. “We and the Yazidi people are grateful to the European Parliament and to the people and member states of the European Union for their solidarity.

“This acknowledgment of the suffering of Yazidi women and the Yazidi people is a profound message to the ISIS terrorist group that their criminal inhumanity is condemned and their victims are honored by the free world. It is also a message from Europe to the world that Europe cares about human values and human dignity.

This award is a powerful message from the democratically elected representatives in Europe to our people and particularly to the more than 6,700 women, girls, and children who became victims of slavery and human trafficking under ISIS, that the genocide will not be repeated. 

The Yazidi community is almost completely displaced with little hope for the future. Safe zones for Yazidis and other vulnerable communities are needed so that girls like Lamiya and myself do not find themselves again facing hopelessness and despair. 

We have asked the United Nations Security Council to request that the International Criminal Court investigate the crimes committed by ISIS against the Yazidis with a view to prosecute. No perpetrators have been charged for their crimes in Iraq and Syria on the Yazidi Genocide.  We will continue to work to make sure that ISIS is brought to justice for its crimes against vulnerable communities and particularly against women and girls. 

We are grateful to all members of the European Parliament for their support, particularly the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats who nominated us, as well as Beatriz Becerra MEP for initiating the process.  This recognition has put light in our hearts and given us more strength to continue.”

Note for Editors:

Nadia Murad Basee Taha: 
Nadia is a 23-year-old Yazidi former ISIS captive and UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. ISIS murdered 6 of her brothers in a massacre at Kocho, Iraq on 15 August 2014, kidnapped all the women in her family, subsequently murdered her mother.

She is working with Yazda and International Human Rights lawyer Amal Clooney to persuade the International Criminal Court to open an investigation regarding ISIS crimes. 

The Yazidis are a religious minority based mainly in northern Iraq and have a 6, 000 year old culture. Their religion is an ancient religion unconnected to any other. ISIS launched a genocidal attack on the Yazidi community in August 2014, justified by falsely declaring Yazidis to be 'devil worshippers'. 

Genocide by ISIS: 
In the ISIS campaign of genocide captured Yazidi men and male teenagers were immediately murdered, younger boys sent for indoctrination as future ISIS fighters, young women and girls kidnapped as sex slaves while the middle aged and older women were subsequently murdered. 

Quick Facts: 
In summary approximately 5000 Yazidis were massacred, 6700 abducted and 90% of the Yazidi community displaced to refugee camps, mostly in Kurdistan, Iraq. Some 3,400 women and children remain in ISIS captivity either as sex slaves or undergoing brainwashing as future ISIS fighters; many are now deployed as human shields.  An estimated 2,576 Yazidi women and children have escaped or been rescued from ISIS captivity, of whom 1,100 have been brought to Germany for counselling and therapy. More than 45 mass graves have been discovered to date, others to be discovered in the remaining ISIS occupied Yazidi homeland in Sinjar and Nineveh. Some 42 Yazidi religious sites have been destroyed, numerous graveyards desecrated and Yazidi property plundered. 


Contact Information:

Murad Ismael
Yazda Executive Director / Nadia’s Campaign Manager
Phone: +1.832.638.4348