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One the 29th of March, 2015 the Iraqi Council of Representatives presented IF with an award recognizing its role in organizing a meeting of NGOs in the parliament during November 2014. IF would like to thank our Manager of Operations Dhefaf Al-Jarahi for her role in representing IF during the planning for the NGOs meeting and at the award ceremony.

Dhefaf & Mr. Sabah Al-Karboli

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Dhefaf - Dr. Sami - Dr. Saad

On March 15th, 2015 the Iraq Foundation’s Suhaila al-Assadi presented a statement during a hearing of the Council of Representative’s Committee for Religious Endowments and Religious Affairs on the topic “Moderation and Tolerance As Our Pathway to Stability and Security.” Consistent with the Foundation’s commitment to pluralism, inclusiveness, and celebration of diversity, Ms. Assadi’s statement calls for a return to the peaceful coexistence of Iraq’s past in order to combat the negative effects of the spread of violence and the rising influence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. IF was one of only a few NGOs to be invited to give a statement. The following is a summary of Ms. Assadi’s statement.

Interfaith Coexistence

The Iraq Foundation (IF) thanks the Committee on Endowments for its decision to hold a hearing on the subject of peaceful coexistence and for inviting us to speak at the hearing. We hope that this meeting provides practical results and decisions that achieve progress towards a true rapprochement among religions. We value the role of the Council of Representatives (CoR) as a respected and honest mediator in reconciling differences and resolving disagreements through dialogue among people from different cultures and religions. We hope the CoR’s efforts will continue to strengthen Iraq. May God bless your steps and bring you success.

I am delighted to discuss a highly important theme regarding the unity of the Iraqi people and to highlight the moderate and real vision of Islam and other monotheistic religions, all of which teach tolerance and acceptance of others. We believe that interaction between members of differing religions is necessary. All religions are enriched by a level of interaction, exchange, and harmony with others; a religion cannot exist in isolation from the contextual effects of culture, environment, time, and history.

Iraq is the homeland of the most ancient civilizations, and diverse populations have lived and settled on its land. These populations participated in building Iraq’s civilization and establishing its successive states and identity. Specific circumstances, religious, educational, linguistic, and demographic, have helped to create a diverse society in Iraq including: Arabs; Kurds; Turkmen; Christians; Mandeans; Yazidis; Shabak, and others all of whom participated in creating the social and cultural heritage of Iraq. The historical record shows harmony and coexistence among the members of earlier Iraqi society, with peaceful community relations and mutual respect between religious and ethnic groups. In addition, from the earliest of times, our history shows active participation of outstanding individuals from all religions and ethnicities in building the state and strengthening academic, financial, and cultural institutions. Socially, Iraqis from different religions have participated in the religious celebrations of different groups in order to congratulate their neighbors; Iraqis also visit the shrines of other religious groups and sects. In fact, many shrines are common to several religions.

Iraqis accept this diversity because they strongly believe that all these religions were revealed by God’s prophets and beloved ones, and they believe that all of these prophets have spiritual and holy status. People from different religions are used to presenting vows at the shrines of other religious groups. This is because Iraqis believe that we are one people, encompassing all its members and constituents. However, today, the escalating level of violence and the deteriorating security situation represent the greatest threat facing Iraqis from different religious and ethnic backgrounds. It is necessary to reaffirm Iraq’s cultural

history of social and religious tolerance, and continue forwards in the direction of rationality, coexistence, and tolerance. By taking measures that call for reviewing our attitudes towards other Iraqis, we can ensure a return to logical thinking characterized by tolerance and coexistence in peace and security. At the same time, this will prevent the tarnishing of religions and ethnicities in a society that that includes multiple sects and ethnicities. The following points aim to support this objective:

• Commitment to the constitution

The Iraqi constitution provides the legal framework for the development of legislation against discrimination. Article 14 states that all Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination, and Article 16 states that the state shall ensure equal opportunities for all Iraqis. Article 125 guarantees the administrative, political, cultural and educational rights of the various ethnicities, and Article 2 (c) prevents any legislation inconsistent with the rights enshrined in the constitution. Therefore, it is the duty of the legislature to enact legislation which ensures respect for, and implementation of, these provisions.

• Commitment to a unified position.

