Skip to main content

tv   Combating ISIS and Protecting Minority Groups in Iraq  CSPAN  August 1, 2017 1:34pm-3:14pm EDT

1:34 pm
aying, i want someone to deal with meddlesome leakers and i think that sessions is likely to talk about that. seems to be a coordinated deal with these leaks. there are two types of leaks here, some coming from the white itself and you saw on on the "washington post" story that "washington post" had people obviously on the plane with trump. most damaging leaking are coming from the intelligence community, you are seeing a lot is being tion that >> we leave this conversation to go live to the u.s. institute of peace. we are very pleased to welcome you here this afternoon. my name is bill taylor. i'm the executive vice president at the institute of peace. very pleased to be able to cohost this with our kurdish
1:35 pm
friends. we will introduce everyone at the right time. the kurdistan regional government special representative is here cohosting. we also have the ambassador from iraq. ambassador, welcome. glad to have you here. both will have the opportunity to speak before the panel discussion. three years ago this month isis targeted many of iraq's minority groups including christians and others in assault on northern iraq in the nineveh plain. isis also targeted arabs and kurds in many more areas. last year the secretary of state and the u.s. congress and just last week, the current administration labeled as genocide the attacks on the
1:36 pm
syrians and other groups by isis. the last administration and this in agreementon are of have been very clear. these communities have faced unspeakable at -- unspeakable atrocities including sexual enslavement and torture. through the efforts of the iraqi government and the international community important progress has been made. the liberation of the net of a plane, mosul and other parts of province are important accomplishments for creating conditions for the religious minorities to be able to return home. despite these gains thousands remain displaced from their homes and many have seen the isis assault exacerbate existing tensions between communities and explored fissures between members of individual communities themselves, division and insecurity.
1:37 pm
these groups have not only suffered at the hands of isis but under the rule of saddam hussein and from intermittent conflict with other iraqis, continue to fight for their right as citizens and work to ensure a safe future for all iraqis. over the years of the united states institute of peace have supported iraqi minorities in local and national governments and ensuring fair representation safety and security for all iraqis. works to find practical solutions for preventing and resolving violent conflict. this is what we do. we do this by working on the ground in iraq and other countries around the world with local partners so they can become catalysts for peace in their own communities. we have been in iraq uninterrupted since two thousand three with offices in baghdad. in iraq focus on local communities in various parts of iraq including areas
1:38 pm
recently liberated from isis through dialogue, fostering inclusion, facilitating joint solving. we continue to support the alliance of iraqi minorities, a coalition of civil society organizations the provides a voice for minority groups and works on their behalf in practical terms. aim was formed in 2011 and is 13 ngos working to advance the rights of christians azidis and other communities. -- including the u.s. government, and the u.n., the iraqi and kurdish regional national governments. in 2014 at worked with the u.n. to convene a national conference on the rights of iraqi minorities. -- iraq's diverse minority communities as well as a roadmap for implementation.
1:39 pm
currently the u.n. is supporting on drafting process of a law equality and antidiscrimination in iraq based on the roadmap and the 2014 declaration of principles. is also supported initiatives by its members to respond to and raise awareness of humanitarian crisis in iraqi minority communities following isis assault. currently the alliance is working to promote the participatory budgeting initiatives in local communities to increase minority participation and decision-making at the provincial level in net of a -- nineveh. through a series of dialogues informed by the findings of detailed assessments completed with extensive input from both communities. the work ofto alliance of iraqi minorities, many organizations and activists especially those who work in minority groups, they have done
1:40 pm
commendable work to bring attention to the needs of minorities as well as needed support to address those needs. we all know much more work needs to be done. this afternoon we want to focus on the future. our panel will discuss ways the united states government, the g and government, the kr international actors -- this diverse set of speakers is here today to discuss the complex pieces involved in addressing the future of these canoes which form iraq's unique cultural mosaic in the middle east. it's going to be an interesting conversation. absolutely necessary one at this critic time. for all -- for the panel discussion, we will have panel representatives from iraq and the kurdish republic. theambassador has served as
1:41 pm
iraqi ambassador to the united states in washington since january. prior to his tenure here he served as iraqi ambassador to france for 60 years and has held a number of positions in the government of iraq. please join me in welcoming the ambassador. [applause] the kurdish republic was in 1941. [applause] i welcome her, she is the daughter of a hero and a hero herself. this is a topic that is hard for me to talk about because i have lived in from afar. when you live a tragedy from afar you sometimes feel it even worse. to feel it more than others because my mother is from mosul and i have members of my family there. 2008 eric smith
1:42 pm
came to visit baghdad and he asked us what is the worst thing that saddam did. some of us answered it was the -- others said it was the quelling of the uprising in 1991. i think the worst legacy of we had a choice of these things. which one to choose. if he had asked us that question in 2014, 2015 we would have had one answer. what he did to the yazidis. this was the worst thing to happen in the 20th century so far. and i hope it will be the last such event of its nature. this is such a sad thing because iraq is a place of minorities. there is a documentary running around based on the letters of gertrude bell. she gives a very vivid description of what she sees
1:43 pm
when she goes there. a concatenation of minorities. juiced had a plurality of until the last century. who would have known that? this is something we have taken draftersunt when the of the iraqi constitution in 2005 started working on their job. look at our preamble the theents of plurality and multiple nature of iraq is imprinted there. so this is something we have to live with and we have chosen as a result the federal structure that can bind us. and take into account all of our diversity. the iraq of 2017 is not the iraq of the 14. 2017 is notmy of
1:44 pm
the iraqi army of 2014. the government is not the same. the people are not the same. i was recently at a conference in aspen were people talked about the relationships between the united states in america after 10 years of war. i have to tell you for me the real war began in 2014. and its consequences was a really brought all iraqis together. emotionallyost charged images of this war i remember were iraqi soldiers, officers, the prime minister standing side-by-side to work on liberating the rest of the areas that have been captured by isis. and it hasn't been easy. it is hard. you, i think tell the road ahead is even harder. because we still haven't finished the liberation of iraq.
