Nigerians warn Parliamentarians that President Buhari is failing to curb a Genocide in the making and risks civil war and the breakup of the country if he fails to combat ISIS, Fulani and Boko Haram – and it’s fake news that this horrific violence is down to global warming rather than a murderous ideology.

Nigerians warn Parliamentarians that President Buhari is failing to curb a Genocide in the making and risks civil war and the breakup of the country if he fails to combat ISIS, Fulani and Boko Haram – and it’s fake news that this horrific violence is down to global warming rather than a murderous ideology.

Buhari
Three stories published today illustrate why the disingenuous narrative that Nigeria’s violence is to be explained by global warming, rather than ideology, is perilously close to becoming fake news propaganda.

leah sharibu

Global warming didn’t abduct these four seminarians in Kaduna; global warming didn’t abduct Pastor Lawan Andimi;  global warming didn’t close the Du Merci orphanage in Kano – and global warming wasn’t responsible for the abduction of Leah Sharibu or the beheading of 11 Nigerian Christians on Christmas Day.  

islamic-state-execution-01

The merging of Boko Haram, Fulani militias, and Nigerian’s ISIS – who between them have already taken thousands of lives – endangers the future cohesion of Nigeria and creates the conditions for genocide.

 

Nigerians whom I met this week said that there is a real danger of this becoming a civil war – and when Nigeria’s President Buhari comes to London next week he should be warned that unless he protects pluralism and diversity he risks turning the wonderful country of Nigeria into another Sudan – whose savage civil war took two million lives and led to the partition and break-up of the country.

 

 

Nigerian orphanage

Today in Parliament – Cross Party Support for an Independent Investigation into Police Brutality in Hong Kong; Minister expresses concern at China’s imprisonment of Pastor Wang Yi; and Open Doors Launch Their World Watch List For 2020. House Magazine article on Hong Kong. Press Reports New Targeting of Christians In China

House Magazine Hong Kong the Frontline of Freedom Jan 14 2020
Today in Parliament – Cross Party Support for an Independent Investigation into Police Brutality in Hong Kong; Minister expresses concern at China’s imprisonment of Pastor Wang Yi; and Open Doors Launch Their World Watch List For 2020.

Hong Kong
15 January 2020

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the situation in Hong Kong, including the recent elections, continuing protests, allegations of police brutality and the arrest of media and humanitarian workers.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In so doing, I declare that I travelled to Hong Kong to monitor the recent elections as a guest of Stand With Hong Kong and Hong Kong Watch, of which I am a patron.

My Lords, we remain concerned at the situation in Hong Kong. The Foreign Secretary welcomed the peaceful conduct of local elections, and we continue to urge all sides to take the opportunity to find a way through with meaningful political dialogue. It is essential that protests are conducted peacefully and lawfully, and that the authorities respond proportionately. We expect arrests and judicial processes to be both fair and transparent, and we have consistently called for a robust, credible and, indeed, independent investigation.

My Lords, in welcoming that reply from the Minister, perhaps I might ask how the Government will respond to the evidence given to Parliament by Dr Darren Mann about the police arrest and zip-wiring of medics, which he said amounted to

“grave breaches of international norms and human rights law.”

He described disproportionate brutality, including the shooting of rubber bullets at close range and the use of tear gas in confined areas. Does the Minister agree that this is in contravention of the United Nations guidelines on the use of less-lethal weapons and breaks international law? Does not the arrest of a young woman outside our own consulate at the weekend mean that it is time for us to demand an independent inquiry, as the Minister said, and for us to take the lead in establishing it and explore the use of Magnitsky-type powers to bring the perpetrators to justice?

My Lords, on the noble Lord’s final point, as he will be aware, bringing forward Magnitsky-style powers through a sanctions policy is something we are looking at proactively at the Foreign Office, and we will be coming forward with recommendations in the near future. He raises important issues, and we pay tribute to his work in Hong Kong and in consistently raising this issue. We take the allegations set out by Dr Mann’s description of the arrest of medical personnel at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University very seriously. As we have said time and again, we also expect the Hong Kong authorities to abide by their own laws and international obligations.

As I said in my original Answer, we believe that an independent inquiry into events in Hong Kong is a critical step, and the UK has repeatedly called for such an independent inquiry to take place. The noble Lord mentioned a recent arrest outside the British consulate-general. I assure the noble Lord that the UK fully supports the right to peaceful and lawful protest. Indeed, as he will know, a static protest has been in place outside the British consulate-general in Hong Kong for a number of months now.

Is my noble friend aware of the reports of police secreting themselves in ambulances, thereby putting at risk the neutrality of the medical services?

My Lords, there are many reports around the recent situation and unrest in Hong Kong. My noble friend raises one particular issue. Suffice it to say that we take note of any such news stories and ensure that there is an evidence base in support of them. There will be protests and injuries. I assure my noble friend that we continue to implore the Hong Kong authorities to act to support those attending to those injured through such protests to give the right medical attention as soon as possible.

My Lords, having just returned from the gas attacks in Hong Kong as a visitor and guest of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, I feel that it is really important that the Government understand and represent fairly the issues for the academic community. I talked extensively to the vice-chancellor of the university, who is massively torn between his need to protect his students and obeying what is required by law. Any noise and representation that the Government can make is therefore of immense importance, given the loneliness and difficulties they face at present.

I assure the noble Lord that we take very seriously our responsibilities in raising the issues around the protests and the response to those protests. We raise issues consistently both with the Hong Kong authorities and indeed with Chinese counterparts. The noble Lord said he has just returned from a visit. It is important to get a real insight into issues on the ground and, if the noble Lord is willing, I will seek to sit down with him to discuss his views and insights in more detail.

My Lords, having heard what the doctor said about how medical personnel in Hong Kong deal with the injured—be they protesters, policemen, journalists or bystanders—it is surely intolerable that their work should be interfered with in any way. Given that the Sino-British agreement is registered internationally, should we not be much more assertive in protecting humanitarian law?

I agree with the noble Lord, and think that it is right, whether we are talking about Hong Kong or anywhere else in the world, that medical professionals, when they are seeking to assist those injured, whatever the reason for the injury, are given unfettered access. As I have said on a number of occasions from the Dispatch Box, we are absolutely committed to the agreement. Indeed, as the noble Lord may be aware, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary released a statement on the 35th anniversary of the joint declaration in which he said:

“This agreement between the UK and China made clear that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, rights and freedoms would remain unchanged for 50 years. The undertakings made by China, including the right to freedom of expression, an independent judiciary and the rule of law, are essential to Hong Kong’s prosperity and way of life.”

We stand by that.

Is there anything further that Her Majesty’s Government can do in this very difficult situation—perhaps in diplomatic terms, at the UN or wherever—to hold the behaviour of the Chinese up to the scrutiny of the whole world? It is not only the awful thing in Hong Kong, which the noble Lord, Lord Steel, has just spoken of, but also the Uighurs in the province of Xinjiang. It is shocking and should be exposed to the whole world.

My noble friend raises some very important points. I assure him that that we take seriously our responsibilities to raise the issues both of Hong Kong and of the Uighurs in Xinjiang. As the UK’s Human Rights Minister I have taken this forward and, during our formal statements at the Human Rights Council, I have directly raised the issue of the Uighur community, as well other persecuted minorities in China.

 

============================================

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL194):

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the arrest of medics treating protestors injured in the recent demonstrations in Hong Kong, what assessment they have made of the implications for international (1) humanitarian norms, and (2) human rights law, of any such detentions. (HL194)

Tabled on: 08 January 2020

Answer:
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:

​We take any allegations relating to the arrest of medics treating protesters at demonstrations in Hong Kong extremely seriously. We expect the Hong Kong authorities to abide by international humanitarian norms and laws. We continue to be concerned about the situation in Hong Kong and have called consistently for a robust, independent inquiry into recent events as a step towards resolution of the situation. The only way to resolve this impasse is through meaningful and effective political dialogue. We will continue to raise our concerns with the Hong Kong SAR Government and the authorities in Beijing.

