After the defeat of Islamic State in Iraq, many communities were subject to continuous marginalization and retributive attacks. Women, children, and the elderly are currently forced to live in camps and are not allowed to return home because a family member previously joined the terrorist organization. Their marginalization threatens to undermine the social cohesion of Iraqi communities, and if left unaddressed may precipitate a deadly cycle of violence which would lay the groundwork for the resurgence of violent extremism in the country.
In partnership with Global Affairs Canada, DT Global aims to reduce retributive attacks and violence against IS-affiliated families and increase condemnation of retribution across the liberated provinces of Anbar, Diyala and Ninewa. Towards these objectives, PRMV established eight grassroot civil-military crisis committees to create outlets for conflict resolution, prevent retributive violence through dialogue, and provide sustainable linkages to the local governance structures. These committees are comprised of influential men and women in the community, such as local council members, tribal leaders, prominent activists, journalists, and public servants, who can leverage their social capital to address the myriad of challenges faced by IS-affiliated families. Crisis committees are trained on trauma-informed conflict resolution to ensure they do not perpetuate cycles of trauma and promote a more restorative form of conflict resolution.
Further, PRMV launched a social media campaign (#counter-retribution) that raises awareness of retributive violence and promotes peace-building and social cohesion through a mixture of direct and indirect messaging. The direct messaging campaign showcases the precarious living conditions in ill-equipped camps where family members of imprisoned or deceased Daesh fighter are being held, to elicit tolerance and understanding from viewers. It also draws on success stories by crisis committees to mitigate retribution and re-integrate Daesh families back into the community. PRMV utilizes a positive deviance approach to amplify these examples and highlight that peace and stability are achievable through unity, inclusivity and tolerance. The PRMV indirect messaging campaign focuses on undermining Daesh tactics through satire and comedy which has provided an avenue for the general public to reflect on sensitive issues without significant emotional or psychological burden.
As of April 2020, PRMV’s crisis committees have addressed over 127 disputes and resolved nearly 90 cases, including obtaining civil documentation and security clearances, resolving property disputes over agricultural land and housing, and facilitating tribal negotiation to return IS-related families to their home of origin. Additionally, PRMV produced over 76 direct and indirect messages, including short videos and social media posts, to promote peace-building and social cohesion, as well as address the ongoing threats of IS resurgence. These messages were able to generate over 16 million views on the different social media platforms.