Genocide: Prime Minister Says Describe It As Genocide. Parliament has spoken and the Government now needs to refer this Resolution to the Security Council, to stop prevaricating and to undertake its obligations as a signatory to the Prevention of Genocide Convention.Yazidi Victim – who spoke to MPs and Peers the night before this historic vote – Requests Meeting with The Prime Minister.


 

christian genocide

 

David Cameron

During  Prime  Minister’s Question Time, on May 4th, David Cameron said ” there is a very strong case here for saying that it is genocide, and I hope that it will be portrayed and spoken of as such” –  speaking with reference to the actions of ISIS against the Christian and other minorities in Iraq and Syria. We’ll now see whether the the Foreign Office will be following his advice.

See:
Paper on current Assyrian Genocide

 

Northern Ireland Attorney General says it’s Genocide:

May 5th 2016:-

Lord Alton of Liverpool to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the legal advice given by the Attorney General in Northern Ireland that genocide is being committed against Christian and other minorities in Iraq and Syria.   HL8194

AG Advice – Lord Morrow – 15 April 2016—————————————————————————————————————–

Genocide – Recent Questions in the House of Lords:

Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of recent military attacks by ISIS on the Nineveh Plain Forces (NPF) at Telliskuf; what political and military assistance they are giving to the NPF; and what assessment they have made of the NPF’s objectives.

 Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

Following Daesh’s attack north of Mosul on 3 May, they were pushed back by Kurdish forces. The Kurds regained the lost territory with substantial Coalition air support, which included the use of RAF aircraft. UK assistance in Iraq is channelled, as appropriate, through the Government of Iraq or the Kurdish Regional Government rather than to any individual militia forces, and the UK has made no specific assessment of the objectives of the Nineveh Plain Forces

 

————————————————————————–

Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have evidence that the Kurdistan Workers Party and the Peoples Protection Units have rescued some captive Yazidi women; what assessment they have made of whether the Kurdistan Regional Government Peshmerga have carried out any rescues, and if so, whether they have offered to assist them; and whether the same British technology that is able to identify ISIS commanders has been used to identify and to rescue women captives.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State,

We are aware of media reports about organisations that are working to free those being held hostage by Daesh. We do not have any information regarding the rescue of Yezidi captives by either the Kurdistan Workers Party or the Peoples Protection Units. During offensive operations against Daesh, Yezidi hostages have been freed by the Peshmerga. We continue to work in support of Iraqi and Kurdish Regional government forces towards defeating this terrible organisation. The UK has been at the forefront of these efforts and plays a leading role in a Global Coalition of 66 countries and international organisations to respond to Daesh’s inhumanity.

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to ensure that they fulfil the pledge in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Human Rights and Democracy Report 2015 to “continue to look at every available option to ensure accountability” for the crimes committed by Daesh.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State,

We continue to look at every option to ensure accountability. In the meantime we are supporting the gathering and preservation of evidence that could in future be used in a court to hold Daesh to account.

The UK co-sponsored the UN Human Rights Council resolution of September 2014 mandating investigation of Daesh abuses in Iraq. Working with international partners, we are doing everything we can to assist in the gathering and preservation of evidence that could in future be used by judicial bodies to make a judgement on this matter. It is vital that this is done now, before evidence is lost or destroyed.

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will apply the principles of the Responsibility to Protect to the situation in Iraq and Syria.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State,

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) imposes an obligation on all states to protect their populations, and for the international community to assist. The Asad regime has consistently ignored this obligation, using extreme violence against its own people and preventing access to humanitarian aid. The British Government is also appalled at the brutality of Daesh abuses against all communities. In line with R2P, we continue to call on all sides to the conflict to respect International Humanitarian Law and we are working with the international community to find ways of providing justice to those who have suffered. Ultimately, the only way of safeguarding people is by defeating Daesh and establishing a lasting peace in both Syria and Iraq.

The UK is working through the International Syria Support Group to support and facilitate UN brokered intra-Syrian negotiations to end the conflict through political transition to a government that represents and protects its people, and are a leading member of the Global Coalition against Daesh. Our counter-Daesh strategy is working. Daesh have lost about 40 per cent of the territory it once held in Iraq – and significant territory in Syria. Thousands of people have been freed from Daesh’s abusive rule and have been able to return safely to their homes.

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have assessed the evidence that ISIS have sold Yazidi women to Saudi Arabians, and what representations they have made to the government of Saudi Arabia about recovering them.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State,

We maintain a close dialogue with Saudi Arabia on Counter Terrorism issues. We have seen no evidence of Saudi Foreign Terrorist Fighters trafficking Daesh sex slaves to Saudi Arabia.

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the attacks on 26 April on the Christian neighbourhood of Sulaymaniyah in Aleppo, and of reports that at least eight children were among those killed.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State,

We are aware of reports of attacks on the Sulaymaniyah neighbourhood in Aleppo, and of reports that at least eight children were among those killed. We are deeply concerned about the increasing numbers of violations of the Cessation of Hostilities, especially around Aleppo. In the overwhelming majority of cases, it is the Asad regime that is responsible for the breaches, including when it has bombed schools, marketplaces, hospitals and a search and rescue centre in the last week. As the Foreign Secretary, my Rt Hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), said in a press statement on 28 April, we call on those with influence to apply real pressure to end this spiral of violence. The UK will continue to support the Syrian people to secure their future, free from Asad, and push for progress with our international partners.

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool (May 3rd 2016)

My Lords, has the Minister had the chance to consider not just the appalling and shocking attacks on the hospitals and the killing of the last paediatrician in Aleppo but the specific targeting and revenge attacks on minority communities in Aleppo—particularly the attack on 26 April, which I mentioned in a Parliamentary Question that I tabled to her last week, where again several children were killed in an attack on the Syrian Christian quarter there? Has she had a chance to consider also the resolution of the Australian House of Representatives at the end of last week, joining the American House of Representatives, the British House of Commons, the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in declaring these events to be a genocide, joining her ministerial colleague, Tobias Ellwood, who has said precisely the same thing? Would she consider arranging a meeting with the Foreign Secretary, Members of your Lordships’ House and Members in another place, who would like to see the judicial review of these events brought right up the agenda in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Collins, indicated in his intervention, so that those responsible for these events will be brought to justice?

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State,

My Lords, wanting to bring people to justice is, of course, a long-term commitment, not achieved by short-term statements. It is important that the noble Lord has raised today the issue of the targeting of groups within Syria and, particularly, Aleppo. I have looked at that. Indeed, in the past I have discussed with groups collecting information about the atrocities exactly what it means to individuals who are under attack—particularly the White Helmets, who make such a valuable effort in retrieving people from the rubble and who, while they do so, find themselves barrel bombed by Assad for trying to save lives.

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the reply by Baroness Anelay of St Johns to the private notice question from Lord Alton of Liverpool on 21 April, which members of the United Nations Security Council they believe would veto a referral to the International Criminal Court of evidence of genocide against Christian, Yazidi and other minorities in Iraq and Syria.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State,

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor set out some of the complicated issues involved in the ICC investigating Daesh in her press statement of 8 April 2015. It is not possible to refer Daesh itself to the ICC. Any referral would cover ALL potential crimes against international humanitarian law within a specified geographic area, rather than a specified organisation or set of actors.

When efforts were made to refer the situation in Syria to the ICC in 2014, it was vetoed by Russia and China. We expect that any Security Council resolution at this time seeking to refer the situations in Iraq or Syria to the ICC would likewise be blocked.

Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to ensure that witness statements by potential genocide survivors in Iraq and Syria are given to the International Criminal Court and that the collection of forensic evidence and the protection of mass graves is prioritised.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State,

In Syria, the UK is supporting the work of non-governmental organisations who are gathering evidence of human rights violations. This is being done to the international standard required for criminal prosecution against high level perpetrators in a domestic or international court. In Iraq, we are considering how the UK might best complement similar efforts already underway with funds from other donor countries.

Cases are being prepared for international prosecution should a referral to the International Criminal Court be forthcoming or should individuals be subject to litigation by hybrid, specialised or national courts. We are therefore doing everything we can to assist in the gathering and preservation of evidence that could in future be used by judicial bodies to make a judgement on this matter. It is vital that this is done now, before evidence is lost or destroyed.

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they consider that non-judicial bodies such as the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the US House of Representatives are competent to make a declaration that a genocide is underway; and whether they consider that the UK Parliament can do so, and if not, why not.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State,

The Government believes that recognition of genocide should be a matter for judicial decision. It should be a legal, rather than political determination, decided by judges after consideration of all the evidence available in the context of a credible judicial process. Political pronouncements on whether genocide has occurred, such as the European Parliament resolution, are not legally binding and do not create legal obligations on member states.

Lord Alton of Liverpool 

To ask Her Majesty’s Government under what conditions they would refer an incident or a series of incidents of suspected mass killings or alleged human rights abuses to the UN Security Council for a determination on whether genocide was occurring as defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State,

The Government believes that recognition of genocides should be a matter for international courts, not political bodies. It should be a legal, rather than political determination, decided by international judges after consideration of all the evidence available in the context of a credible international judicial process.

Lord Alton of Liverpool

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Has she had a chance to read the Hansard of yesterday’s debate, in particular the reference made by many Members to the disturbing evidence given here to Members of your Lordships’ House and another place by a 16 year-old Yazidi girl, Ekhlas, and accounts of crucifixions, beheadings, systematic rape and mass graves? Has she seen the admission of her ministerial colleague, Tobias Ellwood, that a genocide is under way? Given the unanimous vote of 278 votes to zero, following similar declarations in the United States House of Representatives, the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, would it not almost be contempt of Parliament for the Government simply to say that this is non-binding and that they have no intention of following the will of Parliament in taking this matter to the Security Council, so that those responsible for these horrendous crimes will one day meet their Nuremberg moment and be held accountable for them?

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State,

My Lords, I bear in mind victims of Daesh whom I have personally met, both here and in Iraq. I am not therefore going to get involved in what may or may not be procedural niceties. It is clearly a matter for judicial authorities to determine whether a genocide has taken place. The noble Lord referred to a comment by my honourable friend in another place yesterday, when he expressed his personal view, which he has expressed before, when he said:

“I believe that genocide has taken place”.