Progress must be made towards the unification of religious discourse which calls for rapprochement and coexistence between members of the different communities in one society.
We urgently need to frame a code of honor that will be adopted by various sects and religions which emphasizes maintaining the unity of the national fabric, renouncing extremism, denouncing sectarian rhetoric, and fostering a spirit of tolerance

• Adopting open dialogue and building bridges of trust
We must intensify efforts to establish communications and dialogue between religious leaders. These efforts should include a code of honor in order to assist in finding solutions, exchanging ideas, unifying shared visions, and addressing misunderstandings resulting from a lack of communication.

• Encouraging the role of civil society organizations in the promotion of a culture of coexistence between religions
The role of civil and international organizations in strengthening and promoting dialogue, coexistence, and identifying the roots of discord between groups must be strengthened.

• Rejecting exclusion and marginalization

All monotheistic religions call for peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding between different races and cultures without exclusion for sectarian or ethnic affiliation, to achieve peace and trust in society. Additionally, they call for the adoption of dialogue that leads to increased unity of humanity. We need to promote inclusion as part of our value system through education, culture, and the media to root it in society.

The Iraqi High Judicial Council, in cooperation with the Iraq Foundation and with the support of the US Department of State – Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), has launched a mobile application that provides several services including news updates, investigative journalism, Federal Supreme Court decisions and Cassation Court decisions. This application comes as part of IF’s HEWAR project to boost the HJC’s communication with stakeholders and citizens. To download the application please use the following links:

iTunes
Google Play Store

IF is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sayyid Shakir Sayyid Mahmood Al-Sumaidaie, the father of our board member Ambassador Samir Sumaidaie, and head of the Sumaidaie clan. Our thoughts are with his family as they go through this time of loss. We extend to them our sincerest condolences.

On Jan. 24, 2015, in an extraordinary move by the  modern founders and activists in  Iraqi civil society, the first Civil Society Leaders Conference was held in the Oil Cultural Center.  The conference honored 50 activists and civil society organizations, from all of Iraq’s provinces, who have contributed to Iraq’s civil society for more than 10 years. The Iraq Foundation was one of the first organizations to be honored, as well as a number of organizations which founded the core of  Iraqi civil society after  2003. The event also honored activists  like Umaia Aljibara,  lawyer Saadia Lami, and others who have sacrificed their lives in order to advance Iraq’s civil society. The conference was held in the presence of hundreds of organizations working in Iraq as well as members of the House of Representatives, the Baghdad Provincial Council, and the Commission on Human Rights.

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Generous donations have had a two-fold impact on internally displaced persons in Iraq, as it has allowed for the immediate distribution of aid by our partner NGO’s, as well as financing needs assessment for these partner organizations to address the humanitarian situation among IDPs.

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In Ninawa, IF and its partner, Corporation of Child Rights and Family Protection provided food baskets to 730 people in Maskalat-Alqoush, over 100km from Erbil. Diverse communities have benefited from our aid, including Christians, Muslims, Yazidis and Shabak, who have been deprived of aid due to their proximity to ISIS-controlled territories. The food baskets included staples such as rice, cooking oil, beans, tomato paste and other items, and went to those displaced from Tilkeef, Singar and Mosul. In addition, the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization utilized IF-raised funds to supply IDP communities in Bartalla with food, water and medicine for children.

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IF and its partner, Alrafidain NGO for Community Development and Reconstruction, distributed baskets of food and non-food items to 75 IDP families. These families had been displaced from Anbar, Salah Aldin, Beji and Samara to Yahyawi camp and temporary shelters in Lailan, Kirkuk. The items distributed included flour, blankets, pillows and mattresses.

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Donations also allowed IF and its Ninawa and Kirkuk-based organizations to conduct needs assessment to show the basic needs among displaced populations. In Maskalat-Alqoush, it found that IDPs are in desperate need of food items, core relief items, health services, clean water and sanitation. In a final assessment in Kirkuk, it was discovered that there are 180 families living in temporary shelters and 360 families living in the Yahyawi camp, all of whom are living under very difficult circumstances due to cold weather and rain.

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As this humanitarian crisis continues to unfold and winter has come to these northern areas of Iraq, IDP families will be in even greater need of shelter, medication for children and adults, blankets, food, heaters, and heating oil. For this reason, The Iraq Foundation is renewing its appeal on behalf of IDPs, and we hope that you will respond to this call to alleviate their suffering. Every dollar donated to this appeal will be 100 percent directed towards providing desperately needed humanitarian aid. Additionally, contributions to The Iraq Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) organization, may be tax deductible. Please consult an accountant.

