Nadia Murad urges global fight against genocide

Nadia Murad urges global fight against genocide

United Nations, Nadia Murad
Nadia Murad

A co-winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize has called for a global fight against genocide and sexual violence, pledging to be a voice for victims around the world.

Nadia Murad said in her first news conference since accepting the award that she feels obliged to use her voice to defend the rights of persecuted people across the globe.

“We must work together to put an end to genocide, hold accountable those who commit these crimes and achieve justice for the victims,” the Iraqi told a packed room at the National Press Club in Washington DC.

The 25-year-old was among thousands of women and girls from the Yazidi minority who were kidnapped and enslaved in 2014 by the Islamic State group. The Yazidis are an ancient religious minority who trace their roots to a number of small villages in a remote part of northern Iraq.

She was awarded the peace price on Friday along with Congo’s Denis Mukwege, a gynaecologist who treats women victims of sexual violence.

Ms Murad said she is honoured to be a Nobel recipient, but added much more needs to be done to bring the perpetrators of the crimes against her and other Yazidis to justice.

“So far we have not seen justice happen for the Yazidis, especially the victims of sexual slavery,” she said, adding that she would like to see IS fighters stand trial for their crimes.

In 2016, Ms Murad was named the United Nations’ first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.

A UN investigation into crimes committed by IS was launched in 2017 and began collecting and preserving evidence in August.

Trials of IS fighters conducted by Iraqi and Syrian forces have come under criticism from human rights groups who claim the proceedings are rushed, flawed and often reliant on confessions extracted under torture.

Ms Murad also called on the Iraqi government and the international community to rebuild Yazidi towns and villages destroyed by the war against IS.

With little reconstruction aid, most Yazidi territory retaken from IS in Iraq remain in ruins.

The high level of destruction combined with inadequate security forces on the ground has left tens of thousands of Yazidis stuck living in camps for displaced people years after their homes were declared liberated.

Ms Murad outlined plans to focus more on rebuilding Yazidi communities in Iraq: “But without peace, even if we rebuild, life is not possible.”

The peace prize this year comes amid a climate of greater attention to female victims of sexual abuse worldwide highlighted by the #MeToo movement. Asked about the movement and how it relates to her experience, she said she hopes all survivors of sexual violence feel safe to share their stories.

“My hope is that all women who speak about their experience of sexual violence are heard and accepted,” she said.