Nadia Murad Basee Taha

Human Rights Activist

Nadia Murad is a 21-year-old public advocate for the Yazidi community. She is a survivor of IS sexual enslavement, being among the thousands of Yazidi girls and women who were abducted by the so-called Islamic State (“IS”). Nadia is from Kocho, a Yazidi village in Sinjar, Iraq where IS massacred all males and enslaved all females and children. Nadia was used as a sex slave by more than 12 IS fighters over a period of three months. Nadia was bought and sold several times by various IS members and was pressured to convert to their version of Islam. Six of her brothers were slaughtered in the Kocho massacre and her mother was subsequently massacred along with 80 other older Yazidi women in whom the IS militants did not see any sexual value.

Nadia belongs to the Yazidi religious minority of Iraq. The Yazidi religion is an ancient faith native to parts of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, which preserves indigenous pre-Islamic and even pre-Zoroastrian motifs and practices. Not recognized as “people of the book” by Islamic law, the Yazidis have been targeted over many centuries with successive campaigns of genocidal violence, but they managed to survive in their mountainous homelands. However, political pressures of recent decades have almost eliminated the Yazidi presence in Turkey, and the genocide conducted by the IS group on Aug. 3, 2014 threatens the future of the Yazidi people in Iraq.

Nadia grew up in Kocho, a quiet agricultural village that had good relations with its neighbors, both Christian and Muslim (Arab, Kurdish, and Turkmen). She was attending secondary school and hoped to become a doctor to serve her community. This peaceful life was shattered forever and her dreams evaporated after IS attacked her homeland in Sinjar and attempted a genocide against all Yazidis in Iraq.

Despite the psychological trauma of the brutality and appalling sexual violence to which she was subjected, the massacre of her family, and the destruction of her homeland, Nadia escaped the IS fighters, recovered, and confronted her trauma. She became stronger and decided to lead a humanitarian mission on behalf of her people. She asks the international community to designate the heinous crimes perpetrated against Yazidis and other minorities by IS as genocide and asks the United Nations Security Council to refer these crimes to the International Criminal Court for prosecution. Nadia is also leading a campaign to prompt the Muslim world to reject IS and to condemn IS crimes against humanity, particularly against children and women, carried out in the name of Islam. Her mission includes deterring Muslim youths from joining or supporting IS and asking them to promote tolerance towards the beliefs of others.

Through her advocacy, Nadia has met with numerous presidents, prime ministers, and other heads of state around the world, in addition to countless meetings with religious and community leaders and other high-level officials.