Prime Minister Urged to Lift Closure Order Against Civil Society Group in Iraqi Kurdistan
New York City—Human Rights First today urged the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to lift the closure order issued against the civil society organization Yazda, in Dohuk. On January 2 local security services in Dohuk raided the Yazda offices, ordering staff, liberated captives, and other patients to leave. The call came in a letter to Prime Minister Nechervan Bazarni.
“The raid resulted in the closure of the Yazda facilities in the city and the disruption of the vital medical and psychosocial services provided to Yazidi women and girls liberated from ISIS captivity, and other support services to Yazidis displaced from their homes by the merciless ISIS attack on the Yazidi community,” wrote Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks.
KRG officials have acknowledged that the raid was carried out without a court order and was therefore illegal, however the offices remain closed.
Yazda told Human Rights First that the closure of its offices means that about six hundred Yazidi women and girls liberated from ISIS captivity, where they had been subjected to trafficking and sexual violence, are left without access to essential psychosocial services, and that hundreds of other Yazidi displaced people living in camps in the KRG region have no access to medical care.
Prolonged closure of Yazda’s offices in Dohuk would make it impossible for it to continue to function in the KRG area where thousands of displaced Yazidis are in urgent need of care and protection.
KRG officials have accused Yazda of making “political statements” inconsistent with its role as a civil society organization. Human Rights First is concerned that these threatening accusations undermine Yazda’s ability to carry out its mission as an advocate for the rights of the vulnerable Yazidi community, which has so recently been the victim of a brutal assault by ISIS forces. Speaking out frankly and freely about the treatment the community receives from officials of the KRG and other governments is an essential element of Yazda’s mission, protected by international legal standards recognized by the KRG and the government of Iraq.