Nadia Murad had to tell President Trump that her family was killed by ISIS twice at an Oval Office event on Thursday, July 18, 2019, according to PBS.
Murad was welcomed to the Oval Office as the White House with other survivors of religious persecution on Thursday. In a video showing the interaction between Nadia Murad and President Trump, he seemed to be unaware of Murad’s story, activism, and accomplishments.
Trump was made aware that Murad was a Nobel Peace Prize winner two times by Ambassador Sam Brownback. He sat in his chair, surrounded by activists from a variety of backgrounds, as Nadia told her heart-wrenching story.
“When ISIS attack us in 2014, they killed six of my brother,” Murad told Trump. “They killed my mom. They took me to captivity with my eleven sister-in-law, with all my sister and my nieces.”
Nadia went on to explain that while ISIS is no longer a threat, they cannot go back because of conflict between the Kurdish and Iraqi governments. She asked Trump to interceded with the factions.
“But ISIS is gone?” Trump asked. “And now it’s Kurdish and…”
“And Iraqi. Iraqi government,” Murad responded. “My people cannot go back. We are not millions of people, we are only half million people. And after 2014, about 95 years — 95,000 years, Yazidi, they immigrate to Germany through a very dangerous way. Not because we want to be a refugee, but we cannot find a safe place to live. All this happened to me. They killed my mom, my six brothers,” Murad said before Trump interrupted.
“Where are they now?” Trump asked, seconds after Nadia told him they had been killed.
“They killed them. They are in the mass graves in Sinjar,” Murad said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Nadia Was Born in Iraq
According to her bio, Nadia Murad was born in 1993 in Kocho, a small village of farmers and shepherds in northern Iraq. Her family belonged to the Yazidi ethnic and religious minority.
As members of the Yazidi community, Nadia and her siblings lived a quiet life. Nadia reportedly had dreams of becoming a history teacher or opening her own beauty salon. That dream was savagely ripped away from Nadia, as well as the dreams of thousands of other Yadizis, several years later.
“I wish all Yazidis around the world a Happy New Year,” Nadia wrote on Twitter in April 2019, as she continues to advocate for the minority group. “May this new year bring peace and prosperity to the Yazidi people.”
2. Nadia’s Family Was All Killed By ISIS
“Remembering the morning of Aug 3rd, how we were left alone in the hands of the most brutal terrorist group,” Nadia wrote on Instagram on August 3, 2018. “That morning thousands of Yazidis were murdered by ISIS including many disabled and elderly whom were not able to make it to Mount Sinjar.”
In 2017, Nadia published a memoir called “The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State.” The book details Nadia’s struggle. According to the book’s description, in August 2014, when Nadia was twenty-one years old, Islamic State militants massacred the people of her village. They executed men who refused to convert to Islam and women who were too old to become sex slaves.
Six of Nadia’s brothers were killed, and her mother soon after. The bodies of her family members were swept into mass graves. Nadia and thousands of other Yazidi girls were taken to Mosul and forced into the ISIS slave trade. Luckily, Nadia escaped and lived to tell her story and become and agent of change.
3. Nadia Is an Advocate for Sexual Violence
“On International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, I call on the international community to remember the thousands of Yazidis still held in captivity,” Nadia wrote on Instagram on June 19, 2019. “It is vital we do not turn our backs on these women & children who continue to suffer the brutality of ISIS.”
Today, Nadia travels the world to speak with leaders from all backgrounds, as detailed on her social media.
According to her website, Nadia wants to build greater global awareness of sexual violence and the needs of its victims. She believes that humanitarian concerns of survivors are frequently overlooked or mischaracterized in the international press.
4. Nadia Won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018
In December 2018, the Nobel Peace Prize was jointly awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.” Nadia, who greatly admired her co-recipient, shared a message on the day she received the news.
“This morning the Nobel Committee informed me that I was selected as a co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize,” Nadia wrote on Instagram on October 5, 2018. “I am incredibly honored and humbled by their support and I share this award with Yazidis, Iraqis, Kurds, other persecuted minorities and all of the countless victims of sexual violence around the world.”
“As a survivor, I am grateful for this opportunity to draw international attention to the plight of the Yazidi people who have suffered unimaginable crimes since the genocide by Daesh, which began in 2014,” Nadia continued. “Many Yazidis will look upon this prize and think of family members that were lost, are still unaccounted for, and of the 1,300 women and children, which remain in captivity. Like many minority groups, the Yazidis, have carried the weight of historical persecution. Women, in particular, have suffered greatly as they have been, and continue to be the victims of sexual violence.”
Nadia remembers the people she lost and says that we must do everything we can to honor them. Through fiercely discouraging genocidal campaigns, rebuilding ravaged communities, supporting survivors, breaking cultural and political divides, and prioritizing humanity instead of war, we can make a better future for women, children, and minorities.
5. Nadia Founded Nadia’s Initiative
In 2016, Nadia founded Nadia’s Initiative, of which she currently serves as the President and Chairman. The nonprofit organization advocates for victims of sexual violence and dedicates time to rebuilding communities in crisis.
According to its website, “Nadia’s Initiative challenges world leaders to act – to make ‘never again’ a reality, not an empty promise. Words without action inflict the same harm and suffering as the perpetrators of mass atrocities and sexual violence.”
The organization has two arms which each focus on one initiative. The first is Survivor Action Response (SAR), which develops formal and informal plans that focus on justice for survivors. The second is Sinjar Action Fund (SAF), which sims to advance reconstruction efforts. Nadia seeded the fund by donating the entirety of her Nobel Peace Prize money.