Date and time of answer: 15 Jan 2020 at 14:35.

=============================================

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL198):

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made as to whether the trial of Pastor Wang Yi met standards of impartiality for a fair trial; whether they intend to raise his case with the government of China; and what assessment they have made of the suppression of the open practice of religious beliefs. (HL198)

Tabled on: 08 January 2020

Answer:
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:

We have raised our concerns about the closure of churches in China, including the Early Rain Covenant Church which Pastor Wang Yi founded, directly with the Chinese authorities. On 2 January, I issued a tweet expressing serious concerns about the recent sentencing of Pastor Wang Yi to nine years in prison following a secret trial and called on China to uphold the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by China’s constitution and international law. More broadly, we remain deeply concerned about the persecution of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners and others on the grounds of their religion or belief in China. The freedom to practise, change or share ones faith or belief without discrimination or violent opposition is a human right that all people should enjoy.

Date and time of answer: 15 Jan 2020 at 14:55.

==============================================

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL197):

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the nine-year prison sentence given in China to Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Covenant Church, the removal of his political rights for three years, and the confiscation of his personal assets. (HL197)

Tabled on: 08 January 2020

Answer:
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:

We have raised our concerns about the closure of churches in China, including the Early Rain Covenant Church which Pastor Wang Yi founded, directly with the Chinese authorities. On 2 January, I issued a tweet expressing serious concerns about the recent sentencing of Pastor Wang Yi to nine years in prison following a secret trial and called on China to uphold the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by China’s constitution and international law. More broadly, we remain deeply concerned about the persecution of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners and others on the grounds of their religion or belief in China. The freedom to practise, change or share ones faith or belief without discrimination or violent opposition is a human right that all people should enjoy. ​

Date and time of answer: 15 Jan 2020 at 14:36.

==================================================

World Watch List Executive Summary of countries which persecute or discriminate

World Watch List

Unregistered Chinese Christians

https://www.hongkongwatch.org/all-posts/2020/1/10/senior-parliamentarians-relaunch-all-party-parliamentary-group-on-hong-kong

Hong Kong: Britain’s Minister for Human Rights calls for Hong Kong to abide by international humanitarian law, and calls for independent inquiry and Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, expresses “serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjang” about “widespread surveillance and restrictions targeted at minorities.”

Britain’s Minister for Human Rights calls for Hong Kong to abide by international humanitarian law, and calls for independent inquiry

Britain’s Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office responsible for human rights, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, has told Parliament that the United Kingdom takes “allegations of the mistreatment of medical personnel in Hong Kong extremely seriously”.

Responding to a Written Question from Hong Kong Watch Patron Lord Alton of Liverpool, Lord Ahmad said: “We expect the Hong Kong authorities to abide by international humanitarian laws and practices. It is vital that those who are injured are able to receive appropriate medical treatment.”

The questions were tabled the day after Lord Alton hosted a briefing in Parliament by Dr Darren Mann, a British surgeon who has worked in Hong Kong for 25 years and who first brought the arrest and mistreatment of medical professionals in Hong Kong to international attention in an article in The Lancet in November.

In response to another question from Lord Alton, the Minister said that the United Kingdom “made clear” during the crisis at Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University in November that “it was vital that those who were injured were able to receive appropriate medical treatment, and that safe passage was provided to those who wished to leave the area. We take the allegations set out by Dr Mann relating to the arrest of medical personnel at Hong Kong Polytechnic University extremely seriously. We expect the Hong Kong authorities to abide by international humanitarian laws and practices. We have called consistently for a robust, independent inquiry into recent events.”

Lord Ahmad added that: “The Foreign Secretary summoned the Chinese Ambassador on 19 November and set out his concerns about the situation in Hong Kong. The leadership in China and Hong Kong is in no doubt about the strength of UK concern over the current situation, and our commitment to seeing the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Joint Declaration upheld. We will continue to raise our concerns with the Hong Kong SAR Government and the authorities in Beijing.”

