Nadia Murad, Yazda and Amal Clooney welcome the start of exhumation activities in Kocho, Sinjar

As officially announced yesterday, the Iraqi authorities, in cooperation with the UN Investigative Team for Accountability of Da’esh/ISIL(UNITAD), will begin the exhumation of mass graves in the village of Kocho, Sinjar on 15 March 2019. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad, global Yazidi NGO Yazda and their joint legal counsel Amal Clooney welcome this important milestone in the investigation of crimes committed by ISIS against the Yazidi minority in Iraq.

This step answers our long-standing call for meaningful action in relation to the many mass graves discovered in Sinjar since the region was liberated from ISIS. A report issued by Yazda in January 2016 identified the location of 35 mass graves and kill sites in the area. A further report issued in August 2018, following Kocho’s liberation, documented the situation of these sites and called for UNITAD and the responsible local authorities to accelerate their efforts to exhume mass graves. Nadia Murad repeatedly urged the international community to support these efforts, including in her hometown of Kocho, whose mass graves are believed to contain the remains of many of her family members who were brutally executed by ISIS militants on 15 August 2014, together with most of the village’s male population. 

We welcome the cooperative approach adopted by the Iraqi authorities and UNITAD in the preparation for and implementation of the scheduled exhumation activities, and the involvement of international forensic experts tasked to ensure that international standards and best practices will be applied throughout the exhumation process. We call on all competent authorities to ensure that these standards are respected at all times, including in the excavation of mass graves, the collection of any evidence relevant to the investigation of ISIS crimes, and the identification of victims and repatriation of their remains to grieving families. 

We also welcome the involvement of representatives of the Yazidi community in the lead-up to the excavation and we call for this engagement of victim communities to continue throughout the exhumation process. Members of the Yazidi minority, and in particular survivors and relatives of the victims of ISIS, should continue to be duly consulted and informed about the progress of the planned exhumations, including the treatment of remains and their identification and the proposed timeframe and procedure for the repatriation of remains to their families to allow their burial in accordance with Yazidi religious rites.

We hope the exhumation scheduled to begin in Kocho on 15 March will be part of a comprehensive effort which will result in the exhumation of all ISIS mass graves in Sinjar and beyond, the return of victims’ remains to their families and the investigation of the relevant crimes, leading to the prosecution of the responsible ISIS militants. 


Nadia Murad, Yazda and Amal Clooney call on the Global Coalition to intensify efforts to investigate ISIS crimes and rescue Yazidi captives held in Syria

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad, global Yazidi NGO Yazda and their joint legal counsel Amal Clooney call on the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and its local partners to investigate the reported massacre of Yazidi women in Baghouz and to create a task force to rescue those still held in ISIS captivity.

According to Reuters, a mass grave containing the decapitated bodies of dozens of people recently slaughtered by ISIS was discovered by the Coalition-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in the Baghouz area earlier this week. The victims, most of whom are women, are believed to be members of the Yazidi minority captured by ISIS during its attack on Sinjar in August 2014. In addition, many captives are thought to be in grave danger as Coalition and local forces proceed to liberate the last pockets of territory controlled by ISIS.

We are concerned by recent reports that ISIS members held in Syria have been released and that fighters transferred to Iraq have been sentenced to death following rushed trials that exclude victims and do not comply with international fair-trial standards. We therefore call on the Global Coalition to coordinate with the United Nations and local partners to ensure the prompt and thorough investigation of crimes in Baghouz, and elsewhere across Syria, so that ISIS members can be brought to justice at the International Criminal Court or other courts that respect international human rights standards.

In parallel, as Coalition-backed forces oversee the evacuation of civilians from Baghouz, we reiterate the long-standing call by Nadia’s Initiative for the establishment of a task force to rescue Yazidi captives who continue to be held by ISIS. Since 2014, ISIS has been responsible for the death of an estimated 5,000 Yazidis, and the abduction of almost 6,500 Yazidis, over 3,000 of whom remain missing today.

Statement by Nadia Murad to the Ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS/DAESH

السيدات والسادة ممثلو الدول المشاركة في التحالف الدولي ضد داعش ، طابت أوقاتكم،

بدايةً أودّ أن أتقدم إليكم جميعاً، بالشكر الكثير على التفاتتكم الكريمة بتوجيه الدعوة إلي، للمشاركة في هذه الفعالية الدولية المهمة، الخاصة بمناقشة مستقبل الشرق الأوسط عامة والعراق وسوريا خاصة، بعد هزيمة تنظيم داعش الارهابي.

"داعش"، كما بات معروفاً للجميع، ليس مجرد تنظيم إرهابي عابر، وإنما هو، سلوكاً وممارسةً وأيديولوجيا، نتاج موروث فقهي تاريخي، قائم على منطق إنكار الآخر، وعدم الإعتراف بالتعددية، وتخوين وتكفير الآخر المخالف له في الرأي أو العقيدة.

