The association Voice of Ezidis, co-founded in Paris in 2019 by survivors of the 2014 genocide perpetrated by the so-called Islamic State, is committed to the support of the Ezidi community, both in France, where some refugee families have fled since the beginning of the genocide, and in Iraq, where a lot of Ezidis still reside. Voice of Ezidis defends the rights of the Ezidi people and advocates for the awareness and recognition of the genocide it endured in 2014.
PATH TO PEACE:
Education as a tool for Cross-Cultural Understanding
Using Education to bring Iraqi communities together
While Voice of Ezidis support the emigration process for Ezidi displaced coming to France, we strongly believe that the only sustainable solution for Iraq is for its diverse communities to come together and learn about each others.
With a coalition of many communities in the country, we created the project "Path to Peace: Education as a tool for Cross-Cultural Understanding to tackle defiance and mistrust between the many components of this society and create a fulfilling future for all.
1/ A multicultural land
Iraq used to be one of the most multicultural society in the Middle East.
The country was home to a multitude of religions, ethnicities and cultures, some tracing back to the Sumerian era in the region. At that time, more than 30 distinct ethno-religious groups were living in Iraq.
3/ After the American-led invasion
After the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, the newly created democratic system was solely based on the 3 major communities of the country: Shia Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Kurds. Keeping many communities away from the structures of power and proper official representation.
5/ Destroying Iraq
The unleashed discrimination and persecution that came with ISIS conquests in Iraq were part of a calculated plan to clean the so-called caliphate from infidels and marginalized communities. This will to create an ethno-religious State lead to massacres of Christians, Shias and the genocide of the Ezidis. Thousands were displaced, disappeared or are still held in captivity by remaining ISIS fighters and full communities have been destroyed.
2/ Facing assimilation
The situation for minorities in Iraq is worsening since the end of the 19th century. They faced several assimilation attempts from successive regimes that sometimes resulted in ethnic cleansing and genocides like the Sayfo genocide or the Anfal Campaign.
The number of minorities shrunk during the 20th century, with Assyrians decreasing from 1.5 million to just 350,000 and the Jewish community from 120,000 to just few dozens.
4/ The rise of ISIS
Living in a destabilized and conquered land, extremist leaders were free to spread their ideology. Using the frustration of people, they exploited their weaknesses and turned them into fighters. For a part of the desperate and young generation of Iraqis, this led to adhere to the violent ISIS ideology.
Today, resentment and defiance are omnipresent among the different communities of Iraq.
Prejudices are widespread and got stronger with the communities having grown apart for the last years. The minorities are showing complete distrust against the majority, the latter enforcing discrimination. Entire minority communities have been destroyed, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their home both inside and outside of Iraq.
Building Peace through Education
As Nelson Mandela said "education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world". We strongly believe that education is the best tool to foster peace and enhance understanding between people, no matter their culture, background or religion.
Our program "Path to Peace" is all about gaining knowledge and skills that will allow the different communities in Iraq to finally get to know each other. The program is being create with stakeholders from all communities and with the people, to ensure its relevance and craft appropriate means of action.
We aim at achieving this goal through
Educational activities in centers and IDP camps in the North of Iraq, aimed at children and young people.
Gather data about the state of discrimination in the country through tests or quizzes such as Implicit Association Tests and others, to constantly adapt our work.
Partnering with local schools and universities to organize classes there.
Advocacy for Minority Rights, equal opportunity and non-discrimination in Iraq
Create an online platform to offer all academic resources freely
An unique coalition of actors
To create this project, it was especially important to bring together the largest coalition of local NGOs in Iraq and international actors, representing the diverse landscape of the country.
All our partners have their specificity and bring their own specific contribution for this important Peace project.
The full list is below.
3 Phases to enlarge our scope of action
The program will be divided into 3 main phases, each allow us to spread further the scope of action and to reach a greatest number of persons
Start the educational activities in the partners' centers and in the IDP camps in the North of Iraq. Launching the online platform with free ressources and quizzes as a website.
Deploy a mobile team that will travel to schools and universities. Launching the mobile application with free ressources and quizzes.
Lobby the Iraqi government for systemic changes and to promote peace and common understanding.
We are proud to be supported by:
Mirza Dinnayi, 2019 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity
Farida Abbas, 2017 LibPress Awards Laureate and 2017 Marsh Award for Peacemaking and Peacekeeping
Dr. Ali Akram Albayati, Commissioner of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights
Nineveh Peace Forum, gathering annually 23 NGOs from all religious and ethnic backgrounds
Turkmen Rescue Organization, based in Iraq
Luftbrücke Irak: created by Mirza Dinnayi, based in Germany and Iraq
National Coalition for Al-Rafidein Region, based in Iraq
Eyzidi Center for Documentation, based in Iraq
Shingal Charity Organization, based in Iraq