EU awards Sakharov human rights prize to Yazidi women who escaped IS group

Sakharov Yezidie Aadia Murad

Sakharov Yezidie Aadia Murad

The European Parliament has awarded its Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought and expression to Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar, two women from Iraq’s Yazidi community who suffered attack and persecution by Islamic State.

Murad and Bashar were among thousands of women and girls abducted and held as sexual slaves by Islamic State fighters after they rounded up Yazidis in their village of Kocho, near Sinjar in northwest Iraq, in the summer of 2014.

Murad has also called for the recognition of the massacre of Yazidis as genocide.

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The Yazidi are a religious sect whose beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions. Islamic State considers the minority as devil-worshippers.

IS insurgents overran Sinjar in August 2014, systematically killing, capturing and enslaving thousands of Yazidi inhabitants.

Several mass Yazidi graves have been uncovered in the area north of Sinjar mountain, which was taken from IS in Dec. 2014 Kurdish forces retook Sinjar town in November 2014 in a two-day offensive backed by airstrikes from a U.S.-led coalition.

U.N. investigators said in a report in June that Islamic State is committing genocide against the Yazidis in Syria and Iraq to destroy the religious community of 400,000 people through killings, sexual slavery and other crimes.

Such a designation, rare under international law, would mark the first recognized genocide carried out by non-state actors, rather than a state or paramilitaries acting on its behalf.