Co-founder and Chair of Hong Kong Watch Benedict Rogers said: “We welcome the Minister’s reassurances that the United Kingdom is taking these reports extremely seriously. We urge the British government to go further and to support calls for an international inquiry if a domestic inquiry is not possible within Hong Kong and to impose targeted Magnitsky sanctions on those responsible for serious violations of human rights and of international humanitarian norms. We also urge the Prime Minister himself to now speak out for Hong Kong’s freedoms, human rights and autonomy and to lead the formation of an international contact group of like-minded countries to co-ordinate a worldwide response to the crisis in Hong Kong.”

January 8, 2020

===========

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL4):

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the treatment of medical professionals in Hong Kong; and what representations they intend to make to the government of China about such treatment. (HL4)

Tabled on: 19 December 2019

Answer:
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:

We take allegations of the mistreatment of medical personnel in Hong Kong extremely seriously. We expect the Hong Kong authorities to abide by international humanitarian laws and practices. It is vital that those who are injured are able to receive appropriate medical treatment.

The Foreign Secretary summoned the Chinese Ambassador on 19 November and set out his concerns about the situation in Hong Kong. The leadership in China and Hong Kong is in no doubt about the strength of UK concern over the current situation, and our commitment to seeing the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Joint Declaration upheld. We will continue to raise our concerns with the Hong Kong SAR Government and the authorities in Beijing.

Date and time of answer: 07 Jan 2020 at 15:55.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL3):

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the description of the arrests of medical personnel during a confrontation at Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University on 17 November, by Dr Darren Mann, and his call for an international inquiry into breaches of international humanitarian norms and human rights law. (HL3)

Tabled on: 19 December 2019

Answer:
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:

The UK was seriously concerned by the escalation in violence between protesters and the authorities at Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University. At the time, we made clear it was vital that those who were injured were able to receive appropriate medical treatment, and that safe passage was provided to those who wished to leave the area. We take the allegations set out by Dr Mann relating to the arrest of medical personnel at Hong Kong Polytechnic University extremely seriously. We expect the Hong Kong authorities to abide by international humanitarian laws and practices. We have called consistently for a robust, independent inquiry into recent events.

Date and time of answer: 07 Jan 2020 at 15:45.

=========================================

  Speech in the Queen’s Speech Debate 

7.31 pm November 7th 2020

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)

My Lords…. I should declare at the outset that ​I am a patron of Hong Kong Watch and visited Hong Kong in November to monitor the election and that last month I visited Kurdistan and northern Iraq.

Because of time constraints, I have given the Minister notice of several questions relating to Hong Kong, including evidence given in the House by Dr Darren Mann about attacks on and the arrest of medics there, which he says “amount to grave breaches of international humanitarian norms and human rights law”,  the potential use of Magnitsky powers and a request for an assessment of the post-election situation in Hong Kong.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Goldie) (Con) replied saying that she will respond to these questions in writing.

===================

In a letter to Tom Tugendhat MP, who has served as Chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, expresses “serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjang” about “widespread surveillance and restrictions targeted at minorities.”

https://hk.news.appledaily.com/local/realtime/article/20200107/60460122

House Magazine Hong Kong the Frontline of Freedom Jan 14 2020

Iraq in grave danger of becoming a battle ground for a tit-for-tat undeclared war waged by proxies of Iran. This war by any other name will lead to more cruelty, more misery, and more refugees throughout the region. Reactivated ISIS cells will exploit the opportunity and vulnerable minorities will be gravely at risk. January 7th Interventions in Parliament

 

 

Statement in the House of Lords on Iran – January 7th 2020.

