International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2022
21 March 2022
‘Voices for action against racism’
Basra, 21 March 2022 – To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Missions for Iraq (UNAMI), in cooperation with the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR), organized a short-film screening and roundtable discussion in Basra to promote tolerance, inclusion and respect for diversity in line with this year’s global theme of ‘Voices for action against racism’.
The event brought together representatives from Iraq’s Armenian, Chaldean, Sabean-Mandean, Christian and Syriac communities as well as Iraqis of African descent, members of minority human rights networks, the IHCHR and civil society activists. The 7 women and 11 men from Basra Governorate discussed their experience of racism and shared ideas on how to adopt a unified approach as a means of combating discrimination.
At the start of the event, UNAMI screened four short-films that exemplify the vision and creative talent of Iraq’s youth in exercising their right to freedom of expression, and which tell important stories about human rights and rights of minorities. The Secret of Existence, (directed by Jassem Al Ansaeri), highlights harassment based on religious or ethnic difference. Give Me My Chance, (directed by Omar Yassein), depicts poverty-based discrimination in access to education. Colours (directed by Alaa Zaieyd) shows how racial discrimination isn’t the natural order of things but is learned. Identity, (directed by Shahab Alarkwazi), reveals barriers that marginalized women can face obtaining identity documents and accessing basic services.
In discussions which followed the film screening, participants observed that children must be taught tolerance and respect for minorities, both at home and at school, from the youngest age. The discussion also highlighted the need to develop accessible and practical complaint procedures, and to strengthen the legal framework to counter racism and discrimination. Participants also highlighted the vulnerability of ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities in Iraq and emphasized the important role of leaders and community elders in combatting racism and racial discrimination.