Why International Shia Day
According to experts, Shia sects such as Zaydis, Twelvers and Ismā’īlīs account for to half of the world’s Muslim population. Most of the world’s Shia population reside in in Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon, and Azerbaijan. Shia are subjected to harsh religious discrimination in all countries they reside, no matter the ruling or majority religion. Whether attacks are coming from terrorist groups such as ISIS or from the government itself, Shia living in and around the Middle East are rarely safe. They face constant targeted limitations in their freedom of religion, and expression. Further, their peaceful protest for rights has been chronically met with imprisonment and in some cases, execution.
SRW calls for an international day for Shia and human rights advocates to gather with a common goal of increasing awareness about minorities, specifically Shia Muslims and to advocate for their rights.
International Shia Day is not to promote any NGO, government or political party. It is solely to advocate for Shia rights and take action against injustice.
History of International Shia Day
International Shia Day has been observed and celebrated since June 12th, 2015. This day was introduced by Shia Rights Watch as a result of the increase in oppression against Shia Muslims in different country. Shia Rights Watch chose June 12 as the International Day for Shia Rights in commemoration of the massacre that occurred at Camp Speicher in 2014 in which ISIS militants escorted upwards of 3,000 Iraqi soldiers from Camp Speicher, an Iraqi military base previously operated by the U.S.A., to Tikrit, an ISIS controlled town 140 km north-west of Baghdad. Once they arrived in Tikrit the soldiers were divided by religious affiliation; the non-Shia allowed to live, the Shia condemned to death by firing squad. It is estimated that ISIS killed upwards of 1,700 Shia soldiers, making this the most prolific sectarian mass killing against Shias since the time of Saddam Hussein’s rule. Only one person survived the attacks, Ali Hussein Kadhim, who survived by feigning dead.
Every year, SRW with the help of other NGOs, honors a different group of victims. The 2015 campaign honored the 1700 Camp Speicher victims and 2016 intends to honor hundreds of Nigerian Shia killed by Nigerian Army.