UN denounces religion- and ethnicity-based crimes in Mideast

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UNITED NATIONS, March 27 (Xinhua) — Speakers during a day-long UN Security Council discussion on Friday denounced religion- and ethnicity-based attacks in the Middle East, calling for international involvement in tackling the issue.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon decried “atrocity crimes” by terrorists in the Middle East, calling for an urgent response and justice.

“In Iraq, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights mission of investigation cited information strongly suggesting that Daesh may have perpetrated genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” he said.

Radicals of the Islamic State (IS), also known as Daesh, were blamed for recent attacks.

The secretary-general added: “There is strong evidence that members of a number of different minorities have been victims of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other very serious violations and abuses of human rights. This is especially true for women and girls.”

But he reminded that “violent extremism in Iraq precedes Daesh’s advance,” calling for the underlying conditions to be addressed.

That includes joblessness, poverty and the fallout from the 2003 invasion of Iraq by a U.S.-led coalition, he noted.

The Iraqi government has lost considerable territory to the IS and its troops recently have begun to regain control of some of the areas.

Ambassador Mohamed Alhakim of Iraq thanked the council for “shedding light on the humanitarian tragedy resulting from Daesh in Iraq and the region.”

He said the events experienced by Iraq as of late have caused “double danger to Iraqis in general and religious minorities in particular. This danger threatens coexistence which has remained among the Iraqis over the years.”

Iraqi “components” range from Christians and Yazidis to Sunni and Shiite Muslims, with ethnic identities as “Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen or of aboriginal population,” Alhakim said.

“Today we find ourselves facing a considerable danger to human existence in Iraq,” he said. “We have to combat it and deal with it.”

France, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council for March, called for the debate with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius proposing an action charter for minorities in the Middle East.

“It is our duty — and our tradition — to respond to the urgency and gravity of the situation, and to the fact that there is an attempt at ethnic and religious eradication,” he told reporters outside the chambers during the discussion.

“The terrorists of Daesh have a simple and appalling plan, which is to destroy all those who think differently from them and physically eliminate all diversity,” Fabius said. “Daesh barbarism knows no bounds.”

The foreign minister called for humanitarian support, international and regional military coalitions, and political solutions to protect the rights of all Citizens