“I have met young girls who were raped at an age when they didn’t even know what the word meant. I met people who lost their entire families; whole families were wiped out.”
Written by Carol Benedict
In 2014, ISIS advanced on Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq (also known as Şengal in Kurdish), capturing or killing thousands of Yezidi (Ezidi) people. Many of the women were taken as sex slaves into the ISIS barbaric practices. Nadia Murad Bassee was one of those women. She survived long enough to escape.
Driven to end the suffering for her community in captivity and to stop an enemy bent on genocide of the Yezidi people, Nadia began to tell her story. Again and again. It became a burden of reliving those moments of hell so others would not have to. It meant revealing the most horrific details of her ordeal to get people to understand and listen. It is easier to hide than to step out of the shadows. Nadia did that, knowing full well what it meant.
In an interview from October of 2016, Nadia commented, “I was not raised to give speeches. Neither was I born to meet world leaders, nor to represent a cause so heavy, so difficult,” she said.
But she would continue “so that one day we can look our abusers in the eye in a court in The Hague and tell the world what they have done to us,” she said. “So my community can heal. So I can be the last girl to come before you.”
Murad was awarded the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, was named a United Nations good-will ambassador on behalf of victims of human trafficking, and she was widely mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016.
Being a survivor of genocide comes with great responsibility –for I am the lucky one. Having lost my brothers, mother and many more family members and friends it is a responsibility I embrace fully and take very seriously. My role as an activist is not just about my suffering — it is about a collective suffering. Telling my story and reliving the horrors I encountered is no easy task, but the world must know. The world must feel a moral responsibility to act and if my story can influence world leaders to act then it must be told.
After the Holocaust, the world decried, “never again” but yet Genocide occurs with haunting frequency. What’s puzzling to me is that it occurs in full view of the world community. When ISIS trapped the Yazidi community on Sinjar Mountains, the world watched and world leaders chose not to act. In fact, we still find ourselves begging the United Nations to act – to stop ISIS – to hold ISIS accountable for all the horrific crimes committed. A fundamental goal for me is to fight impunity for crimes committed against all margined communities devastated by global terrorism.
I am committed to leading a campaign to prompt peace through de-radicalization. I will focus my power to deliver a message to the Muslim world to condemn extremism, particularly against children and women, carried out in the name of Islam. We must work together to counter terrorism and deter the youth from joining or supporting radical groups and united to teach all youth the importance of tolerance towards the beliefs of others.
Recent terrorism brought sufferings beyond our any understanding, and women and children have become the population mostly affected, notable, human trafficking and mass enslavement have become a tool used by terrorists to humiliate societies and humanity at large, I am committed to fight human trafficking and mass enslavement.
We cannot depend solely on the actions of the United Nations and world leaders. Individuals can contribute to the fight as well. If we all do our small part, in every corner of the world, I believe we can end genocide and mass atrocities against women and children. If we have the courage to stand up and fight for those we don’t know – who live thousands of miles away – we can make a difference. The world is one community and we need to act as such.
I ask you as a survivor and a friend, to join my Initiative and help all victims in the conflict zones, especially those targeted for their identify . ISIS must be stopped. Please contribute to this important cause, for we all humans that deserve to live peacefully.
With much gratitude,
Nadia Murad Bassee
About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an indépendant researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.