Iraqi families of missing persons decide to form a joint organization

ICMP conference in Erbil

ICMP conference in Erbil

At a three-day networking conference in Erbil more than 50 Iraqi women whose family members were forcibly disappeared reaffirmed their wish to establish and officially register “The Arc of Life” network as a mechanism to better lobby for their rights.

The conference, organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), in cooperation with Martyrs Foundation and Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal affairs, brought together more than 50 Iraqi Kurdish and Iraqi Arab women whose family members are missing in Iraq.

During the discussions the participants defined the main objectives of the network. Participants decided the “The Arc of Life” organization will work to ensure the truth about missing persons, help locate and identify missing persons, demand justice for perpetrators, strengthen the ties between family associations, improve the financial and social status of victim families, commemorate the victims by erecting monuments and documenting the crimes.

“The families today confirmed their commitment to a joint engagement in resolving their common problems. They want to be heard and they want to be acknowledged. ICMP will continue to support their cooperation and facilitate their networking process in the future”, said Matthew Holiday, head of ICMP’s Justice and Civil Society Initiatives department.

“I was honored to work for these three days with women from Iraq. With the assistance from our friends from the Western Balkans we were discussing how to find solutions to our problems. We are optimistic that the network we’ve created ‘The Arc of Life’ will help us all to cooperate more and have better results in the search for our missing relatives”, said one of the women who participated in the event.

The event was attended by members of the Regional Coordination of Family Associations of Missing Persons from the former Yugoslavia Ljiljana Alvir and Seida Karabasic, as well as the members of the Advisory Board of the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina Munira Subasic and Smilja Mitrovic, who shared their experiences with the Iraqi women.

The event was attended by the representatives of the Martyrs Foundation and Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal affairs of the Kurdistan Regional Government who expressed their support to the networking activities of Iraqi families. This was the fourth workshop of this type organized by ICMP in Iraq.

The ICMP was created at a G-7 summit in 1996 and it is the only specialized international organization that addresses the issue of missing persons in all of its facets. As part of its mandate, ICMP works with civil society organizations, encourages public involvement in its activities, and contributes to the development of appropriate expressions of commemoration and tribute to the missing. ICMP has offices in the Western Balkans, Iraq, and Libya.