Nadia Murad: Let Us All Unite to Fight Injustice and Oppression

Former Millennial of the Year Nadia Murad is one of recipients of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Here are some highlights from her Nobel lecture:

  • I hope that today marks the beginning of a new era – when peace is the priority, and the world can collectively begin to define a new roadmap to protect women, children and minorities from persecution, in particular victims of sexual violence.
  • Yes, our lives have changed overnight, in a way we can hardly understand. Every Yazidi family counts members that are separated from each other. The social fabric of a peaceful community has been torn apart, a whole society that was carrying high the banner of peace and the culture of tolerance has become fuel for a useless war.
  • After the failure of the Government of Iraq and the Government of Kurdistan to protect us, the international community also failed to save us from ISIS and to prevent the occurrence of the genocide against us, and stood idly by watching the annihilation of a complete community. Our homes, our families, our traditions, our people, our dreams were all destroyed.
  • The predicament of the Yazidis in the prisons of ISIS has not changed. They have not been able to leave the camps, nothing of what ISIS destroyed has been rebuilt. So far, the perpetrators of the crimes which led to this genocide have not been brought to justice. I do not seek more sympathy; I want to translate those feelings into actions on the ground.
  • Today is a special day for all Iraqis, not only because I am the first Iraqi to win the Nobel Peace Prize. It is also the day when we celebrate the victory of liberating Iraqi territory from the terrorist organization of ISIS. The Iraqis from the North to the South united their forces and fought a long battle on behalf of the world against this extremist terrorist organization.
  • This unity gave us strength. We also need to unite our efforts to investigate the crimes of ISIS and prosecute those who welcomed, helped and joined them to control vast areas in Iraq. There should be no place for terrorism and extremist ideas in post-ISIS Iraq; we must join forces in building our country; we must contribute together to achieve security, stability and prosperity for the benefit of all Iraqis.
  • In the 21st century, in the age of globalization and human rights, more than 6,500 Yazidi children and women became captive and were sold, bought, and sexually and psychologically abused. Despite our daily appeals since 2014, the fate of more than 3,000 children and women in the grip of ISIS is still unknown.
  • Every day I hear the screams of children in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Every day we see hundreds of women and children in Africa and other countries becoming murder projects fuel for wars, without anyone moving in to help them or hold to account those who commit these crimes.
  • If justice is not done, this genocide will be repeated against us and against other vulnerable communities. Justice is the only way to achieve peace and co-existence among the various components of Iraq. If we do not want to repeat cases of rape and captivity against women, we must hold to account those who have used sexual violence as a weapon to commit crimes against women and girls.
  • We celebrate these days the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which aims at preventing genocides and calls for the prosecution of their perpetrators. My community has been subjected to genocide for more than four years. The international community did nothing to deter it nor to stop it. It did not bring the perpetrators to justice. Other vulnerable communities have been subjected to ethnic cleansing, racism and identity change in plain sight of the international community.
  • The protection of the Yazidis and all vulnerable communities around the world is the responsibility of the international community and international institutions in charge of defending human rights, the protection of minorities, the protection of the rights of women and children, especially in areas where conflicts and internal wars take place.
  • Let us all unite to fight injustice and oppression; Let us raise our voices together and say: No to violence, yes to peace, no to slavery, yes to freedom, no to racial discrimination, yes to equality and to human rights for all.
  • No to exploiting women and children, yes to providing a decent and independent life to them, no to impunity for criminals, yes to holding criminals accountable and to achieving justice.