Coalition of URI Cooperation Circles Recognized for Raising Awareness about the Plight of Yezidis and Assyrians

Updated on 12/07/16

The “Save Us From Genocide” (SUFG) and Beyond Genocide campaigns have been selected to receive a United Nations Association (UNA) Global Citizen Award for its consciousness-raising efforts on behalf of Yezidis and Assyrians facing genocide in Iraq and Syria. The award was presented by the UNA-USA East Bay Chapter in October 2016  at the International House at UC Berkeley, and in November 2016 at Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco. 

These four URI Cooperation Circles — the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County (ICCCC), the Marin Interfaith Council (MIC), the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC), and the Interfaith Center at the Presidio (ICP) — have been working in concert with the United Religions Initiative (URI) since early 2015 to raise awareness about the plight of Yezidis and Assyrians facing genocide at the hands of so-called-ISIL and to focus a spotlight on the assertive action needed to halt these atrocities and support the affected communities as they seek peace, justice and healing.

Beginning in 2016, these four URI Cooperation Circles have also been working with the Board of Rabbis of Northern California on a project called Beyond Genocide (BG) to help Yezidis wishing to remain in Iraq and those wishing to seek asylum elsewhere.

Individual religious and community leaders across the faith spectrum have lent their names and support at critical junctures to both the SUFG and BG campaigns, including members of URI cooperation circles around the world.

“We are so grateful for the work that a collaborative group of United Religions Initiative Cooperation Circles has been doing to bring light to these atrocities,” said Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian, Jr., Executive Director of URI.  “URI firmly supports the rights of these and all people to practice their faith and spirituality free from violence and oppression. This is a powerful example of URI’s long-held belief that grassroots interfaith activities have the ability to affect global change.”

SUFG has called attention to the tragedies befalling Assyrians and Yezidis by holding a press conference, and by writing to, and conferring with, U.N. and U.S. government officials. They also maintain an informational website and provide speakers for religious and educational programs. Additionally, they join in solidarity with affected communities, and offer support to Yezidi religious leaders and Yezidi and Assyrian lay leaders as they cope with, and address, the atrocities facing their respective peoples.

BG also calls attention to the tragedies befalling Yezidis and they maintain an informational website and provide speakers.

Sally Mahé, URI Director of Global Programs and Organizational Development represented URI during the November award ceremony.

“The award reads, ‘Global Citizen Award 2016, Humanitarian Hero for Achievements to Support the Most Needy. Save Us from Genocide. Beyond Genocide.” said Sally. “The persevering work of Rabbi Pam Frydman and Reverend Will McGarvey inspires this multi-year ongoing effort to bring the desperate and horrific plight of the Yezidi and Assyrian communities into view and provide much needed support. The Interfaith of Council Contra Costa County CC, Marin Interfaith Council CC, Silicon Valley Inter-religious Council CC, Interfaith Center at the Presidio CC, together with the Board of Rabbis of Northern California, URI’s UN representative Monica Willard, and URI’s global network are part of this collective effort. URI celebrates its vital network of connection that allows for this kind of collective effort to invigorate hope to bring these genocides to an end before it is too late.”

Sari Heidenreich, URI North America Regional Coordinator, extended her congratulations to the coalition. “Rabbi Pamela Frydman has been working tirelessly with this coalition to bring awareness of the plight of the Yezidi and Assyrian people,” said Sari. “She and her partners are excellent examples of what it means to follow that voice in our head that says ‘You must take action’ in the face of injustice. People like Rabbi Pam and the members of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County, the Marin Interfaith Council, the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council, and the Interfaith Center at the Presidio give me tangible hope that we can create a world where everyone can live in peace.”

For more information and to participate in this ongoing effort, go to: