Human Rights in Focus: And ‘Sakharov Prize’ Goes to Yazidis

Written by | Friday, October 28th, 2016

The European Parliament has awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom to Yazidi activists Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar, victims of sexual slavery carried out by the Islamic State. Both women were imprisoned by ISIS in 2014 in their hometown of Sinjar, and they were subsequently sold and resold many times as sexual slaves. Nadia and Lamiya then managed to escape to Germany where they advocate on behalf of the ISIS’ victims of sexual violence.

“I think that it is a very symbolic and significant decision to support these two survivors who came to Europe as refugees. We are now supporting them in their fight for, not only the dignity we have to grant to everybody, but also for their fight to give testimony as a witness to these atrocities,” Parliament President Martin Schulz commented. However, he also emphasized that although the giving of prizes is meaningful, the EU must foremost fight those who perpetrate such hideous acts.

ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt said that both Nadia and Lamiya are “inspirational women who have shown incredible bravery and humanity in the face of despicable brutality”.  Spanish MEP Beatriz Becerra of ALDE added that “They could have decided to be victims, but, on the contrary, they decided to use their personal suffering to help all women and girls that remain in the hands of terrorists, as well as fighting for justice for the victims of the Yazidi genocide.”

This year, the other nominees for this prestigious prize were Turkish journalist Can Dündar and leader of the Crimean Tartars Mustafa Dzhemilev. Last year, the prize was awarded to Saudi blogger and dissident Raif Badawi, who was convicted of “insulting Islam through electronic channels” including apostasy and sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes. The prize has been awarded since 1988 to exceptional individuals and organizations that fight for human rights around the world.

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