The Lantos Foundation honored Yezidi advocate Vian Dakhil with the organization’s top human rights award for “her efforts to combat terrorism, a crusade which made her into one of ISIS’s ‘most wanted’ women” near the US capitol in Washington, D.C.
"We need to build bridges of trust between communities so they can live beside each other," Dakhil said upon receiving the award at the Rayburn House of Representatives office building on Wednesday.
Dakhil, born in Mosul, is the only Yezidi member of the Iraqi parliament, to where she was re-elected for a second term in 2014 on the Kurdistan Democratic Party ticket.
Previous recipients included the exiled Tibetan Dalai Lama and Holocaust survivor and writer Elie Wiesel.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson granted Dakhil special permission to travel to the United States, said Katrina Lantos Swett, the foundation’s president. The US has temporarily halted processing visas for most Iraqis amid President Donald Trump’s executive order, which is being reviewed in federal court.
“It’s unfair and unjust to consider Iraq with the countries that are considered as terrorists,” Dakhil said, adding that thousands of Iraqis have shed blood to fight terrorism.
Dakhil highlighted ISIS atrocities against the Yezidi people, who have been killed, kidnapped and displaced from their homes in Shingal since 2014.
“More than 3,000 women and girls are still enslaved by ISIS,” Dakhil said. “I’m here to ask for your support in helping to free them.”
After the ceremony, Dakhil was received by Kurdistan Regional Government’s Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, and Iraq’s new ambassador to the United States, Fareed Yasseen, at the KRG’s office in Washington.
“I don’t know if a single woman can stop a genocide, but I know that Vian Dakhil certainly has tried,” Rahman said at the reception.
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