As she addresses the audience through an interpreter at a public seminar in Australia, Nadia Murad Basee Taha is spell-binding. She is slight, somber, with long dark hair. To describe her in this way isn’t meant to glamorize her, it’s to underscore how incredible it is that someone so young, a mere 21 years old, can survive such unimaginable horror.
Nadia Murad, who was previously raped and enslaved by ISIS, testified in December 2015, before the United Nations regarding the terror she faced. Today she has been named a UN Goodwill Ambassador on human trafficking.
Describing Murad as “a young, brave Yazidi woman, who managed to flee ISIS in northern Iraq,” the selection committee said she was nominated for her work as a human rights activist.
“Today a human rights activist, she brings the plight of the Yazidi community, in particular the forced sexual enslavement and human trafficking of women and children captured by ISIS, to the forefront of international attention.”
The Václav Havel Prize is awarded annually by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), with the Václav Havel Library and Charta 77 Foundation. The prize honours “outstanding civil society action in the defence of human rights in Europe and beyond,” explains the Václav Havel Library.
Václav Havel was a playwright and leader of Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution in 1989 that brought an end to communism in the eastern European country. He became the president of Czechoslovakia and, after the country split, the president of the Czech Republic.
Murad tweeted that she was “honoured” by the nomination.
— Nadia Murad (@NadiaMuradBasee) September 6, 2016