He added that,

“as the Prime Minister has said”— and I am aware that the Prime Minister has written to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, on this—

“genocide is a matter of legal rather than political opinion. We as the Government are not the prosecutor, the judge or the jury”.—[Official Report, Commons, 20/4/16; col. 995.]

We may not be all those things, but I say to Daesh and to the perpetrators that we have a long memory; we have allies, and we are working with the Government of Iraq. We will not forget the perpetrators, and they will pay the price.

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the reply of Earl Howe on 15 March (HL Deb, col 1736) that in the UK a declaration of genocide is “a matter for the judicial system”, what they consider to be a prerequisite for such a declaration to be made by British judicial authorities; who is responsible for instigating this; and what is their response to the recent declarations of genocide against Daesh made by the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Photo of Lord Faulks Lord Faulks The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

The judiciary in England and Wales does not make general declarations on genocide. It is a long-standing Government policy that any judgements on whether genocide has occurred should be a matter for the international judicial system.

Ultimately, the best way of preventing future atrocities is to defeat Daesh and its violent ideology. The UK is playing a leading role in a Global Coalition of 66 countries and international organisations to respond to Daesh’s inhumanity

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the remarks by the Minister of State for the Department for International Development, Desmond Swayne, on 16 March (HC Deb, col 937), whether it is their position that no non-state party is capable of committing genocide under the 1949 United Nations Genocide Convention.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State,

Under Article IV of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III of the Convention shall be punished whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals. Any member of Daesh who has committed an act of genocide is therefore liable to prosecution. Individual criminal responsibility, rather than by organisations or groups, is determined by courts. The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor has set out some of the complicated issues involved in the ICC investigating Daesh in her press statement of 8 April 2015.

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the remarks by the Minister of State for the Department for International Development, Desmond Swayne, on 16 March (HC Deb, col 937), what assessment they have made of measures required to confer on the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over crimes committed by Daesh in Syria and Iraq.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State,

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor has set out some of the complicated issues involved in the ICC investigating Daesh in her press statement of 8 April 2015. As neither Iraq nor Syria are State Parties to the Rome Statute, the ICC has no territorial jurisdiction over crimes committed on their soil. In order for Daesh’s crimes to be investigated by the ICC, Iraq and Syria would have to declare their acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction, or the UN Security Council could refer the situation to the Court.

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will respond to, and what is their assessment of, the statement by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, that Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis and Christians.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State,

The USSecretary of State, John Kerry, is right to draw attention to the appalling crimes Daesh are committing, both against minority groups and Muslims. We will continue to work closely with the US and our other partners in the Global Coalition to defeat Daesh and to ensure justice for those who have suffered at their hands. It is a long standing UK policy that any judgement on whether genocide has occurred should be a matter for judicial decision, rather than for governments. As Secretary of State Kerry said, “ultimately, the full facts must be brought to light by an independent investigation and through formal legal determination made by a competent court or tribunal.”

 

———————————————————————–Baroness Anelay of St Johns, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to Lord Alton’s written parliamentary question (HL8216):

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the remarks by the Prime Minister on 4 May (HC Deb, col 168) that “there is a very strong case here for saying that it is genocide, and I hope that it will be portrayed and spoken of as such” with reference to the actions of ISIS against the Christian and other minorities in Iraq and Syria, whether the Foreign and Commonwealth Office intends to speak publicly of those actions as genocide. (HL8216)

Tabled on: 05 May 2016

Answer:
Baroness Anelay of St Johns:

As the Prime Minister, my Rt Hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), has said, the Government’s position remains that although there is a very strong case to answer, ultimately it should be a matter for judicial authorities. The Government continues to believe that recognition of genocide should be a matter for international courts, not political bodies. It should be a legal, rather than political determination, decided by international judges after consideration of all the evidence available in the context of a credible international judicial process.

Date and time of answer: 11 May 2016 at 14:41.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL8194):

————————————————————————–Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the legal advice given by the Attorney General in Northern Ireland that genocide is being committed against Christian and other minorities in Iraq and Syria. (HL8194)

Tabled on: 04 May 2016

Answer:
Baroness Anelay of St Johns:

This Government condemns Daesh atrocities against Christians, other minorities, and the majority Muslim populations of Iraq and Syria. As the Prime Minister, my Rt Hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), has said, the Government’s position remains that although there is a very strong case to answer, ultimately it should be a matter for judicial authorities.

We are supporting the gathering and preservation of evidence that could in future be used in a court to hold Daesh to account. And we continue to deliver our comprehensive strategy to defeat Daesh, and thereby stop them from preventing more atrocities.

————————————————————————

Baroness Anelay of St Johns, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL8192):

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the campaign by the Syriac Military Council and its militia in recapturing territory, including Assyrian villages, from ISIS. (HL8192)

Tabled on: 04 May 2016

Answer:
Baroness Anelay of St Johns:

We welcome all successes against Daesh. Ultimately, the best way of safeguarding minorities such as the Assyrians and the majority population is by defeating Daesh and establishing a lasting peace in both Syria and Iraq.

