For this 2018 Spring Semester, CPHS is organizing a series of lectures on various topics given by renown scholars and experts in different fields. Kurdish scholars, PhD students from leading institutions around the world, researchers and experts working for different international organizations in Iraq, have been invited to present a lecture at AUK’s auditorium. The lectures will be held in the afternoons on a weekly basis.
More information about the events and a schedule of the lectures will be posted soon.
Documentary screening: ‘A Kurdish dream: War and peace’
28 March 2018
Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan – January 28, 2018 – The Center for Peace and Human Security at the American University of Kurdistan hosted the screening of the documentary film “The Kurdish Dream: War or Peace” by Kae Bahar, in collaboration with the Center for Research and Academia on Erbil.
In this documentary Kae Bahar narrates Kurdistan’s history, since the betrayal of the Kurds by the European powers after the First World War, when the aspirations of having a Kurdish state were put to an end in the Sykes-Picot agreements, to the heinous crimes of the Ba’athist regime against the Kurds. The filmmaker was himself subject to the persecution and brutality of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Captured by the Government security forces and torture in prison, he was only freed after his family managed to bribe the police forces and get him out of the country. After spending more than 30 years abroad unable to come back to his homeland, Kae Bahar returned in 2003 after the American invasion. In his film Kae Bahar interviews Kurds about their experiences, dreams and aspirations for the future.
Documentary screening: ‘The Voice of the Yazidi Women’
25 October 2017
Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan – October 25, 2017 – The Center for Peace and Human Security at the American University of Kurdistan hosted the screening of the documentary film “The Voice of Yazidi Women”, in collaboration with YAZDA, a global Yazidi organization promoting the rights of the Yazidi minority in Iraq and Syria.
The Voice of Yazidi Women
On 3rd August 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacked the region of Sinjar (Kurdish: شنگال Şingal.) In their attacks, they targeted with particular cruelty the Yazidi and other minorities, with ISIS leaders openly advocating for the complete destruction of the Yazidi culture and people. ISIS members forced Yazidis to convert by threatening their families, committed mass murder against innocent civilians and traded women and children as sex slaves.
In this documentary, Yazidi survivors including men, women and children, share their tragic stories as victims of a terrible genocide; but also show their strength as survivors who didn’t give up and today they look at their experiences with great dignity.
This film was made possible through the collaboration of Yazda, the Norwegian People’s Aid and the Human-Etisk Foundation.
3rd Lalish Conference for Peace and Coexistence: “Civic state guarantees sustainable peace”
25 April 2017
Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan – April 25-26, 2017 – Local and international experts in genocide and war crimes gathered today at The American University of Kurdistan for its third annual Lalish Conference on Peace and Coexistence. The title of this year’s conference, hosted by AUK’s Center for Peace and Human Security, was “The Civic State Guarantees Sustainable Peace.”
This year’s keynote speaker was Simon Minks, a senior public prosecutor for The Hague Court of Appeal. Minks said that even obvious cases of genocide can be difficult to prosecute. “We’ve had bad experience with states that did not want to cooperate.” He stressed the importance of careful documentation and the need to scrutinize personal testimony.
The first panel examined the causes and conditions of recent atrocities. Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, professor of holocaust and genocide studies at Stockton University, called the massacre at Sinjar “the clearest case of genocide since 2014.” She seconded the keynote speakers’ admonition to maintain records.
Irene Massimino, professor at the Universidad de Tres de Febrero in Argentina, explained the challenge the international community faces in protecting minority groups. “How can we help without bringing more destruction to the culture?”
The next panel discussed the effects that Kurdistan’s independence might have on women in the region. According to Naznaz Qadir, an education advisor for the KRG’s Council of Ministers, “the liberation of Kurdistan will be the liberation of women in Kurdistan.”
Behar Ali, the director of the Emma Organization for Human Development, agreed, saying, “Remaining in Iraq [would] hinder women’s progress in Kurdistan.”
