Category Archives: Uncategorized

Nadia Murad Speaks in English for the First Time @ CGI2016


Headline: Translating Trauma from the Theater of Conflict to International Action

Lead: When receiving the 2016 Clinton Global Citizen Award, Nadia Murad, a young Yazidi woman who survived human trafficking by ISIS, delivered a speech in English for the first time. Anthea Jay Kamalnath considers languages necessary to translate pain and suffering for the international community and the next generation of war criminals.


Last night, Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a young woman who survived human trafficking by ISIS and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, spoke to an audience in English for the first time. At the Clinton Global Initiative 2016 Annual Meeting, Ms. Murad was honored with the Clinton Global Citizen Award for her courageous advocacy to end the Yazidi genocide. The Clinton Global Citizen Awards are given to “outstanding individuals who exemplify global leadership through their vision and leadership.” This year’s honorees included Dr. Hawa Abdi, Jon Bon Jovi, Adi Godrej, and President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón of Colombia. Addressing Advice Ibrahimovic, a survivor of the Srebrenica genocide, Ms. Murad reflected, in punctuated speech pausing between each word, “The two of us share a bond that no one should ever have to share.” In his treatise Monolingualism of the Other or the Prosthesis of Origin, Jacques Derrida wrote, “I wonder if one can love, enjoy oneself, pray, die from pain, or just die, plain and simple, in another language or without telling anyone about it, without even speaking at all.” Many have called, rightfully so, Ms. Murad’s narrative “a testament to the triumph of the human spirit.” Yet, the translation of pain and suffering, be it through the stories we tell our loved ones, the stories we tell ourselves, as well as those that reach us second-hand through the press, Security Council reports, law enforcement interviews, or even images captured on mobile devices and shared through social media, is never an easy undertaking. All mediums attempt to reconstruct the traumatic event and the chosen avenue may help describe the event but fail to locate a meaning that moves its audience to act.

In December 2015, Ms. Murad briefed the UN Security Council at its first-ever thematic session on human trafficking in conflict. With grace and courage beyond her years, she shared her account of unspeakable violence committed by ISIS when it took Sinjar on August 3, 2014. Earlier this year, the Government of Iraq and Norwegian Parliament nominated Ms. Murad for the Nobel Peace Prize. On September 16, 2016, Ms. Murad was appointed a UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. She is the first survivor of atrocities to be awarded with this distinction. In the past year alone, Ms. Murad has lobbied governments, UN agencies, international organizations, civil society groups, and the public far and wide, always speaking in plain sight, unrobed, and with her full name.

Since Ms. Murad’s plea for help at the Security Council in December 2015, response from the international community has been slow. In June 2016, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria determined that ISIS has committed, and continues to commit, the crime of genocide, as well as crimes against humanity and war crimes, against the Yazidis. Its report included recommendations to the United Nations, the Governments of Syria and Iraq, and the international community at-large. The Commission called on the Security Council to act and its recommendations included a referral to the International Criminal Court or an ad hoc tribunal, engaging its Chapter VII powers, including regular briefings by the Commission of Inquiry as part of the Security Council formal agenda, and supporting a finding that ISIS has committed, and continues to commit, the crime of genocide, as well as crimes against humanity and war crimes, against the Yazidis. This past summer, British barrister and celebrity-wife Ms. Amal Clooney announced her representation of Ms. Murad and other victims of the Yazidi genocide and pledged to take ISIS to task at trial before the International Criminal Court.

Yet if history has imparted any lesson, particularly in the context of slavery and genocide, it is that these acts of violence will reoccur with a haunting refrain, each time with new images, new reports, and new modes of cruelty. The Commission of Inquiry on Syria’s June 2016 report noted that ISIS continues to employ technological and scientific advancements to its advantage, such as using birth control to facilitate sexual slavery and sexual violence and social media platforms like Telegraph and Facebook to hold online slave auctions. Counter-trafficking efforts, like counter-terrorism or countering violent extremism strategies, only go so far if their only aims are protection or punishment. Even prevention, if its focus is solely on victim assistance, fails if it does not consider how to change the mindsets of present and future perpetrators of these crimes. They belong to an audience that does not grace United Nations chambers. The international community must learn to speak their language and change their mindsets before they act too. This requires forging new partnerships, specifically with the private sector and media, and underscores the importance of cross-sectoral forums like the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. Otherwise, Ms. Murad will join a sea of speechless emissaries from past and present conflicts and her efforts will be in vain.

