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Poetry Reading of Kajal Ahmed's "Handful of Salt"

  On April 25, 2016 AUIS hosted a poetry-reading event that marked the release of the book Handful of Salt by Kurdish poet Kajal Ahmed. The book consists of a collection of poems that have been translated into English by former faculty member and chair of the AUIS English Department, Marie Labrosse, and AUIS alumnae Darya Ali and Mewan Nehro. Both Darya and Mewan were students of Marie Labrosse in a translation workshop taught at AUIS. Their journey started when the students had to submit projects for their class, and they found interest in translating Kajal Ahmed’s poems. “We were just talking about how important AUIS actually is, you start from something basic and before you know it, you have accomplished something really big, like this book,” said Mewan Nehro, who now studies at the Erasmus University at Rotterdam. The event brought together AUIS and the University of Sulaimani to celebrate women’s achievements. Outside the hall where the reading took place, was an art exhibition by Gasha Kamal, a student at University of Sulaimani. There was also a beautiful Kurdish choir performance by students from the University of Sulaimani prior to the reading that included one of Kajal Ahmed’s poems adapted into a song. The book was sold at AUIS after the event, with all the proceeds going to the Yazda organization, an NGO aimed at supporting the Yezidi minority. "Women and Kurdistan," Kajal Ahmed writes: "how similar we are, how/ strange"-- and how fortunate English-speaking readers are to have this selection of her poems, expertly translated and edited by Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse and her Kurdish students. Handful of Salt is a superb introduction to the work of an acclaimed Kurdish poet, whose chronicles of her walk in the sun mirror the complicated and tragic history of her people, in diverse forms and voices: "we're soil and soil, fire and fire,/ water and water, how heavy/ it is." But what a light these poems cast on everyone and everything. - Christopher Merrill, author of Boat.  The event was organized by the AUIS Center for Gender and Development Studies.  About Marie Labrosse Marie LaBrosse, poet, translator, and former AUIS faculty member, translates classical and contemporary Kurdish poetry, hosts readings with regional poets, and introduced the annual translation workshop at AUIS. She is a NonResident fellow with the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS). She received her M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College and her M.Ed. in English Education and B.A. in Political and Social Thought from the University of Virginia. She was awarded the Richard A. Meade Award for Excellence in English Education, honored as a member of the Raven Society, and was an Echols Scholar. She has been published in The Iowa Review, Words Without Borders, The Fair Observer, and 91st Meridian. She compiled and edited SoJust: An International Art Festival, an anthology of translations and interviews from American and Iraqi artists. She is a PhD candidate in Kurdish Studies at Exeter University.  Article contributed by Communications Intern Lana Jabbar. Photos by student volunteers Rozhin Salah and Zhiwar Jawhar. 

AUIS Conference on Ezidi Genocide

The Center for Gender and Development Studies and the Institute of Regional and International Studies at AUIS hosted a conference to discuss the future of the Ezidi community in Iraq on February 11, 2016. The conference brought together Ezidi survivors of ISIS atrocities, agencies working to document these atrocities, practitioners providing services to survivors, academics working in the field, and relevant international experts to create an in depth understanding of - and generate action on - one of 21st century’s worst crimes against humanity.  The conference was covered widely by the local media. Read some of the news articles arising from the discussions and presentations by the participants of the conference below.  Traumatised Yazidis seek outside help to dislodge militants, return home – Thomson Reuters Foundation News (Sofia Barbarani) Video report on the photography exhibition by Ezidi women photojournalists at the conference - Voice of America (VOA) Kurdish  له‌سلێمانی‌ كۆنفرانسی‌ گه‌ڕانه‌وه‌ی‌ كچه‌ ئێزدییه‌كان دوای‌ داعش به‌ڕێوه‌ چوو – Kurdistan News Network (KNN) Video report by Gali Kurdistan (GK) لە زانکۆی ئەمەریکی، کۆنفڕانسێک لەبارەی ئیزییدییەکانەوە ڕێکخڕا. – Sulyon کۆنفرانسی کوردانی ئێزدی لە زانکۆی ئەمەریکی سلێمانی‎ - Rudaw زانكۆی‌ ئه‌مریكی‌ كار بۆ ئێزدییه‌كانی‌ دوای‌ داعش ده‌كات – Dwarozh Iraq’s Kurdish Yazidis hold first conference devoted to their plight – Ekurd Daily بە وێنە... پانێڵی‌ بە دۆكۆمێنتكردن و بە جینۆساد ناساندنی كۆمەڵكوژی ئێزیدییەكان – Kurdistan 24 (K24) بە وێنە.. پانێڵى زانکۆى ئەمەریکى لەسەر ئێزیدییەکان دواى داعش – NRT 

