Nadia Murad says UK could save lives of Yazidi women by admitting refugees
Britain could save the lives of thousands of women and girls if it followed Germany’s lead in allowing refugees from the Yazidi community into the UK, according to a UN goodwill ambassador and survivor of sexual enslavement by Islamic State.
Nadia Murad Basee Taha, who escaped Isis after she was held captive for almost three months in 2014, has welcomed the efforts of British MPs in , Amber Rudd, to allow Yazidi refugees into the UK. The MPs want the resettlement programme that will admit by 2020 to be extended to Yazidis.
“Those who have lost their lives, lost everything – this would be literally saving them and giving them a new life, if the UK were going to do that,” said Murad, who is calling on the international community to take action against the perpetrators of violence.
Murad in October for her work campaigning for the rights of the Yazidi community.
In August 2014, Isis stormed the city of Sinjar in northern , forcing thousands of Yazidis to flee. Hundreds of people were killed and more than 6,000 women and children kidnapped by the Islamist militants.
Last year, and children who had managed to escaped Isis, offering physical and emotional care to treat the horrific abuses they experienced while in captivity. It is believed more than 3,400 are still held by Isis.
Murad, who now lives in Germany with one of her sisters – another still lives in a camp in Iraq – was abducted from the village of Kocho two years ago and sexually and physically abused by 12 fighters before managing to escape. Isis killed almost all the men in the village, including six of Murad’s nine brothers. Her mother was also killed.
Murad has no doubt that what happened to the Yazidis, a group persecuted for centuries, was genocide. A published in June concurred. As well as the violence meted out to women, she points to the mass graves that have been found as evidence of targeted atrocities against the group by Isis. “Isis said in videos that they came to commit genocide against Yazidi people,” Murad said.
Speaking during the in London last week, Murad called on the international community to bring the Islamist fighters to justice.
“I would like those who came to exterminate us, committed the crimes, to be held accountable for their crimes. Minorities should be protected, they should have the right to practice their faith,” she added. “We have to have justice.”
While falling short of demanding the crimes against the Yazidis be referred to the international criminal court, Murad said some form of international hearing was needed as she and others in her community had little or no faith in the legal systems in Iraq and Kurdistan.
“It will be a true acknowledgement when those criminals are brought to face justice before an international court, where people see their criminality and their crimes.”
In December last year, Murad, who has also received the Council of Europe’s for her work, . She urged member states to “liberate our territory” from Isis and establish a fund to compensate abuse survivors and enable the region to be rebuilt. Murad, who is expected to address the security council again this month, also called on member states to open their borders to Yazidi refugees.
“Every time I speak it’s difficult,” she said, “but also every time I say something that people have not heard. It’s also therapeutic for me. I believe in justice, I just hope this will [happen] in the short term.”
Does she want to return to Sinjar? “To come from a village to Europe, a life with so many people, there are big differences. But because they embrace us and they treat us with so much respect, I don’t feel that difference. And I love the German people and the country.”
But she added: “If we can restore our rights and bring justice to victims and against perpetrators … I would like to go back.”