ISIS Seizing Women’s Rights NGO Office in Iraq

Hi Jenny, How are you? Our office in Sinjar is occupied by ISIS since last night.

It was my friend Abdulrahman Ali, one of the founders of the women’s rights NGO and magazine Warvin foundation in Iraqi Kurdistan, who contacted me Sunday night with the dangerous news.

In Sinjar Warvin had a small office with few number of staff who were running a project for war widows. Warvin Foundation is one of the most outspoken women’s rights NGOs in Iraq and are, as most women’s rights NGOs in the country, threatened from time to time. But this Sunday night things became extremely dangerous as rule of law seized to exist, in the small town in Mosul province. ISIS had already previously threatened all people dealing with women’s rights issues in Mosul. Warvin’s staff, usually so daring, realized the only thing they could do was to flee.

“(The staff of the magazine in Sinjar)… are all of them under threat… and they left the city and from last night they are in mountains,” Abdulrahman said. “We’re afraid from that point if they (ISIS) understand what is Warvin do there they may burn it.”

During the night between Saturday and Sunday ISIS entered the city and people fled in masses. Kurdistan’s army seems to have lost control.

What someone said about the killing of Osama bin Laden has become the prophecy for Iraq: “He’s like a dragon, if you cut of his head ten new heads will grow out and take his place instead.

In this ongoing nightmare with the ten-headed dragon, women are, as usual, the main loosers.

Photo credit: Warvin Foundation

Can Iraq’s Government Handle ISIS Without Becoming Oppressors Themselves?

hayder

Hayder Hamzoz

Isn’t it sad that the supporters for the country of Iraq are constantly working against the odds? With the frightening delevopment of the ISIS terrorists, Iraq has once again taken several steps back from potential stability and coexistance – 11 years after the outbreak of the war they didn’t start themselves.

Now the Americans are out and Iraq is left on their own to fight against the dark powers that seem overwhelmingly strong. Do they have the capacity to resist? I asked my friend, the human rights activist Hayder Hamzoz, how he saw the situation. He is coordinator of Iraqi Network for Social Media, a community for bloggers and citizen journalists in Iraq, and he has been very active in promoting development and human rights through social media. He sees dangers not only in the threats of ISIS but in how the Iraqi government is handling the situation:

The situation now is very bad outside Baghdad like in Diyala, Mosul, Kirkuk, Alanbar, and Salahaldeen,” he says. “The problem is that a lot of fake news are coming from ISIS through social media and we’re facing that through the trust news from the citizen there under the hashtag #insm_iq. 

This can bring many potential dangers for us (activists, my comment), like they can say you are supporting the ISIS terrorists because you don’t have direct tweets to support the army, this comes from the government. Also, from ISIS they will attack us at least in social media, unless they have group in Baghdad to follow us, because the community knows us, because our sharing about the daily life in Baghdad and other provinces, and they share the fake news. Also, from government’s side again, since we’re teaching the activists how to remove the banners from the banned social media; from the governments perspective we are doing something illegal. 

Can Iraq’s government handle the threat of the terrorists without becoming oppressors themselves? The challenge has two sides. I hope the activists won’t give up.

Photo: Copyright Hayder Hamzoz