Written evidence submitted by the Jubilee
1. The Jubilee Campaign is an interdenominational
Christian human rights organisation. It serves as Secretariat
to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Street Children and also
has consultative status at the United Nations.
2. The FCO's 2005 annual human rights report's
section on Iraq fails to mention in any detail the desperate situation
of Iraq's second largest ethnic minority, the ChaldoAssyrians,
who are also the largest religious minority in Iraq, as they make
up over 95% of the Iraqi Christian community.
3. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, ChaldoAssyrian
organisations have recorded the killing of over 100 Iraqi Christians.
Christians have been subjected to escalating violence in Iraq.
The indigenous ChaldoAssyrians are being targeted for violence
regularly due to their distinct ethnicity and faith. Although
the indigenous people of Iraq, they are a double minority in their
own ancestral homeland since they are both an ethnic and religious
4. While the average Iraqi faces many risks
in the unstable situation in Iraq, Iraqi Christians are exposed
to even more dangers as they have to deal with the additional
threat of attacks from Islamic extremists, who want to drive them
out of Iraq, kill them or force them to convert to Islam simply
because they are Christians.
5. Iraqi Christians are also perceived by
Muslim extremists as allies of the "Christian" West
which gives the extremists even more motivation to attack the
Christians. They face additional problems from their neighbouring
Kurds in northern Iraq, some of whom have used violence against
ChaldoAssyrians or illegally expropriated Christian villages and
land depriving many ChaldoAssyrians of their livelihood and shelter.
At least 58 ChaldoAssyrian villages have been misappropriated
by Kurds and repeated representations to Kurdish leaders for the
return of this land have so far been ignored. This is one example
of the inability of ChaldoAssyrians living under Kurdish domination
to obtain proper redress for their grievances. Some ChaldoAssyrian
land was also confiscated under the regime of Saddam Hussein and
either given to Iraqi military and intelligence personnel or rented
to Kurds or Arabs. Until now the land has yet to be returned to
its ChaldoAssyrian owners.
6. The ChaldoAssyrian Christians are a highly
vulnerable community under siege. While there is no danger of
the Kurds or Arabs vanishing from Iraq or having their communities
in Iraq reduced to a tiny remnant, there is a real danger that
this may happen to the ChaldoAssyrians unless their security situation
7. There are currently only about 800,000
to one million ChaldoAssyrians left in Iraq. Tens of thousands
of them fled to neighbouring countries such as Jordan and Syria
after lethal and coordinated church bombings by Islamic extremists
killed at least 12 people and injured many more in August 2004.
8. Below are just a few examples of Iraqi
Christians being attacked for their faith:
8.1 Many Christian Churches in Iraq have
received threatening letters from Islamic fundamentalists. Bishop
al-Qas of Amadiyah, in the Kurdish region, said that posters had
been put up urging Christians to convert to Islam or leave the
8.2 ChaldoAssyrian Christians have received
threatening letters telling them to support Muslim rebellion against
the Coalition authorities and practise Islam or suffer the consequences.
The recipients of these letters are told to follow the Muslims'
basic rules of wearing the Islamic veil and following Islamic
teaching. If the recipients do not submit and comply, then it
is threatened that they will be raped, tortured, killed, kidnapped,
or have their house, along with their family, burned or exploded.
Muslim extremists are calling Iraqi Christians "crusaders"
or a fifth column for the Christian West and the Americans.
8.3 Three Christian bishops in Mosul have
received letters ordering them to permit the marriage of Christian
women to Muslim men, a process which often involves the woman's
conversion to Islam, and threatening to kill one member of each
Christian household as punishment for women not wearing the Islamic
8.4 Islamic extremists conducted lethal
terrorist bombings on Sunday 1 August 2004 against five churches
in Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul, which killed 12 people
and injured many more. Bombs exploded at two churches in Baghdad
on 8 November 2004. Both churches were bombed within a space of
five to 10 minutes. At least three people were killed and 40 injured.
On 16 October 2004, five ChaldoAssyrian churches in Baghdad were
targeted and bombed by Islamic extremists. Nobody was injured.
Islamic extremists bombed two churches on Tuesday 7 December in
Mosul wounding three people.
8.5 On 26 June 2004 a grenade was thrown
at the Holy Spirit Church in the Akhaa quarters in Mosul. The
explosion caused serious injuries to one person.
8.6 The ChaldoAssyrian Christian community
in Iraq, despite being one of that country's indigenous people
groups, is in a far more vulnerable and weak position than the
Kurdish, Arab, Shiite or Sunni Muslim communities in Iraq.