The Syriac Military Council has been a component part of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG)-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) since the SDF’s formation in late 2015. The SDF receives support from the Global Coalition in its efforts to combat Daesh in Northern Syria.

Date and time of answer: 11 May 2016 at 14:29.

————————————————————————-

Intervene in Christian genocide: 400,000 bring plea to UN April 30, 2016 3:39 PM New York City, N.Y., Apr 30, 2016 / 04:39 pm (CNA/EWTN News).-

Advocates delivered hundreds of thousands of signatures to the United Nations on Friday, calling on the body to declare that genocide is occurring against Christians and other religious minorities.

“We’re here at the United Nations headquarters to file more than 400,000 signatures from citizens from all over the world asking the Security Council of the United Nations to declare what’s happening right now with ISIS in Syria and Iraq a genocide,” Ignacio Arsuaga, president of the advocacy group CitizenGO, stated at a Friday press conference outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City. The petition asked the U.N. to “take a step forward to protect Christians and other religious minorities that live there,” so that “religious freedom may prevail in that region of the world.”

It was delivered to the office of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday. 

 

Question on Syria May 3rd 2016

  • Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)
  • My Lords, has the Minister had the chance to consider not just the appalling and shocking attacks on the hospitals and the killing of the last paediatrician in Aleppo but the specific targeting and revenge attacks on minority communities in Aleppo—particularly the attack on 26 April, which I mentioned in a Parliamentary Question that I tabled to her last week, where several children were killed in an attack on the Syrian Christian quarter there? Has she also had a chance to consider the resolution of the Australian House of Representatives at the end of last week, joining the American House of Representatives, the British House of Commons, the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in declaring these events to be a genocide, joining her ministerial colleague, Tobias Ellwood, who has said precisely the same thing? Would she consider arranging a meeting with the Foreign Secretary, Members of your Lordships’ House and Members in another place, who would like to see the judicial review of these events brought right up the agenda in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Collins, indicated in his intervention, so that those responsible for these events will be brought to justice?
  • Baroness Anelay of St Johns This Government share the House of Commons’ condemnation of Daesh atrocities against minorities and the majority Muslim population in Iraq and Syria. That is why we mandated the UN Human Rights Council to investigate Daesh in 2014, and why we are doing everything we can to gather evidence for use by judicial bodies.
  • The noble Lord referred to the personal view put forward by my honourable friend Tobias Ellwood. Some people are announcing that there has been genocide but, while the Government agree that there may be a strong case, our view remains that the courts are best placed to judge criminal matters. That is why we are committed to working with our partners in the international community to gather that evidence in order to get that judicial decision as a possibility—to provide an opportunity for the judiciary to make the decision that is rightfully theirs to make.
  • My Lords, wanting to bring people to justice is, of course, a long-term commitment, not achieved by short-term statements. It is important that the noble Lord has raised today the issue of the targeting of groups within Syria and, particularly, Aleppo. I have looked at that. Indeed, in the past I have discussed with groups collecting information about the atrocities exactly what it means to individuals who are under attack—particularly the White Helmets, who make such a valuable effort in retrieving people from the rubble and who, while they do so, find themselves barrel bombed by Assad for trying to save lives.

 

See previous posts on Genocide:

https://davidalton.net/2016/03/18/february-18th-letter-from-leading-uk-lawyers-and-human-rights-campaigners-including-the-former-lord-chancellor-to-the-prime-minister-calling-for-the-british-government-to-declare-the-atrocities-co/

 

Last night the House of Commons Voted by 278 votes to zero to declare that a genocide is underway against Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in Syria and Iraq.

This is the first time that the House of Commons has ever declared a genocide while it is ongoing. By a unanimous vote it has insisted on a referral to the UN Security Council.

Sickened by the barbarism and brutality directed at Christians, Yazidis and other minorities, the House of Commons has spoken and the Government now needs to stop prevaricating, listen and act.

The Government also needs to address the absence of any formal mechanism to refer evidence of genocide to the Courts, which simply leads to  Government buck passing and hand wringing.

They  repeatedly say that determining whether a genocide is underway is a matter for the courts but  then refuse to provide a trigger for a referral.

Parliament – as Congress and the European Parliament have done – has had to force the Government’s hand. Unless we accept our obligations to prevent, punish and protect, when a genocide occurs, we might just as well rip up the Genocide Convention as a worthless piece of paper.

If what is happening  to groups like the Yazidis and Assyrian Christians doesn’t meet the high technical standard of what constitutes a genocide it’s hard to imagine what would. The Government failed to address that question and MPs were right to assert parliament’s will. To ignore this vote would amount to contempt of parliament.

The House of Commons voted 278 – 0 that this House believes that Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria are suffering genocide at the hands of Daesh; and calls on the Government to make an immediate referral to the UN Security Council with a view to conferring jurisdiction upon the International Criminal Court so that perpetrators can be brought to justice.

