Tuesday, June 25

Women abducted and gang raped by ISIS receive human rights award in emotional ceremony



Two Yazidi women who were brutally gang raped by ISIS and kept as sex slaves have received an award in recognition of their bravery.

Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar were among thousands of women and girls abducted, tortured and sexually abused by Islamic State fighters in Iraq in 2014.

The Yazidi are a small, religious sect whose beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions.

Islamic State considers them devil-worshippers.

Today, the European Parliament held a ceremony a month after it awarded its Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought to Nadia and Lamiya.

Islamic State insurgents overran Sinjar in August 2014, systematically killing, capturing and enslaving thousands of Yazidi inhabitants

Murad, now aged 23, was held by IS in Mosul but escaped her captors in November 2014, reached a refugee camp and eventually made her way to Germany.

Speaking at Cairo University in Egypt, she told students: “When Daesh entered my village, they killed children, the old and young men.

“The next day, they killed the old women and led the young girls, including me, to Mosul.

“In Mosul, I saw thousands of Yazidi women where they were distributed to their slave masters.

“There I saw a huge Daeshi, who wanted to take me.

“I implored to another man to take me instead when I saw he was smaller.

“But he turned out later to be one of the worst people I’ve ever seen.

“The Daesh used to force me and other captives to pray and then rape us.

“We were not worth the value of animals. They raped girls in groups. They did what a mind could not imagine.

“In their so-called Sharia [Islamic law] courts, they had our names and phone numbers of our slave masters.

“They would call us whenever they wanted to spend time with us and sell us.”

The brave victim eventually managed to escape her so-called “owner”.

She added: “I am the victim of terrorism disguised under the cloak of Islam. All these crimes are committed in the name of Islam.

“I’ve come to the Muslim world to complain and demand an Arab and Islamic stance against Daesh .

“No religion accepts enslaving women and raping children.

“We have the right to demand a united global stance because we share others values of humanity.”

Murad has since become active as an advocate for the Yazidis, refugees and women’s rights in general, as well as campaigning against human trafficking.

She has briefed the U.N. Security Council on the problem of human trafficking and last month launched “Nadia’s Initiative” to help victims of genocide.

She has called for the massacre of Yazidis to be recognised as genocide.

Bashar, 18, was captured in the same raid as Murad and also kept as a sex slave by IS.

She escaped in March but was badly disfigured and blinded in one eye when a landmine went off as she fled. Two companions were killed.

“The Sakharov prize gives me great strength and this is why I have taken a decision to become a voice for the voiceless.

“The Yazidis have been victims of extremism, of violence and terrorism.

“They have lost their lives but I very much ask you and urge you to promise me, to promise us that never again will you allow these kinds of things to happen, that you will listen to us and see that justice will be done so that the criminals will be brought to justice and held accountable,” Bashar told the European Parliament

She now lives in Germany, where she has undergone treatment for her wounds, and works as an advocate for the Yazidis.

“The two women who sit up here, Lamiya Aji Bashar and Nadia Murad, are heroines. They have suffered unspeakable atrocities, survived captivity, and they have fled and found exile.

They have overcome fear and suffering and finally found refuge and protection with us here in Europe,” European Parliament president Martin Schulz told the European Parliament in his address.

Mass Yazidi graves have been uncovered in the area north of Sinjar mountain, which was taken from IS in Dec. 2014

Kurdish forces retook Sinjar town in November 2014 in a two-day offensive backed by air strikes from a U.S.-led coalition.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named after the late Russian dissident and scientist Andrei Sakharov is awarded each year by the European Parliament.

Set up in 1988, it honours individuals and organisations defending human rights and basic freedoms.