9. The fact that the Iraq section of the
FCO's annual report gave no specific attention to the desperate
situation of Iraq's Christian community suggests that the Foreign
Office has seriously underestimated the vulnerability of this
community and the intensity of the pressures and attacks they
10. The British Government should take practical
steps to assist Iraq's Christians including the following measures:
10.1 One significant way of enhancing the
security of the ChaldoAssyrians is to grant them an administrative
region as has been guaranteed under Article 53(D) of Iraq's Transitional
Administrative Law. Such an administrative region can act as a
safe haven for Iraq's Christians and would also encourage the
tens of thousands of Christians who have fled Iraq, especially
in recent months, to return to their ancestral homeland. This
administrative region should be situated in and around the Nineveh
Plains and in Dohuk province, which are at the heart of the ChaldoAssyrians'
ancestral homeland and which is still heavily populated by ChaldoAssyrians.
This region would be jointly administered by ChaldoAssyrians and
other ethnic groups historically linked to the area such as the
10.2 The long and tragic history of massacres
and genocide against the ChaldoAssyrians has demonstrated that
they cannot rely on other ethnic groups to manage their affairs
and provide them security. For example, in Dohuk province the
ChaldoAssyrians live under the control of the Kurdistan Democratic
Party (KDP) who have refused to heed ChaldoAssyrian appeals for
the return of their 58 villages which have been partially or fully
illegally occupied by Kurds. To make matters worse, the KDP has
even encouraged Kurds from countries outside Iraq, such as Syria,
to go and settle on the ChaldoAssyrian land. Furthermore, the
KDP has done very little to protect the ChaldoAssyrians and very
few Kurds who commit crimes including kidnapping and murder against
ChaldoAssyrians are ever brought to justice. There have in fact
been a number of incidents where the KDP authorities have handed
over ChaldoAssyrians to Kurdish mobs who killed them. During the
Iraqi elections in early 2005, up to a hundred thousand ChaldoAssyrians
and thousands of others were prevented from voting in northern
Iraq because of KDP interference with the election process. This
significantly reduced the chances of ChaldoAssyrian candidates
being elected to the Iraqi Parliament and is yet another stark
example of the many difficulties which ChaldoAssyrians living
under KDP control have when it comes to obtaining their rights.
10.2.1 Failure to grant the ChaldoAssyrians
their own administrative region will keep many of these Christians
in northern Iraq under Kurdish control which will inevitably perpetuate
the discrimination and injustices they are suffering under the
Kurds. Such ongoing friction between the two ethnic groups could
eventually lead to civil war, thus it is crucial that the ChaldoAssyrians
be granted an administrative region where they can control their
10.3 Most ordinary ChaldoAssyrians see their
hope for better security and self-determination within Iraq in
the setting up of an administrative region for the ChaldoAssyrians.
It will also be an effective way of preventing discrimination
against the ChaldoAssyrians in law enforcement because in that
region the ChaldoAssyrians will be responsible for overseeing
their own security needs. For example, in one incident when a
ChaldoAssyrian family's home was broken into by some Muslims,
the family urgently begged the Iraqi police to come and assist
them but were simply told to take care of themselves. This kind
of police indifference is highly unlikely to occur in a ChaldoAssyrian
administrative region where they are operating their own police
force. The need for such a region is especially urgent at a time
when violence targeted specifically at the ChaldoAssyrians is
escalating and the British Government and its US ally should play
an active role in helping to bring this about.
10.4 The KDP should also be pressured by
Britain and the US to ensure that all the land and villages illegally
expropriated by Kurds are returned to the ChaldoAssyrians and
the violence, kidnapping and other crimes against ChaldoAssyrians
in KDP controlled areas are punished.
10.5 The British Government and its US ally
should also financially support the redevelopment and reconstruction
of ChaldoAssyrian villages and infrastructure and the return and
resettlement of ChaldoAssyrian refugees and give whatever support
they can to the Christians of Iraq to enhance their security and
10.6 By assisting the reconstruction of
ChaldoAssyrian villages and infrastructure and the return and
resettlement of ChaldoAssyrian refugees as well as helping the
ChaldoAssyrians with their security and protection, the British
government would be enabling the return of tens of thousands of
ChaldoAssyrian refugees who have recently fled Iraq and thereby
empowering a force for moderation within Iraq. Furthermore, if
they had their own administrative region and much of the rest
of Iraq became increasingly Islamised, their region would probably
be a very positive example to the rest of the country of good
governance, religious tolerance and moderation. One indication
of Iraq's possible Islamisation is the reference in the draft
Iraqi constitution to the prohibition of any law conflicting with
the principles of Islam. This might be used in future to try and
pave the way for the introduction of Islamic sharia law in Iraq.
Any such move would be highly unlikely to gain any support in
a ChaldoAssyrian administrative region.