1:45 pm
we still have to deal with -- isis morphs into a successor organization, something probably akin to al qaeda in 2009, we'll have to still keep on fighting it. and we have to stand together. on the issues that we will have to face, the issues the ambassador just raised on the status of where minorities are in iraq. simply put, for most iraqis and certainly for the iraqi government, iraq is not iraq without its minorities. we are not north korea. and their preservation and their active preservation as a vibrant participant in members of dutch society is vital and it is recognized by the constitution. and this is why we have
1:46 pm
parliamentarians representing minorities by constitutionally mandated law in iraq. give really have to tribute to -- who is standing the conscioused of the world entirely in 2014 when she raised the issue of our people. and forced us into action. unfortunately the world was kind of late. had the international community intervened in 2014 i don't think we would be there. as we move ahead we will have to contend with the liberation of the rest of iraq. in parallel all these elements are linked to each other. we will have to carry out humanitarian work. stabilization work which would enable people to go back to
1:47 pm
their homes and villages. then we will have to engage in reconstruction. stabilization and the humanitarian work is actually going on remarkably well. these are not my words. these are the words of the united nations and humanitarian coordinator in iraq who is an incredible lady. has recently in washington state -- was being done in iraq is really an exemplar and a method and a model to be applied in later humanitarian action. one of the things she said that really affected me because for a very long part of its history the first victims of the iraqi army were the iraqi people. she said that for the first time in her long experience of humanitarian work had an army put into its strategic and tactical objectives and
1:48 pm
priorities the preservation of civilian life. that is really remarkable and this is one of the reasons why i say that the iraqi army of 2017 is not the iraqi army of 2014. , we have to complete our stabilization of the liberated areas and then we have to engage in reconstruction. the demands are humongous. nobody has really come up with a definitive figure. to the conference are are kuwaiti neighbors planning to hold in 2018 to try to help us do that. we look to all of our neighbors to chip in because our stability and well-being of iraqis as part of the stability of the region. beyond that we will have to look at the issues of governance and for that the trend in of the
1:49 pm
politics that you see in iraq and the intention of the government are quite distinct. first of all, there is a genuine will towards decentralization . not only because it's the right thing to do, because the efficient thing to do. nobody is governed better than when people govern themselves. this is what is in plan. we intend to have elections at the beginning of next year. uip i'm looking forward to send observers. iraq has two contradictory expertise is where they are the best in the region. one is the iraqi counterterrorism services and special forces. honestly, american officers have said this, not me. they're are probably the best. battle hardened. -- casualty rate rate in these campaigns has been
1:50 pm
in excess of 30%. unheard of. the other one is our electoral commissions. in --ections in iraq have been fair and free with an outcome that is not always known. a rarity in the region, as a lot of people would say. we will have to deal with the issue of governance and that will be done. beyond all of this i think one of primet is importance for us to deal with is the issue of justice. people have been wrong. -- wronged. -- i asked him what was the
1:51 pm
thing that was prime on his mind. and he said, the problem that i have is preventing young yazidi men from seeking revenge. him what was the thing that was prime on his mind. and heand god knows what happeno them. and they were justified. this is a prime thing we have to deal with. them. this is one of the reasons i particularly commend the work that the u.s. ip has done. to prevent revenge taking in iraq. i signaled the work you have the reasons i particularly commend the work that the u.s.done with regard t- massacre. i have to note that there have been efforts, iraqi efforts towards this. of particular note is a project the parliament member from mosul. who decided to look at what has been done in terms of and means ton establish social justice and
1:52 pm
social peace in the world and came up with a plan which i thought was brilliant and in need of support. so if there are any donors out there, please call her up. the idea was to go and canvas the cities that are liberated and to ask people what their grievances were. if for example they had been subjected to something grievous. rape, murder, worse than that. then they would be put on a judicial track. if it would be something else like confiscation of property, there would be some compensatory mechanism. some -- the kind of thing that u.s. ip does well. with incentives to stay on that track. and then she went around and shopped her proposal around to various members of parliament from the province of nineveh which is the most diverse in iraq and she got an endorsement from all of the women members.
