Thursday, June 13th 2019
American University of Kurdistan (Duhok)

Five years after the Islamic State (IS) conquered great parts of Syria and Iraq, the societies of both countries continue to suffer from the consequences of the IS’s reign of terror and the effects of the fight against the organization. This is especially true for ethnic and religious minorities that faced systematic persecution and displacement. To this day, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) harbors more than 300.000 Yezidi Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the Ninawa Province, particularly from the Sinjar Region. With ongoing security challenges and a lack of serious reconstruction efforts in their home region, the Yezidi community in Iraq faces an uncertain future. Similarly, the once vibrant Iraqi Christian community has suffered years of oppression and displacement that have resulted in an ongoing exodus. Because of such trends, Iraq’s Christian community and heritage is at stake.This conference aims to shed light on the current situation of the Yezidi and Christian communities in Iraq and analyzes the challenges that both communities face. In particular, the conference focuses on identifying the needs of these minorities as well as on debating concrete policies and measures that can ensure the persistence of both Yezidis and Christians in Iraq.  

Thursday, June 13th 2019

American University of Kurdistan (Duhok)




08:30 – 09:00  Registration and Welcoming Coffee

09:00 – 09:15  Opening Remarks

  • Mohammedali Taha, President and Founding Member of Open Think Tank (OTT)
  • John Menzies, President of the American University of Kurdistan (AUK)
  • Gregor Jaecke, Head of the Syria/Iraq Office, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS)

09:15 – 09:25 Keynote Address

  • E. Hemin Hawrami, Deputy President of Kurdistan Parliament (KDP)

09:25 – 09:35 Book Presentation

  • Hasso Hurmi, Yezidi Writer and Activist, President of Yezidis Foundation in Netherland

09:35 – 11:05  Panel 1 – Difficult Recovery after the Genocide against the Yezidis

Chair: Dr. Amjed Rasheed, School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University, UK

  • Legal and Religious Issues Pertaining to the Yezidi Community

Khairi Bozani, Director General of the Yezidi Affairs, KRI Ministry of Endowments

  • Main Security Obstacles for the Return of IDPs and Refugees

Haydar Shasho, Commander of Ezidkhan Protection Units in Sinjar

  • Socio-Economic Challenges to the Reintegration of Yezidis in the Iraqi Social Fabric

Karim Sileiman, Advisor to the Yezidi Spiritual Council

11:05 – 11:30 Coffee Break

11:30 – 13:00  Panel 2 – Ongoing Exodus of Iraqi Christians

Chair: Dr. Paul Pare, Director of the Center for Peace and Human Security (CPHS) at AUK

  • Support from International Churches

Bishop Mor Nicodemus Daoud Maty Sharaf, Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church for KRI, Mosul and Kirkuk

  • Challenging Issue of Return and Reintegration

Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana,Director of Christen Aid Program Nohadra Iraq (CAPNI)

  • Place of Christians in Iraqi Social Fabric

Ano Jawhar, Christian Academic and Civil Society activist

13:00 – 14:30  Lunch Break

14:30 – 16:00  Panel 3 – Policy Recommendations for Reintegrating Yezidis and Christian Minorities in the Iraqi Social Fabric

Chair: Dr. Nizar Taib, Founding member of Open Think Tank (OTT) and Director General of Health-Duhok

  • Recognizing the Genocide, Persecutions? – Implications for the Yezidi and Christian Communities

BaravanHamdi, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Martyrs, Anfal, Genocide and Political Prisoner

  • Building Trust and Social Cohesion

Ebdulselam Medeni,Chief Executive Director of Rwanga Foundation

Key Success Factors for a Viable Return

Hoshyar Malo, Director of KHRW-Kurdish Human Rights Watch, Inc.

16:00 – 16:15  Concluding Remarks

  • Dr. Mohammedali Taha, President and Founding Member of OTT