After escaping the clutches of the Islamic State, Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji-Bashar have become symbols of the Yazidi struggle. A moving portrait of the two laureates of the 2016 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of thought.
Lamiya Aji Bashar is trying to get back to a normal life. At 19 years old, and 6 months after escaping the clutches of the Islamic State, she has found refuge here in Germany, where she lives with her sisters. My sisters are always taking care of me, to make sure I’m never sad. They make jokes, they do silly things to make sure I’m always happy. It does me good, and I have to thank my sisters for that. It’s a comfort to Lamiya that has brought a smile back to her face. Nadia Murad, meanwhile, is travelling the world to tell her story. Just 23 years old, she lost her six brothers and her mother in the conflict. Millions of people have been displaced. All because of the Islamic State. Nadia is also living in Germany. She has dedicated herself to getting the massacre of the Yazidi minority in Iraq recognised as genocide. My life has become this cause, travelling, delivering this message. We will not have a life as long as IS exists. With this situation, we will have no life. This is taking my whole life now. - Do you like your new life? Both Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar come from the village of Kocho, in the Sinjar region of Iraq. On the 15th of August 2014, their village was attacked by the Islamic State. The men were executed. The women were forced to convert to Islam and were sold into sex slavery. A massacre that prompted the flight of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Yazidis. Lamiya spent 20 months in the clutches of the Islamic State. It was while fleeing her torturers that she was hit by a landmine, leaving her face badly burned. Back in her room, she looks at photos of her life before. She still has no news about her parents. And her younger brother is waiting behind in Iraq, after being bought back from the Islamic State by an uncle. I would really like to explain what happened to me there, not only for myself, but so others, the other women, are not treated like this, so that we Yazidis never have to go through anything like this again. Telling her story to prevent it happening again is also what motivates Nadia Murad. It was thanks to a neighbour that she managed to escape. She counts herself lucky. Nominated as the UN’s special ambassador for the victims of human trafficking, Nadia has become a figurehead for the Yazidi community. I’ve seen thousands of refugees go through the same thing as myself and my family. We are scattered all over the place. I also know that Islamic State is still behind us, trying to exterminate us. I think about this and this is what gives me the strength, all the strength, to continue. For their courage and the struggle they are undertaking for the Yazidi community, Lamiya and Nadia were awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought. 3.000 Yazidi women are still being held captive by the Islamic State in Iraq.