Full debate at:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-04-20/debates/16042036000001/DaeshGenocideOfMinorities

The Motion was moved by Fiona Bruce MP:

Fiona Bruce: “Recognition of genocide is not the only or the final action of the international community, but it is a crucial step, and one that we should make today. I recognise that conferring jurisdiction on the ICC requires the support of other members of the Security Council, but that should not stop our country from initiating the process. I add that there is precedent for the Security Council to establish a fact-finding committee of experts, so that all current evidence can be assessed and new evidence can be collected. If the motion is passed, I appeal to the Government to consider that recommendation at the Security Council. I repeat: some may ask, “What difference will this really make?” I leave the final word to the young girl Ekhlas. To her, it would make all the difference in the world. When I asked her yesterday what her hopes were for the future, she replied, “to see justice done for my people.”

She was supported by speeches from other Conservatives, Labour, SNP and Unionist MPs:

Stephen Twigg: “We have an opportunity to heed that warning from the holocaust—“never again”—and to send the message to our own Government, and also to Daesh and the wider international community, that we recognise this as genocide and want action to be taken against the perpetrators of that genocide.” Stephen Timms: “I hope that we can make a clear statement today that this is genocide, both to express solidarity with Yazidis, Christians and Shi’a Muslims who are the victims of this horrifying brutality, and to make clear our determination to ensure that those responsible face prosecution and a just punishment for what they have done…. I want to make some observations on how we can deal with the commitment to religious freedom that we all espouse…. we should be doing more… the Government should appoint a global envoy for religious freedom, who would report directly to the Prime Minister, and establish within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office a multi-faith advisory council on religious freedom.” Ian Blackford: “The UN has estimated that 5,000 men were massacred and 7,000 women were enslaved in that action. The women captured by Daesh were sold into sexual slavery, and many were displaced throughout Daesh-controlled territory. As we have heard, the testimony of survivors—Yazidis and Christians—tells of the horrific and daily violence carried out against them, and that has been a deliberate policy on the part of Daesh.” Jim Shannon: “This is not a horror movie—I wish it was. This is taking place just a plane flight away. It is time we called this what it is: it is systematic, it is calculated, and it is genocide.” Sir Edward Leigh: “It would be intolerable for the Government to whip against the motion and force members of the payroll to vote against their own consciences, or abstain. It would also be intolerable if the Government, by some sleight of hand, allowed the motion to be agreed to, and then said that it was not binding on them. If the motion is agreed to—I sincerely hope that the Minister will not speak against it, and that it will not be whipped against—the House of Commons will have spoken, and the Government should act.”

 

 

The Guardian reported the debate as follows:

MPs unanimously declare Yazidis and Christians victims of Isis genocide: British parliament defies government to condemn barbarity of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. A government attempt to prevent MPs from declaring that Islamic State’s treatment of Yazidis and Christians amounted to genocide was crushed on Wednesday, when the Commons voted unanimously to condemn their treatment and refer the issue to the UN security council. It is almost unprecedented for MPs collectively to declare actions in a war as genocide: Full report at:

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/20/mps-unanimously-declare-yazidis-victims-of-isis-genocide

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2016/04/20/world/europe/20reuters-britain-parliament-genocide-islamic-state.html?ref=europe&_r=0

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3550344/UK-parliament-condemns-Islamic-State-violence-genocide.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/isis-is-committing-genocide-against-yazidis-and-christians-british-mps-unanimously-declare-a6994456.html

 

Urgent Question Raised in the House of Lords following the House of Commons Debate

Private Notice Question – genocide Syria and Iraq

Thursday April 21st 2016

 12.04 pm Asked by

Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they intend to respond to yesterday’s unanimous vote in the House of Commons declaring a genocide against minorities in Syria and Iraq and instructing the Government to refer this to the Security Council.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con)

My Lords, this Government share the House of Commons condemnation of Daesh atrocities against minorities, and the majority Muslim population of Iraq and Syria. That is why we mandated the UN Human Rights Council to investigate Daesh’s crimes in 2014, why we will do everything we can to gather evidence for use by judicial bodies, and why this Government have a comprehensive strategy to defeat Daesh and free people from its barbaric rule.

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Has she had a chance to read the Hansard of yesterday’s debate, in particular the reference made by many Members to the disturbing evidence given here to Members of your Lordships’ House and another place by a 16 year-old Yazidi girl, Ekhlas, and accounts of crucifixions, beheadings, systematic rape and mass graves? Has she seen the admission of her ministerial colleague, Tobias Ellwood, that a genocide is under way? Given the unanimous vote of 278 votes to zero, following similar declarations in the United States House of Representatives, the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, would it not almost be contempt of Parliament for the Government simply to say that this is non-binding and that they have no intention of following the will of Parliament in taking this matter to the Security Council, so that those responsible for these horrendous crimes will one day meet their Nuremberg moment and be held accountable for them?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns

My Lords, I bear in mind victims of Daesh whom I have personally met, both here and in Iraq. I am not therefore going to get involved in what may or may not be procedural niceties. It is clearly a matter for judicial authorities to determine whether a genocide has taken place. The noble Lord referred to a comment by my honourable friend in another place yesterday, when he expressed his personal view, which he has expressed before, when he said:

“I believe that genocide has taken place”.

He added that,

“as the Prime Minister has said”—

and I am aware that the Prime Minister has written to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, on this—

“genocide is a matter of legal rather than political opinion. We as the Government are not the prosecutor, the judge or the jury”.—[Official Report, Commons, 20/4/16; col. 995.]

