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Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman who survived a brutal abduction by ISIS in Northern Iraq, will speak at Middlebury College on Oct. 5.

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Canceled: Nobel Peace Prize Winner Nadia Murad Will Not Give Talk at Middlebury

September 28, 2018


Talk Canceled: Nadia Murad won the Nobel Peace Prize today (October 5) and is therefore unavailable to speak at Middlebury tonight. The Middlebury College community wishes to congratulate her on this important recognition of her work to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon in war.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Nadia Murad, a survivor of the Yazidi genocide in northern Iraq by ISIS fighters, will speak at Middlebury on Friday, October 5, at 7 p.m. in Wilson Hall. She is one of thousands of Yazidi women who were abducted by ISIS in August of 2014 and forced into the ISIS sex slave trade. Murad, who lost six of her nine brothers and her mother in the Kocho massacre, escaped after a month in captivity. Her talk at Middlebury is titled “Hope Has an Expiration Date: Exploring the Plight of Victims of Ethnic and Religious Violence in the Middle East.”

Murad practices the Yazidi religion, which is indigenous to northern Iraq and also found in parts of Syria and Turkey. The ancient faith preserves pre-Islamic and pre-Zoroastrian traditions. She grew up in the Iraqi village of Kocho, a quiet agricultural area that had good relations with its neighbors, both Christian and Muslim (Arab, Kurdish, and Turkmen). She  attended secondary school and had hoped to become a history teacher or makeup artist. That all ended when ISIS attacked her homeland in Sinjar with the intention of ethnically cleansing Iraq of Yazidis.

Murad is founder of Nadia’s Initiative, a nonprofit “aimed at increasing advocacy for women and minorities and assisting to stabilize and redevelop communities in crisis.”

According to the group’s website, Nadia’s Initiative is working on efforts to establish meaningful and sustainable programming in the Sinjar region of Iraq through the Sinjar Action Fund. Following the IS attack of 2014, the Sinjar region has struggled to ensure the safety and livelihoods of the primarily Yazidi population now displaced throughout the country. The initiative seeks to establish both short- and long-term programming aimed at redeveloping Sinjar, the ancient homeland of the Yazidi minority.

Murad is the author of the memoir The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and My Fight against the Islamic State (2017, Tim Duggan Books), a New York Times Editor’s Pick. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors for her humanitarian work, including the 2016 Shakarov Prize by the EU parliament; the 2016 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize; the Clinton Global Citizen Award; and being named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2016.

Murad’s appearance at Middlebury is sponsored by the Office of the President as part of Middlebury’s ongoing Critical Conversations series. The talk is free and open to the public. Wilson Hall is on the second floor of McCullough Student Center on Old Chapel Road on the Middlebury campus.