WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan24) – Vian Dakhil, a Yezidi (Ezidi) Member of the Iraqi Parliament, was applauded for her human rights efforts after receiving the 2016 Lantos Human Rights Prize on Feb. 8.
Initially denied from entering the United States to collect her award after President Donald Trump’s recent immigration ban, Dakhil was allowed entry and attended the ceremony.
Additionally, the Ezidi MP delivered a speech encouraging the international community to continue the pursuit of human rights and justice for victims of oppression, genocide, and terrorism.
Kurdistan24 attended the award ceremony and spoke to several US diplomats about Dakhil and her impact on social justice.
Tomicah Tillemann, a former US State Department senior advisor for Hillary Clinton, told Kurdistan24 the MP’s work was an “inspiration.”
“[Dakhil] is an inspiration, she’s one of the world’s leading champions of human rights at this moment,” he said.
“This is a time when we need to see these fundamental principles of human rights [as a] common inheritance for all people,” Tillemann added.
Additionally, the President of the Lantos Foundation Katrina Lantos Swett stated they were “honored” to host the Ezidi MP at the ceremony.
“We consider [Dakhil] to be an absolute hero,” she said.
Swett pointed to Trump’s immigration ban and explained Dakhil was unfairly treated when she was denied access to the US.
“You do not put the victims and the terrorists on the same footing, you do not treat them the same way,” she stated.
The former US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein also spoke to Kurdistan24 about the importance of Dakhil’s visit.
He explained the Ezidi MP was someone who was able to “speak truth to power” not just within Iraq but to the entire world.
The Lantos Human Rights Prize was awarded to Dakhil “for her courageous defense of [Ezidi] people” after they faced genocide at the hands of the Islamic State.
Editing by Ava Homa
(Rahim Rashidi conducted the interviews in Washington, DC)