YEREVAN — Mirza Dinnayi received the fourth annual Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity on October 20 in a large public ceremony in Freedom Square in Yerevan as part of the Aurora Forum events (see more on this in forthcoming issues of the Mirror-Spectator).
Dinnayi is cofounder and director of Luftbrücke Irak [Airbridge Iraq], which has helped save the lives of Yazidis and other victims of terror in Iraq. Of slight build, Dinnayi has an engaging and, at least on the surface, easygoing temperament, with a good sense of humor. This stands in contrast with all the terrible things he has witnessed in his life.
As Aurora Prize Laureate, Dinnayi will receive a $1,000,000 grant as Aurora Prize Laureate, which will expand the scope of humanitarian work in the region. He has chosen to divide this sum among three organizations which provide medical care and rehabilitation to ISIS terror victims. Aside from Air Bridge Iraq, these include the Shai Fund and the Social, Educational, and Economic Development (SEED) Foundation https://www.seedkurdistan.org/.
The American Shai Fund (https://theshaifund.org/) works to defend religious minorities, primarily in the Middle East and Africa, including the minorities living in the Nineveh plain in Iraq. Its president and founder, Charmaine Hedding, declared at a Yerevan press conference held immediately after the Aurora Prize was announced, “I just want to say to the Aurora Forum, you are a light… the light that you have shed on some of these issues is absolutely phenomenal. It is an honor and privilege to be with you all here this evening and to be part of this fantastic event, and also more specifically, to highlight the plight of the Yazidi minorities that have been sex slaves, that have been sold in sex markets like we have never seen before. In our time, I never thought that we would see this and to not do anything. For those of us to say never again, not on our watch, for those of us who read about the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, how can we not get involved? The call tonight is to be a light, like the Aurora Forum, and to stand up for people like this, persecuted religious minorities. Mirza, it is a privilege to be here with you.”
Dinnayi said at the same press conference that the SEED Foundation, based in Erbil, is “actually the best NGO in all Kurdistan and Iraq because of the professionality of Mrs. Sherri Kraham Talabany,” its president. Talabany said, “Our mission is to help survivors of violence and conflict in their recovery. …We are a development NGO, a human rights NGO. We provide long-term care, mental health, psychotherapy, case management, legal protection services. We work with Yazidi survivors of Daesh. We work with survivors of trafficking, survivors of human slavery and we provide long-term care, because if you don’t treat the survivors of trauma, you’ll continue the cycle of violence in Iraq that has plagued the country for decades.”
Path to Humanitarianism