لاشك أن التحالف الدولي بمشاركة أكثر من 60 دولة بقيادة الولايات المتحدة ، قد ساهم في الحاق هزائم كبيرة بمنظومة داعش العسكرية في كل من العراق وسوريا، وساهم بشكل كبير في الحد من انتشار خطر التنظيم وامتداده في المنطقة، ولكن الهزيمة الجغرافية للتنظيم في العراق وسوريا، لا تعني بالضرورة هزيمة الفكر الداعشي وايديولوجيته المتطرفة. 

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Statement on winning the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize

This morning the Nobel Committee informed me that I was selected as a co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. I am incredibly honored and humbled by their support and I share this award with Yazidis, Iraqis, Kurds, other persecuted minorities and all of the countless victims of sexual violence around the world. 

As a survivor, I am grateful for this opportunity to draw international attention to the plight of the Yazidi people who have suffered unimaginable crimes since the genocide by Daesh, which began in 2014. Many Yazidis will look upon this prize and think of family members that were lost, are still unaccounted for, and of the 3000 women and children, which remain in captivity. Like many minority groups, the Yazidis, have carried the weight of historical persecution. Women in particular have suffered greatly as they have been, and continue to be the victims of sexual violence. 

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De-mining Operations Re-start in the Yazidi Homeland of Sinjar

Nadia’s Initiative is excited to announce de-mining operations in Sinuni, a sub-district in the Yazidi homeland of Sinjar have been restarted. This important effort comes after facing months of hurdles to re-establish operations across Nineveh Province. We would like to give special thanks to President Macron of France for acting on his commitment to de-mine the region and the United States Weapons and Removal and Abatement Office, with support from the U.S. Vice President’s Office.

The Yazidis suffered an unimaginable attack in August 2014, despite having lived in Sinjar for thousands of years. IS continues to ruthlessly target the region because of its spiritual and cultural significance. Forcing the Yazidis from the area, destroying their villages, religious sites, and community structures is an attempt to erase them from history - an explicit genocidal program.

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International Conference at Ministerial Level on the Victims of Ethnic and Religious Violence in the Middle East.

I am honored to be here to discuss the plight of minorities who face persecution; I would like to talk about HOPE and REALITY.  

I survived the 2014 Yazidi genocide, as did other Yazidis - but many Yazidis didn’t survive; some were murdered and many remain in captivity.

The story of Yazidis suffering in Iraq did not begin with the arrival of  ISIS. Historically, the Yazidi community have always been deprived of their most basic rights in Iraq. Even today the Iraqi government and the government of Kurdistan impose a siege on Yezidi by closing the roads leading to Sinjar and Bashiqa – the area in which Yazidis live.  Most recently, Yazidis were promised five seats in the Iraqi parliament, according to the decision of the Federal Court of Iraq.  However, the Iraqi parliament refused and gave only one seat to the Yazidis in the elections which took place on May 12th.  So history has repeated itself - once  again The Yazidis is without proper representation in the next Iraqi parliament – one seat is completely disproportionate to the percentage of Yazidis living in Iraq.

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"Çarśema Séré Salé"

This Wednesday, April 18th, Yazidis around the world celebrate the Yazidi New Year, "Çarśema Séré Salé." It is our time to celebrate the creation of our universe, life, and nature. 

On the occasion of this New Year, I know we will continue to rebuild our community in the coming year. We will make progress despite the difficult aftermath of Da’esh's campaign of genocide against us.  

It has been more than three years since our community in Iraq was attacked. Thousands of Yazidi women and children remain in captivity. The majority of Yazidis in Iraq live in IDP camps. The reconstruction of our homeland has not started. 40% of our homeland has not been de-mined, and more than 47 discovered mass graves in Sinjar have not been examined. 

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Iraq Army in Sinjar

We are encouraged that the Iraq Army has moved into Sinjar to improve security on the ground. We are hopeful the Iraqi Army will replace the militias as the main security force . We encourage the Iraq government to include Yazidis as part of the Iraq army in these efforts. 

Nadia Murad Basee
UNODC Goodwill Ambassador
Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking

Afrin conflict foreshadows "ethnic cleansing" and genocide.

Today, I received information that the area of Afrin inhabited by Kurds, Yazidis and Christians is under siege from all sides. There is only one road through which people can leave the city. 200 civilians have been killed, including 3 Yazidi children. Shrines and religious sites have been destroyed or forcibly converted into mosques. People’s homes are being looted and minorities are being shamed by extremist militias. Many of these actions are war crimes and should be documented. This horror is reminiscent of the initial actions of ISIS in Iraq. Medical and healthcare services are urgently needed. This situation foreshadows "ethnic cleansing" and genocide. I appeal to the UN, the EU, and UN Security Council to demand that all sides respect the rights of civilians and work toward a cease fire. I also call on humanitarian organizations and UN agencies to provide support to civilians in the areas where access to food and medical is rapidly disappearing. All sides in Syria should work together for a peace process that will ensure peace, stability, the protection of the rights of all religious and ethnic minorities. Now is the time to heal wounds, avoid further escalations and return to normality for people in Iraq and Syria.