ISIS survivors Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar are slated to receive the 2016 Sakharov Prize in a ceremony in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Euronews reported. The two Iraqi Yazidi women escaped sexual enslavement by ISIS, to become spokespersons for all women victimized by the Islamist terror group’s campaign of sexual violence.
Kocho, a village near Sinjar in Iraq, where Murad, 23, and Aji Bashar, 19, lived was attacked by ISIS terrorists who killed all the males there. The young women were abducted and forced into sex slavery. Murad eventually escaped in November 2014, Aji Bashar in April 2016. Both now live in Germany. They both work to raise awareness of the plight of the Yazidi community in Iraq and of the situation of women caught up in campaigns of sexual violence.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was set up in 1998. Named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, it is awarded each year by the European Parliament to honor individuals and organizations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. The prize comes with an award of about $55 thousand.
Nadia Murad said in a statement: “I visited more than 20 countries in the Arab world and Europe. I have met a lot of presidents, parliamentarians and other people. What we want from the world is to stop this, to penalize those responsible for our extermination, to punish criminals in front of the International Criminal Court, is to protect minorities, small communities like the Yazidis and the Christians who live in Iraq and Syria.”
Lamiya Aji Bashar said in a statement, “I am very happy. It is great moral support for me to receive this prize in the name of those who were kidnapped and defeated by ISIS. Thousands of women have been sexually assaulted and I am one of them. ISIS wanted to get rid the world of Yazidis but whatever happens to any one of us, we will tell the truth.”
Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov (1921 –1989) was a Russian nuclear physicist, a Soviet dissident, and an activist for disarmament, peace and human rights. He worked with his Jewish wife, Yelena Bonner (1923 –2011), who wrote frequently on Russia and human rights. Sakharov’s life inspired several prizes named after him.
An Andrei Sakharov prize has also been awarded by the American Physical Society every other year since 2006 “to recognize outstanding leadership and/or achievements of scientists in upholding human rights.”
The Andrei Sakharov Prize For Writer’s Civic Courage was established in October 1990.
In 2004, an annual Sakharov Prize for journalism was established for reporters and commentators in Russia. Funded by former Soviet dissident Pyotr Vins, now a businessman in the US, this Sakharov prize is administered by the Glasnost Defense Foundation in Moscow. The prize “for journalism as an act of conscience” has been won over the years by famous journalists such as Anna Politkovskaya and young reporters and editors working far from Russia’s media capital, Moscow. The 2015 winner was Yelena Kostyuchenko, who has been assaulted and arrested on several occasions in retribution for her journalism and activism.David Israel