28. May 2021 – AWARENESS & ADVOCACY
Our Chairwoman, Düzen Tekkal and Partnerships & Development Manager, Pia Walter were invited to speak at the virtual conference “Advancing the Right to Reparations for Survivors of Conflict-related Sexual Violence in Iraq”, hosted by the International Organisation für Migration (IOM). Speakers included the brave Yazidi survivor, human rights activist and author, Farida Khalaf; consultant and researcher Güley Bor; IOM Germany’s Chief of Mission Jean-Philippe Chauzy; as well as Siobhan Simojoki and Sandra Orlovic from IOM Iraq.
The central topic of discussion was the new “Yazidi Survivors Bill”, which was adopted by the Iraqi parliament on 1st March 2021. The law aims to provide financial compensation to survivors of the horrific ISIS crimes. It is intended to benefit not only Yazidi survivors but also members of other minorities in Iraq, such as the Turkmen, Shabaks and Christians, who were subjected to sexual violence at the hands of members of the terrorist militia.
The central topic of discussion was the new “Yazidi Survivors Bill”, which was adopted by the Iraqi parliament on 1 March 2021. The law aims to provide financial reparations to survivors of the crimes committed by ISIS, namely the genocide committed against the Yazidis in 2014.
Although the bill signals an important first step in the right direction and has some promising aspects (such as its wide definition of sexual violence and inclusion of non-Yazidi minorities), our colleague Pia argued that we must not content ourselves merely with its passing in parliament.
Firstly, the bill is yet to be implemented, which presents important practical and bureaucratic obstacles. Secondly, the bill does not sufficiently address the need for a Marshall Plan for Sinjar. The provision of security, reconstruction, jobs, education, health and psychosocial services is an absolute perquisite so that survivors can leave the IDP camps, return to their ancestral homeland, and rebuild dignified lives with a future for themselves in the region. Thirdly, Pia emphasised that “the bill should be seen as the very beginning of a long and challenging road ahead”, as many more victims of the conflict, like children born from sexual violence or men and boys who suffered sexual violence, fall through its cracks. Special humanitarian quota programmes should be put in place for them. She however concluded that, “what survivors most yearn for is legal justice through accountability […], and there are no administrative programmes that could ever substitute for justice!”.
We thank IOM Germany and Iraq for inviting us to share our vision for the way forward. We’d also like to thank the other speakers as well as all the actors involved, particularly the Coalition for Just Reparations (C4JR) in getting this law passed. This is a hugely important milestone on the path towards achieving justice for the survivors of genocide and sexual violence.