Stories from Kurdistan

Yazidi Activist Nadia Murad named UN Goodwill Ambassador

The following article was originally published in Rudaw on September 15th, 2016.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Nadia Murad, a former ISIS captive, has been named the UN’s new Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.

“The appointment marks the first time a survivor of atrocities is bestowed with this distinction,” reads the UN’s announcement advising of the appointment.

“During her Ambassadorship, Nadia will focus on advocacy initiatives and raise awareness around the plight of the countless victims of trafficking in persons, especially refugees, women and girls,” the announcement explains.

Nadia Murad, 23, a member of the Yazidi community was kidnapped by Islamic State (ISIS) forces when they raided her village over two years ago. She was among approximately 5,000 Yazidi women who were taken after ISIS militants swept across Nineveh province.

“I did not want to kill myself — but I wanted them to kill me,” Murad said during her testimony in front of the UN Security Council in December.

Murad saw her father and six brothers slaughtered right in front of her. She was taken captive and sold as a sex slave. After three months, she managed to escape.

Since her escape, Murad has been granted asylum in Germany and became an activist on behalf of her people.

Due to her efforts in activism, Murad has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2016, and now appointed as the UN’s new Goodwill Ambassador.

“Nadia survived horrific crimes. I cried when I heard her story. But I didn’t only cry out of sadness. I was also moved to tears because Nadia has so much strength, courage and dignity. She rightly calls for a world where all children live in peace,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, welcoming the appointment.

Murad and the Yezidi activist group Yazda are leading efforts to bring the perpetrators of the crimes against the Yezidi community to justice. They are represented by internationally known human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, building a case of genocide against the Islamic State they hope to bring to the International Criminal Court.

“Thousands of Yazidi women have been enslaved by a terrorist organization, IS, that is committing genocide. And yet no one is being held to account. I am honoured to represent Nadia in her courageous quest for legal accountability,” Clooney has said about Murad.

On becoming Goodwill Ambassador for the UN, Murad is launching ‘Nadia’s Initiative.’ This initiative is being run by Yazda and will “focus on advocating for the countless victims of mass atrocities as well as developing and supporting field programs in the areas of healthcare, psychosocial support and education for women and children.”

In an earlier interview with Women in the World, Murad claimed that her activism must continue.

“Despite everything they did, they couldn’t take the knowledge that I was right and they were wrong,” she said.

“This will remain with me always,” she added. “All the women and girls who are in their [ISIS’s] hands have justice on their side. And because I have rights, I will go after my rights.”

An induction ceremony will be held on Friday at the UN headquarters in New York.

View the article above in Rudaw.

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