Dr. Widad issued a press release today to welcome the opening of the first Armenian Orthodox Church in Erbil and ask regional leaders to respect the rights of MENA-region-Christians and protect them from religious persecution.
“We are pleased to see the Church of the Holy Cross opening its doors for Christian Armenians who have fled to Kurdistan Region, leaving their homes behind because of religious intolerance and the rise of Islamic extremism… The importance of religious tolerance cannot be overstressed. The protection of religious liberty and the recognition of religious plurality are critically important in the promotion of tolerance and social cohesion.”
Dr. Widad Akreyi issued a statement today regarding the Afrin invasion and occupation by Turkey.
“One year ago… the Turkish army and its radical Islamist proxies slaughtered children and civilians in Afrin, while the international community failed to act… Turkey’s invasion of Afrin was a mistake and in violation of international law. This occupation must end. So must the Turkization and Arabization of Afrin province. The displaced Afrinians must be allowed to return to their homes. Reparations must be paid to the families of victims and to the survivors for the massive destruction and injuries caused by Turkey’s aggression…”
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Dr. Widad has agreed that we publish her contribution to a dissertation on women’s clothing history and feminism.
“We should be brave enough to voice unpopular truths as well. We must always denounce violence, no matter the gender of the perpetrator… To attain equality, it is imperative to take into account that every person is entitled to a life free of violence and abuse… Justice and equality are human rights… To bring about the change we desire, we must safeguard our rights in our respective communities, where people from all genders, backgrounds, ethnicities, lifestyles and belief systems can come together to form global champions for gender equality.”
Dr. Widad issued a press release today, in which she condemned the resurgence of anti-Semitic incidents and asked world leaders to put measures in place against all forms of hatred.
“We are extremely troubled at the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe, North America and elsewhere, which circumvents an intent to mainstream anti-Semitism… Not even cemeteries have been exempted… Politicians have engaged in highly offensive anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations. Some of them tend to apologize under pressure, but with that, their harmful comments cannot be retracted… Action must be taken to ensure the safety and security of the Jews communities… We call on you to join us and unite against all forms of hatred.”
Dr. Widad Akreyi has signed the “People’s Declaration for Mainstreaming Peace Education” and is inviting you to join her on a journey to bring about a world based on a culture of non-violence and peace. The declaration reads:
“We call upon governments worldwide to implement the 3 points of:
- Mainstreaming peace education in educational systems worldwide;
- Implementing peace education as part of teacher training; and
- Empowering the students of the world to form meaningful connections with each other as an integral part of education.”
On the occasion of 2018 International Women’s Day, Widad pledges to every woman and girl that she will stand up for their rights and fight for peace and justice:
“Happy International Women’s Day everyone! To us not just today, but everyday is a chance to move forward towards global peace and gender justice. We will resist and persist until dignity for all and gender equality become a reality.”
In a brief statement, Widad thanked her supporters and friends, from far and near, for their ongoing help and wished everyone a joyous holiday season, adding that:
“As we prepare to say farewell to 2017, we thank you for your empathy and wish you success and happiness. Our ultimate goal is peace on earth! It is our hope that all peoples will evolve into believing that peace on earth will become a reality one day if we all work towards it together.”
Widad was featured in an article titled “A peacemaker’s advice to college students” published by the Catholic Messenger. She was quoted telling the students to:
“Contact legislative leaders, urging them to inform international leaders of the public demand to stop human rights violations. Get involved in advocacy efforts at the local level. Students can mobilize… Don’t underestimate the power of a story. Stories and photos have a powerful impact on people, propelling them to want to do something about the suffering of others. Be prepared to volunteer. Help others without expecting anything in return.”
Following her acceptance of the Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) Peace and Freedom Award, Widad said:
“We must remember compassion is contagious. The more we spread it, the more people will cherish it and share it… We must strengthen our collective moral and ethical devotion to protect liberty, enhance human dignity, and put an end to genocide and to eradicate slavery… Let’s roll up our sleeves and rekindle a commitment to peace built on freedom and justice.”
In a front-page article in the Quad City Times, Widad was quoted as saying:
“The horrors of wars have shadowed our path in life. The soil of our land is saturated and soaked with the blood of genocides… We believe in acting toward one another in the spirit of humanity because human rights are universal and justice and peace are human rights… If the Kurds, Christians and other minorities living throughout our ancestors’ land are to have a decent life, a peaceful life, they must have their own state. Our sovereignty would be a shield against genocide.”
On the occasion of the International Day of Peace Dr. Widad has issued a statement to express solidarity with the victims of armed violence and to call on Egypt, Myanmar, North Korea, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Pakistan and those supporting ISIS to stop their violations of human rights.
