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Lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France on January 28, 2015. (Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Exclusive: Amal Clooney to represent ISIS survivor Nadia Murad and victims of Yazidi genocide

By Cynthia Allum on June 9, 2016

In a triumphant win for the thousands of Yazidi women who have been enslaved by the Islamic State, Amal Clooney has confirmed that she will represent victims of the Yazidi genocide, including ISIS survivor and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Nadia Murad.

“The European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the U.S. government and the U.K. House of Commons have all recognized that there is a genocide being perpetrated by IS against the Yazidis in Iraq,” Clooney said in a statement to Women in the World. “How can it be that the most serious crimes known to humanity are being carried out before our eyes but are not being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague?”

Clooney, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers specializing in international law and human rights law, will act as their counsel to achieve accountability for the genocide, sexual enslavement and trafficking of Yazidi girls and women by the Islamic State in Iraq. They plan to seek an International Criminal Court investigation and prosecution of the crimes committed against Nadia Murad and the Yazidi community.

Women in the World recently interviewed 23-year-old activist Nadia Murad, who was one of the thousands of Yazidi women abducted by ISIS. Murad was enslaved and raped by more than 12 ISIS fighters over a period of three months. Since her escape, Murad has been a courageous voice for women who have been impacted by ISIS’s control, and she has been a tireless crusader to end the ongoing genocide.

Recently, ISIS reportedly burned 19 Yazidi women to death for refusing to have sex with fighters. Murad told Women in the World that she was “devastated” by the alleged event, but she was not surprised. “These tyrants have shown us nothing but horror,” Murad said. “The fate of most of 3,500 Yazidi women and girls who remain in captivity is known and probably most will face a similar fate if the world does not act now. This is why I ask the world to act and act fast. The longer IS stays in power, the deeper our wound becomes.”

After months of traveling around the globe and imploring political leaders to help her cause, Murad told Women in the World that Clooney has given her confidence. “Amal and George received me at their home and opened for me their hearts,” said Murad. “They listened passionately to my story, and Amal gifted me by representing my case. Amal gave me renewed hope by being my voice.” Murad also called Clooney “an incredible, passionate woman,” who embraced her story and her pain. “She did not talk to me as a well-known world figure that people would love to take a photo with, she talked to me as a sister and guardian. She has immense power that made me proud of being a woman.”

Murad views Clooney as a formidable legal force. “It is important to establish justice, and Amal being a life-long defender of justice, it was a natural bond between her and I to be established. We are both defenders of justice, and peace seekers through justice,” Murad said. “The final goal for us all is accountability to perpetrators of genocide, and justice for victims like myself.”

Clooney also represents Yazda, a non-profit organization that has been helping the Yazidi community since the genocide began during ISIS’s attacks in August of 2014. The raids led to the deaths of an estimated 5,000 civilians, the enslavement of more than 2,000 women and girls, and the displacement of 400,000 people from the Yazidi homelands in Sinjar, the Ninevah plain, and Syria.

“We know that thousands of Yazidi civilians have been killed and that thousands of Yazidi women have been enslaved by a terrorist organization, IS, that has publicly proclaimed its genocidal intent,” Clooney said. “We know that systematic rapes have taken place, and that they are still taking place. And yet no one is being held to account. It is time that we see IS commanders in the dock in The Hague, and I am honored to have been asked to represent Nadia and the Yazidi community in their quest for legal accountability.”

“Daesh took my family, my future, my life. But what I have in my heart, and what I’ve always had, is justice,” Murad told Women in the World in an interview earlier this year. “All of the women and girls who are in their hands have justice on their side.”

And now, they have one of the world’s most powerful lawyers on their side, too.

UPDATE: Barrister Amal Clooney and Ahmed Burjus, U.K. director of Yazda, have met with senior advisors to British Prime Minister David Cameron and representatives of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office at 10 Downing Street. During the meeting, they discussed efforts to secure accountability for crimes committed by IS against the Yazidi community.

Ahmed Burjus, U.K. director of Yazda, with Amal Clooney outside the Foreign & Commonwealth Office at 10 Downing Street in London.
Ahmed Burjus, U.K. director of Yazda, with Amal Clooney outside the Foreign & Commonwealth Office at 10 Downing Street in London.


Women aim to bring ISIS to justice with their stories of captivity, torture and daring escape

Watch Yazidi activist and sex slavery survivor Nadia Murad’s powerful message to ISIS

Yazidis in the face of rape, enslavement: “We will not die … we will live”