DIARY NOTE AND INVITATION
Minority Rights Group International (MRG)
Iraq Minorities Council (IMC)
Somali Organization for Minority Rights and Aid Forum (SOMRAF)
Invite you to the roundtable event "What Future: Minorities in Iraq and Somalia"
Venue: The Church Center for the United Nations, New York
777 First Avenue at 44th Street
New York, N.Y. 10017
Date: Wednesday 30th November 2011 (9:30am – 1:00pm)
Even though the very poor security situation in Iraq and Somalia is well known, the specific and grave problems faced by minorities in both countries are not widely appreciated. Ethnic and religious minorities have experienced a long-term history of discrimination in Iraq and Somalia which has escalated into patterns of gross human rights violations at times of conflict. Communities live in constant fear, and their fundamental freedoms, including freedoms of expression, association and religion are severely constrained.
MRG’s recently published reports – including a new report on Iraq, “Participation of Minorities in Public Life”, to be presented at this event - have found that members of minorities both in Iraq and Somalia suffer serious violations of their rights, including killing, kidnapping, death threats, sexual violence and exclusion from political positions, jobs, education and livelihoods. In Iraq, minorities have received more attention, particularly in the media. While the overall security situation in the country has improved in comparison to previous years, levels of attacks on and intimidation of minorities remain high. In Iraq, there are minority communities which are almost completely ignored whilst other minority members are unable to access public services or employment because of ethnic or religious prejudice, or because they do not belong to the right political party. Women members of minorities are particularly vulnerable to abuse and often hide their minority identity when leaving the house. In Somalia, the very existence of minorities is not very well known. However, in the absence of functioning institutions, perpetrators of human rights abuses in Central and South Somalia go unpunished and commit egregious violations including the killings of officials and civilians, kidnappings and forced disappearances of journalists, human rights and aid workers. Denial of a fair trial and limited privacy rights are also very critical issues, with restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement.
Discrimination and violence against women and minority women in particular, include high rates of rape and female genital mutilation, child abuse, recruitment of child soldiers, trafficking in persons, abuse of and discrimination against clan and religious minorities. Restrictions on workers' rights, forced labour and child labour being highly problematic including in neighbouring countries’ refugees camps.
MRG reports aim to raise awareness of the continuing severe violations of human rights against Somali and Iraqi minorities, in order to move away from poverty and exclusion to a future of dignity, equal opportunities and non-discrimination for all people in these two countries.
The engagement of international actors, governments, INGOs and civil society to protect minorities in both countries is crucial, whether it be in the form of peacekeeping initiatives, investment of funds, humanitarian planning or programmes. Therefore, MRG and partners feel that there is value in bringing minorities representatives together with such stakeholders to share ideas, discuss good (and bad) practice, latest developments / trends in order to find viable solutions. Professionals working on conflict prevention, post-conflict reconciliation and human rights protection as thematic areas may also find the event of great interest.
- Sheri Rosenberg, Director, Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies at Cardozo Law School, will present on the obstacles to citizenship for minorities in Iraq
- Louis Climis, representative of the Iraqi Minorities Council (IMC)
- Marusca Perazzi, Somalia Programme Coordinator (MRG)
- Chris Chapman, Head of Conflict Prevention and Iraq Programme Coordinator (MRG)
- Newly released and other published reports include ‘Iraq’s Minorities: Participation in Public Life’, November 2011; ‘No redress: Somalia’s Forgotten Minorities’, November 2010; ‘Still Targeted: Continued Persecution of Iraq's Minorities’, June 2010 are now online at http://www.minorityrights.org/645/reports/reports.html
- Minority Rights Group International is the leading international human rights organization working to secure rights for ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous people around the world. We work with about 150 partner organizations in around 40 countries. We are currently running a three- year EIDHR funded programme on the promotion of fundamental freedoms and protection of vulnerable minorities in Iraq and Somalia. More information about the programme of work can be found on MRG’s dedicated webpage
Funded by the European Union (EIDHR) and Irish Aid