UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Nadia Murad, the Nobel peace laureate who survived enslavement and sexual abuse by Islamic State extremists, said Wednesday the killing of the terrorist group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi still leaves thousands of his supporters who continue to commit similar crimes — and “We want to see justice.”
She told reporters that when she heard that U.S. forces killed al-Baghdadi, she talked to six of her sisters-in-law who had been in captivity and others in her family “because all of them are survivors.”
“Everyone was saying, ‘OK, but this is just Baghdadi,'” Murad said. And they all asked how about the IS fighters that raped and sold them, and who “still have our girls … our children?”
In August, the Kurdistan region’s Office for Yazidi Abductees said about 3,000 Yazidis are still missing.
“We don’t know anything about them. So, it wasn’t only Baghdadi. There is thousands of ISIS like Baghdadi,” Murad said, using another acronym for the Islamic State. “They are ready to do what he did — and they already did, and they aren’t giving up. So, we want to see more, and we want to see them (face) justice.”
Five years ago, IS militants launched attacks on Yazidi villages in northern Iraq, kidnapping, enslaving and massacring thousands. The attacks were labeled genocide by the United Nations. The Yazidis are an ancient religious minority and monotheistic faith, but al-Baghdadi’s Islamic State extremists viewed them as heretics and sought to annihilate both the people and their religious sites.
Murad spoke after a U.N. event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of a U.N. special representative to focus on sexual violence in conflict.
Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the event that “sexual violence in conflict has been called history’s greatest silence: the least reported, the least condemned.”
She said challenges “are especially acute” in areas including her native Nigeria, Congo, South Sudan, the Sahel, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Sudan.
In meetings with survivors in many of these countries, Mohammed said, she heard “the profound consequences of sexual violence,” stressing that “the cost to individuals, families, communities and the social fabric is horrifying — and sadly it carries through to next generation.”
Pramila Patten, the secretary-general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, urged governments to support a recently announced global fund to help victims of sexual violence, which was initiated by Murad and fellow Nobel peace laureate in 2018, Dr. Denis Mukwege.
Mukwege, a surgeon whose hospital in war-torn Congo has treated over 50,000 victims of sexual violence, told reporters that the biggest problem in combating sexual violence in conflict is impunity.
As an example, he said, not a single recommendation in a 2010 report by a U.N. expert about crimes in his country has been implemented.
“As we are saying about Yazidi women, I think really we need to fight against impunity, because impunity is a message to perpetrators that they can go on killing, destroying, raping without any consequences,” Mukwege told reporters.
Patten said that during a visit to Iraq she expressed concern that the ongoing prosecutions of IS members have so far only been under its anti-terrorism law, “and that there has been not a single prosecution for sexual violence crimes.”
She said the government expressed interest in cooperating with experts from her office, who are working on some 26 files of sexual violence.
Hopefully, Patten said, these “will see the light of day and will be prosecuted.”
Murad said she knows prosecutions take time but stressed: “We don’t give up. We will continue to seek justice.”