Raw in War
Novaya Gazeta [Moscow]: Vian Dakhil Awarded 2014 Anna Politkovskaya Award PDF E-mail


novaya gazeta  

6 октября в Лондоне восьмой раз вручают Премию имени Анны Политковской. Премия учреждена международной неправительственной организацией RAW in War (Reach All Women in War — «Помочь каждой женщине в огне войны»). Первым лауреатом премии в 2007 году стала Наталья Эстемирова. В 2008-м — афганская правозащитница Малалай Джоя, в 2009 году премией было отмечено женское движение Ирана One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality. В 2010 году лауреатом стала доктор Халима Башир, правозащитница из Судана. В 2011-м награду получила журналистка, адвокат по правам человека Разан Зайтунех из Сирии. Погибшая в Сирии Мэри Колвин стала лауреатом 2012 года. В прошлом году высокую награду получила пакистанская школьница и правозащитница Малала Юзуфсай. Лауреатом этого года назвали Виан Дахиль, депутата иракского парламента, единственного представителя езидского народа в нижней палате.

Накануне награждения Виан написала письмо Анне Политковской: оно будет озвучено на церемонии вручения в Лондоне. Публикуется впервые.

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Vian Dakhil (Iraq): Winner of the 2014 Anna Politkovskaya Award PDF E-mail


RAW in WAR’s 2014 Anna Politkovskaya Award is awarded to Vian Dakhil from Iraq, on behalf of all Yazidi and Iraqi women besieged by Islamic State

2014 winner 

Today, Monday 6th October, RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR) celebrates the courage of Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi member of the Iraqi Parliament, who has courageously spoken out and tirelessly campaigned to protect the Yazidi people from the terror of Islamic State.

Ahead of the anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder on Tuesday 7th October, RAW in WAR honours Vian Dakhil with the 2014 Anna Politkovskaya Award for her courage to speak out and to give a voice to the many Yazidi and Iraqi women and girls whose voices cannot be heard. Vian Dakhil, the only ethnic Yazidi in the Iraqi Parliament, has bravely drawn attention to the fate of the Yazidi people and, despite being injured in a helicopter crash while delivering aid to survivors on Mt Sinjar, she continues to advocate and to mobilize support for her people, for the refugees and for those trapped in towns and villages under the regime of Islamic State. 

On accepting the award Vian Dakhil said: 

“It is a pleasure for anyone to be honored with an award, but it is rare to see a Yazidi person who can feel happy from the bottom of their heart, due to the fact that our girls, women and children are in captivity as hostages of the most dangerous organization in the world. I make no secret of the fact that I’m proud to be honored with your esteemed award, but the real way to honor someone is by protecting their freedom and rights. It is by bringing our prisoners back.”

The RAW in WAR Nominations Committee for the 2014 Anna Politkovskaya Award is deeply humbled by Vian Dakhil's  courage to become the voice of the Yazidi community and by her determination  to campaign for the protection of all Yazidi and other Iraqi women under Islamic State, despite the danger she is facing as a Yazidi woman politician opposed  to Islamic State.  

Yazidi refugees 

On Vian Dakhil receiving the 2014 Anna Politkovskaya Award, Lord Frank Judd, a member of the 2014 Award Nominations Committee, said: 

“It is impossible to praise too highly the courage and integrity of the many women like Vian Dakhil who are standing firm and refusing to be cowed by the sinister, cruel and inhumane threat from Islamic State. Vian Dakhil, with her position in the Iraqi Parliament, is a fine example and a gigantic challenge to all of us who operate within relatively comfortable democracies. Our solidarity with her should be total.”

According to media reports, among those held hostage by Islamic State there are more than 5000 Yazidis, about 3000 of them women and girls. Those who managed to flee report about women and girls being raped and abused, forced to convert to Islam and traded for cash or weapons for the further expansion of Islamic State. 

In her passionate call to the Iraqi Parliament in August 2014 to act and save the Yazidis, Vian Dakhil said: 

My family is being butchered, just like all Iraqis are being killed….And today, the Yazidis are being slaughtered. Brothers, away from all the political disputes, we want humanitarian solidarity. I am speaking here in the name of humanity. Save us! Save us! ….For 48 hours, 30,000 families have been besieged in the Sinjar Mountains. Without water. Without food. They are dying. Seventy babies have died so far from thirst and suffocation. Fifty elderly people have died from the deteriorating conditions. Our women are being taken as slaves and sold in the slave markets. Mr Speaker, we demand that the Iraqi parliament intervenes immediately to stop this massacre!”

