Friday 3 August 2018

Representative Abdul Rahman on Yezidi Genocide: ‘We must do all we can to help the survivors’

Washington, DC, USA ( - Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman delivered opening remarks at an event in Washington, DC to mark the fourth anniversary of the Yezidi genocide.

The discussion on August 3 was co-hosted by the Hudson Institute and the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) and the Representative’s remarks were delivered alongside Iraqi Ambassador Dr. Fareed Yasseen and RFI Executive Director Kent Hill.

Representative Abdul Rahman said, ‘We must never forget the crimes that ISIS committed four years ago when it rampaged across Iraq in 2014 and on August 3 targeted Shingal or Sinjar and other parts of Nineveh. We must do all we can to help the survivors, to restore their homes and livelihoods and to seek justice for the victims of ISIS crimes.’

She said, ‘The challenge for us is to keep the memory of these horrific tragedies alive, to preserve the dignity of those we have lost, and at the same time to move forward without allowing hatred and division to grow.’ She called for Iraq, Kurdistan and the international community to help the country change its laws enact reforms and start to stabilize and invest so that reconciliation can be achieved.

Ambassador Yasseen said, ‘Nothing is worse [than what has happened to the Yezidis]. We’ve got 200,000 displaced. We’ve got almost 10,000 casualties - disappeared, killed. We’ve got thousands of women taken hostage, made into sexual slaves. In the 21st century, my God. This is beyond unacceptable.’

RFI Executive Director Kent Hill highlighted the importance of the presence and protection of minority groups as a key element for stability. He said, ‘Unless a culture and country is pluralistic it will never be safe for its own citizens or the citizens of its neighbors. There is empirical evidence that when minorities are safe in a country, it is a more peaceful society. It is one that flourishes.’

Following the opening remarks, Director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute Nina Shea moderated a panel featuring Sherri Talabani, SEED Foundation President and Executive Director; Douglas M. Padgett, Senior Advisor to the Office of International Religious Freedom at the U.S. Department of State; Pari Ibrahim, Free Yezidi Foundation Executive Director; Loay Mikhael, Senior Iraq Advisor at the Iraq Haven Project; and Ashur Eskrya, President of the Assyrian Aid Society.

The event also included an exhibition of photographs of religious diversity in Kurdistan by Kurdish-Canadian photographer Adam Mirani, and paintings by Yezidi children completed as part of a program by American aid organizations the EDGE Institute and TentEd.

Later that evening, the Free Yezidi Foundation and American Ezidi Center hosted a candle vigil at the White House to stand in solidarity with the victims of the genocide by ISIS. The vigil was publicized and attended by the team at the KRG Representation.

Watch the event here.

Read a transcript of Representative Abdul Rahman's remarks here.