Amal Clooney introduced her client and ISIS human trafficking survivor Nadia Murad as a new UN Goodwill Ambassador in an emotional speech today in New York.
Speaking for the first time in front of the United Nations and UN Secretary-General, the international human rights lawyer recounted Murad’s harrowing journey while shaming the world’s lackluster response to what she called the genocide of the Yazidi people.
Murad, nominated by the Iraqi government for the Nobel Peace Prize, was a 21-year-old student when ISIS invaded her village two summers ago, Clooney explained. After watching “her mother and brothers be marched off to their death,” Murad was taken captive and “traded from one ISIS fighter to another; forced to pray; forced to dress up and put make up on before being raped; and one night brutally abused by a group of men two at a time until she was unconscious.”
Murad was just “one of 6700 Yazidis taken by ISIS two summers ago to be sold in markets and on Facebook for $20 or more,” Clooney added. “Nadia’s mother was one of 80 older women who were executed and buried in an unmarked grave. Her brothers part of a group of 600 who were murdered in a single day.”
Warning the assembly to “make no mistake” that ISIS is committing genocide against the Yazidis, Clooney explained how the terrorist group has systematically established a “bureaucracy of evil” to accomplish their ends.
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“ISIS even released a pamphlet entitled “Questions and Answers on Taking Captives and Slaves” to provide more guidelines,” she said, reading from the pamphlet that answered frequently asked questions like “is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty.” (The short answer, yes.)
Given that these atrocities are still occurring “just a short plane-ride away,” Clooney told the assembly, “I wish I could say that I was proud to be here. But I am not.”
She continued, “I am ashamed, as a supporter of the UN, that states are failing to prevent or even punish genocide, because they find that their own interests get in the way. I am ashamed, as a lawyer, that there is no justice being done and barely a complaint being made about it. I am ashamed, as a woman, that girls like Nadia can have their bodies sold and used as battlefields. I am ashamed as a human being that we ignore their cries for help.”
Turning to Murad, Clooney said, “I am proud to know you, Nadia, and I am sorry that we have failed you. I hope that your appointment today can be a turning point for all victims of sexual violence and human trafficking.”
Finally, speaking directly to Murad’s former captors, the attorney said, “Nadia Murad’s spirit is not broken, and her voice will not be silenced. Because as of today, Nadia is a United Nations Ambassador who will speak for survivors all over the world.”