Yazidi women 

Several courageous women lawyers, politicians and journalists in Iraq have been detained, disappeared or killed by Islamic State just because they were women who refused to be silenced or who dared to criticize the regime of terror. Vian Dakhil continues to use her status and influence as a politician to support and protect those women and girls who lack the means to reach out to the outside world. 

By presenting Vian Dakhil with this year’s Anna Politkovskaya AwardRAW in WAR honors all women in Iraq, those detained in Mosul or elsewhere in the North, as well as the many unknown Iraqi women who are resisting Islamic State by recording life under its rule and by collecting money and humanitarian aid for those in need. Today RAW in WAR calls on the international community to do all in its power to protect the people of Iraq from the genocidal warfare that has been unleashed against the Yazidis and other minorities; to protect the women targeted by Islamic State; to end the regime of terror; and to bring stability and peace to the region.  

On receiving the Anna Politkovskaya Award, Vian Dakhil will join a group of remarkable women human rights defenders who received the Anna Politkovskaya Award in the past, including Malala Yousafzai (2013), Marie Colvin (2012), Razan Zaitouneh (2011), Dr. Halima Bashir (2010), Leila Alikarami on behalf of the One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality in Iran (2009), Malalai Joya (2008) and Natalia Estemirova (2007).

                          For more information on the 2014 Anna Politkovskaya Award, download the leaflet 

2014 leaflet 


Vian Dakhil's Acceptance Speech - Are We Really In The Third Millennium? PDF E-mail


yazidis desert

Published in Russian in Novaya Gazeta [Moscow]

Published in English in Huffington Post [London] 

Dear absent yet present Anna,

On the eighth anniversary of your unfortunate departure, violations of human rights and encroachment by governments, extremist organizations, radical parties and others on the freedom of human beings continue to occur every day. Perhaps at a rate that is faster than anyone could expect, particularly in our Middle East, which is afflicted with many social and political ills.

Perhaps you didn’t hear, Anna, that there is a religious minority living mostly in Iraq (Kurdistan region) whose number throughout the whole world is nearly one million.

It is also likely that you didn’t hear about the woes and massacre campaigns that they have sustained throughout the course of their history, unbeknownst to the vast majority of the world population inhabiting the seven continents.

My dear Anna, on August 3, 2014, the so-called Islamic State (abbreviated as ISIL) invaded the Sinjar region, located 124 km to the west of Mosul province in Iraq. Sinjar is inhabited mostly by my fellow Yazidis. Perhaps many people have heard and learned about the massacres, displacement and kidnapping of women and children. But only a few know the details of what happened. Unfortunately, I think I won’t be able to get enough time to summarize that heinous crisis, even partially.

There is a Yazidi woman who survived death and she is now looking for refugee shelters in Dohuk province. She has a list of 42 of her relatives who were all killed or kidnapped, including 20 girls who were captured and might have been sold to unknown parties inside or outside Iraq.

Six Yazidi girls who had been kidnapped hanged themselves to wash off the shame of rape in ISIL prisons in Mosul, according to Yazidi activists.

There are reports about 3 Yazidi sisters who committed suicide in ISIL prisons by way of cutting their wrists and bleeding to death to escape the hell of rape and humiliation.

Anna, could you believe that, in Koju village south of Sinjar, 700 people have been kidnapped, who were mostly women and children aged 12 years and below? As for the boys, they were 13 years and older, while the rest of the men were killed in cold blood, and there were 413 of them.

We have enough sad and painful stories to write several books, not one. But unfortunately, there are certain events for which there are no witnesses. We are confident that brutal atrocities have taken place and that entire families have been wiped out completely, either by killing or by kidnapping the young and married girls without mercy or sympathy, as if we were in the Dark Ages.

The second tragedy is that dozens of Yazidi girls kidnapped by ISIL in Mosul have been sold at $150 per girl. Also, dozens were sold in Syria, and all of them are being treated as maids. The rest of the tragedy is that there are around 7,000 Yazidis who were either killed, injured or kidnapped or are missing, in addition to 2,500 Yazidi girls and women who are still languishing in various prisons inside Iraq. We don’t know the number of times they have been raped or physically violated by ISIL elements who have flocked to our country from all over the world, including backward and civilized countries.

Rape is not the only thing that is endured by our prisoners; there is also a process that aims to force them to desert their religion and adopt Islam by force, and there are photos and documents to prove that. Some of them have been published by the terrorist group ISIL itself on its online website.