1:53 pm
it's a woman led effort which i support -- salud. salut 25% of the iraqi parliamente. is women. transitional justice is not an easy thing to do. we will need all your help to do that. beyond that, we will need to heal the survivors. we will need a massive effort and psychological assistance. i think all iraqis are subject myself included with varying degrees and i am a mild form. this is something we need your help with. and if you allow me i'm going to read to you something i wrote
1:54 pm
that the international community could do to help iraq. iraq needs the help of experience she went, medical and legal organizations and donor agencies. independent rights groups must be formed. they should establish human rights centers in all major cities. for documentation and identification of remains. lawyers should be trained on how to follow up in cases of disappearances. judges should be trained in how to prosecute them. psychologists and psychologists should learn how to counsel survivors. the iraqi government should be helped to establish an institutional framework for all of this to happen. this can't happen without a concerted international effort. the sad thing is i wrote this in
1:55 pm
may 2003. mass graves were discovered first. and we are still at .0 and we have even more pressing cases for this. as opposed to what happened earlier, now the wounded is extremely broad. if it's not dealt with very quickly it will fess. god guard us from that. thank you. [applause] >> thank you. has served asaker representative of the kurdish regional government of iraq since 2015. prior to her u.s. appointment in 2015, she was the high representative to the united kingdom. she was also elected to the legal representative the carmax
1:56 pm
-- kurdistan counsel. [applause] no justice, no peace. >> i have no idea what that was about. good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. distinguished speakers, ladies and gentlemen. krg hasased that the
1:57 pm
been able to partner with a the u.s. insitiute of peace in this discussion. as we honor all of those who were killed, raped, enslaved, injured or in any way harmed by isis. we must never forget the crimes that ice is committed three years ago when it rampaged across iraq and particularly on august 3 2014, when it targeted other parts of nineveh. tomust do all that we can help the victims to restore their homes and livelihood and ring to justice the criminals who committed those crimes. when isis stroke, it heard all the components that make up iraq's mosaic. not a single community was left unscathed. however, it is the minorities especiallye brunt,
1:58 pm
the christians and yazidis. has taken several steps. the kurdistan regional government was the first government to recognize isis's crimes as genocide. committeehe krg high for gaining international recognition of isis crimes article 15 genocide communication to the international criminal court. iccpril 2015, sadly, the prosecutor declined to formally open a preliminary examination into the situation. that we continue to encourage the united nations, iraq, and other member
1:59 pm
2:00 pm
psychological and social support is available to the victims of rape. we have protected and provided shelter for hundreds of thousands of yazidis. muslim kurds, arabs and turkmen in camps and we have provided resources to christian churches and communities who fled isis.
2:01 pm
our forces have liberated thousands of square kilometers of territory once taken by isis. more than one thousand 750 #have been killed in close to 11,000 have been injured. kurdistan has passed laws and includes articles in its draft constitution that protect the rights of all people of all faiths and backgrounds. 6in maintained andhis is not enhanced. this is just one example. what about the broader picture outside of kurdistan? the rest of iraq? what do we need to do to enable people to live a reasonable life? don't speak of reinstating trust, since trust was lacking came,efore i came -- isis and is now i would argue out of reach in the near future. it is more realistic to speak of security, stability, protection. the steps that need to be taken are many. and i would echoes some of the recommendations that his excellency the ambassador made. first, justice and accountability. we need the international community to step up and say never again. but not allow the perpetrators to escape justice. the government of iraq should answer the call from other united nations members and allowing investigation of isis's
2:02 pm
crimes. the krg was the first to recognize these crimes against the yazidis, christians and others as genocide. and we commend the government of the united states and others for doing the same. the question is whether we allow the recognition of genocide to be the only step or the first step towards justice. we also need to enhance the security, engage in stabilization and reconstruction. we need the liberated areas to be decontaminated of mines and unexploded devices. -- various local and foreign militias to be removed so that communities can return to their homes. we need economic opportunities and development. many of the disputed territories including -- where economically neglected before isis came. now they are rubble. and practical solutions are
2:03 pm
toded to enable families revive their farmlands, businesses and professional practices. we need the international community to engage wholeheartedly in this effort. we cannot do it alone. neither the krg nor the government of iraq. to bringegislation about equal citizenship. we need to change laws that currently do not treat women and religious minorities as equal citizens. when the world bank and the speakational coalition about the economic empowerment of women in the reconstruction phase, one cannot help be skeptical. basicn in iraq lacks the right to pass on citizenship to her children. -- sorry.n in iraq let me start again. christian children of a father who converts to islam or a
2:04 pm
mother who marries a muslim are automatically muslim. there is no choice. there are many laws that need to ,e changed to empower women minorities. we need to consider local autonomy. many of the communities in the general haveveh in called for their towns and areas protected and administered by their own communities. the krg has and continues to support this. within the kurdistan region there are many who hope to have a much more decentralized system of governance in future. foreed to build a true army the whole of the country of iraq. iraq needs to build an army that truly reflects the makeup of the country and not just one component. the iraqi military fought and defeated al
2:05 pm
determined enemy. if it's reputation is to last, it must become a professional army made up of the many peoples and faiths that are encompassed in iraq. in kurdistan, we need to professionalize, train and crucially, equip the -- when isis struck in 2014, they were outgunned. we were not able to protect our citizens or ourselves. we need to change that. we are working with the united states, germany and britain to professionalize the -- and we hope that we will eventually be able to consider their training and equipping and a different way. we need to reconsider education. our children need to be educated in a way that we and our parents were not. children need to learn about other religions, not only islam. education will also be one of the key components of countering
2:06 pm
radicalization. a krg prime minister hasn't struck to the ministries of education and endowment and religious affairs to change the curriculum of our schools from islamic studies to religious studies in schools across kurdistan. in conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, no one can deny the fact that trust, if there was any, is now broken among the communities that used to live together in mosul and nineveh prior to the isis onslaught. it is our shared responsibility to make a coordinated effort to pursue justice and accountability. to launch a reconciliation process. secure stability. economic opportunities. and encourage peaceful coexistence. we need to be realistic.