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)

 

My Lords, will the Minister turn his attention for a moment to northern Iraq and Kurdistan, which I visited last month? In particular, is he aware that reactivated ISIS cells killed more than 30 Peshmerga soldiers during the course of December and that they were simultaneously fighting Iranian-backed proxies—Shabak groups armed by Iran—in Nineveh? Given that the vulnerable minorities they have been protecting, including people such as the Yazidis, are facing further genocide, can the Minister say what we can do to work with the Kurdish regional Government to give them reasonable protection and to do what the noble Lord, Lord Collins, said earlier: bring to justice those responsible for these appalling crimes against humanity and genocide, who believe that they can continue to act in the way they have done with impunity because we are incapable of upholding international law, which is why we descend into cycles of assassination and revenge?

 

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

 

My Lords, first, I thank the noble Lord for keeping me updated on various issues during the Christmas break. I expected nothing less in terms of the questions he asked, and I look forward to our more detailed sit-down to discuss some of the issues he has raised.

 

The noble Lord is quite right to raise the important issue of the situation in northern Syria. He also mentioned the KRI region. First, I will reflect Foreign Office advice. When it comes to the KRI, we are saying that non-essential travel should not be taken up, but, if travel is essential, stability continues to prevail in the KRI and we continue to offer support.

 

The noble Lord knows the importance of bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. Therefore, during conversations between my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and the Iraqi Prime Minister, we emphasised again that, while we respect the Iraqi Parliament’s decision, we want to ensure both that there is no withdrawal of either US or UK troops, as limited as UK troop numbers are, and that, in a wider respect, the positive impact on the ground of the measures we have taken—in beginning to see accountability and justice for the victims of crimes, particularly those committed by Daesh—is not lost because of these particular actions. I assure noble Lords that we are doing all we can through all necessary channels to keep that very much on the table.

lesson.

 

 

Speech in the Queen’s Speech Debate 

 

 

7.31 pm: January 7th 2020

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)

 

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie of Downpatrick, on her maiden speech. I should declare at the outset that ​I am a patron of Hong Kong Watch and visited Hong Kong in November to monitor the election and that last month I visited Kurdistan and northern Iraq.

 

Because of time constraints, I have given the Minister notice of several questions relating to Hong Kong, including evidence given in the House by Dr Darren Mann about attacks on and the arrest of medics there, which he says

 

“amount to grave breaches of international humanitarian norms and human rights law”,

 

the potential use of Magnitsky powers and a request for an assessment of the post-election situation in Hong Kong.

 

In the light of events in Iraq, I will use my few minutes mainly to speak about the role of Iran and the increasing belligerence and confidence of new insurgent militias. For 40 years, Iran has been responsible for proxy terrorism, hostage taking and egregious violations of human rights. Thousands of Iranians have long since seen through this theocratic terror state and have been publicly protesting against its leaders, while in Iraq more than 400 people have been killed while campaigning for a more open and democratic and less corrupt Government no longer manipulated by Iran.

 

Many people I met told me that Iranian Shia proxies and the re-emergent sleeping ISIS cells with Sunni affiliations will ruthlessly oppose any change and endanger the remarkable achievements of the Kurdish Regional Government, who have valiantly protected both Kurds and the minorities. In the north of Iraq, especially in Irbil, the KRG, whose parliamentary Speaker and Deputy Speaker I met, have created a glimpse of what a peaceful Iraq and a wider region respectful of difference and diversity could look like.

 

 I visited some of the multi-ethnic villages  on the Nineveh plain. 

 

Iran has already mobilised Shabak proxies, endangering the reconstruction of ancient Yazidi and Christian settlements such as Bartella, and is trying to create a destabilising Iranian canton strategically wedged between Kurdistan and Mosul. The parallel re-emergence of ISIS in northern Iraq’s Hamrin and Qara Chokh mountains led, in December, to the deaths or injury of more than 30 brave Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers, while its ISIS affiliate in Nigeria beheaded 11 Christians in retaliation for the demise of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

 

The signal failure of the international community to bring genocidaires such as Baghdadi or men such as Qasem Soleimani to justice or to challenge countries that arm proxies or bomb civilians creates a culture of impunity, eroding and degrading a rules-based international order.

