The suffering of the Mandaeans of Iraq after the war

Since 2003, the Mandaeans have become the target of a sustained and violent campaign by insurgents and militia extremists. Accounts of murders, rapes, kidnappings, forced conversions and financial expropriation committed against hundreds of Mandaeans in the last five years necessitate an immediate investigation. Mandaean women suffer the most persecution at the hands of extremist insurgents and militia who consider them products of pleasure. The escalating kidnappings and rape of Mandaean women has gone unpunished. Many families, young girls, and even children have been subjected to forced conversions.

In an effort to destabilize the country the insurgent groups have purposely singled out and persecuted the Iraqi religious minorities. The Sabian Mandaeans are small in numbers and are not protected constitutionally or socially within Iraq, despite the constitutional reforms under the transitional and the current government. Since their religion prohibits self-defence, the Mandaeans do not carry weapons and will not reciprocate these attacks. Instead they choose to stand behind the rule of law, which currently is not protecting them. Furthermore, the Mandaeans do not have a particular area inside Iraq to which they can relocate for safety.

Out of 60,000 Mandaeans who lived in Iraq, unfortunately more than 80 % have fled the country, leaving their homes and occupations. Currently, there are approximately more than 10,000 Mandaean refugees in the neighbouring countries of Syria and Jordan alone. According to the UNHCR more than 4 million Iraqis are displaced. About two million are internally displaced, and the rest are mainly in the neighbouring countries. This has led to one of the largest refugee crises in the Middle East since the Palestinian exodus in 1948. Although religious minorities are about 4 -5% of Iraq, they represent 20% of the refugees.

Despite the reported relative improvement in the security situation within Iraq, this has not been the case in relation to the minorities. The recent killing of Christians in Mosul is a reminder of the continual aggression against religious minorities. Only few weeks ago a whole Mandeaen family was gunned down including an 8 years old boy, while minding their shop in a district in Baghdad. Most of these atrocities went without any proper investigation or punishment. The government of Iraq has yet to acknowledge that the minorities have suffered a disproportionate share of targeted violence although this fact has been cited by many independent organizations such as the UNHCR, Amnesty International UNAMI and others. The recent ruling that Article 50, which previously reasserted the right of minority representation in certain areas, should be limited does not send a reassuring signal to the displaced minority communities.
We ask Her Majesty’s Government to urge the Iraqi government to stop the insurgents and sympathizing religious clerics from continuing the systematic attack on the ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and to press the Iraqi government to take active steps for the protection of the Mandaean community, culture, historical artefacts, their property, and to provide adequate funds to help the Mandaean refugees.

There is a moral obligation for the countries of the coalition forces in Iraq, particularly the United Kingdom and the EU countries , to take active and immediate steps to help prevent this small and peaceful community from becoming extinct by giving them a safe place of refuge. The Mandaean refugees need a durable solution which takes into account their vulnerable situation

We ask the British Government to consider the resettlement of those Mandaean refugees as a collective group; otherwise this ancient indigenous, ethnic and religious minority will become extinct”.