2:07 pm
the task at hand as has already been stated is immense and difficult. the wounds are very deep and raw. it's immensely painful to be betrayed by your neighbor. to have your loved ones raped, enslaved, killed peerless for their faith or their language or their background. and peacetion coalition among different groups even if possible will be a long and painstaking process. there is no quick fix to implement. i look forward to the discussion that we will have today with the panel and once again i would for to thank the usip organizing this event with us at peace coalition among different groups even if possible will be a long a very timely moment. thank you. [applause] >> thank you. we admire your poise in the face
2:08 pm
of that interruption. good job to our security team for handling it for us. i would like to welcome the distinguished panel to the stage. naomi will be our monitor for today. she is deputy director of the center for prevention of genocide at the u.s. holocaust museum. she was moderate and will introduce the panel. [applause]ome the panel to the stage. thank you. [applause] thank you very much. it's a real honor to be here for this conversation. i would speak for all of us on the panel today, it's also a moment of considerable reflection and also humility. because we really should not be here for this conversation. we should not be here because three years ago over 700,000 , ethnic and religious
2:09 pm
minorities were driven from their home by the islamic state. many with only hours notice if even that to leave their homes. ambassador taylor mentioned, they were the victims of ethnic cleansing come crimes against humanity, genocide. those communities should never have had to flee. we are here because of a collective international failure to protect them. we are here because that failure started not windy as a mixed. it started decades before. these communities have been in a situation of economic and political marginalization, physical insecurity for decades. of the conversation today has to be incumbent on looking for the future and how we can ensure that those same two ladies are not targeted yet again, that they do have a place in the future of iraq. and it's important because we have made a commitment to prevent genocide, to ensure that individuals are not the victims of across the -- atrocity climbs.
2:10 pm
these communities and their well-being is at the core of creating a stable iraq and region. i'm hearing a little bit of feedback. thank you. we are thrilled that william can join through skype. i think part of this conversation is about ensuring that these communities are protected going forward. i don't find themselves as ponds and a greater political dispute about the future of iraq and trying to ensure the communities that are displaced are able to return home. much of the territory has been liberated. these communities have been unable for the large part to return home both because of destruction of the areas from but also theme increased militarization of those areas and the lack of economic opportunities. those are issues that we have a collective stake in and in need
2:11 pm
engagede that we remain in building environment by which these individuals can return home so we have a pluralistic and diverse iraq going forward. it's an honor to be joined here by a current member of iraq's parliament. many of you know her as ambassador taylor mentioned because of her courageous stand should have as her community was being victimized when she implored the iraqi government and international community to stop the genocide against the yazidi people. a remarkableby iraqi human rights activist who is chairman of the board of directors of the alliance of iraqi minorities. it represents miners including baha'i.ns, wonderful joined by a advocate for these communities here in washington who i think deserves considerable credit for the work that he and his office
2:12 pm
has done to advocate on their behalf. he serves as a special adviser for religious minorities in near east and south central asia and the state department in washington d c. and the director of the middle east program here at the institute of peace. he joined usip in 2011 and i am a very strong supporter of the remarkable work he and his team have been doing in terms of building reconciliation on the ground. to start the conversation i wanted to ask you if you could about the conditions minorities need to see in order to return to their home. fiamma member of iraqi
2:13 pm
parliament and i represented the yazidi community. it's an honor and pleasure to be with you today, especially now. the third anniversary of the brutal attack of my people. three years ago, my people were living their daily life in peace and harmony. but then suddenly this isis come and the problem was they were neighbors.
2:14 pm
they were sunni arabs. they come and killed the men and enslaved them and killed brutally their children. the very first day, they killed 1300 yazidi persons. now after three years, we have 2700 orphans. 43 mass graves. we have all of these holy shrines, 68, they attacked and destroyed all of them. they abducted 6418 persons.
2:15 pm
we rescued 3000 54 persons of these. 3003 hundred 60 persons are still in prisons and enslaved by isis. they took 1060 children. aged four to 10 years. they trained them. they convert them to islam. they change their languages, their faith. they don't even recognize their own parents. you are now training them to come and attack the yazidis and christians in the region.
2:16 pm
it's just because we have different faith. what gives you the reason or the logic to kill me just because of my different faith. 85 persons of our villages and totallyave been destroyed and raised. 400,000 yazidis have been displaced. 90,000 of them are now overseas. they went to europe and other countries.
2:17 pm
while our population was 550,000 before we are all now displaced. what are we asking the international community to do for our people? our people need relief, need help in order to begin a . we need guarantees from the international community that this will not happen again. we need the international community and urge them to recognize all of these atrocities as genocide.
2:18 pm
we are in a very bad need to reconstruct our cities. after rebuilding our cities and rebuild and we have to trust. how can we make this person trust this neighbor when he has been attacked by him. we know some of them were neighbors.
2:19 pm
i convince the yazidi man who lost 68 persons of his family, children and girls who have been abducted and enslaved, how can i convince this man and tell him come back and live again in the yazidi area? and of course i know this happened to other minorities. it's very difficult for everyone. yazidis, christians. but of course you have to extend who hand for everyone didn't have bloody hands and who didn't kill her people. justice is very important.
2:20 pm
all of those places people should be brought to justice. -- isis people should be brought to justice. sociall we have to build peace. i'm hereto ask you and to urge you to help us not just in the rebuilding of our cities. but also rebuilding social peace. i'm not just talking for the use 80's but also victimized communities. thank you.
2:21 pm
thank you. [applause] thank you for the incredibly powerful reminder that the genocide is actually still going on. a call to action to ensure that we are investing in trying to provide physical protection, allowing for trust. of many ofators these atrocities were actually neighbors who turned on neighbors and to create the conditions for people to feel safe we have to address that and remind us that these minorities communities, 550,000 utilities -- yazidis have had to flee. iraq's christian community from 1.5 million down to 350,000 now all displaced. i think that's a very important thing for us to remember. just the sheer impact and the scale this has had adequate it has meant for individuals in their own lives. william, you are working on
2:22 pm
these issues on a daily basis. i was wondering if you could share with us through skype from iraq some of the top challenges that are facing your communities and others as they attempt to move forward. we were wondering if you could share with us some of the challenges that your community and others are currently facing as they envision a future for them. >> thank you for your invitation to share your event. hello for everyone in the event.
