Nadia Murad Basee and Lamiya Aji Basharhwere are two young women from Kocho, a village in Northern Iraq, which was taken over by Daesh in the summer of 2014. Many of their relatives died during the massacre of Kocho, where Daesh rounded up and killed over 100 men from the village. The survivors of this massacre were trafficked, the women and girls were sold into sexual slavery, beaten and raped.
Eventually, both women were able to flee from Daesh. Their journey was very difficult and dangerous. Lamiya’s companions Almas (8) and Katherine (20) were killed by a landmine and Lamiya was heavily injured by the explosion, losing the sight of her right eye.
These two very brave women are now standing up internationally for their community, calling for the recognition of Daesh’s crimes as genocide and for more help for Yazidis. Nadia Murad has asked for European governments, including Britain, to do more to support Yazidis. In her words, “[w]hat IS has done to the Yazidi people is genocide, the UK must offer more asylum to refugees. So many are in camps and they have been through terrible suffering.”
Germany has set up a special programme aiming to help Yazidi women traumatized by sexual slavery. More than 1000 women are receiving psychological treatment in Germany as part of this programme but many traumatised Yazidis still live in appalling conditions in refugee camps in the Kurdish area of Iraq and in Turkey.
It is important to highlight the suffering of the Yazidi minority and other groups in Iraq and this is why I have nominated Nadia Murad Basee and Lamiya Aji Basharhwere for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The prize is awarded annually by the European Parliament “to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe, drawing attention to human rights violations as well as supporting the laureates and their cause.” The fact that Basee and Basharhwere are still fighting to help others after such a horrendous experience shows they would be noble recipients of this prestigious prize.