 

 I saw the consequences of impunity at Bardarash refugee camp where, in increasingly cold weather, tents and makeshift shelters in a desolate location have replaced homes bombed by Turkish—that is, NATO—planes. 

 

Thousands of people who, until weeks before, had successfully supported themselves and their children, now queue up for rations, handouts and medical help. In Bardarash, a mother of four told me that, “As they dropped their bombs and chemicals many children were burnt. Some were killed. I just want to go home with my children, but everything was destroyed, and we would be slaughtered.”

 

When did it become acceptable to break the Geneva conventions, and potentially the Chemical Weapons Convention, illegally occupy territory, ethnically cleanse ​a population and face no investigation, little censure, no Security Council resolution and no consequences? What outrage must a NATO country commit before we declare it to be unfit for membership let alone seek its referral to the International Criminal Court?

 

If the rule of law is a casualty of international impotence, consider the phenomenal human consequences. Worldwide. a staggering 70 million people have been forcibly displaced, with 37,000 people forced to flee their homes every single day, while 17 years is the average length of time spent in a camp by a refugee. 

 

These camps are the perfect recruiting grounds for the exploitation of despair, hopelessness and betrayal. Bardarash is a symbol of the breakdown of global leadership.

 

In asking the Minister how we intend to fill this vacuum, I would also welcome her response to questions I have sent her about memorialising the Simele genocide site and the request of Baba Sheikh, the spiritual leader of the Yazidis, whom I met, concerning the 3,000 still-missing Yazidi women. 

 

Genocide survivors from Mosul and Sinjar told me that they had never been approached by British or international agencies to give their evidence. How will trials ever take place if we fail systematically to collect witness statements?

 

There can be no lasting peace and reconciliation without justice and the rule of law, which is why a central plank of our approach must be the creation of a regional court to try those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide.

 

 Until we do, I echo the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, when I say that lawless militias and proxies will go on behaving with impunity and retaliatory assassinations and killings will be the order of the day, with unpredictable consequences for people who have already experienced appalling suffering and persecution.

 

 

 7.37 pm

===========================================================

 

DURING MY VISIT, LAST MONTH,  TO NORTHERN IRAQ AND KURDISTAN, I REPEATEDLY HEARD WARNINGS ABOUT THE INCREASED BELLIGERENCE   AND CONFIDENCE OF NEW INSURGENT MILITIAS – SOME QUARTER MASTERED BY IRAN – PAVING THE WAY FOR FURTHER CONFLICT IN IRAQ AND SYRIA.

 

Many I met  expressed their fears that a combination of Iranian Shia militias and the re-emergence of sleeping ISIS cells – with its Sunni affiliations –  would endanger the achievements of the Kurdish Regional Government in protecting both Kurds and the minorities, including Yazidis and Christians – who are in grave danger if Iraq once again becomes the chosen battlefield  – this time, for a tit-for-tat hybrid war waged by proxies.

Following Soleimani’s killing in Iraq – from which he was banned under UN Security Council resolutions –  the consequences could be full scale war by accident or, more likely, a cycle of retaliatory attacks which amount to war  by any other name.

The danger of escalation  and the recent sight of joint naval exercises involving Iran, China, and Russia, is hardly encouraging; while Israel feels increasingly at risk  from Iranian backed Hezbollah rocket attacks from Lebanon.

Iran thrives and capitalises on any differences that open up between the US and  its European allies. It exploits grievances and uses disaffection as a major recruiting tools.

It also uses hostages. Where this conflict leaves Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and 15 British and American prisoners in Iran is anybody’s guess.

Doubtless, it will try and seize other hostages and will be planning cyber-attacks like that carried out on our parliamentary estate in 2017.

Soleimani’s death last week follows the killing of hundreds of US service personnel. His Quds force have been engaged in a war against the US for decades and have wantonly destabilised the region.

Since September 2018, Iran Backed Groups of  militants have fired over 30 rockets at U.S. facilities in Iraq, including the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, consulate in Basra, and military training facilities in Taji, Mosul, and Nineveh.

