Nadia Murad – an IS victim but Nobel laureate


Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi woman held as a sex slave by Daesh militants who won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, said on Friday she intended to use the prize money to build a hospital for victims of sexual abuse in her hometown.
The Yazidi survivor was speaking to a crowd of hundreds in Sinjar, her hometown in northern Iraq. “With the money I got from the Nobel Peace prize, I will build a hospital in Sinjar to treat ill people, mainly widows and women who were exposed to sexual abuses by Daesh militants,” she told the crowd and gathered journalists.
She thanked the Iraqi and Kurdistan governments for agreeing to her plan and said she would be contacting humanitarian organizations “soon” to start construction.
Murad was awarded the $1 million prize alongside Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. She was one of about 7,000 women and girls captured in northwest Iraq in August 2014 and held by Daesh in Mosul, where she was tortured and raped.
She escaped after three months and reached Germany, from where she campaigned extensively to appeal for support for the Yazidi community. The Yazidi area in Sinjar had previously been home to about 400,000 people, mostly Yazidis and Arab Sunnis.
In a matter of days, more than 3,000 Yazidis were killed and about 6,800 kidnapped, either sold into slavery or conscripted to fight for Daesh as the religious minority came under attack.

Nadia Murad called for the protection of women belonging to her Yazidi minority until Islamic State leaders are tried for crimes against the community. “All the victims need a safe haven until Daesh is brought to the international courts,” the 25-year-old Iraqi said at an international conference in Doha, using an Arabic acronym for the jihadist group.
Murad also renewed calls for Iraq and other countries to investigate the fate of members of her Yazidi minority kidnapped by IS.

Murad was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo earlier this month with Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege for her work highlighting the plight of Iraq’s Yazidis.

Like thousands of other Yazidi women and girls, Murad was abducted by IS in 2014 as the jihadists overran the minority’s stronghold of Sinjar in northern Iraq, close to the border with Syria. They were held captive, tortured, raped and sold as sex slaves by IS.

Attending the Doha Forum, Murad – the first Iraqi to receive the Nobel prize – said on Sunday (Dec 16) that she dreams of returning home. “I dream about returning to Sinjar and living a noble life, opening a beauty salon as a way to help Yazidi women,” she said.

More than 3,000 Yazidi women and children are still missing, probably still held captive, according to Murad. IS captured large swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in land it controlled. The jihadists have since lost most of their territory to offensives by multiple forces in both countries, retreating to desert holdouts.

A grief-stricken Nadia Murad broke down in tears when she saw the photograph of her mother, among hundreds of pictures of dead and missing former residents pasted across the walls of a school in her home village of Kocho in Northern Iraq.

When she reached photos of her brothers and a nephew killed by the Islamic State (IS) group, Murad pressed herself against the wall, trying to embrace the pictures as she wailed aloud for her lost relatives. The power of her emotion reduced many present to tears. Flanked by bodyguards holding back journalists, a film crew, and several hundred local people, hers was a very public grief.

In August 2014, this school in Kocho – the last Yazidi village in Sinjar taken by IS – became a scene of horror. It was where IS gathered villagers after a fortnight siege, during which time they failed to pressurise village elder Ahmed Jasso into agreeing the whole village would convert to Islam.

Militants confiscated personal property before segregating women and children from men older than 15. The former were taken to the upper level of the school from where, as detailed in Murad’s autobiography The Last Girl, they watched in horror as male relatives were loaded onto trucks in small groups and driven away.