Yazidi women win Parliament’s Sakharov prize

Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar [European Parliament]

Yazidi activists Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar, victims of sexual slavery carried out by Islamic State, have won the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize. EURACTIV Spain reports.

Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar belong to the Yazidi religious minority and were taken prisoner by jihadists in 2014, when ISIS captured their hometown of Sinjar; more than 200,000 people fled the area as a result.

The women survived the massacre, in which about 5,000 people were killed, but were captured in and sold and resold numerous times as sexual slaves, before finally escaping to Germany, where they now speak on behalf of other victims of sexual violence perpetrated by ISIS.

Murad and Bashar were both up for the Parliament’s prize, as well as Turkish journalist Can Dündar and leader of the Crimean Tartars Mustafa Dzhemilev. Their candidacy was supported by the S&D and ALDE groups, ultimately winning the vote held by the council of presidents.

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“I think that it is a very symbolic and significant decision to support these two survivors who came to Europe as refugees. We are now supporting them in their fight for, not only the dignity we have to grant to everybody, but also for their fight to give testimony as a witness to these atrocities,” said Parliament President Martin Schulz.

The German politician added that the EU must “use all means”, beyond just the giving of prizes, to take the fight to those who have “violated fundamental rights”.

ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt said that Murad and Bashar are “inspirational women who have shown incredible bravery and humanity in the face of despicable brutality”.

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Spanish MEP Beatriz Becerra, also of ALDE, said that the award is a “recognition of the struggle” the two women have gone through.

“They could have decided to be victims, but, on the contrary, they decided to use their personal suffering to help all women and girls that remain in the hands of terrorists, as well as fighting for justice for the victims of the Yazidi genocide,” she added.

The Sakharov Prize last year went to Saudi blogger and dissident Raif Badawi. It will be awarded on 14 December at a ceremony in Strasbourg. The prize has been awarded by the Parliament since 1988 to individuals and organisations that defend human rights and fundamental freedoms.

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