“We can work together to transform injustice into justice, fear into freedom, slavery into liberty, sorrow and stress into peace. Join us and stand up for human rights! Spread the message of peace among all peoples and nations… Today and every day, let us strengthen the ideals of peace and togetherness… Let us get together to promote peace, respect, safety and dignity for ALL.”
After being named the recipient of the 2017 Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) Peace and Freedom Award, Widad told the Catholic Messenger that she is accepting the award for two reasons:
“First, the Pacem in Terris encyclical is a pioneering document and is part of the legacy of His Holiness Pope John XXIII…one of its pillars is its universality. It does not address one or two or three groups of people, but all people of good will… Second, the Pacem in Terris Coalition connects people to their communities through charity work and social activity. It helps vulnerable groups that are going through adversity, be it disasters, sickness, old age, unemployment or any other distress.”
Dr. Widad Akreyi issued a statement today on 3rd Anniversary of 2014 Genocide
“As we remember the victims, we shine a light on the carnages of the past and the ongoing armed conflict in the hope that similar tragic events will be avoided in the future… We call on world leaders to step up efforts to recognize the current genocide and to include the atrocities against the residents of Kobane and all persecuted religious and ethnic minorities… We will never waiver in our commitment to ensure justice for victims of crimes against humanity… No doubt, justice will motivate our communities to embark on their long journey towards reconciliation and peace.”
Widad issued a statement today in support of the Christians of the Middle East.
“I am heartbroken by the cruel slaughter of Christians in Egypt. We call on world leaders to protect Christians of the Middle East from systematic persecution… It’s tragic that the Christians of the Middle East are being targeted repeatedly because of their religion. The persecution of Coptic Christians, which is the largest Christian community in the Middle East, has been going on for years… Egypt’s declared state of emergency didn’t prevent this senseless act of terror.”
Dr. Widad Akreyi condemned the attacks of Turkish President bodyguards against Kurdish, Armenian and other protesters outside Turkey’s embassy in Washington, DC on 17 May 2017.
“Reports say that nine demonstrators were injured, two elder men had serious injuries in their heads. One of them has lost one tooth, while another female demonstrator was choked until she was unconscious. We know that Mr. Erodgan is steering Turkey away from democracy, perhaps encapsulated best by his massive crackdown on civil society and perceived opponents in Bakur, Turkey and Rojava. What is new is to see his brutality reaching Washington streets for the second year in a row.”
In April 2017, Widad gave an interview to Sterk TV, in which she talked about healthcare system in Kurdistan region, Iraq.
“Based on our research, no preventive measures have been taken to reduce medical errors in Kurdistan region… The failure to address medical errors is unethical and in violation of the patients’ right to proper healthcare as an integral part of the right to health… We need medical leaders who are willing to champion for the rights of patients.”
In an exclusive interview to Jerusalem Online, Widad said:
“Prisoners of conscience are living behind bars and serve prison sentences for exercising their legitimate right to express their opinions… Various forms of inequalities are prevalent… The challenges involved in defending and supporting the victims are also enormous… Capital punishment is the regime’s answer to calls for change… Therefore, we have called on UN Member States, irrespective of whether they consider executions to be lawful or not, to urge Iran to adopt a ban on hangings…”
In May 2016, Widad issued a brief statement on the need to have an improved early warning system to prevent terror attacks.
“Unfortunately, more terror attacks like the ones in San Bernardino, Brussels and Paris are expected to occur. While those attacks were a reminder of the challenges that lay ahead, they exposed the need to have an improved early warning system that may ultimately save civilian lives. Such a system should take into account the shortcomings of the current warning frameworks and evaluate the usefulness of warnings generated by improved models that cover a broad range of potential attack scenarios… In this vein, finding a balance between protecting human rights and ensuring national security is key.”
Widad was featured in the October 2015’s Peace Now Newsletter under the Peace Speaks. Peace Now aims to enact a global resolution for the establishment of infrastructures to support a Culture of Peace.
“Given that we live in a world where conflicts are increasingly associated with socio-economic disparities and cultural and/or religious differences, we should aim to promote dialogue among different cultures, religions and groups. We should never take peace for granted. We need to create linkages between different cultures and populations in order to transform lives without changing their spiritual identity. Intercultural dialogue in particular is an indispensable means that has the power to break down barriers, reverse negative misperceptions and transform individuals, thereby changing the world.”
