In March, Clowns Without Borders travelled to Iraqi Kurdistan to meet potential partners.
Iraqi Kurdistan (also referred to as Southern Kurdistan, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and Kurdistan Region) is an autonomous region in Iraq. Kurds or Kurdish People are an ethnic group and the population is estimated to be between 30 and 45 million According to the Kurdistan Regional Government, refugees and IDPs (Internally Displaced People) represent 28% of the population of Iraqi Kurdistan (The Kurdish Project).
For the first time in my professional career, I felt pretty helpless working with legal procedure. The children were constantly worried that a new bomb attack would hit, making it hard for the kids to focus on something else. It was hard to find a child who laughed.
Tara Azizi, Human Rights Lawyer, on why she reached out to CWB for this program.
During this program, our audience was Kurdish refugees from Iran. Due to their lack of legal status, the women and children do not have the option to leave the camps and apply for a beneficial legal status in Iraq. Unfortunately, they still have not been considered for the UNHCR’s refugee resettlement process or provided a long-term solution by the UN at the camps. The Iranian Kurdish camps were established in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1993 and ost of the families have been in the camps for generationsThe camps have suffered from conflicts and war and about two years ago, they experienced a traumatic missile attack, where most of them lost loved ones
We had planned to go to camps for Yazidi communities. The Yezidi are an ethnic minority, indigenous to Kurdistan. In 2014, they were among the civilian communities targeted by the Islamic State in the Sinjar region of Iraq. The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry (COI) documented crimes against the Yezidi including targeted executions, abduction, and human trafficking. In 2021, the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt Germany ruled these crimes against humanity, and passed a conviction of genocide (Amnesty International).
CWB designs each program with our partner’s specific requests in mind. This tour focused on building relationships with our partners, and learning how CWB can make the most meaningful impact in the camps. Since the communities we worked with are experiencing protracted displacement (i.e they have been displaced for over 5 years,) we have the opportunity to foster long-term programming. We created a performance, and performed 4 times.
Introducing Tara Azizi
Tara Azizi is a human rights lawyer, and is the program lead for CWB’s upcoming work in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Tara introduced CWB to the project partners after spending a month working in Iraqi Kurdistan, including the camps. After returning to the United States, she said, “for the first time in my professional career, I felt pretty helpless working with legal procedure. The children were constantly worried that a new bomb attack would hit, making it hard for the kids to focus on something else. It was hard to find a child who laughed.”
Tara is Tara Azizi is a Human Rights Lawyer with a demonstrated history of working in international development cooperation. As a result, she has established relationships with legal experts, intergovernmental entities, UN agencies, and other partners. Tara is of Kurdish origin from Iranian Kurdistan.
Want to Know More?
Here are some of the resources we are reading to prepare for the program.
Photos from CWB tour in Northern Kurdistan (Turkey) in 2016.
This program was financially assisted by the Javitch Foundation and Magellanic Foundation as part of Miriam’s Magical Memorial Mission.