Congress and the White House have repeatedly warned that this would not be tolerated forever.

Article 51 of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter clearly permits a country, in this case America, to act in self defence once attacked – and it has been repeatedly attacked in Iraq

According to The Times, Iran attempted to build or has built a dozen underground missile silos in Syria and was doing the same in Iraq. In Lebanon they have over 100,000 missiles.

Recall, too, Soleimani’s  role in the deaths of large numbers of civilians, as Aleppo was starved into submission; his use of Houthi proxies in Yemen; with Hezbollah and Hamas proxies intent on the destruction of the State of Israel.

Soleimani’s fingerprints were on the acts of piracy in the Straits of Hormuz and the attack, in Saudi, on the Aramco petroleum complex – and the US says it was aware of plans to take further American lives.

In the days before Soleimani’s death a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base near Kirkuk led to the death of an American civilian contractor. In response, America  deployed fighter jets to pound  Iranian backed militias in Syria and Iraq.

For 40 years Iran has supported acts of terror and been responsible for egregious violations of human rights. And we ca be certain that it will not balk at carrying out more.

Our failure to tame the crocodile has simply emboldened it.

Thousands of Iranians have themselves long since seen through this theocratic terror State  -and have been protesting publicly against its leaders.

Kata’ib Hizbollah is Iran’s proxy in Iraq and, although its leader was also killed alongside Soleimani,  it is his death which turns this into a fight between the US and Iran, not just their proxies. Having recklessly escalated the violence Iran almost certainly misread the US’s earlier reluctance to be provoked into  retaliation..

But Tehran has been misreading other signals too.

In recent months, millions of people have demonstrated against the oppression of that regime—both in Iran and across the Middle East, in Lebanon and Iraq.

Consider the rising generation in Iraq – where, in recent weeks, over 400 people have been killed as they have campaigned for a more open and democratic and less corrupt government  – one which is no longer manipulated by Iran.

We must hope and pray that a political strategy now emerges to empower those – especially Iraqis, Lebanese and Kurds, who wish to throw off Iranian hegemony and run their own societies and govern their own countries.  And that is also true for the people of Iran – who want a prosperous and peaceful society which respects diversity and difference..

In the north of Iraq, the Kurdish Regional Government  has created, especially in Erbil, a glimpse of what a peaceful Iraq – and wider region – could look like.

I visited its Parliament and held talks with , Dr Rewaz Faiaq the Speaker, and Hemin Hawrami , the Deputy Speaker.

Both drew attention to the threat to the stability of the region by armed militias – and the consequences of further waves of  displacements and refugees. I visited multi-ethnic villages on the Nineveh Plain. Shabak militias supported by Iran – and exploiting pre-ISIS Shabak grievances –  have endangered the reconstruction of these ancient Christian settlements – places like Bartella, where a school has been erected named after Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini – and are an attempt to create a destabilizing Iranian canton in the Nineveh Plains, strategically wedged between Kurdistan and Mosul.

The re-emergence of ISIS – exploiting the disaffection and isolation of Sunni Muslims has seen its renaissance in northern Iraq, carrying out guerrilla attacks in the Hamrin mountains and Qara Chokh mountains –  leading to more than 30 deaths or injuries of brave Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers during December.

And its ideology mutates and spreads. In Nigeria, jihadists were responsible for the beheading of eleven Christians executed in retaliation for the demise of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who proclaimed  the Caliphate in 2014.

The failure of the international community in bringing men like Soleimani and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to justice –  has created the circumstances where countries like the US, sensing themselves to be under attack, inevitably invoke the doctrine of self-defence.

There are, of course, times when military options must be used but, in the increasing absence of international law and its enforcement, it is being used as a first resort rather than a last resort – and  perhaps with too little strategic sense of  the consequences.

And other nations have been embarking on undeclared wars, too.

In Kurdistan, in meeting refugees,  I  saw for myself the consequences of Turkey’s illegal invasion of north east Syria.  The misery which they have inflicted has been compounded by the appalling consequences of airstrikes and shelling by Russian backed Syrian forces in Idlib.

