IRAQ: Seminars and conferences calling for the protection of minorities in Iraq

NINEVEH PLAINS, Iraq — In an effort to raise  awareness about the reality and position of Iraq’s minorities and their future in the country, two minority interest groups organized an online seminar “Path of Non-Violence and Peace Building”. The seminar was organized by the Nineveh Peace Forum and the Iraqi Social Forum with the support of Un Ponte Per (UPP), an Italy-based international solidarity association. Dr. Rashid al-Khayun, Michael Binyamin — a minority rights activist, Sarmad Kekhesro — representative of the Bahai’s, and activist Ali Bakht moderated the seminar. In their lectures, they addressed the protection of minorities and held brainstorm sessions in groups of activists and media professionals from various minorities inside and outside Iraq.

The seminar concluded with several points including the need to codify the rights of minorities into law, address institutional bias that prevents minorities in Iraq from being fully represented at the national and local level, and the connection between the lack of opportunity and violent extremism.

In related news, the Kurdistan Components Network held a press conference on minority rights, Article 140 and the problems of minority areas at the Ankawa-based Suraya Foundation for Culture and Information. The conference was attended by representatives of civil society organizations for all national and religious components. During the conference, a series of demands were made to the Iraqi Parliament and the Iraqi Government, including:

    1. Implement Article 140 and solve the problems of policies of violence, terrorism, and demographic change for minority areas in Nineveh Plains and Sinjar.
    2. Protect minorities from the Islamic State, which has is threatening to reemerge.
    3. Withdraw the uncontrolled armed factions that have undermined the security of the region.
    4. Send international protection forces to minority areas and ensure peace and stability in the region.