(RNS) Vian Dakhil captured the world’s attention two years ago when she made an impassioned plea to save the Yazidi religious minority from annihilation by the Islamic State group in northern Iraq.
As the only female Yazidi in the Iraqi Parliament, Dakhil fought tirelessly for international assistance to stop the violence, including sexual slavery, targeting her beleaguered people.
Now she has been awarded the Lantos Human Rights Prize in Washington, D.C. But she is unlikely to make the ceremony on Feb. 8, since President Donald Trump banned all travelers from Iraq.
“I’m not against any president who is willing to protect his country and his people. He has the right to restrict the entrance of terrorists to U.S.,” Dakhil said.
“I just feel sad that we who have suffered from this terrorism inside Iraq, have now been treated the same as them. With this ban Mr. Trump has put the torturer and the victim on the same level.”
Dakhil has worked tirelessly on behalf of up to 700,000 Yazidis threatened by the Islamic State group’s ethnic-cleansing campaign, and personal death threats have not deterred her.
“The Yazidis were the most vulnerable and faced the worst sort of violence when ISIS attacked our villages in Sinjar,” she said. “They kidnapped women and raped them and killed the men. We still have more than 1,000 missing families under ISIS control and we are unsure about their fate.”
Josephine McKenna has more than 30 years' experience in print, broadcast and interactive media. Based in Rome since 2007, she covered the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and election of Pope Francis and canonizations of their predecessors. Now she covers all things Vatican for RNS.