The last panel addressed the effects of war on women. Nikki Marczak, the Australian director of Yazda, discussed the enslavement of Yezidi women. By enslaving women, Marczak explained, ISIS attempted to disrupt the “transmission of identity” in Yezidi’s patrilineal culture. She also noted that ISIS’ policy of forced conversion was typical of genocides.
Niemat Ahmadi, president of Darfur Women Action Group, described the role of rape in genocide: “The use of rape is very, very systematic. It’s not just the rape itself but the humiliation and the intent…the entire society is victimized.”
The founder of Genocide Watch, Gregory H. Stanton, said that men were the sole architects of genocide and suggested that the decline of patriarchal societies would result in a more peaceful world. “The world would be better off if women were educated and empowered culturally, religiously, and politically.”
This year’s Lalish Conference for Peace and Coexistence was sponsored by Women Leaders of Peace Group in Kurdistan, Genocide Watch, International Association of Genocide Scholars, and the Emma Organization for Human Development.
The Center for Peace and Human Security was established at AUK in 2015 in order to study and serve minority groups in the region.
Lecture: “Iran’s Strategy in Iraq, Iran, and Kurdistan Region.” by Dr. Sherko Kirmanj
13 April 2017
On the 13 April, AUK’s Center for Peace and Human Security hosted Senior Lecturer Dr. Sherko Kirmanj from University of Utara Malaysia who presented a lecture on “Iran’s Strategy in Iraq, Iran, and Kurdistan Region.”
Conference: ‘Independence of Kurdistan: Challenges and Opportunities’
16 December 2016
Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan – December 16, 2016 – Academics, journalists, and politicians from across the globe met at The American University of Kurdistan for a two-day conference titled “Independence of Kurdistan: Challenges and Opportunities.” The conference consisted of five panels addressing issues of international law, intra-Kurdish relations, and the potential consequences of Kurdish independence for the Middle East and the world.
Some of the high-profile politicians who spoke at the conference include KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Chancellor of the Kurdistan Regional Security Council Masrour Barzani, former US Ambassador to the UN and Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, and former KRG Prime Minister Barham Salih.
Dr. Bernard Kouchner, former French Foreign Minister, contended that international law should not be the KRG’s primary concern in declaring independence and that the Kurdish people had won the West’s empathy and admiration: “You are the allies of democracy. You are the people fighting against ISIS. You are the people fighting for gender balance. You are the people with all the respect for religion.”
Peter Galbraith, former US Ambassador to Croatia and outspoken supporter of Kurdish independence, submitted that the Trump administration’s lack of a foreign policy “might not be a bad thing” for Kurds’ aspirations of independence. He admonished the KRG to take advantage of the window of opportunity provided by favorable international opinion and a weakened Baghdad.
Concerning prospective regional support for Kurdish independence, Prof. Ofra Bengio of Tel Aviv University said that the majority of her compatriots had strong affinity for the Kurdish people and that Israel would be the first country to recognize an independent Kurdish state. Of all potential reactions to Kurdish independence, she said “the most difficult question is Iran.”
Leaders from Kurdish political groups in Turkey, Syria, and Iran also voiced their support for an independent Kurdistan.
Although the KRG is largely autonomous, having its own armed forces and recognized regional government, it is legally part of the federal Republic of Iraq. Some issues facing Kurdish independence include international recognition and the new government’s prospective relationships with Baghdad, Ankara, and Tehran.
AUK’s CPHS Survey on Kurdish Referendum Shows Overwhelming Support for Independence
22 August 2016
Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan – August 22nd, 2016 – On Monday AUK’s research hub, the Center for Peace and Human Security (CPHS), in partnership with the Institute of Media and Political Research (IMPR), revealed the results of a study gauging interest in a Kurdish independence referendum. Participants were surveyed in all four Kurdish governorates and the study was led by AUK’s Department of Politics and Public Policy lecturers Dr. Muslih Irwani and Dr. Bayar Mustafa with assistance from Provost Dr. Honar Issa. The survey found a super majority of Kurds within Iraq of being in favor of an independence referendum.