It is a pleasure for anyone to be honored with an award, but it is rare to see a Yazidi person who can feel happy from the bottom of their heart, due to the fact that our girls, women and children are in captivity as hostages of the most dangerous organization in the world.I make no secret of the fact that I’m proud to be honored with your esteemed award, but the real way to honor someone is by protecting their freedom and rights. It is by bringing our prisoners back . 

Many times I ask myself: are we really in the third millennium? Or are we living in the Middle Ages, a time when the law of the jungle reigns supreme and the strong does as it pleases to the weak, killing the latter’s women, kidnapping them, selling them and forcing them together with their children to change their religion?

Anna, do you believe that this has happened and continues to happen in our countries?

Before Sinjar’s catastrophe, we were demanding freedom, democracy and equality along with the rest of the Iraqis. But now, we are demanding that our prisoners be released and demanding to know the whereabouts of our people. And we are demanding international protection in the future.

As for rights and liberties, the two things for which you paid with your life, they are priorities that have been placed on the back burner for now, Anna. That is because we are living in a country where there are still people who want to rule us with the laws of the Dark Ages.

(Click here to read in ARABIC or RUSSIAN ) 

We Want Justice for Natasha: Impunity Continues PDF E-mail
 Natalia Estemirova

Five years ago today, our friend and the first recipient of the Anna Politkovskaya Award, Natalia Estemirova (or Natasha as we called her among friends) was abducted and murdered in Chechnya. 

Until today, nobody has been brought to justice for this crime, committed in broad daylight, despite DNA of the possible perpetrators and other evidence at hand. Five years on, and despite repeated assurances by the Russian authorities to investigate all leads into her murder, the investigation is not moving forward.

Natalia's selfless work to end human rights violations and to seek justice for the crimes committed in Chechnya, continue to inspire us. Natalia Estemirova fought against injustice and exposed the truth about atrocities in Chechnya. For this she paid with her life. Her work on behalf of the victims of the war in Chechnya, her condemnation of abuses against the Chechen people and her commitment to seeking the truth despite the danger to her life, are an example of true human spirit. 

We at RAW in WAR are outraged and saddened that the authorities have failed so far to identify those who killed Natalia and those, who stand behind her murder. In May 2014, a jury at the Moscow City Court found five men guilty of organizing and committing the murder of Anna Politkovskaya. However, while the killers of Anna have been convicted, those who ordered the murder are still at large. 

Today, we call for justice for Natalia’s murder. In addition, we call for respect and for protection of human rights defenders in Chechnya and elsewhere in the Russian Federation. Those, who follow in the footsteps of Natalia are increasingly accused of being "foreign agents", “unpatriotic” and they are presented as “making money from other people’s misery”. Regrettably, this campaign of intimidation against human rights defenders, steered by the government, does give us little reason to hope that the authorities will protect human rights defenders and ensure justice for crimes committed against them. 

We continue to call on the Russian Government to stop the campaign against human rights defenders and to support their work in the name of Natalia Estemirova, Anna Politkovskaya and others like them, who lost their lives while defending human rights. We will continue to re-print our open letter from 15 July 2009 , the day Natalia was abducted and killed, until justice is done.



15 July 2014 

Join in support and add your voice for justice by signing the petition and adding a comment on RAW in WAR’s Facebook page  and Twitter @RawinWar


Film Editor: Elislava Abadzhieva 
Justice will be done only when those who ordered Anna Politkovskaya's murder are brought to account PDF E-mail

Anna Politkovskaya



RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR) is concerned that while the killers of human rights journalist Anna Politkovskaya have been convicted, those who ordered the murder are still at large. 


On 20 May, a jury at the Moscow City Court found five men guilty of organizing and committing the murder of Anna Politkovskaya. Anna's family and their lawyers have expressed respect for the jury's decision but are still waiting to hear why Anna was killed, and for those who stand behind her murder to be identified and brought to justice.


RAW in War joins Anna's family and colleagues in their call for justice for Anna. Anna spoke truth to power and we are convinced that she was killed to silence her. To reveal the whole truth, the authorities need to identify the people who paid for the killing and who ordered Anna's murder.


RAW in WAR continues to campaign for justice for Anna and for Natalia Estemirova, the first recipient of the Anna Politkovskaya Award, who was also brutally abducted and killed in 2009 in Chechnya to silence her human rights work. If their murders go unsolved, impunity for those who committed the human rights violations they exposed will prevail.


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