Kelly MACNAMARA –
Nadia Murad survived the worst of the cruelties and brutality inflicted on her people, the Yazidis of Iraq, by the IS group before becoming a global champion of their cause and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Murad, who was taken hostage by IS in 2014 but escaped, on Monday became the first Iraqi to receive the prestigious award.
The 25-year-old was declared the winner of the Nobel in October alongside Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege for their “efforts to end the use of violence as a weapon of war”.
“For me, justice doesn’t mean killing all of the IS members who committed these crimes against us,” she said shortly after winning.
“Justice for me is taking IS members to a court of law and seeing them in court admitting to the crimes they committed against Yazidis and being punished for those crimes specifically,” she said.
Murad once lived a quiet life in her village in the mountainous Yazidi stronghold of Sinjar in northern Iraq, close to the border with Syria. But when the IS stormed across swathes of the two countries in August 2014, her nightmare began.
IS fighters swept into her village, Kojo, killing the men, taking children captive to train them as fighters and condemning thousands of women to a life of forced labour and slavery.
Murad was taken to Mosul, the Iraqi “capital” of the IS’s self-declared caliphate, where she was held captive and repeatedly abused, tortured and beaten. IS fighters wanted “to take our honour, but they lost their honour”, said Murad, now a United Nations goodwill ambassador for survivors of human trafficking.
For the militants, with their ultra-strict interpretation of religion, the Yazidis are seen as heretics.
Like thousands of Yazidis, Murad was sold and forcibly married to a militant, beaten and — in contrast to the official wives of IS leaders — forced to wear makeup and tight clothes, an experience she later related in front of the United Nations Security Council.
“The first thing they did was they forced us to convert,” Murad said in 2016. She set about trying to escape, and managed to flee with the help of a family from Mosul. Using false identity papers, she crossed the few dozen kilometres to Iraqi Kurdistan, joining crowds of other displaced Yazidis in camps. There, she learnt that six of her brothers and her mother had been killed.
With the help of an organisation that assists Yazidis, she was re-united with her sister in Germany, where she lives today.
Even there, she says she is still fearful, for herself and other
innocent women. — AFP
Kelly MACNAMARA –