2:23 pm
the issue of the minority is and this is very good to have an event in washington to discuss the challenges in the future of the minorities in iraq. i believe that minorities in , they are in the situation of -- thinking about minorities benefits one of the that shed lights on the issue of -- iities while they were think we have to focus on different files to speak about
2:24 pm
the settlement and political and settlement for the areas of minorities and also a future in iraq. maybe i didn't hear all of the speakers. maybe they talked about what happened to offend somebody and they talked about killing, kidnapping. everything that happens. against minorities. i don't like to mention all of these things. if you would like to speak about the first thing is the security file. how we secure those people.
2:25 pm
how we get security for the people and how do we secure return land them again. and -- against them. to improvise their areas from the conflict. the majority. between baghdad and neglecting and theernment of mosul other majority. this is very important. theirw to protect identity. this is one. to controlthing,
2:26 pm
that are unsafe actors. and groups in their areas and how to make them involved in the andrity and institutions granting the security in their area. of -- this iss questions. majority ofere the the minorities asking for protection. the international protection. very -- understanding from the government went especially from baghdad when minorities asking for
2:27 pm
international protection. aboutf them are speaking intervention. i'm a specialist in international relations. i know that intervention in society to protect the area from the government and they couldn't control this area. it is very important to ask for help from the international society to help. government,baghdad they cannot control this area. in --nority are living
2:28 pm
who will find solutions for this area. when will happen that? people are scared from returning . and also there's different kinds of sources and to different resources. some of them belonged to krb, some others. with different political loyalty. that makes the people scared.
2:29 pm
this is another issue. issue, reconciliation in that area. usip to openg with the dialogue and make peace in the area between christians and the issue of legal reform and how to help people -- in their areas and partial cohesion. also, who will do that and who will fulfill. the other issue is to -- who
2:30 pm
will do that and compensation. the economic situation of iraq is very bad now. this kind of situation, who will in that area which is destroyed who will do that, and that area .hich is destroyed about 50% of the places is destroyed. who will compensate those people? badthey are in such a -- betweentuation the people and their government, the baghdad government. issues one of the main
2:31 pm
people government, the think -- how we could help to reserve this kind of -- also, the people, the government, also -- fond of they people, especially minorities. them.o not worry about this is many issues we should work on. solutioning to find a for that, especially we are discussing these days about the create anow we could
2:32 pm
, andistrative unit administrative place for them, because -- areas, they were neglected, and there was a problem between them and christians because of the land and the intervention between -- the main issue that we should -- and the people rss that this -- that we were expecting because now we are encouraging people to return. [indiscernible] and now have returned.
2:33 pm
now we should work on many issues, especially security is alsoimportant issue, and how to find solutions for thetical issue, especially conflict between baghdad and -- ms. kikoler: william, thank you for that. you did a remarkable job of covering all the challenges in detail, and i think we wish we would be able to have you to share your experiences and concern more because the power of hearing from the communities important of those of us who are hearing.
2:34 pm
first and foremost, you underscore do the importance of remembering these communities are living primarily within net nevah and informs the sense of security or insecurity these communities face. it exacerbates their vulnerability. he talked about their guarantees for physical protection, the need to rebuild trust, but also with the government's themselves themselves.ts the importance of protecting identity, including legal reforms, to ensure that people reclaim theirand property, that their activity is preserved, and that is tied very much to the pursuit of accountability and justice and the need to create justice -- social cohesion. i know there will be questions for you from the audience.
2:35 pm
knox, all that leads to an important question around how we regard the protection of minority communities as part of the national security conversation. and all too often governments set their priorities, including the strategies to fight gear -- the a lot some -- to fight the islamic state. and i am curious from your perspective how does the u.s. government understand these issues and how is it integrated into thinking about what the strategy needs to be post--mosul are protecting communities. mr. thames: thank you for the question, and thank you to suip for hosting this discussion on a week when we are putting to remember those who fell to isis starting three years ago. and we are remembering those who
2:36 pm
are still in isis captivity. there are yazidi women and children. the point of the conversation needs to be, while talking on the recent past, looking forward to the about what can we do as a government and as a community of values to ensure that religious minorities have a future in their ancestral homeland in iraq. such your question, these are front and center issues with some of the discussions we're having at the state department about the future of iraq post-isis. you have seen the vice president on two occasions highlight religious freedom will be a foreign policy priority of the administration and that our government will work to assist persecuted believers in the middle east or around the world. we have seen president trump highlight these issues -- the vicious attacks because they are
2:37 pm
the wrong faith. and we recognize the genocide that isis perpetrated against yazidis and christians and sayingwith spokes person last week that the secretary firmly believes that genocide happened. the question is, what do we do? we're all in agreement that atrocities occurred. what can we do to ensure that future for minorities? it is going to be difficult. but we have many lines of effort underway. first is what we have heard from vian. how do we empower minorities to play a role in providing their own security to ensure that yazidis and christians are included and incorporated into the various police forces? there is an issue of ensuring equal treatment of minorities as equal citizens. there are concerns about stabilization.
2:38 pm
what can we do to see that communities that isis destroyed are rebuilt and people can go home? but with this rebuilding of structures, there is also rebuilding relationships. the question of reconciliation -- how do we encourage communities come back together to reknit the communal bonds that were ripped apart?' then of course there are the issues that all iraqis want, and an economy that works, education for their children. and the issue, the questions of accountability, how do we make sure that those people who perpetrated unimaginable evils against innocents are held accountable? and i could go on. there are more issues to discuss, but these are the areas we are pursuing. we are not doing this alone.
