May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you.
In the beginning, I would like to say that I am very pleased that I have received this kind invitation to speak on the work of this symposium.
I extend my thanks to the organizers. I had the honor to represent Al- Rafidain International Center for Justice and Human Rights.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The dangerous situation that our region is going through makes this symposium extremely important to study and discuss the crimes and violations that civilians in Iraq are subjected which are committed by government forces, state agencies, and proxy militias of Iran.
I will summarize the suffering of the Iraqi people in numbers:
The situation unfolding in Iraq is deplorable, and this symposium is an exceptional opportunity to shed light on the crimes and abuses committed by both the Iraqi security forces and allied militias.
According to current statistics, roughly 4.5 Iraqis– many of them women and children – are internally displaced in makeshift camps scattered throughout predominantly Sunni Western cities. Even though these camps do not provide good lifesaving humanitarian services to displaced people, the Iraqi government has taken the unprecedented step of shutting down 146 camps in order to confine innocent civilians to unlivable and conflict-stricken cities. Largely in part to lack of security in the cities, citizens are subjected to random shelling, arbitrary arrests, and atrocious living conditions. Since the Iraqi government is unable to stabilize war-devastated towns and villages, extremist militias supported by Iran are left in charge of local administration. The government’s inability to provide services and protections to Iraqis has a trickle-down impact on the most vulnerable populations. Today, anywhere between 1 million to 1.5 million Iraqi children are out of school and up to 20% of all Iraqi schools were destroyed during successive waves of conflict.
The plight of Iraqi children is summed up by the fact that Iraqi orphans make up roughly 5% of the world’s orphan population. In addition, 5 million Iraqi children suffer from major problems like poverty, illiteracy, exploitation, coerced labor, and forced enlistment in terrorist organizations supported by Iran. In the grander scheme, terrorist organizations use highly exploitative tactics to control children primarily through narcotics trafficking and drugging. To add insult to injury, school administrators responsible for protecting Iraqi children facilitate the distribution of harmful drugs so that school children will drop out and join terrorist organizations that use exploited children as cannon fodder.
Iraq is also contending with a huge uptick in widowed women. Presently, at least 2 million Iraqi women are widowed and counting. The problems facing vulnerable women continue to intensify because the Iraqi government fails to provide women with certain protections like access to good-paying jobs, education, and healthcare services.
As the country attempts to transition from war to reconstruction, the process is hindered by the uncovering of dozens of mass graves across the country. Spanning back to 2007, more than 250 mass graves containing men, women, and children have been discovered in various towns and villages. The Iraqi government faces increased pressure to disclose the fate of hundreds of thousands of missing people, but the government’s cooperation is lackluster due to the incompetence of politicians, policy leaders, and politicians who answer directly to fundamentalist militias.
The issue of arbitrary arrest and confinement is stalling Iraq’s social, political, and economic progression. Presently, more than 138,000 citizens are held in 121 prisons managed by a collection of government forces and Iranian-backed militants. Moreover, 7800 women are being held for no reason other than their sectarian affiliation. In order to gain information regarding the fate of imprisoned relatives, family members are often coerced into bribing government officials and militant leaders.
To add insult to injury, Iraq’s understaffed, overburdened, and decaying prisons are characterized by torture and other methods that place extraordinary strain on inmates. Without significant investments in prison upkeep, the facilities have become uninhabitable and countless prisoners suffer from treatable diseases and illnesses.
Finally, we must note that extremist militias continue to rely on assassinations and targeted killings to silence their enemies and critics. Since 2005, more than 300 Iraqi activists and journalists have been assassinated by Iranian-backed militants. The main overarching theme related to the systematic destruction of opposition-oriented elements is that over the last two years, the government and allied militias have murdered more than 1000 anti-government protesters while permanently maiming or paralyzing 35,000 others.
In response to these discussed issues, it is pertinent for Iraqis of all nationalistic, professional, and ethnic backgrounds to mobilize to share these injustices with the broader international community. Thank you very much.