Author: Anthea Jay Kamalnath

Key Word: Yazidi genocide, Nadia Murad

Propose Tags: Clinton Global Initiative, Clinton Global Citizen Awards, Nadia Murad, Yazidi genocide, Human Trafficking, United Nations, Security Council

Date: September 20, 2016


Checklist for All for the Next Four Years of Trump Presidency: What You Can Do for Your Country

1) Find issues you care about.
2) Become a lobbyist, draw attention to injustice over the next four years, from local to global communities.

3) Donate to or give time to local legal aid or human rights nonprofits in conservative states that will be hit the hardest.

4) Run for office or support progressive candidates so we can turn the legislature back to blue.

5) Use storytelling as a way to talk to our brothers and sisters who voted for Trump. Not everyone is a bigot, some are lost.

6) Use international bodies like the UN to put pressure on the US on issues from climate change to indigenous rights.

7) Finally, the most important thing you can do is stay. And remind young people that America doesn’t have to be this way.



I believe we have many loves in this life and, ultimately, each one teaches us how to love ourselves. Similarly, we have many selves. Reincarnation is a metaphor for all possible within the soul, born again and again – forever beautiful.

Skid Row


Tonight, I had the privilege of joining the Monday Night Mission in shaking hands with and handing out meals to the residents of Skid Row. Mel’s Mission is a unique organization, focused on individual assistance. Each person is welcomed by a row of greeters and before a meal is served, their name is shouted with joy by a group forming a human shield for security purposes around food and other volunteers. I was struck by the individual humanity of each person I met – tall, short, old, straight, gay, trans, young, so so many elderly people on Skid Row from all races – Chinese, Latino, African-American… There were no children but other volunteers remarked that would not be an uncommon sighting. In the beginning, I would hold their hands and introduce myself and try to say something nice but towards the end I changed the line to “No, thank you for joining us.” We forget how lucky we are. How much dignity is required to ask for help. There were grown men in tears talking about deaths of their wives, such polite proud boys twice my height… Every single Los Angeles politician should be required to stand in that line. There is no excuse for any California government official for not visiting the residents of Skid Row. On Saturday, November 5 at 4:00 p.m. on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, Angelenos will gather to march for Proposition HHH which will create 10,000 homes for the homeless in the City of Angeles. One in three homeless persons in LA is a woman. 50% of women on Skid Row are raped in their first year. 1/3 of homeless women in Los Angeles shelters are sexually assaulted. We must do more to serve our city’s most vulnerable. Human dignity should not be so hard to protect.

I was also struck by the love young Angelenos showed for their brothers and sisters on Skid Row.

The Age of Shamelessness

If this election cycle and recent cyber attacks have taught us anything, it is that we all need to get really comfortable with who we are. This is the age of shamelessness for politicians, emissaries, hackers, trolls, stars, lovers, old men, young men, brothers-in-love alike. It is better to own a crisis instead of run away from it. It is better to own a failure than hide it.

Luke 19:41

Given our tumultuous political cycle, and the tragic events across the nation of the past year, I have been thinking about what it means when your country – or the world at-large – breaks your heart. To be broken-hearted, whether in the face of such injustice, personal tragedy, or unrequited love itself, is to be rendered into in a state of true humility. When we give up our pretensions of being able to control reality, we accept our limitedness. This limitedness is paradoxically the door to fullness – our own humanity itself. Without a broken spirit, we could never feel the full spectrum of what it means to be human – necessary for empathy. Without a broken heart, we could never rebuild something better, be it a world or a relationship, etched from a longing for what should or could have been. It is important to remain sensitive to the senseless. I suppose it is possible to have unrequited love for your country.

The Problem of the Casual


Recently, a friend described “the problem of the casual” as lying at the root of our modern disconnect in discussions about race in America. The idea, he said, that people of color experience a different, more difficult America was best captured in a scene from The Landlord, a film from the 1970s in which Beau Bridges is a slumlord who romances his black tenant. After she gives birth, she insists that he raise their child as she wants the newborn to have a white father “so that he can grow up casual, like his Daddy.”

%d bloggers like this: