Nobel Winner Nadia Murad Puts A Voice To Yazidi Minority's Message
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
When the Nobel committee said that Nadia Murad was one of the recipients of this year's Peace Prize, they cited her courage.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
BERIT REISS-ANDERSEN: She refused to accept the social codes that required women to remain silent and ashamed of their abuses to which they had been subjected.
INSKEEP: Four years ago, Islamic State fighters enslaved thousands of women and girls in Iraq. Many were repeatedly raped and sexually abused in other ways.
NOEL KING, HOST:
Nadia Murad was one of those women. She was only 21 years old at the time and from a tiny but ancient religious minority group, the Yazidi.
NADIA MURAD: The Yazidi people, they are very - they just want a simple life. They can - they can live with any up in Iraq, and even here. But they are - they are very peace people. And they...
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Peaceful, yeah.
MURAD: Yeah, they just want to live in peace and feel safe.
KING: To feel safe. I talked to Nadia Murad in NPR's Washington studios earlier this week. It was her first full interview since she won the Nobel Peace Prize. With the help of an interpreter, she spoke mostly in Kurmanji, which is her native language, about what she now hopes to achieve.
MURAD: (Through interpreter) We have said it over and over, that it's important for us that justice is done. Out of the 6,000 Yazidi women who were abducted by ISIS, we hope to see at least one ISIS member who did this to one Yazidi woman be punished for the crimes they've committed against Yazidi women. And we hope to see them in court, in public.
KING: I think it is easy to see winning the Nobel Peace Prize as a kind of culmination or end of a person's career. You've - you've done what you set out to do. In your case, at 24 years old, that is clearly not true. You clearly feel like you have a lot left to do. What is next for you after winning this prize?
MURAD: I'm 25.
KING: You're 25.
MURAD: Yes. (Through interpreter) After I delivered our message and we have, as a community, delivered our message, we would like to see the reconstruction of our homeland in Sinjar take place and to provide security for Yazidis so that they can go back. And we would like to see this never happen again, not to any other community or any other religion or any other group.
KING: Are you angry about what happened?
MURAD: (Through interpreter) I can't just simply say I am angry because that word only will not describe how much we have suffered. But what I can say is that we are right. We have the right to speak about this. We have the right to deliver our message.
KING: If anger doesn't quite capture it, what is the word? What do you feel every day?
MURAD: (Through interpreter) You know, like I said, what makes us feel good at least is that we are delivering a peaceful message. We are not delivering a message to hurt anyone. When I meet with students and presidents and anyone, I speak about what happened to us. And I deliver my message with a clear conscience, that I advocate for our people.
KING: During our half-hour interview, Nadia Murad seemed at times pretty shattered but also strong. She says that strength comes from her Yazidi identity. She calls the rape of Yazidi women and the murder of Yazidi men, including many people in her own family, a genocide. She wants these atrocities to be classified as war crimes. But even after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, she's not sure if that's going to happen. And she sometimes finds herself frustrated.
MURAD: (Through interpreter) Sometimes I feel that my message has not been clearly heard. But that is not my fault because I feel like too much is going on in terms of women being victims. And it's not the first time, and certainly it's not the last time. And perhaps every year a woman someplace in the world or groups of women or thousands will be victims of sexual violence or terrorist groups. And so I feel like this is not new to people. And it's not going to be the last time. And people have become numb to this kind of news.
KING: Your mother - your mother was killed by the Islamic State. And I wonder, when you think about her now, what do you think she would think about everything that you've done? What do you think she would think about you having won a Nobel Peace Prize, being the voice of the Yazidi community to the rest of the world? How do you think your mom would feel?
MURAD: (Through interpreter) When I received this news, it was around probably 5 a.m. in the morning in the U.S. And the first thing I did was look at her picture and cry because I felt that I needed her - and not just her, but the 80 women - the 80 older women that were with her and that were all executed for no reason, just for being Yazidi and for being older women. I feel like they will be proud.
KING: Proud, yeah. You are 25 years old. You've just gotten engaged. Congratulations.
KING: Your life is not what you thought it was going to be just a couple years ago. What kind of life do you want for yourself now?
MURAD: (Through interpreter) Yes, we have gotten engaged, but it's still difficult for me to deal with all of this. As much as I try to come close to finding a simple life, things come up, and we have to deal with them and still continue this work. But I hope that I can. I want to learn English. I work on my English in school. And I want to create a family with my fiance and be able to live a simple life and just be safe.
KING: I hope you get exactly what you want.
MURAD: Thank you.
KING: It was really a pleasure speaking to you. Nadia Murad, thank you so much.
MURAD: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF HELIOS' "VAINGLORY")
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.