Farhad Roto

Paris, France

Farhad  Roto

Farhad’s story began in 1994, when he was born into the Ezidi indigenous ethnic community in Shingal, northern Iraq. Despite growing up in poverty, doing his homework around an oil lamp every night, and working alongside his studies, Farhad graduated high school in 2013 with excellent grades. However, in August 2014, his region was invaded by the so-called Islamic State, who waged an elaborate genocidal campaign to destroy his people. Men were killed, women and girls were abducted, and young boys were taken to be brainwashed. Farhad survived the genocide with his life, but lost everything, including his best friends and classmates. With other survivors, he ended up in an Internally Displaced Camp in northern Iraq.  

Farhad was able to continue his biology studies at the University of Duhok while in the camp, and became active in supporting his community. He began to volunteer with several international organizations operating in the camps that were offering relief to the many displaced Ezidis and others. However, after staying in the camp for three and half years, Farhad decided he needed to begin life again and left for France, where he obtained refugee status. With the help of a dynamic team of volunteer students that he met in Paris, Farhad was able to register his own humanitarian organization in June 2019, and today he is the founder and president of Voice Of Ezidis. Voice Of Ezidis aims to spread awareness of the Ezidi people and the genocide they endured in 2014, advocating for their fundamental human rights through education, integration and lobbying. It also directly helps Ezidi refugees in France and those displaced in Iraq and in refugee camps.  

Farhad also presents his work and story in podcasts such as “ Paris Reimagined”, “Farhad Shamo Roto on Defending the Cause of Ezidi People”, and broadcasts with RFI. Today he believes he can show how those who are marginalised, or are perceived as weak and powerless, can stand up and make a change. During his studies, he has never stopped working for the cause of the Ezidi community, which still lives an ongoing genocide. 

During this period of turmoil, Farhad’s academic achievements have remained strong. His first master’s thesis was on “Rights of Religious Minorities in Iraq Social movements & Diplomacy” and his second, written this year, will be in the area of Arbitration, Prevention and Conflict Resolution. In 2019, he was the recipient of an award from the Institut de l'Engagement, and in 2020 he was named an Obama Foundation European Leader. 

If he wins the Prize, Farhad will be able to invest in his studies with a quality computer, but the rest of the funds will go to Voice Of Ezidis' humanitarian projects. Farhad would also help one of his friends in Iraq who quit studying after the genocide, so that he can continue his studies instead of working to survive.