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Please make donations through the Iraq Foundation’s click and pledge account or using our main website and clicking “Donate” in the top right corner. Please indicate that your donation is for Iraqi IDPs under the “Comments on your donation” box. Please consider helping The Iraq Foundation in assisting the Iraqi people whose livelihoods have been disrupted and threatened by violence; we cannot do it without your support. We thank you in advance for your generosity.

As part of the Hewar project funded by the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), IF in with Strategic Communication Consultancy (S2C) successfully concluded the “Second Media Follow up Workshop” for the High Judicial Council (HJC) in Beirut, Lebanon for the period August 24 – 28, 2014. The workshop was attended by high-level members of the HJC headed by Chief Justice His Excellency Judge Medhat al Mahmood.

The workshop focused on how communication can help the HJC accomplish its mission. The workshop also gathered participants’ feedback and garnered consensus surrounding the Communication Strategy & Outreach Plan developed in the “Communication Strategy Workshop” held in Sulaimaniyah in January 2014 and the “First Media Follow-up Workshop” held in May 2014 in Beirut. To this end, participants heard presentations and case studies coupled with highly interactive discussions which have led to a full endorsement of the objectives and content of HJC’s future Communication Strategy & Outreach Communication Plan.

The workshop also tackled media related topics, such as conveying concise and strong messages, crisis communication & media relations and social media networks.

Chief Justice, Judge Medhat Al-Mahmoud presented a speech praising HEWAR’s efforts in raising the citizens awareness with their legal rights.

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As part of the Hewar project supported by INL, IF concluded its workshop in Beirut on August 28, 2014. We were honored to have present with us the Head of the Judiciary Branch (High Judiciary Council) His Excellency, Judge Medhet al Mahmoud, and a delegation of senior judges.

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IF would like to recognize the efforts of Ms. Suaad Allami, a human rights lawyer and a longtime partner of IF. She was recently honored at the 13th Annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Award, attended by Hillary Clinton and held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. IF leveraged her legal expertise to provide support for PEACE and WEL (Women for Equitable Legislation). See below a photo of Suaad.

Suaad

photo courtesy of Inclusive Security

To read more about her story, please click here.

 

With refugee camps  in Dohuk, Erbil, and others of the country already past capacity, aid organizations struggling to provide basic services to victims of ISIS  are ill-prepared to serve the new influx of IDPs.

  • Christians in Mosul have been targeted by ISIS fighters. Despite an initial promise that they could remain if they paid a special tax for non-Muslims, reports indicate that those who have chosen to stay are being stripped of their possessions and killed.
  • An IDP camp in the Shekhan district of Ninewa province has doubled in size in the last two weeks, straining limited resources and placing immense pressure on aid workers to increase the rate of tent construction.
  • In Kirkuk province, local authorities estimate that a further 16,000 families have been displaced in the previous two weeks.

The worst conditions are faced by Yezidis fleeing Sinjar.  Having faced the atrocities of rape and summary execution, they have taken refuge  in mountains with little access to basic necessities. Assyrian inhabitants of Baashiqa have also fled into the mountains .

The Iraq Foundation is working closely with local humanitarian organizations with which we have established long-term relations to provide essential needs to IDPs through a fundraising campaign. To date, IF has raised $7,250, and we hope you will generously support this effort. Hammourabi Human Rights Organization (HHRO) in Ninawa has received IF-raised funds and  provided food, water and children’s health supplies to IDP communities in Bartalla (Ninawa province) in acute need of water, shelter, and health provisions. Pictures below indicate some of the work we have done so far:

In the past month, a new wave of 200,000 internally displaced persons from Ninawa province  have fled the onslaught of ISIS. Following ISIS takeover of Sinjar, hundreds of Yezidi men were summarily executed, women were raped, and thousands of Yezidi families have fled to the mountain, where they face thirst and hunger in blistering heat. Their need for water, food, and shelter is critically urgent.

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Your contribution to the Iraq Foundation may be tax deductible under section 501(C)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Please consult your tax adviser. The Iraq Foundation’s tax identification number is available on the click and pledge page.