June 30, 2016

Mayor of Shingal city visits New York and Washington to deliver message of Yezidi people

Washington, DC, USA (us.gov.krd) – The Mayor of Shingal (Sinjar) city Mahma Khalil was in Washington this week to deliver updates from his city and ask for assistance in identifying victims of genocide, reconstructing the city, and assisting in the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Mr. Khalil was accompanied by Saido Haso, a member of the Ninewa Provincial Council and leader of the Brotherhood and Coexistence block, a diverse group of Yezidi, Muslim, Christian and Shabak councilmembers. KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman accompanied the delegation throughout the week.

Mr Khalil met at the White House with a member of the National Security Council staff to provide updates regarding the war with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the city surrounding Sinjar. Although the city itself was liberated by Peshmerga forces with the help of Coalition airstrikes in November 2015, ISIS elements still control dozens of villages to the south of the mountain.

The delegation was hosted for a series of meetings with officials from the State Department, including Assistant Secretary Tom Malinowski, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq Joe Pennington, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein, and staff from the Office for Global Criminal Justice.

In each meeting, Mr Khalil thanked the US for providing critical air support in the liberation of Shingal, and for the March 2016 finding by the State Department that ISIS had committed genocide against Yezidis and other groups in Kurdistan. He asked that the US continue to support efforts to liberate more territory of from ISIS, reconstruct the villages of the Shingal region, seek justice for victims of genocide, and rescue Yezidi women and girls still being held by ISIS.

Prior to visiting Washington, Mr Khalil was in New York to meet with representatives of Ban Ki-Moon, following the UN Human Rights Council’s findings that ISIS has committed genocide against the Yezidis.

In Congress, they met with the Commission on International Religious Freedom and staff members of a number of Senate and House offices, as well as with staff members of the co-Chairs of the Kurdish-American Congressional Caucus Representatives Marsha Blackburn and Jared Polis. They discussed the need for justice and reconciliation as pillars of the peace-building effort in the Shingal, Kurdistan, and throughout Iraq.

Mr Khalil and Mr Haso also met with academics, experts, and researchers from the US Institute of Peace, Atlantic Council, US Holocaust Museum to discuss a range of issues related to reconstruction and stability in Shingal and the greater region.
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