We may not be all those things, but I say to Daesh and to the perpetrators that we have a long memory; we have allies, and we are working with the Government of Iraq. We will not forget the perpetrators, and they will pay the price.

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab)

My Lords, the government Ministers abstained yesterday. Of course, the House of Commons spoke with a clear and unanimous voice yesterday, and there is no doubt that Daesh is killing people because they belong to ethnic, racial or religious groups. What it is doing has all the hallmarks of genocide, as well as crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Government have moved on since the Minister spoke to this House in December, and Tobias Ellwood yesterday repeated what he said earlier in the month that we are helping to gather evidence that could be used to hold Daesh to account appropriately. He said, ultimately—and I repeat what the Minister said—that,

“it is not for Governments to be the prosecutor, judge or jury”.—[Official Report, Commons, 20/4/16; col. 996.]

However, can the Minister tell us what progress the Government are making in gathering evidence, and when they intend to take that evidence to the Security Council so that the matter can be referred to the courts?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns

My Lords, I shall address the last part of the noble Lord’s question first, because it covers something that the noble Lord, Lord Alton, properly raised—the Security Council, which was the nub of the resolution passed yesterday in another place. As I said earlier, we have tried to take this matter forward. We were very successful in achieving a resolution about investigations, but not further than that. Further discussions are taking place across the board. Clearly, all right-minded people are trying to find a resolution to this. The collection of information and evidence has to be robustly done. We are making some progress with that simply because of the bravery of organisations which we, alongside other members of the United Nations, help to fund. Yesterday in this House, I launched the Kurdish-language version of the international protocol on the collection and documentation of evidence, which already exists in Arabic. We are making progress, but only because of great risks taken by people who, having collected robust evidence, have to smuggle it out. They are brave indeed.

Lord Howell of Guildford (Con)

My Lords, we all appreciate that, technically, the final decision on the genocide label will be taken at the United Nations, but we all surely also recognise that, regardless of various investigations, Daesh is a movement of undiluted evil that has complete contempt for human life and justice and has committed the most appalling atrocities. On the basis of that and of the unanimous view of the other place yesterday, can we be assured that Her Majesty’s Government will at least take the case for the label of genocide to the United Nations, even though we will not be the final body deciding and others will have to join us in doing that?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns

My Lords, as I have made clear, it is not for politicians to determine whether something is genocide; it is a legal decision. In January, I visited the ICC to discuss these matters, and I have discussed them with the International Criminal Court on previous occasions. I also held round-table discussions with academics and lawyers—they are not mutually exclusive, I know—on these matters. It is important that we make progress on reaching a position where it is possible for the ICC to determine whether it will proceed. In the mean time, there are further discussions going ahead around the international community, and all right-minded people want to be sure that we defeat Daesh.

Lord Pannick (CB)

My Lords, the Minister said this is not a matter for politicians. Is she aware of Article VIII of the convention on genocide, which says:

“Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide”?

Why will the Government not do that?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns

Because, my Lords, it is the Government’s view that, in order to hold out hope to people who have suffered from the violence of Daesh, one has to be reasonably sure of achieving agreement within the United Nations. We are not confident that that agreement currently exists. That is why we want to make progress with discussions. A lot of work is going on with regard to this. The noble Lord will be more aware than others that genocide, which has a very high threshold, is not the only determination available. There is also crimes against humanity. Let us consider how we get the perpetrators and work together on that.

Baroness Smith of Newnham (LD)

My Lords, the Minister suggested that it is not for politicians to make a decision on genocide. As we have heard, there are cases under the treaty where it could be brought. We are not to be judge and jury, but surely political leadership means that we should raise it. It is not good enough simply to say that this should be left to the judge and jury. Does the Minister agree that Her Majesty’s Government should raise this at the UN, reflecting the views of your Lordships’ House during the Immigration Bill and those of the other place?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns
My Lords, as I have made clear, if one wants to persuade the United Nations to pass a resolution on something such as this that means so much to every victim, one should be assured in advance of being able to secure the result that one needs, and that would be for the prevention of genocide. Ultimately, whatever the United Nations determined, it would be for a court to decide whether a genocide had taken place. What has taken place is barbaric action by Daesh, and we need to work together to stop it.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36102710

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/21/uk-government-criticised-for-refusing-to-act-on-motion-accusing-isis-of-genocide?CMP=twt_gu

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Written Questions April 21st 2016

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Asked on: 21 April 2016

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

HL7816

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the reply by Baroness Anelay of St Johns to the private notice question from Lord Alton of Liverpool on 21 April, which members of the United Nations Security Council they believe would veto a referral to the International Criminal Court of evidence of genocide against Christian, Yazidi and other minorities in Iraq and Syria.

 

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Asked on: 21 April 2016

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

HL7817

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they consider that non-judicial bodies such as the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the US House of Representatives are competent to make a declaration that a genocide is underway; and whether they consider that the UK Parliament can do so, and if not, why not.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Asked on: 21 April 2016

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

HL7818

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to ensure that witness statements by potential genocide survivors in Iraq and Syria are given to the International Criminal Court and that the collection of forensic evidence and the protection of mass graves is prioritised.

