Written Evidence submitted by the Jubilee
COMMENTS ON THE SECTION ON IRAQ IN THE FCO'S
1. The Jubilee Campaign is an interdenominational
Christian human rights organisation which campaigns on human rights
issues worldwide. It serves as Secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary
Group on Street Children and also has United Nations consultative
2. The FCO's 2006 annual human rights report's
section on Iraq (pages 66 to 77) fails to mention in any specific
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. The ChaldoAssyrians are also the indigenous people
of Iraq, having settled in that area long before it came under
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
by several different groups 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 minority.
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. In addition to that, many insurgents
mistakenly perceive Iraqi Christians as being staunch supporters
of the Coalition forces, because of their shared faith with the
"Christian West", and this has resulted in even more
attacks against Iraqi Christians.
5. The ChaldoAssyrians also 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 Sunnis, Shiites, 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 in the
near future unless their security situation vastly improves.
7. Tens of thousands of ChaldoAssyrians
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. One significant
indicator that the ChaldoAssyrian community have been disproportionately
affected by the violence in Iraq is the report by the UNHCR that
Iraqi Christians make up about 36% of refugees from Iraq despite
the fact that they only comprise 2 to 3% of the Iraqi population.
8. Below are just a few examples of Iraqi
Christians being attacked for their faith:
8.1 On 9 October 2006, a prominent ChaldoAssyrian
priest, Fr Paulos Iskander, was kidnapped by an Islamic group
and beheaded on Wednesday, 11 October.
8.2 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 country.
8.3 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 bombed.
Muslim extremists are calling Iraqi Christians "crusaders"
or a fifth column for the Christian West and the Americans.
8.4 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
8.5 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 ten 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.
8.6 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.
8.7 The ChaldoAssyrian Christian community
in Iraq, despite being one of Iraq's indigenous ethnic 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 reference or focus to the
desperate situation of Iraq's Christian community suggests that
the Foreign Office has gravely underestimated the vulnerability
of this community and the intensity of the pressures and attacks
they are facing.
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. Article 53(D) of the Transitional Administrative
Law states: "This Law shall guarantee the administrative,
cultural and political rights of the Turcomans, ChaldoAssyrians,
and all other citizens."
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 province should be located in the Nineveh
Plains and include the Al-Shikhan and Al-Handaniya Districts.
These areas are at the heart of the ChaldoAssyrians' ancestral
homeland and are still heavily populated by ChaldoAssyrians. This
province would be jointly administered by ChaldoAssyrians and
other ethnic groups historically linked to the area such as the
Yezidis, and would be linked to the central government in Baghdad.
What is being requested by the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM)
and its supporters is a province for the ChaldoAssyrians and others
historically linked to their region, which is linked to the central
government in Baghdad. It would thus be a gross misunderstanding
of this request to interpret it as an attempt to break up the
10.2 The ADM has consistently received more
votes from Iraq's Christian population than any other political
party and this indicates that their strong stance on wanting a
self-governing province for ChaldoAssyrians in northern Iraq has
widespread support among Iraq's Christians.
10.3 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 relatively 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.
10.4 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.
10.5 Failure to grant the ChaldoAssyrians
their own province 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 an all out armed conflict. It is thus crucial for peace
and stability that the ChaldoAssyrians be granted a province where
they can control their own affairs.
10.6 Most ordinary ChaldoAssyrians see their
hope for better security and self-determination within Iraq in
the setting up of a province 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 province where
they are operating their own police force.The need for such a
province is especially urgent at a time when violence targeted
specifically at the ChaldoAssyrians is escalating and the British
government and its U.S ally should play an active role in helping
to bring this about.
10.7 The KDP should also be pressured by
Britain and the U.S 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. It does not appear that
the Foreign Office has taken much or any action in this area and
neither has the Foreign Office supported the creation of an administrative
region for the ChaldoAssyrians. It is a matter of grave concern
that the Foreign Office appears content to take a passive stance
while Iraq's third largest ethnic group, the ChaldoAssyrians,
are steadily eradicated from their ancient homeland.
10.8 The British government and its U.S
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
10.9 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 in recent years fled Iraq and
thereby empower a force for moderation within Iraq. Furthermore,
if the ChaldoAssyrians had their own province and much of the
rest of Iraq became increasingly Islamised, their region would
very likely be a positive example to the rest of the country of
good governance, religious tolerance and moderation.
10.10 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
little or 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.
10.11 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
Researcher and Parliamentary Officer