Yazda, a global organisation representing the Yazidi community in the Middle East, has called for immediate talks with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, following the withdrawal by the KRG of its license to operate programmes in support of internally displaced persons.
Over the past two years, Yazda has provided support to Yazidi victims of genocide in the aftermath of August 3, 2014 attack by ISIS on the Sinjar region, which displaced hundreds of thousands of people. The license was renewed only last November, and includes a pyscho-social programme supporting Yazidi woman who escaped captivity, a social care programme supporting more than 600 women and children, two medical clinics serving over 250 patients a day, a documentation programme and an outreach programme to support returnees to Sinjar.
KRG security forces suddenly ordered closure of Yazda centers and all its programmes on Monday January 2nd. . Its NGO department said the decision was based on allegations that Yazda has not “abided by the laws”, had practiced “political activities” and that “licenses were expired”. Yazda refutes these allegations and demands that its centers and programs reopen immediately.
Mr Haider Elias, Yazda President said “we are working to open communication channels with international and local sides to seek immediate international mediators to meet the KRG leadership, Minister of Interior and their NGOs department to discuss the crisis. “Yazda would like to find an acceptable legal solution through mutual respect. We believe that the USA and EU can play a vital role in this regard “Yazda is not a political organization, however it advocates for the rights of Yazidis internationally, Yazda was established to prevent future genocides after the vicious assaults committed by ISIS after August 3 2014. Advocating and highlighting this cause in all international norms cannot be translated as “political activities”, we are extremely surprised that our work is now being labeled by KRG in this way. “We request to see and discuss claims of “proof” that Yazda has done political activities and any other alleged evidence of wrong doing. Yazda licenses to work in the KRG are fully up to date, we attach the copy of Yazda formal registration by the KRG, renewed less than two months ago on November 16 last.
“Yazda is also active on the international stage to raise awareness about the Yazidi Genocide, bring perpetrators to justice for Genocide crime and ask the international community to create an UN guaranteed safe-zone to prevent future Genocides. “Yazda supports former ISIS captive, Nadia Murad, UN Goodwill Ambassador and winner of the 2016 Sakharov Prize for the Freedom of Thought and many other women and girls to give their testimonies on physical, psychological and sexual torture.
“Our organisation plays a pivotal role to communicate the situation of the Yazidi people to the world and provide consultation to the world powers on the rights of minorities in the region, our principles will not be altered under pressure. “Yazda therefore requests an immediate investigation on how a legal entity operating within the law has been treated in this way. The KRG authorities should immediately reverse this decision and allow Yazda to resume its humanitarian operations within our community.
“Ejection of Yazda from Kurdistan could only have negative political motivation, It will be not just an insult to the entire Yazidi community but will have massive implications for the rights of all ethno-religious minorities in the region, will fatally undermine the legitimacy and viability of the Kurdistan KRG government and will serve to strengthen of the forces of hatred and terror.
“For these reasons we urgently appeal to the KRG and international mediators to facilitate immediate talks and ensure that validly operating aid programmes are allowed to resume,”
Mr Haider said.