2:39 pm
while the united states is a key if not indispensable player, we are working closely with the iraqi government and the kurdish regional government. you have heard the presentations earlier. we are working with our i lies in the region. help bringo resources to eat the huge stabilization needs. we are working with european friends and i lies. -- our eyes. we have multilateral gave giants -- engagements, but also working with the french and the spanish to help focus international attention on the specific needs of minority communities, which are often distinct from those in the majority. i would conclude we are at a pivot point. there is a moment of great opportunity and a moment of great peril. with isis being pushed out, we have an opportunity to see
2:40 pm
-created where all iraq minorities, yazidis, christians, and others, different denominations of the muslim communities, can live together to protect the beautiful diversity that once was. we are committed to doing everything we can in that regard at the state department, and we very much appreciate the partnerships we have represented in this room today. thank you. ms. kikoler: thank you. thatain things you said were important, but to underscore one, you mentioned the conditions being re-created, and anytime you speak with a member of a minority community in iraq it was something committed -- conversation but saying the attack by isis was only the latest iteration of extremist attacks, and the reason for them that though we can defeat isis, they are
2:41 pm
waiting to see what will come next. for the yazidi community that incurredred -- genocide, for other religious minorities, that is what informs their sense of insecurity, why they want to armed and sells them why they want to seek to create malicious -- melissa -- m alitias, to ensure that we are in accordance with that. if we are concerned we have to evah.t in rebuilding ninv that is what we should be talking about when we talk about genocide, what are the obligations to take care of these communities, and that leads me to a question for you,
2:42 pm
for to engage the administration, working with foreign governments, what i've answered about is that there is not enough attention on what needs to be done to invest in reconciliation, stabilization, what needs to be done to protect these communities. there is a sense once we have fought the fight, the iraqi government, the kurdish regional government will step in, and i representatives have noted, their governments face challenges, and in the absence of the international community helping, they will be neglected levels again not get the attention does need. what i hear people talk about the work that you have been doing, and how you make the case to those on the hill, the administration, the importance of supporting reconciliation work, building that trust again and why that is very much part of trying to build a more stable iraq and a more stable ninevah.
2:43 pm
thank you.eed: this is the danger of doing last . reconciliation is one of the concepts and words i am glad is being repeated more now, because two years ago, that was seen more in the concept of the framework of iraq. but today isis has changed that concept, and for many people, especially the minorities and others who have in the victims of genocide and mass atrocity and other crimes, they equate reconciliation with forgiveness. you forgive the perpetrators of the crime, which is not the case. who sequenced reconciliation at the fluffy term that will come later after you have liberated the land come after people have gone home,
2:44 pm
after you have rebuilt, and then you worry about the relationships. and that is also not applicable in the context of iraq because as other speakers eloquently we cannot go about that sequence. there are issues of the past. i was talking with the man, theyr and ms rah spoke about how these communities -- you speak about saddam hussein, isis, williams spoke about christian -- this is the reality of iraq. we had been in iraq since 2003 and have been monitoring and working on these things. we have also done a were dedicated research, and we did this in partnership within the institute, and with partners in the center for peace building, facilitators, to ask the communities themselves, what do they see as a source of conflict
2:45 pm
in the future, and what does reconciliation mean to them? this is where you go, each community can each group within those communities, each political stream within those communities, defines these issues differently and approach it in a different time skate. all of them, the minorities will tell you do not look at this problem just from the isis perspective. isis is just one of the many things that we suffer from. yes, it may be the one that made news today and in the recent future, but you have to look at it with a wider lens, and also from two layers. and iis the iraq layer, like metaphors. i see iraq as a ship in a very turbulent sea that is heading for the cliffs going for conflict them and it has many
2:46 pm
damages on that ship, and water is coming from any places, and you try to address all these issues. focusing only on the minorities issues in that picture will be -- will not prevent the ship from sinking if we do not address the other parts. it is important to address the to tell of the. that will be one of the biggest things that the international community to do, to help fix this problem. the minorities themselves, at the local levels, there are specificities. there is at least about a devon dozensn't conflict -- conflict layers. this is across the communities. for them, reconciliation is, to get back to what the ambassador said, is practical. there's nowhere near, there no context where that is more true than the context of the iraqi
2:47 pm
minorities. when you see the international community supports you, what are you doing practically? that is what they are looking for. they approach this from their needs, and sometimes there are those who talk to them who do not see these, but because they do not value them, that because they are at different levels of seeing that problem. reconciliation, it is a loose term that for the minorities at least in the first stage for them to be able to go home. it touches on security. will our neighbors attack us again? to present that, there has to be not only protective measures of the security parameters, but how do you work on that relationship where at least in the first stage it is a nonviolent coexistence. second, how do you then build on that and you take it to a peaceful coexistence? and that is where you restore some trade, some relationship,
2:48 pm
and there's no competition for resources, but there is a process. i know others go into the more looser terms of we are one in iraq, when citizen, these are all important within the context of the country, before the wounds of those people, they think a practical terms. when i go through this checkpoint, weather and a rectory -- iraqi security checkpoint, and might treated differently because of who i am? that is a level of practicality they think about. when money comes in to do reconstruction, is it going to that village versus our toilet -- village because of the attention that we have? is it going there because there is a grand scheme of changing demographics by a regional neighbor. it is very complex. please be on the lookout for the research that will be coming out gradually, and if we want to
2:49 pm
