Yazidi ISIS survivor speaks at St Lucia campus

19 August 2016

A young woman who has suffered at the hands of the so-called Islamic State will speak at The University of Queensland next week.

Two years ago the terrorist organisation massacred 21-year-old Nadia Murad’s family before abducting and sexually enslaving her.

Ms Murad escaped and now leads a humanitarian mission on behalf of the Yazidi people, to condemn the crimes of the Islamic State (also referred to as ISIS or ISIL).

She has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and says thousands of other Yazidi women have had similar experiences to hers.

“ISIL murdered six of my brothers in a massacre on my homeland on 15 August 2014, kidnapped all the women in my family and subsequently separated me from my mother who I believe was also killed in a massacre of women,” Ms Murad said during her address to the United Nations Security Council last December.

“Rape was used by ISIL to attempt to destroy women and girls and to ensure that they could never again lead a normal life, and the Islamic State has made Yazidi women fodder for human trafficking.

“As a Yazidi survivor, I am a descendant of one of the world’s oldest religions, which is today threatened with extinction.”

The Yazidis are an ethno-religious group with an estimated population of 600,000, mainly living around the district of Sinjar in Iraq.

The Yazidis have been targeted over centuries with successive campaigns of genocidal violence.

The ISIS attack two years ago in Sinjar threatened the Yazidis’ future in Iraq and shattered the peaceful life Ms Murad once knew.

Her advocacy has led her to speak with presidents, prime ministers and heads of state around the world, and she is legally represented by international lawyer Amal Clooney.

Ms Murad’s public lecture at UQ will be hosted by the Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

She will share her story and speak about the continuing genocide against Yazidi people, involving systematic abduction, enslavement and murder.

UQ Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect Director Professor Alex Bellamy said the horrific suffering of the Yazidi people at the hands of the so-called Islamic State should be a wakeup call to the world.

“We need to redouble efforts to fulfil the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ and shield the world’s most vulnerable people from atrocity crimes,” he said.

Ms Murad’s mission includes deterring Muslim youths from joining or supporting IS and asking them to promote tolerance towards the beliefs of others.

After her recent testimony before the United Nations’ Security Council for its first-ever session on human trafficking, Ms Murad implored the world to pay attention to these largely overlooked atrocities.

She identified critical goals for the international community, including the rescue of the several thousand Yazidis still enslaved by ISIS, recognition of ISIS’s Yazidi extermination campaign as “genocide”, and international protection for Yazidi homelands.

Ms Murad will be joined at the UQ event by Mr Ahmed Khudida, the Deputy Executive Director of Yazda, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting the largely displaced Yazidi community and raising awareness of their plight.

Genocide scholar Nikki Marczak, from the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, also will speak on the Yazidi genocide.

Event details: UQ St Lucia campus, Wednesday 24 August, 5 - 7pm, Parnell Building (#7), Room 222.Pre-registration is essential.

Media: Professor Alex Bellamy, +61 (0)402 669 959, +61 7 3346 9367; Nikki Marczak,nikki@carobtree.com.au, +61 (0) 401 373 262.