UNAMI, IHCHR and Office of the Prime Minister co-facilitate event marking International Day on Elimination of Racial Discrimination

On 21 March, UNAMI Human Rights, the Component Adviser from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Racial Discrimination Commissioner from the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights co-facilitated a virtual event to mark the International Day on Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

In keeping with this year’s theme ‘Youth standing up against racism and discrimination’, the event featured four short films by young Iraqi film makers, made for the human rights and minorities section of the 3x3 Film festival in Baghdad in 2019 and screened by UNAMI HRO in 17 governorates:

1. The Secret of Existence, (directed by Jassem Al Ansaeri), highlights harassment based on religious or ethnic difference
2. Give Me My Chance, (directed by Omar Yassein), depicts poverty-based discrimination in access to education
3. Colours (directed by Alaa Zaieyd) shows how racial discrimination isn’t the natural order of things: it is learned
4. Identity, (directed by Shahab Alarkwazi) reveals barriers that marginalized women can face obtaining identity documents and accessing basic services.

Screening of the films elicited a strong reaction from the 21 male and 8 female participants, including representatives from nine minorities. During a vibrant discussion of ways in which racism and racial discrimination can be challenged, including through media and the arts, participants emphasized the simplicity and power of the films in demonstrating how discrimination occurs and can be challenged, the need for TV networks to broadcast such content, and the importance of a state sponsored awareness raising campaign. Other proposals included curriculum-based awareness raising about Iraq’s minorities, a definition of discrimination under Iraqi law, legislation to prohibit hate speech and punish incitement of racial hatred, and promotion Iraq’s antiquities and cultural heritage to build internal tourism and foster national pride in Iraq’s diversity and cultural heritage, including its minorities.

UNAMI Human Rights Office will work with civil society, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights to promote greater use of the media to counter hate speech, including through a powerful anti-discrimination campaign that resonates with the public, just like these short films have.

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