Yazidi human rights activist bursts into tears on return to her village for the first time in three years

Nadia Murad, who endured hundreds of sexual assaults during her time as Isis’ captive, cries on being reunited with her brother in emotional homecoming

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The Independent Online

Nadia Murad, the Yazidi woman who so bravely told the world about the horrors inflicted on her people by Isis, has made an emotional return home to her village in northern Iraq for the first time since 2014.

Ms Murad, now 24, broke down in tears hugging her brother, a fighter who alongside the Shia paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) managed to liberate Kojo earlier this week. 

She also visited her old home, collecting clothing which belonged to her mother, who was killed by Isis because she was considered old to be enslaved. 

“I have been waiting for this day for nearly three years,” she told a Reuters photographer embedded with the PMF unit, standing on the rooftop of her old school and looking at her home town.

The rights activist was captured by Isis soldiers after they swept through Iraq from neighbouring Syria three years ago. She was sold as a slave and taken to the city of Mosul, where she endured months of sexual and physical abuse before escaping.

She gained worldwide recognition after testifying at the UN in 2015 about what happened when Isis invaded the village, lining up and shooting around 600 men - including six of her brothers and stepbrothers.

“We hoped our fate would be to be killed like the men instead of being sold and raped by Syrians, Iraqis... Tunisians and Europeans,” Ms Murad said.

Since escaping Ms Murad has become an advocate for the Yazidis and for refugee and women's rights in general. In 2016, she and another Yazidi woman, Lamiya Aji Bashar, received the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought.

The UN believes the crimes committed against Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority - whom the group considers devil worshippers - amount to a genocide.

Escaped Yazidi Isis sex slaves win Sakharov prize

Ms Murad is lobbying the Iraqi government and UN for an investigation and official documentation of the thousands of unmarked graves which litter the region. 

Isis’ stronghold of Mosul is about to fall to US-backed Iraqi coalition troops, and the organisation has been dislodged from much of Sinjar, the province which most Yazidis call home. 

While it may be defeated as a land-holding force, it is expected the group will morph into an insurgency, creating instability in Iraq for many years to come. 

Reuters contributed reporting

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