Lobby for the Minorities of Iraq and Turkey
Â C.H.A.K.(Centre of Halabja)
Two days of Intense Lobbying for Iraqi and Turkish Minorities at UK parliament
This week, Assyrians, Armenians, Syriacs ,other Iraqi Christians, Mandaeans and Fylee Kurds took part in two days of intense lobbying of Members of the UK Parliament, coinciding with Hrant Dink Day in London.
Â On monday, Hrant Dink Day, a silent vigil was held by a crowd holding a banner “Turkey, respect your Minorities” in front of the Turkish Embassy. Later, in the evening, in the House of Commons, Deacon Yacoub Ghattas of the Syriac Church gave a presentation on the problems facing Mor Gabriel Monastery and the Syriac Community in Turkey. Contributions from Sabri Atman of Seyfo Centre and Abdulmesih BarAbrahem of the Assyrian Democratic Organisation were presented on the same theme. It is hoped that a motion in the UK parliament will result from this. The meeting was sponsored by Andrew Dismore MP
Â On the following day, individual meetings with senior MPs were held. Each Iraqi Minority Community presented their case to Ann Clwyd MP, the envoy of the Prime Minister to Iraq, and also to Mr David Lidington, the Conservative Party spokesman fot the Middle East. They both agreed to take up the issues further.
Â Dr Layla Alroomi, of the Mandaean Human Rights gropup, explained that because of the small size oif the Mandaean Community and its particular vulnrebility, re-settlement is the only option which can ensure the survival of this ancient religious group. The generous attittude of Sweden and Holland was contrasted with Britain’s heard-hearted attittude to Iraqi Minorities. Dr Munira Omed of the Gilgamish Faylee Kurd Centre reported that several hundred thousand Iraqi Faylee Kurds were still in Iran , with no legal status.She explained that nothing had been done to ensure their return to Iraq as Iraqi citizens.
Â We asked Ms Clwyd and Mr Lidington to investigate Assyrian claims of land in many villages confiscated by neighbouring Kurdish tribes, hindering the return of many Christians to northern Iraq. Ms Clwyd was not aware of this problem (despite ADM (Zowaa) claims that they were lobbying on this issue), and we supplied information on these villages written by Majed Esho to both these senior figures.
Â Adnan Kochar of CHAK , explained his organisation’s position that freedom to criticise the government and the two major parties and the development of lively opposition groups were essential requirements for a healthy democracy in the KRG area, which in turn is the only authority in Iraq which is capable of protecting Christian, Yezidi and Shabak minorities in northern Iraq.
Â During the course of the day we had individual meetings with several Members of Parliament who take a keen interest in these issues. In one such meeting, Mr David Anderson MP the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the government Minister for the Middle East (also responsible for the Iraqi Kurdistan All-Party Parliamentary Group), and Gary Kent, Director of Labour Friends of Iraq promised closer co-operation and to follow up our representations.
Â In the evening, a meeting was held in parliament to discuss the government’s inaction. Saad Tokatly made the point that increasing the numbers of Minorities allowed into the UK was an immediate priority as a temporary solution. Lord Hylton and Andrew Pelling MP gave valuable advice on how to influence the government further.It was agreed to instigate a national petition in the UK to the effect of pressurising the government to face their responsibilities to the Minorities.
Â In between meetings, lobbyists gave out leaflets to parliamentarians as they entered or left parliament, and a banner
“Britain open your door to the Minorities of Iraq” was held outside the offices of MPs in Portculis House.
Â The next lobby will be held in a few weeks. To participate, please contact us at email@example.com
On a disappointing note, we appeal to Zowaa in London to end their short-sighted policy of refusing to co-operate (and indeed, causing obstriuctions) in the lobbying of the UK parliament on behalf of Iraqi Minorities
The following apperal from the Assyrian Democratic Organization in Europe (ADO) was presented to the government
We are writing this appeal to express our deepest concern and growing alarm at the deteriorating situation of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people living in the Middleâ€“East and particularly in Iraq.
It is essential to underline that Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians are an indigenous people of Iraq, which constitute not only a religious community but also an ethnic and a linguistic minority, known under various denominational names (Assyrian, Chaldeans, Syriacs), covering different historical, cultural and ecclesiastical aspects of one nation and united, de-facto and for many centuries, in a common cause.
It is evident that the dramatic situation touches all Iraqi citizens. However, since the invasion in March 2003, the escalation of violence specifically targeted against the Christians in Iraq is spreading terror and despair within this already ravaged, persecuted, and defenceless community.
The barbaric attacks on the vulnerable Christian civilian population are perpetrated daily, targeted explicitly against community because of their ethnic and religious identity. Attacks on these defenceless people are forcing them to leave their historical homeland and drive them into the Diaspora.
It is highly urgent that the International Community to take all necessary measures and concrete actions to:
– Protect and guarantee the safety of the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac and to improve their security situation; and secure the protection and welcoming for displaced persons until the atrocities halt;
– Provide needed and sufficient assistance to all Assyrians Chaldeans Syriacs and other minority refugees, mainly in neighbouring countries and to facilitate their return and resettlement safely in their homeland;
– Guarantee the national rights of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people in the Iraqi constitution, including their legitimate right for autonomy in their historical territories where they still reside. The autonomy will ensure the security and future of Assyrian Chaldean Syriac people.
The ultimate test for the Iraqi Government, the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I), the countries bordering Iraq, the European Union, and the United Nations lies in the extent to which they can collectively implement a true effort for establishing pluralism and human rights in Iraq. The intended autonomous region in the Nineveh plain entirely fits into the ideals of pluralism advocated by the international community.
The ongoing ethnic and religious cleansing in all of Iraqâ€™s major cities, and forced exodus from major population centres, possibly could precipitate a full-blown genocide and put forward the question of whether it is still humane to wait any longer before taking action?
We respectfully appeal to you hoping for your support and begging that you use your political and moral responsibility to help the suffering Assyrians Chaldeans Syriacs Christians.
20th January 2009
Assyrian Democratic Organisation in Europe (ADO)