Ezidis Beyond ISIS: Gender, Genocide, Displacement and Return

   February 11, 2016    - The AUIS Center for Gender and Development Studies (CGDS) and the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) hosted a conference to discuss the future of the Ezidi community in Iraq. The conference brought together Ezidi survivors of ISIS atrocities, agencies working to document these atrocities, practitioners providing services to survivors, academics working in the field, and relevant international experts to create an in depth understanding of - and generate action on - one of 21st century’s worst crimes against humanity. Related article: Yezidis vs ISIS at the ICC by Timothy Waters who attended as one of the speakers at the conference.  The panel discussions at the conference focused on four main areas of the conflict: documentation for a genocide case, trauma and recovery for the victims, as well as efforts at reconstruction and reconciliation for the displaced Ezidi community. Click on the links below for details of the speakers, and a summary of each panel discussion in English, Kurdish and Arabic languages. Panel 1: Documentation and the Genocide Case - watch the discussion Panel 2: Trauma and Recovery - watch the discussion Panel 3: Beyond Victimhood: Reconstruction and Return - watch the discussion Panel 4: Beyond Victimhood: Reconciliation and Return - watch the discussion  The conference opened with welcoming remarks from Christine van den Toorn, director IRIS, and Dr. Choman Hardi, chair of AUIS English department and founding director of CGDS. Dr. Hardi formally announced the launch of CGDS at the conference, saying, "It is an honor to launch the Center for Gender and Development Studies (CGDS) in this important conference. We firmly believe that the knowledge produced in academic institutions needs to be disseminated within the relevant communities, using different outreach strategies. A holistic approach to tackling gender inequality is essential." She continued to say that gender activism is most effective when informed by feminist knowledge. "Normative change in gender relations can only happen when feminist knowledge has been produced and shared. This is why we believe that academic work and activism should be more firmly connected. Activists need to know more about theoretical issues and academics should be more involved in activism." The Center hopes to amplify women's voice and agency nationally and within their communities as a means of social and economic development and promote gender informed practices in professional and humanitarian contexts. Read the text or watch the video of Dr. Hardi's opening speech.    The conference began with a keynote speech by Monique Villa, CEO Thomsan Reuters Foundation and founder of TrustLaw and Trust Women. Villa highlighted that violence against women and girls remains the most widespread human rights violation in the world. She called the atrocities committed by Daesh against the Ezidi community genocide and war crimes, and stressed that documentation of accurate and fair testimonies of survivors and victims are key to prosecution of the criminals. In order to respond to the threat of Daesh, it is crucial that the voices of the women are heard and heard now, said Villa, and journalism is a key weapon to fight the Daesh narrative. Read more about her opening speech here, or watch video of her talk.    The conference also featured photo exhibitions: Life in Khanke Camp by Ezidi women photojournalists and Continued Tragedy by Soran Naqishbandy.    During the conference, AUIS recognized the efforts of Kurdish activists who have been working tirelessly to rescue the Ezidi women and children captured by ISIS and in bringing the plight of the Ezidi community to the international platform to mobilize efforts for reconstruction. Awards were presented to Khalil Asef, Amina Hassan, and Osman Darwish for rescuing women from ISIS captivity. Another award was presented to Nadiya Murad, an Ezidi survivor, who gave her testimony at the UN Security Council in December 2015, and who has now been nominated for the Nobel Prize. The award was received on Murad's behalf by Amed Shingaly, a correspondent for Kurdsat, who has been covering events in Sinjar since the beginning of the conflict. Watch the award presentation in the video.   Nadia Murad receives an award by #AUIS, delivered to her by @ShingalyAhmed #Ezidi #Yazidis #TwitterKurds pic.twitter.com/yeqpYouX52 — AUIS (@AUIS_NEWS) February 20, 2016 The conference was covered widely by the local media and some international outlets. You can find articles, news reports, and video coverage of the conference by various media outlets here. View or download photos of the conference on our Flickr page below.  View or download the full conference program in English, Kurdish and Arabic languages below.  

US Consul General in Erbil Visits AUIS

  A delegation from the Consulate General of the United States in Erbil visited the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) on December 15, 2015. The delegation was headed by the Consul General in Erbil, Matthias Mitman, who was accompanied by Public Affairs Officer Anthony Deaton, Political Officer Matt Bushell, and Cultural Affairs Assistant Dler Hamad.   The Consul General held a meeting with AUIS Interim President, Dr. Esther Mulnix, at the start of their visit. The visitors were then taken on a short tour of the University, where they also had the opportunity meet a group of AUIS students. The informal discussion with the students mainly revolved around the diversity on campus, student organizations and activities, and opportunities for further studies, scholarships and professional development offered to the students in Iraq by the U.S. government. The delegation members later took part in a roundtable discussion on women’s rights hosted by the Center for Gender and Development Studies (CGDS) at AUIS. The discussion, “Making our Activism Count for More”, was also attended by prominent members of the civil society in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The guests included AUIS board member Narmin Othman, journalist Koral Noori, academic and activist Bekhal Abubakir Hussein, women’s rights activist Bahar Munzir, Falah Shakarm from WADI, Sardasht Abdulrahman from UN Women National Program, and Chilura Hardi, founder of the Khatuzeen Center for Women in Erbil. Participants from AUIS included Dr. Choman Hardi, Christine van den Toorn, Ahmed Ali and Shiereen Saib. The roundtable discussion focussed on the many socio-economic problems facing women in the Iraqi Kurdistan. Participants specifically highlighted the lack of implementation of laws protecting women from serious crimes such as domestic abuse, sexual harassment and honour killing. The prevalent patriarchal traditions and rising extremism, including atrocities committed against women by Daesh, were cited as some of the most serious problems compounding the plight of women in the society. The participants agreed that a number of steps including stronger implementation of laws, education with focus on gender equality and economic empowerment of women are needed to improve the condition of women’s rights in Kurdistan. A full report of the discussion and recommendations will be published by CGDS.

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