ADFA at the IRF Summit 2023
What are IRF Summits?
The IRF Summits address the growing issue of religious freedom restrictions affecting 80% of the world's population. The three-day in-person events in Washington D.C. bring together advocates and resources to raise awareness and support for religious freedom. The summit features personal testimonies of religious persecution survivors and hosts discussions on various IRF topics. The goal is to grow the movement for religious freedom, gain political support, and inspire individuals, governments, and communities to take a stand for religious freedom.
ADFA is proud to once again be among the world's leading experts on religious and ethnic persecution, alongside esteemed individuals such as Samantha Power (Admin of USAID), David Beasley (Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme), Fiona Bruce MP (Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief), Nazila Ghanea(U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief), Penn Badgley(Actor and Activist), and Rashad Hussain (Advisor to The President on Religious Freedom Conditions and Policy) among others.
This year's IRF Summit is particularly important to ADFA, as we firmly believe in the fundamental right to religious freedom and are committed to supporting those who are suffering from religious persecution. By bringing together a diverse group of advocates and resources, the IRF Summit serves as a powerful platform for raising awareness and creating positive change. We are honored to be a part of this important movement as Nuri Kino made his speech, transcribed below.
Nuri Kino's Speech at IRF 2023
"I want to start by thanking the board and the steering committee of the IRF Summit for putting this huge and very important conference together once more.
I have been an investigative journalist for two decades. "Use your shovel right where you are” is a Swedish phrase used in investigative journalism. Being an Assyrian/Syriac/Chaldean, a Christian from the Middle East and Asia Minor who now resides in Sweden and having Armenian cousins who also reside in Sweden, I asked myself, "Why did our parents take us all the way to Scandinavia?" And why do so many of our people continue to move there?
In 1999, I went to Jordan to pose as a refugee seeking to be smuggled to Sweden. I wanted to know why so many Iraqi Christians, Yazidis, and Mandeans were fleeing the country, putting their lives in the hands of smugglers involved in organ smuggling. What I ended up learning is that them being descendants of a genocide and several massacres, they were fearing that they would be persecuted again and decided to flee, risking their lives in human trafficking.
Since then, I've conducted hundreds of investigations, many of which have been linked to the phase "dig where you stand."
A few of us in A Demand For Action are journalists. We work in accordance with journalistic standards. We understand the importance of multiple independent sources, as well as how to question information and conduct proper fact-finding.
Most of you in this room are familiar with Daesh or ISIS, al-Qaida, and other terrorist organizations. You're also aware that they drove Christians, Yazidis, Mandeans, non-Muslims, moderate Muslims, Sunni Muslims who refused to adapt their way of life, and large groups of Shia Muslims from parts of Syria and Iraq. What you may not know is that the first public beheading of a Christian in order to scare all Christians out of Iraq occurred in the fall of 2004.
Many of you are probably unaware that there were 1.3 million Christians in Iraq prior to Saddam Hussein's fall. Now, fewer than 200 000 people remain, and many of them are internally displaced people, or IDPs, in what was their ancestral land for thousands of years.
The latest ADFA report is about those who fled, the forgotten Christians of Iraq and Syria, refugees who have been in limbo for more than 8 years, since the 2014 genocide. With no one to turn to for assistance. Abandoned.
In Lebanon, we interviewed 136 refugee families. Who are they? Where did they flee from? Why? What is their current situation? Why don’t they return? Have they applied for visas to a third country? What documents do they have that can prove their stories?
Since our report was published, seven of the families have been granted visas to Canada and Australia. However, we are requesting solutions for all of them. As the UN report published in early December last year stated, they are the forgotten victims of crimes against humanity.
We keep doing new reports, because they continue to live in limbo, the suffering of these refugees is a testimony to the failure of the International community to support and better the situation of the victims of genocide.
Facts should not be ignored. Facts can not be ignored.
I also want to take this opportunity and emphasize on the ongoing oppression and atrocities against 120,000 Armenians in Artsakh/Karabakh. Stay strong!"