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Yazidi Victim – who spoke to MPs and Peers the night before this historic vote –  Requests Meeting with The Prime Minister:

 

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Prior to the debate the following articles and statements appeared:

Times and Guardian pieces on genocide with comments from Baroness Kennedy QC, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom: 

 

 

MPs should vote to define Isis’s brutal crimes as genocide

Jihadists have razed churches and killed religious leaders

avTim Montgomerie writing in The Times

Published at 12:01AM, April 18 2016

A two-year-old girl was placed inside a tin box and, in the punishing August heat of Raqqa, was left in the middle of a courtyard for seven days. Try to rescue your daughter, her mother was warned, and your other two children will die. Having seen her husband and father executed by Isis the woman knew this was not an empty threat. The toddler perished, of course, but only after she had also been beaten and had her tiny back broken. This haunting story was recently told by the human rights lawyer Philippe Sands, ahead of his forthcoming book On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity — and there can be no doubt that what has occurred in occupied parts of Syria and Iraq has been yet another genocide.

The 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide defines it as the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. By assassinating church leaders, forcing gunpoint conversions to Islam and demolishing monasteries and churches Isis has systematically attempted to ensure that no church bell ever rings again in the region that was the cradle of Christianity. The Yazidi faith and Shia Muslims are among these evildoers’ other targets.

After the Rwandan massacre of 1994 the world was too slow to designate it as genocide and by the time international investigators began their work much evidence had been lost. Bill Clinton regarded it as his biggest regret as president. Now the world is once again prevaricating and so reducing the likelihood that perpetrators get their “Nuremburg moment” at the International Criminal Court.

The Foreign Office has opposed designation for impenetrable legal reasons — a hesitancy that Boris Johnson has described as “baffling”. This week ministers must decide whether to continue to sit on the fence. The backbench Conservative MP Fiona Bruce has won parliamentary time for the issue to be debated after prime minister’s questions on Wednesday. Other MPs will have little excuse for not sticking around afterwards to support her motion.

The US Holocaust Museum has recommended a genocide designation to raise public consciousness and because “historical memory is a tool of prevention”. With too many misguided Britons still tempted to go and fight for Isis we need that prevention now.

 

 

 

 

Why won’t the government recognise Isis atrocities as genocide? I have a hunch

Giles Fraser  writing in The Guardian on April 20th.

The barbarous treatment of Iraq and Syria’s religious minorities should be called what it is. Our relationship with Turkey shouldn’t even come into it

‘A similar motion was recently passed unanimously in the US House of Representatives. Labour is supporting. So why is the government whipping its members to oppose it? Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Tuesday 19 April 2016 15.06 BSTLast modified on Wednesday 20 April 2016 08.34 BST

Sawsan is a middle-aged Syrian woman from al-Hammidiya, which is just north of the Lebanese border. She describes how her nephew was crucified to death and a video of his crucifixion was put on the internet. He was crucified for wearing a cross. From the same town, Amin described how local girls were taken as sex slaves. Isis returned their body parts to the front door of their parents’ houses with a video tape of them being raped. Alice speaks of how hundreds of children were killed and their bodies ground down in the local baker’s shop in Doma.

These are some of the stories that are going to be told tonight at a meeting in Westminster, ahead of tomorrow’s vote in the House of Commons, when MPs will confirm or deny the recognition: “That this house believes that Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria are suffering genocide at the hands of Daesh; and calls upon Her Majesty’s government to make an immediate referral to the United Nations security council with a view to conferring jurisdiction upon the international criminal court so that perpetrators can be brought to justice.”

It may not be coincidence that Turkey is our new best friend, with whom we have struck a deal over returning refugees

A similar motion was recently passed unanimously in the US House of Representatives. Labour is supporting. So why – as things currently stand – is the government intent on whipping its members to oppose this motion, even though it is being put forward by a Conservative MP, Fiona Bruce? The devil is in the detail.

It’s not that the government is denying that Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities are suffering genocide in Iraq and Syria. Its official line is that it’s not for parliament to claim something counts as genocide but for the judiciary. And yes, genocide is a legal term, invented to describe the particular sort of horror that the Nazis perpetrated on the Jewish people – “a crime without a name” Churchill had previously called it. As Phillipe Sands observes in his forthcoming book about the origins of the term, it was first used by a Brit in court in Nuremburg in June 1946, almost exactly 70 years ago, by the Tory Sir David Maxwell Fyfe in his cross examination of Konstantin von Neurath, Hitler’s first foreign minister.

Bones, hair and traditional Yazidi garb at the site of a suspected mass grave near the town of Sinjar, Iraq. Photograph: Sam Tarling for the Guardian

But the problem with this being simply a matter for the judiciary is that there currently exists no process for concerns about genocide to pass from parliament to the judiciary. As cross-bench peer Lord Alton put it to me: “Having no formal mechanism to refer evidence of genocide to the high court simply leads to government buck-passing and hand-wringing. They repeatedly say that determining whether a genocide is under way is a matter for the courts but then refuse to provide a trigger for a referral. Parliament – as Congress and the European parliament have done – needs to force the government’s hand. Otherwise we might as well rip up the genocide convention as a worthless piece of paper. If what is happening to groups like the Yazidis and Assyrian Christians doesn’t meet the high technical standard of what constitutes a genocide, it’s hard to imagine what would.”

