NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 8 -Her dream was to open a beauty salon in her village near the Syrian border in Iraqi Kurdistan. She ended up as the uneasy survivor and main character of Alexandria Bombach’s “On Her Shoulders”, a documentary shown in January at the Sundance Film Festival and today at the United Nations Headquarters. Yazidi massacre survivor Nadia Murad attended both events, even though Bombach film reveals Murad’s distress at having to take on the role of activist.
“For every time people tell her how strong she is, we see her discomfort with the straightjacketing mantle of campaigner that she knows she must wear to draw attention to her community’s genocide”, the trade magazine Variety wrote after the first January screening.
“On Her Shoulders” was screen today at the United Nations headquarters in front of the diplomatic corp. ‘Nadia is a role-model of courage and commitment for all of us.We must stand together against human trafficking and raise our voices for human rights”, said the Italian Permanent Representative Sebastiano Cardi after meeting Ms. Murad.
The Yazidi were targeted in 2014 by ISIS, who tried to wipe them out. Approximately 700 people were slaughtered in Murad’s small village of Kocho, leaving only 15 men alive; the women were enslaved, and though most have been liberated, their lives remain broken, eked out in refugee camps scattered around Iraq, Greece, and elsewhere.
Murad, who a few days ago received the 2018 Hillary Clinton Award for advancing Women in Peace and Security, is one of the lucky ones: her determination to tell what happened has led to her appointment as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, taken up by Amal Clooney to ensure the human rights cases she champions remain in the spotlight. Yet adopting a cause is nothing like experiencing the inhuman nightmares that created that cause. Murad’s mother and six brothers were killed by ISIS, and that doesn’t include extended family also slaughtered or enslaved as she was. (@OnuItalia)