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PM Barzani's speech at the launch of campaign of combatting violence against women

TUE, 25 NOV 2014 19:11 | KRG Cabinet

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq, (KRG.org) - In a ceremony held today by the Kurdistan Regional Government High Council for Women Affairs, marking the launch of a of two-week campaign of combating violence against women, Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, pointed out that this year's campaign is different from the past years as ISIS terrorist organisation has been abusing women as a military strategy.

He said, "Women, particularly those who reside in areas affected by war, are living in dire humanitarian and psychological conditions". He particularly highlighted the plight of the Yezidi Kurdish women, abducted by ISIS.

On women conditions in the Kurdistan Region, Prime Minister Barzani welcomed the progress made by women in numerous fields. He said, "Women are actively engaged in politics, legislation, various organizations and professions. With their hard work and government support they hold 30 percent of the seats in Parliament. We hope this quota will also be replicated in future cabinets."


Following is the full text of his speech:


Distinguished guests,

Good Morning…

Firstly, please allow me to warmly welcome you and thank you all for being part of this ceremony to announce the two-week campaign for combating violence against women. It is a pleasure to be here with you and to participate in the start of this important campaign.

Before I begin I would like to send my greetings and respect on behalf of everyone here to those brave Peshmerga who today are defending Kurdistan on a number of  fronts with their utmost effort and bravery.

These brave Peshmerga are battling from Kobane all the way to Jalawla and Saadiya to defend the rights of the people of Kurdistan.

We send them our well wishes and also pay our respects to those dear Peshmerga who have been martyred in the defence of our country. We will always remember them.  We are praying for those who have been injured in this war. We wish them a speedy recovery and we hope that with the assistance of everyone we can ensure that our country will overcome all these problems.

Dear guests,

This year we announce this campaign under different circumstances. Following the terrorist attacks, women, particularly those who reside in areas affected by war, are existing in dire humanitarian and psychological conditions. They have become victims of violence.

The attacks of ISIS terrorists have caused deterioration of security in the area and triggered the exodus of hundreds of thousands. Many families lost their loved ones. A large number of women and girls have been kidnapped. It is true that the Kurdistan Region was able to receive internally displaced persons of all religious and ethnic groups - Christian, Yazidi, Muslim, Shabak, Kakayee, Turkmen, Kurd, and Arab.  But a unique situation has emerged that requires special treatment.

Currently, the Kurdistan Region hosts close to one million and five hundred thousand refugees and internally displaced persons. Our people and the Kurdistan Regional Government, with the help of the international community, have built camps for refugees and IDPs and we are doing everything possible to alleviate their suffering. In many camps, children have returned to school. We are trying to normalize the situation, but the suffering and hardship have not ended. We have to continue fighting on the battlefronts, and in homes and public places.

Since the beginning of this unpleasant situation, we have made concerted efforts to normalize the situation and to preserve security and freedom for individuals and for our nation. Women are always the first victims of war. The barbaric forces of ISIS have used violence against women as a weapon and are committing grave war crimes against them. As we announce this year’s campaign, we express our sympathy with those women who have become the victims of ISIS’s violence.

We assure the women of the Kurdistan Region that we will continue fighting violence in order to secure equal rights and freedom for all women and men. Any kind of violation against women, whether at home or on the battlefront, is a violation of human rights. Through announcing this year’s campaign, we reiterate our commitment to defend and promote human rights and the process of democracy in the Kurdistan Region.

Distinguished guests,

Today we are gathered here to announce the launch of this campaign. Inside me I feel the pain and suffering of those women who have been kidnapped, enslaved and treated inhumanely by ISIS, all of which are considered war crimes and genocide.

The case of the Yezidi women has been of utmost importance to us from the start, which is why we have implemented some measures. The aim of these measures is to rescue those beloved women and to help them return to their normal lives within their families and society.

We are pleased that some of these women have been rescued, but our aspirations are much larger than that. We know their needs, particularly their psychological needs, which are much larger than what has been provided to them. That is why today we reaffirm that we will continue to provide assistance.

We have also worked to recognize the crimes committed against our Yezidi brothers and sisters as acts of genocide. The aim is to provide compensation and insure their safety because what they have been subjected to, as defined as genocide under international law, was a systematic and deliberate targeting to wipe out our Yezidi brothers and sisters.

Also today and on this occasion we think of those Christian women who have been forced out of their homes in the Ninewa Plain, Mosul, and the surrounding areas. They were forced with no option but to leave their homes and all their belongings behind and forced to seek shelter in the Kurdistan Region. We also feel their pain, suffering and hardship.

Another shock and pain that the terrorist attacks have caused, is the damage done to the culture of peaceful coexistence and tolerance that has existed for hundreds of years among the religious and ethnic components of this society.

Trust and bridges built between two neighbours of different religions, but neighbours went against each other despite having lived side by side for hundreds of years with their doors open to each other. In places where such acts took place the return of peaceful coexistence is becoming less and less possible.

It is obvious that Kurdish women have been subjected to many kinds of violence throughout our history, but they have always stood up. Today, Kurdish women, for example in Kobane, are combating ISIS terrorists. Here in the Kurdistan Region women are doing their share, though differently than those in Kobane due to the difference in our situation.  

Nowadays, women in the Kurdistan Region are actively engaged in politics, legislation, various organizations and professions. With their hard work and government support they hold 30 percent of the seats in Parliament. We hope this quota will also be replicated in future cabinets.

In addition, women through their persistence have been instrumental in amending Iraqi laws such as those limiting polygamy, recognising honour killing as a crime against the law, combating domestic violence, and launching specialised courts for domestic violence. These were achieved through the hard work and persistence of Kurdish women.

As the executive and administrative authority in the Kurdistan Region we value such persistence. We will continue to strive to further implement the rights and freedoms and improve the democratic process.  

To reach higher standards, we need to work on every level and combat violence within the family, workplace, and frontlines. The campaign that we are launching today is to reaffirm those intentions.

I am delighted to see that the statistics of honour killing and self-immolation have dramatically decreased in all three provinces of the Kurdistan Region. Today, women are aware of their rights and they visit police offices and the directorates established to combat violence to file lawsuits against perpetrators. To guarantee justice by ensuring that women’s rights are not violated we are working with the Women’s Monitoring Board, High Council for Women Affairs, and relevant government directorates.

I have already mentioned the amendment of laws in the Kurdistan Region. I am not hiding that we have faced challenges in enforcing them. However, we have worked hard to overcome these challenges through public awareness campaigns on justice, policing, and school and university programmes. But, there are still other challenges and we should work together to reach our objectives.  

Our work is to combat violence and to resist any violent and dark force whether it is on the frontlines or within families in any corner of Kurdistan. It has been sometime since we began our efforts and we have made some achievements. Our objective, however, is to eliminate domestic violence because as long as women live in oppression society cannot progress.

Finally, I wish you success for all. Today, we launch this campaign here for two weeks, but we should not forget that our hard work is on a daily basis, and we should always be ready to overcome and eliminate violations by combating violence and oppression against human beings.

Violation of women rights is violation of human rights, and it should be eliminated. Let us therefore work together to achieve harmony and establish a society free from violence against women.

Once again, I thank you all very much for coming and wish you success.