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Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman is the High Representative to the United Kingdom of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq - a forward-looking emerging democracy that saw its first free elections in 1992. The Kurdistan Regional Government seeks to build a federal, pluralistic, democratic and united Iraq.
The Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region in federal Iraq. It borders Syria to the west, Iran to the east, and Turkey to the north, where fertile plains meet the Zagros mountains, and is traversed by the Tigris, Big Zab, and Little Zab rivers. As a burgeoning economy and a unique democracy in the Middle East, the Kurdistan Region offers excellent opportunities.
Key to her role as High Representative are strengthening ties between Kurdistan Region and the UK and encouraging inward investment which is important to the revival and stability of Kurdistan and Iraq as a whole. Ms Abdul Rahman also leads a campaign in the UK and internationally, calling on governments, parliaments, the European Union and the United Nations to formally recognise the Kurdish genocide.
In light of the conflict in Syria and the now-proven use of chemical weapons near Damascus last month, Ms Abdul Rahman has been working hard to remind the international community of the horrors that such weapons can inflict and the long-term consequences they can impose on the people, including permanent physical and psychological scars left on communities and society as a whole. It was the Kurdish people who were the first to face the chemical weapons attacks under Saddam Hussein’s regime. The largest of such attacks took place in 1988 in the city of Halabja which killed 5,000 people and injured over 7,000, while the world stood by in silence allowing Saddam Hussein to commit numerous of these heinous crimes.
Ms Abdul Rahman will talk about the Kurdistan Region’s successes and future prospects but also the challenges that the Region is facing, which stem from its difficult past and the legacy of the oppressive Ba’athist regimes, which the people of Kurdistan are working hard to overcome in order to build a peaceful and prosperous future. The more recent challenge has been to deal with the impact of the situation in Syria on Kurdistan, as the region became a shelter for those fleeing the conflict. The most recent UNHCR estimates put the number of displaced people in the Region at over 200,000, with more arriving every day.
Ms Abdul Rahman will also talk about the Domiz Camp, one of the largest refugee camps in Kurdistan providing protection for nearly 50,000 of the refugees, and where the Rotary International has been helping with the shelter for the Syrian refugees.
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The event takes place on Tuesday 19 November 2013 at 6:45pm at the the Grange Strathmore Hotel, 41 Queens Gate Gardens, London SW7 5NB. The talk is part of our regular weekly dinner. Visitors are welcome to join us for this dinner. It is necessary, however, to inform our Secretary at least 24 hours prior to your visit.