enable those people to go home, we invest in practical steps and the work of the iraqi minorities is what they do. they work with the provincial counselor in irbil and mosul, about how to engage the their needsd get and convey them to the government, because of the lack of resources that was mentioned, tensions could come just from the fact of who receives assistance, not only dealing with the problem, but who receives the assistance. those community of relationships would help prevent violence, help manage scarce resources, and prevent violence. and we have a number of flashpoints to lookout. another could be a flashpoints. flashpoint from an
2:50 pm
one, where youed have the sensitivities between the minorities themselves. you have regional countries like turkey, iran who have a stake in this. this is where we have to go for a nuanced approach, practical steps, and reconciliation can help manage those conversations. ms. kikoler: i think it is critical to the reminded of the complexity of the tensions that were there before, how we need to be addressing them, that those tensions are within communities, between communities, within the minority communities as well, but through investing in trying to do a anding of them, investing, coming up with a strategy, we can deescalate them. so we have one level of protection for these communities. the want to thank you for your work you have been doing, because it is an example of a very practical concretion that
2:51 pm
can be made. we have sometimes -- to open up to questions from the audience here. and i think there are microphones on either side. [indiscernible] ms. kikoler: ok, that is great. there are two questions, to the back into the right. if you could keep the questions quite short, and why don't we take to it is time. -- two at a time. just a reminder that william warda is participating by skype, so if there is a question, also signal that, and william will check with you if you would like to have comments to make. >> hello. i want to thank you for having this important event, but
2:52 pm
wasrtunately, mr. warda not here to represent a syrians in person. rahman has spoken eloquently about never again inequality for all, but my question is, why has the krg has forced removal of an elected mayor and replace them with a person who is not voted by the people, and asked for him to be reinstated, they replaced it with a kurdish representative, and in the replace them with another kdp member who was not voted in by the people. ask herlast -- like to to respond to the forced removal of him, and this is the plan of annexation of ninevah? we have suffered 100 years of genocide. continue to suffer genocide, and our people are the indigenous people. weare a minority people, but
2:53 pm
were not. today we did not have the nin evah homeland that we had, and now forced the final people to believe. thank you.: one more question in the back. >> hello, everyone. here with the national endowment for democracy. [indiscernible] said it would be another dog and pony show. i know what is going on. thank you for raising on the issues, vian, everybody else, but my question is, this is a question that may go to -- do you have any strategy with that you can point out that these
2:54 pm
people, young people like me, yazidi people, had hoped to go back to, because there is also in justice and applying the justice. art of it is a correction. i think william is aware of that. two days ago that had of the committee came out and said the whole process of documenting genocide is a total collapse. how can you do that? how do you convince a young boy whose father joint isis will stop thinking about his father, he was a hero, and he was killed for a cause, not if he was -- he betrayed his country. thank you so much. ms. kikoler: thank you. could a microphone be given to representative rahman, in areas
2:55 pm
of political representation in areas that have been liberated? >> thank you very much, thank you for the question. my understanding is that the mayor of -- who was removed was removed by the local council. it was not a political party's decision. it was the council's decision. i understand there had been a long-running investigation into that man them and there had been protests against him. this is my understanding of the situation there. more broadly, i would like to ask a question of this young man who rightly is very concerned for his people. kurdistan regional government, if the people of kurdistan were so bad toward the christians the way you describe, why is it that almost every christian left in iraq has taken shelter in kurdistan? they have not chosen to go
2:56 pm
elsewhere. tohad chosen to go kurdistan. i'm not saying kurdistan is perfect, but it is the safest place for your community, for other communities, and for many others, even people who are muslim feel safer in kurdistan then they do elsewhere. [applause] can i -- it is an important conversation, but i think if we could get to the andtion that was asked, then there are other questions as well [indiscernible] >> [indiscernible] ms. kikoler: if i can just quickly summarize -- >> we have a right to be there. it is our ancestral homeland. ms. kikoler: i think you are underscoring something that is
2:57 pm
not important -- >> that is our homeland. our people have a right -- ms. kikoler: you have a very, very important -- >> ma'am, this is important -- think this is an informed conversation, and i asked that we move on -- thehey did not disarm assyrians. lobbyists in washington are raising. [indiscernible] thank you very much for your comment, and i'm happy to answer, but i think the conversation is bigger than your little -- not your letter -- little -- bigger than the dispute you are raising -- there are many christians who disagree with you. their majority of christians disagree with you.
2:58 pm
these let others have a conversation. i never thought i would play the role of goalie and i never wanted it because it is the hardest position. thing the moderator of any discussion is hard, especially on an issue like this, but i want to thank you for raising your pictures and those who left earlier who expressed their concerns, because it is important to find a solution going forward to ensure these communities are protected. they have legitimate concerns. there is no one voice that represents any particular community. i want to thank you for expressing that. it was a very important question that touched on how to create conditions for people to feel safe to return and also provide opportunities, and that was colleaguer yazidi directed toward sarhang. >> i think it is a great question, and a strategy to do with that, it will have multi fold. some of the things you are the
2:59 pm
international community's support, iraqi government support him some will require decisions by the communities themselves can answer the work there are know leaders of each community. they are trying to deal with those issues, and they are different, the context is different from sometimes from one village to another. to convince a young man to go layersme it has several of that. i have had some of those discussions. they want to feel secure, so security is an important one. they want to provide their insecurity. --someone from, whether from they want to provide their own security. they want to present what happened. and i think that is a right, an important point, and there are other actors in this conversation who may see that as a threat.