In an interview with journalist Rozh Ahmad, Dr. Widad said:
“History tells us that Christians, Kurds and Yezidis have been repeatedly displaced internally, and many have fled to neighboring countries or other continents in order to survive…
Civilians are now being targeted again, partly because of their religion or ethnic origin, but mainly because of the richness of our land… After centuries of persecution, we still haven’t found security and peace… On the contrary, every few years we face acts that amount to crimes against humanity…”
On 1st November 2014, the Brussels-based Ronahi TV interviewed Dr. Widad on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity With Kobane.
The major topics of discussion included Widad’s involvement in creating a momentum in favour of providing protection to Kobane residents, and the importance of the growing global support to Kobane.
In an interview to the Cyprus-based Philelftheros newspaper, Widad said:
“The crisis requires an international response because it constitutes a threat to regional and international security. The plight of Kurds, Christians and Yezidis is a humanitarian tragedy, and the world has an obligation to ensure that the victims are protected fully… Those still in captivity must be released immediately and those stranded on Mount Sinjar must be brought to safety without delay. Moreover, the residents of kobane need protection and humanitarian aid…
The international community should look at what’s happening as ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, crimes against the cultural heritage of ancient nations, as well as gender-based violence in conflict, and the use of rape and slavery as weapons of war.”
In an interview to the Istanbul-based BirGun, Widad said:
“In my opinion, political instability and greed for power are the main obstacles to a lasting peace. In this context, the biggest problem we are facing is that the peace approaches that have emerged in the last decades have only managed to address the symptoms and that, in itself, has diverted the attention from the real causes of the conflicts… We have to acknowledge the need to uncover the very causes of today’s conflicts. It is vital to name things by their names and bring them to light to cooperatively and collectively find suitable solutions, and thereby build a lasting peace on a solid foundation of human rights, justice, understanding, trust and respect.”
In 2014, Widad was invited to write a preface for the publication entitled Pollution Politics: power, accountability and toxic remnants of war. The publication was launched during an event held in London on 2 July 2014, and chaired by Widad.
“It is believed that toxic remnants of war may likely be associated with the risk of birth defects, the risk of developing certain forms of cancer, or may adversely affect the neurological development of children and the reproductive processes of humans and animals. They may also impair the function of the respiratory and immune systems, compromising the ability to respond to pathogens and other harmful organisms.
Across the world, the lack of accountability for the harm to the environment and public health caused by conflict and military activities undermines global efforts to help fragile countries recover from armed conflicts.”
On the occasion of the 2013 World Refugee Day, held every year on June 20, Widad called for more attention to the plight of millions of refugees and displaced persons.
“Today we direct our attention to all those who have to deal with uncertainty on a daily basis and those who are in urgent need for life-saving help… Direct and/or indirect effects of armed conflict threaten their basic human rights. Often, they have to wait for decades for their fate to be decided…
We are especially worried about the alarming numbers of refugees from Syria that have fled to over-crowded camps in neighboring countries… We call upon all Arabic countries to fulfill their responsibilities towards the Syrian refugees… At the same time, we urge both sides in the Syrian conflict to respect international humanitarian law; refrain from using indiscriminate weapons in urban areas and to stop using civilians as human shields.”
In 2010, Widad addressed the UN Fourth Biennial Meeting of States, held in New York to consider the implementation of the Programme of Action to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.
“We need to overcome the challenges and seek practical solutions. We must replace the culture of war with the culture of peace.
The quality of life in our world does not depend on the conflicts that arise, but on our response to them. Policy-makers continue to discover that they cannot solve today’s problems with yesterday’s mindset…
Although peace can be negotiated by governments, it is ultimately the responsibility of the people themselves to make it last. All of us have a role to play to create a world in which peace can flourish.”
In 2008, Widad addressed the United Nations First Committee, emphasising the importance of adopting and implementing a robust and a legally binding Arms Trade Treaty.
“Mr. Chairman, some States are concerned that a treaty based on human rights could be applied subjectively to prevent them from receiving the weapons they need for legitimate security purposes. However, the concepts of human rights and international humanitarian law are objectively defined in many international agreements. Through the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and numerous other instruments, all UN member states have already agreed on international human rights standards.”
On 3 March 2008, Widad took part in a panel titled The Impact of Guns on Women’s Lives, organised by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs. Other speakers included Dr. Wendy Cukier from Ryerson University and Mr. Daniel Prins, UNODA Conventional Arms Branch Chief.
“Male-dominated societies frequently justify small arms possession by claiming that they are necessary to protect defenseless women. But what we see instead is that these very women become victims of gun violence…
Rape as form of ethnic cleansing, as well as a war strategy has been going on for a long time… It is important to note that the trauma of rape does not end when conflict does.”