10.7 The ChaldoAssyrians together with moderate
Muslims in Iraq are the main bulwarks against the growth and spread
of Islamic fundamentalism in that country. If the Iraqi Christian
community is reduced to a tiny remnant, it will have no power
to oppose the imposition of Islamic law in Iraq. The presence
of a vibrant Christian community in Iraq also adds much strength
to the ability of moderate Iraqi Muslims to oppose the spread
of Islamic fundamentalism. The British Government would be making
a grave mistake if it viewed the plight of the Christian community
in Iraq as simply a side issue peripheral to the major events
affecting that country. It is the non-Muslims who are the natural
allies of moderate Muslims opposed to the spread of militant extremist
Islam in Iraq. Even if the British Government has yet to fully
realise this, there can be little doubt that many of the Islamic
extremists are already aware of this, which is one reason why
they are now focusing their attacks so strongly on the Iraqi Christian
1. In the Burma section of the FCO's report
(page 37, paragraph 6), they claim that, "The [Burmese] Government
has continued ceasefire negotiations with the Karen National Union
(KNU). The provisional truce established in 2003 remains shaky
and some low-level fighting continues." This statement can
give a misleading picture of the situation for the Karen people
as being a lot more peaceful than before but unfortunately this
is not the case. The Burmese military have repeatedly committed
truce violations and human rights violations and numerous military
attacks by the Burmese army against Karen people and their villages
have occurred, as if the provisional truce was non-existent.
2. At page 38, paragraph 7, the report states
that "Ethnic groups have suffered disproportionately in Burma
. . ." While this is very true and we welcome this statement,
the Jubilee Campaign is concerned that some of the ethnic groups
which are suffering the most severe atrocities, such as the Karen,
Karenni and Shan people also be specifically named in the Foreign
Office report. The Burmese military have been inflicting systematic
atrocities on the Karen, Karenni and Shan people, killing numerous
civilians, including women, children and the elderly. These atrocities
include widespread and systematic rape, summary executions, torture,
disappearances, destruction of villages, crops and livestock,
causing massive displacement (over 650,000 Karen, Karenni and
Shan internally displaced) and severe food shortages.
3. Given the humanitarian catastrophe which
the Burmese military have created in the Karen, Karenni and Shan
areas of Burma, the urgent needs of hundreds of thousands of internally
displaced Karen, Karenni and Shan, many of whom are hiding in
the Burmese jungle with little or no food and medicine, and are
usually killed on sight if discovered by Burmese troops; a lot
more specific attention should have been given to this catastrophic
situation facing the Karen, Karenni and Shan, in the FCO report.
3.1 The report states that the FCO are "deeply
disturbed that Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest"
and while this is a very important issue, the report fails to
mention any specific FCO concern or action regarding the desperate
plight of the Karen, Karenni and Shan people of Burma. Even specific
mention of these ethnic groups is generally avoided in the FCO
report. Despite the fact that the Karen and Karenni make up the
vast majority of refugees in refugee camps on the Burma-Thai border,
the FCO report refers to them as "Burmese refugees".
3.2 At page 38, paragraph 7, the FCO rightly
acknowledges that ethnic groups have faced "appalling abuses"
yet fail to try and name the ethnic groups, such as the Karen,
Karenni and Shan, who face such abuses. There are over 20 ethnic
groups in Burma, which is all the more reason why the FCO needs
to be more specific in naming the ethnic peoples who face such
Reference is made to UN General Assembly and
UNHCR resolutions on this issue co-sponsored by the Foreign Office.
While such action is to be welcomed, far more needs to be urgently
done to end the appalling atrocities against the Karen, Karenni
and Shan. The last paragraph of the Burma section fails to mention
any plans by the UK to put pressure on the Burmese regime to end
their atrocities against the Karen, Karenni and Shan people.
4. Adopt a far more balanced human rights
policy on Burma, which gives as much importance to dealing with
the systematic atrocities by the Burmese military against the
Karen, Karenni and Shan as is given to the situation of Aung San
Suu Kyi and other Burmese pro-democracy activists.
5. Refer the human rights situation in Burma,
including the systematic atrocities against the Karen, Karenni
and Shan, to the UN Security Council. The FCO has resisted taking
such action in the past, claiming that there will be no consensus
for the Security Council to put Burma on its agenda. But this
becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for by failing to even try
to have Burma discussed at the Security Council, the FCO guarantees
that this important subject continues to be ignored by the UN
6. The UN Security Council should also be
lobbied to pass resolutions imposing global trade and investment
sanctions as well as an arms embargo against Burma until the Burmese
regime stops their systematic atrocities against the Karen, Karenni
and Shan people and withdraws their troops from Karen, Karenni
and Shan areas, as well as making significant improvements on
other human rights issues.
7. Ban all new investment by UK companies
in Burma just as the US Government banned such investment by US
companies, in the late nineties.
Researcher and Parliamentary Officer
7 November 2005