3:00 pm
this is why conversation is necessary to say how each community and how each actor, where you can deal with them and you can address as mutual concerns and find a mechanism to do with them. to the question about if somebody whose father was killed or was a hero to him from another community, with time i would have explained my ship imagery little more, but for the not froms, isis came within their communities, but from elsewhere. to predict the minorities, you have to put safeguards or preventing another isis to come again. but another force emerged that will attack the minorities. conversation. as an institute, we are working on local reconciliation and we are working on the christian in
3:01 pm
-- and we are working on -- and other places, but more needs to be done. it is a legitimate question. many actors are struggling. no cleartely, there is crystal answer. ms. kikoler: i think we need to wrap up. is there time for one more question? we will take a few more questions. this gentleman right here in the front. woman in thea middle, black-and-white -- yes. thank you. go ahead. in 2015, because of what i community, izidi would fight with the kurds against isis. and istion i had for you, respect everything you have done in iraq with the yazidi community, but not all the yazidis that fled fled to iraq. went to syrian
3:02 pm
kurdistan, and unfortunately they do not have the services that they are provided in iraq. blockade, a lot of them needed humanitarian aid. it has not been brought to camps and other places, and they are still in terrible humanitarian conditions. what have you done in syria to help the community there is still suffering and does not have any relief from the situation. thank you. ms. kikoler: just take one more question. thank you. is --name and i'm asking this question from an american perspective, although i have worked in the middle east. and i thank you all for having this.
3:03 pm
so i think it is sorely needed. just goton is what you through the same. you got isis out of there. if there is not some form of governance, they're going to be fighting them again and again and again. and my perspective on isis is just like any dictator or people -- it is not really about religion, it is about money and power. what is the trump administration going to do to bring in some sort of governance so this will not happen again? thank you very much. ms. kikoler: thank you for that question. [applause] ms. dakhil: [speaking in foreign language]
3:04 pm
we are to different communities of yazidis in syria. one has been abducted by isil, and also those who fled, there was a war -- ms. dakhil: [speaking in foreign language] translator: both of them are old people and we have to work to save them. ms. dakhil: [speaking in foreign language] translator: we know there is a whereplace in raqqah yazidi women are sold. ms. dakhil: [speaking in foreign language]
3:05 pm
translator: regional government has helped us, the yazidi people, and the marketplace is safe for them, but unfortunately the iraqi government has not helped. ms. dakhil: i am sorry. [speaking in foreign language] apologize to the ambassador that they do not help us. ms. dakhil: [speaking in foreign language] translator: you're right. the yazidist of people went -- and most of them came back, but some of them left
3:06 pm
in -- ms. dakhil: [speaking in foreign language] translator: for me and for everyone them every yazidi and every cap needs help. -- in every camp needs help. knox, would you be in to respond to the question from the american perspective. mr. thames: we're taking action in a number of different fronts. the overarching question we all ask ourselves, is, what drove isis -- iraqis to support isis? there is the respect for human rights, other couple getting factors. i think we have a good partner with prime minister barak who is committed too is
3:07 pm
an agenda that is inclusive, that ensures all of iraq's diverse components have a voice, have a role in the government. we've seen with the iraqi security forces in their battle against isis a remarkable commitment to civilian protection to ensure that in liberating areas they are not destroying communities they are trying to save, so that they can be rebuilt and have confidence in the government that is protecting them. there's the question of how to we defeat the ideology of isis. we encourage those voices to say, is not my feet, this is not i write way -- not the right way, had we partner with them to see those perspectives and provide? -- amplified? we want to ensure that there is a framework where they can occur. it is going to be difficult.
3:08 pm
the fight is not over. we need to remove that as well. and we are committed to continuing to partner with our iraqi friends to help ensure that not only from the minorities, and for all iraqis that tomorrow is brighter than yesterday. ms. kikoler: thank you. i wanted to quickly see if william, you wanted to respond to any of the questions or comments that have been made. i would like just add importantthat is very in seeing the challenges now after daish, and also to think about finding solutions. is howthe main solutions
3:09 pm
a solution for administrative issue in the area andinevah plaine minorities. this is a part of the solution. and also to think about those forces now from different groups plain, but they have different loyalties. and it is a kind of accommodation, how we could find another leadership operation for niennevah?
3:10 pm
we could find leadership whether for yazidis or christians or shepherds, to find leadership to be a leadership of an operation of ninevah plain. otherwise, we will see conflict between these forces. i was in the area. there was a confrontation between two christian groups. this is what is expected because from differente , and this isalties one of the problems that we will face. people are now scared to return. to reducelearn how
3:11 pm
the tension between groups. usip isour aim, and working, and we would like the findnationals to organizations how to find peace in that area. iraqi government and the krg, how to normalize this area from the tension. this is a very important issue that i would like to raise people, theywise, do not like to live in the crisis. there are very eager to see peace. that is why now when -- next september, people should return the government from
3:12 pm
,aghdad, baghdad government when all the administrative organizations function in the air, and the officials who will not return, maybe they will face problems, may be he will be fired from his position. obliged fore important people to return from ton they are convinced return because of this kind of progress between the groups. this is what i would like to for the iraqi government ngo's andg to help international organizations, and themselves they should work to bring peace in these areas,
3:13 pm
enable people to return and live in peace. ms. kikoler: thank you so much, william. i think that is an appropriate aace to perhaps start taking wrapup of the conversation. i want to give an opportunity to the ambassador -- >> we will this discussion at this point. fancy at the beginning on our website, www.c-span.org. good live now to the east room of the white house, where president trump is about to hold a meeting with small business owners. like emergencies and. -- live coverage on c-span. thank you very: much. a great honor to be here. we are pleased to welcome members of congress

59 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on