 Isis is committing genocide. It is indefensible for Britain not to say so

((Baroness) Helena Kennedy QC

Baroness Kennedy

(Baroness) Helena Kennedy QC – human rights lawyer

 

Read more

But there may be more to it than a technical problem of process. For it may not be any coincidence that Turkey is our new best friend, with whom we have struck a deal over returning refugees from Greece. And Turkey is profoundly allergic to the “g” word, reminding people, as it often does, of Turkey’s genocide of the Armenian people in 1915, the first genocide of the 20th century. Not only that, but many of the threatened Yazidis, for example, are supported by the Kurds and Kurdish pashmerga who are seen as terrorists by the Turkish government. The suspicion is that our Foreign Office doesn’t want to upset the Turks with tomorrow’s vote and are thus encouraging the government to whip against it on a technicality.

We really ought to be braver than this. OK, I don’t suppose that those who are prepared to blow themselves up in the name of their twisted values are going to be all that terrified by the prospect of the international criminal court. But when religious minorities are set upon with such systematic ferocity and brutality, it is right and proper that our parliament calls it what it is. The government should withdraw its whip. It owes it to Sawsan, Amin and Alice – and to hundreds of thousands like them.

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cardinal nichols

Comment from Cardinal Vincent Nichols : 

 

My most sincere hope is that Wednesday’s debate will create a consensus about what more the UK can do, resolve the questions surrounding a referral to the ICC and ensure that the genocidal crimes of ISIS are punished.

 

As you will see, an article by Bishop Declan Lang, in his capacity as Chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference Department for International Affairs,  highlights the evil being committed by Daesh against minority communities and acknowledges the importance of formally recognising genocide.

 

I sincerely hope that MPs will take the opportunity this week to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of efforts to defeat Daesh and support those communities that have suffered under its barbarity.

 

+Vincent

 

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bishop-angaelos 

Coptic Orthodox Church UK

Media and Communications Office

 

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)

                                Media and Communications Office

 

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom on the upcoming Genocide Debate in the House of Commons

19 April 2016

With the recent welcomed recognition by the European Parliament and the United States Congress and Administration of ‘acts of genocide’ against Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities in Syria and Iraq, the upcoming House of Commons debate on this matter will be looked upon with anticipation by many.

As the issue of genocide is deliberated upon in light of the genuine suffering of vulnerable men, women and children, we pray wisdom upon all those taking part in the debate.

If the British Parliament recognises these violations as genocide, along with other parliamentary bodies around the world, this will allow an essential co-ordinated approach across the international community for the protection of the sanctity and dignity of God-given human life.

While appreciative of all that continues to be done around the world, including this upcoming debate, the solution at the heart of the issue is a realisation of the value of every life. This is why we not only pray for those who fall victim to these crimes, but for those who continue to carry them out, that there is a greater understanding of our shared humanity and the pain and loss that is caused to us all through the taking of any life.

*Ends*

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PARLIAMENT DECLARES GENOCIDE IN MIDDLE EAST, ASKS GOVERNMENT TO ACT AT UN

Fiona Bruce MP is a Vice Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea

MPs have today passed a historic motion which clearly condemns the actions of Daesh in Syria and Iraq as genocide, and calls on the Government to empower the International Criminal Court to take action. The motion is the culmination of mounting pressure on the government to accept that ISIS is committing genocide. This clear recognition requires immediate action on the part of the Government. It specifically requires the Government to seek a referral of the deteriorating situation tothe International Criminal Court.

The International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over only the four most serious international crimes, including genocide. In order to act in this case, the Court requires a referral from the UN Security Council.

Speaking after the debate, Fiona Bruce MP, Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, who had brought the motion before the House said, “The acts being committed by Daesh against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria, including Yazidis and Christians, are unspeakably barbaric, and would be hard to truly believe if we did not have harrowing first-hand eyewitness accounts.” Commenting on the importance of the genocide designation, Fiona Bruce MP added, “These actions are not random – they are, as Daesh have publicly said, part of a strategy to destroy minority communities in Iraq and Syria. That is the very definition of genocide.”

The crime of genocide has a specific legal definition, developed in the wake of the Nazi atrocities of the Second World War. It captures a number of crimes, serious in their own right – murder, rape, torture – but only when committed with the intention of wiping out a people group on the basis of their religion, race, ethnicity or nationality.

The number of Christians has dropped from over 2 million to 1 million in Syria, and from 1.4 million to under 260,000 in Iraq. The Yazidis in the region of Kurdistan have been almost entirely wiped out. Ahead of the vote, MPs heard first-hand from a 16 year old Yazidi survivor who told of her time held captive by ISIS: “They came to wipe us all out”, she said. Accounts such as these are tragically plentiful. During the debate, Fiona Bruce MP explained,  “never before during a genocide has the international community had such a full record of what was happening.”

ENDS.