May 05, 2010

Assyria: Letter of Support of Australian MP on Human Rights Abuses

Sample ImageMr. Chris Hayes MP of the Australian Federal Parliament addresses Mr. Hon Chris Evans, the Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, on the difficult human rights situation of the Assyrian population in Iraq.


Below is the full letter of Mr. Chris Hayes MP:

Dear Minister,

I refer to my earlier correspondence of November 2008 and August 2009 in which I raised with you the plight of Christian minority groups in lraq since the 2003 invasion.

I wish to add to that correspondence in the light of the work I have been undertaking recently with the Assyrian community of Western Sydney.

Despite the Australian Government’s involvement in helping to restore a democratic society in Iraq, there are members of religious minority groups, such as the Assyrians who continue to be persecuted and killed, causing many to flee as refugees to the neighboring countries of Syria and Jordan.

As I am sure you are aware, there are many Assyrians in lraq who are seeking permanent settlement in Australia and protection of human rights abuses.

In July 2009, the Assyrian International News Agency released its updated report Incipient Genocide: The Ethnic Cleansing of the Assyrians of lraq. lt is truly an understatement to say that this report provided dire and disturbing reading.

This report detailed the systematic and consistent persecution of Assyrians in Iraq including gruesome murders, extortion and violence.

Most disturbing is the fact that religious institutions and symbols are being targeted, particularly through bombings, inflicting terror and insecurity on the remaining Assyrian community.

In December 2008, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended that Iraq be designated as a “country of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act. In light of the ongoing, severe abuses of religious freedom and Iraqi government’s toleration of these abuses, particularly abuses against Iraq’s smallest, most vulnerable religious minorities.

Commission Chair Felice D. Daer described Iraq as “among the most dangerous places on earth for religious minorities."

The Commission’s report said:

“The situation is especially dire for Iraq’s smallest religious minorities including Chaldo Assyrian and other Christians, Sabean Mandaeans, and Yazidis. These groups do not have militia or tribal structures to protect them and do not receive adequate official protection. Their members continue to experience targeted violence and to flee to other areas within Iraq or other countries, where the minorities represent a disproportionately high percentage among Iraqi refugees. Marginalized legally, politically, and economically, they are caught in the middle of a struggle between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the central Iraqi government for control of northern areas where their communities are concentrated.”

I understand there is no strong argument that the situation in Iraq has greatly improved since the Commission released its report. The persistent persecution of religious minorities continues to this day.

Australia prides itself on being a nation which continuously advocates for the human rights of all people across the globe. On the way in which the Australian Government can practically support the protection of human rights among the Assyrians and Christian minority groups community is to be more willing to grant humanitarian visas to these refugees.

Regardless of political views concerning Australia’s initial involvement in Iraq, I believe the Government nevertheless has a moral responsibility to assist with the consequences of the 2003 invasion and the ensuing instability in Iraq.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Hayes MP

27 April 2010