The EPIC Story
In the mid-1990s, there were news reports about a public health emergency and harm to basic life in Iraq, untold suffering under the regime of Saddam Hussein, and a comprehensive United Nations trade embargo. This sparked humanitarian concerns in the United States and around the world. Children got dangerously sick and couldn’t receive life-saving health care, young adults couldn’t attend and/or speak freely in school, Iraqis were cut off from the outside world, and human rights defenders and ordinary citizens were jailed and killed without cause.
Motivated by these concerns and recognizing the need to act, EPIC was founded in 1998. We brought together veterans, Iraqi-Americans, aid workers, doctors, advocates, faith communities, and ordinary Americans as a grassroots movement to improve humanitarian conditions in Iraq.
With tens of thousands of Americans raising their voices in unison behind it, EPIC became a leading organization in the U.S., amplifying the authentic needs and concerns that everyday Iraqis were expressing. Since its creation, EPIC has built bridges across communities, connecting organizations and concerned citizens committed to a peaceful, prosperous and secure Iraq.
Our expertise on the issues and contacts in Iraq have allowed EPIC to lead the conversation in Washington on economic sanctions, human rights abuses, and humanitarian concerns. Now more than ever we must invest in Iraq’s younger generation to secure a lasting peace.
Highlights and Achievements from Our History
- Founded by 1991 Gulf War American veterans and human rights advocates in 1998.
- Raised public awareness about the plight of the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein’s regime and UN economic sanctions. Fought for US policy changes to improve humanitarian conditions and human rights protections in Iraq.
- Co-organized the 1999 National Conference on Iraq in Ann Arbor, MI with the Iraqi Diaspora. Hundreds attended, including speakers from overseas.
- Hosted the National Rally to End the Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq on August 6, 2000. Over 1,000 participated, and the event was covered by The Washington Post.
- Organized more than a dozen Iraq policy forums and advocacy days between 1998 and 2003.
- Supported the establishment of Veterans for Common Sense in 2002.
- Hosted the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers for a Better World, publishing two New York Times‘ ads in 2003 signed by 1,850 RPCVs urging a peaceful resolution to the Iraq crisis.
- EPIC’s Humanitarian Pledge to the People of Iraq gained more than 30,000 signatures and was delivered to the UN Secretary General, White House, and US Members of Congress in 2003.
- Initiated and chaired the Iraq Peace & Development Working Group (IPDWG), a working group of dozens of NGOs including the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, The Episcopal Church, NETWORK, Mercy Corps, CHF International, Amnesty International, among others.
- Initiated and led the 2008 Iraq Action Days (www.iraqactiondays.org) with 20 national groups including InterAction, IRC, Mercy Corps, Amnesty International, and Church World Service. The effort contributed to the American government significantly increasing assistance to the region and admissions/resettlement of vulnerable Iraqi refugees in the United States.
- Played a key role in building support for the passage of Senator Kennedy’s Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act.
- In 2010, convened policy forum on “The Future of Iraqi Civil Society” with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Michael Corbin, President and CEO of the Stimson Center Ellen Laipson, Manal Omar of the United States Institute for Peace, and other leading experts.
- In 2011, began developing and building support for youth & peacebuilding initiatives in the field.
- In September 2011, successfully implemented EPIC’s first youth project in Iraq: the Iraqi Youth Hike. Nine Iraqi Arab, Kurdish, and Turkmani youth from the city of Kirkuk participated in the 5-day program, including educational activities at Nature Iraq’s Eco-Camp and a day hike at Mt. Piramagroon.