A pair of Yezidi women’s advocates have been awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The 50,000-euro prize for human rights has been handed out since 1988.Iraqis Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar, who hail from a Yezidi village in Iraq that was overrun by the self-styled “Islamic State” in 2014 were named Thursday as recipients of the Sakharov Prize. They were nominated by the Socialists and the liberal group ALDE in the European Parliament. This year’s laureates were announced at about midday by European Parliament President Martin Schulz. An award ceremony is slated for December 14.
Thousands of Yezidi girls and women were forced into sex slavery by the extremist group in recent years. The two award winners managed to escape and raise global attention to rampant human rights abuses.
Other contenders this year included Turkish journalist Can Dundar, who was sentenced in absentia to more than five years in jail for publishing information about Turkish arms shipments to Syria. He is now exiled in Germany.
Crimean Tartar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev, a human rights activist and the former chair of the Tartar parliament in Crimea, was also a tapped as a possible winner. He has been barred from entering the Ukrainian peninsula since its annexation by Russia in 2014.
Last year’s prize went to Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger who was jailed and lashed after being found guilty of insulting Islam. Previous recipients include former South African president Nelson Mandela and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The award was created in 1988 to honor individuals or groups that defend human rights and fundamental freedoms. It was named for Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov.
jar/kl (AFP, dpa)