Ezidi activist and 2018 Nobel peace prize winner Nadia Murad said ongoing disputes between the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) represent a major obstacle hampering the return of thousands of displaced Ezidis to their home areas.
Nadia’s comments came at a speech she delivered in a three-day conference on religious freedom which kicked off on Tuesday July 16 in Washington.
Nadia Murad, who has also been chosen as UN ambassador for peace, addressing the gathering at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom conference spoke about the atrocities committed by the Islamic State group against her community.
“I lost 9 family members during this genocide. 21 women and girls from my family were taken into captivity, including myself. Today, I have 19 nieces and nephews that will grow up without fathers. ISIS killed their fathers because they were Ezidis,” she said.
The Ezidi activist indicated that although ISIS has been largely defeated, the Ezidi community and other religious minorities “continue to feel the lasting effects of genocide,” particularly as nearly 350,000 Ezidis are still stranded in IDP camps in the Kurdistan Region, and over 3,000 Ezidi women and children remain missing.
She emphasized that disputes between Baghdad and Erbil over her hometown Shingal must end. “Without a solution between them, Ezidis will continue to be the victims of their conflict,” she added.
Nadia Murad called for issues of local governance in Shingal to be resolved. A step she considered crucial to help 80,000 Ezidis who have returned to Shingal “to survive and rebuild.”
She called upon the international community to urge Baghdad and Erbil to better integrate religious minorities into the Security Forces. “These efforts will enable religious minorities to have a hand in their own security and also prevent future genocidal efforts.”
She also stressed the need to prosecute ISIS members for committing genocide against Ezidis and other minorities.
On the sidelines of the conference, Nadia Murad along with a group of 27 survivors of religious persecution met US president Donal Trump in the Oval Office, where she reiterated the need to resolve Baghdad-Erbil territorial and political disputes to enable Ezidi IDPs to return home.
Shingal, a district 120 km west of Ninewa, is predominantly-populated by the Ezidi religious community. The town was overrun by ISIS in August 2014 and was recaptured by Iraqi forces in November 2015.