More than a quarter of a million souls have fled a province which had becomes the last bolt hole of around 3.5 million people who had been displaced from other contested areas of Syria.

During my visit I went to Bardarash refugee camp. It was established less than two months ago to provide a place of safety for refugees fleeing Turkey’s bombardment and invasion of North East Syria.

In a desolate location, it is home – if that is a word that can accurately be used – to 2,520 families – some 9,894 individuals with more arrivals expected.

Tents and makeshift shelters – in increasingly cold weather –  have replaced homes bombed by Turkish – that is,  NATO – planes and people who, until weeks before, had successfully supported themselves and their children queue up for rations, handouts, and medical help.

As always there were handfuls of dedicated volunteers and aid workers trying to apply poultices and bandages to keep people going.

But these people should never have had to become refugees  in the first place, and until we address the fundamental causes, and get angry with those who are responsible, the numbers and attendant suffering and heartbreak will increase exponentially.

What were our friends in the United States thinking of in  walking out on our Kurdish allies in north east Syria – and what message did they think that was going to send to Tehran?

And if Turkey can get away with illegality is it any wonder that Iran thinks it can do the same?

When did it become acceptable to break the Geneva Conventions – and potentially the Chemical Weapons Convention – and illegally occupy territory and ethnically cleanse a population, and face no investigation, little censure, no Security Council Resolution, and no consequences?

Perhaps the British Government will tell us what outrage a NATO country must commit – just what does it have to do to innocent civilians – before we declare it to be unfit for membership – let alone seek its referral to the International Criminal Court?

If the rule of law is a casualty of international impotence, consider the phenomenal human consequences.

On World Refugee Day, 2019, a staggering and unprecedented 70.8 million people had been forcibly displaced. From Cox’s Bazaar – and the Rohingya – to the Libyan Coast – and  a tidal wave of Eritreans, Nigerians, Sudanese, Iranians , and Syrians, some 37,000 people are forced to flee their homes every single day.

This is overwhelming due to man-made conflict or persecution.

My first visit to a refugee camp was in Beirut in 1981. Shatila and Shabra camps had been established for Palestinian refugees in 1948.

A year after my visit the camps were the scene of a horrific massacre.

One of my most heart-breaking experiences was hearing from refugees in Darfur about the genocide which had been unleashed upon them. 300,000 died, 2 million were displaced.

In Dadaab, Kenya, I saw one of the biggest refugee camps in the world teeming with 211,000 refugees – many from Somalia; and in Sudan and Burma I have spent time in camps where people have taken refuge to escape a crisis and end up staying there for years. 17 years is the average length of time spent in a camp by a fleeing refugee.

In Bardarash a mother of four told me that “ the war planes came at 4.00pm. As they dropped their bombs and chemicals many children were burnt. Some were killed. We all started to run. One of my children fell and concussed his skull. I just want to go home with my children- but everything was destroyed, and we would be slaughtered.”

Hamid, another Bardarash  refugee, described how he saw people choking as their homes were burnt: “children were throwing up and we had to leave the injured behind as we fled.”

Refugees were incredulous that the international community had allowed Erdogan to force them from their homes. They felt betrayed.

In adding to the global refugee crisis, we have created  perfect recruiting grounds for extremist organisations able to exploit despair, hopelessness and betrayal.

Bardarash is a symbol of the breakdown of global leadership and its occupants  are  paying a high the price. The UK Government should challenge and confront the destabilising activities of Turkey and Iran as their rivalry is contributing to the rise of extremism, sectarianism and the refugee crisis.

I have sent the Government a number of  other reflections from my visit to Northern Iraq.

During my visit I went to Simele where the Syrian Christians were subjected to genocide in 1933.  The site was in a deplorable condition and there should be a memorial to commemorate the victims. The  UK Government could help with this especially since that the massacre took place only one year after Britain terminated its mandate over Iraq in 1932. At the time, the Foreign Office rejected calls for an international inquiry into the killings, cravenly arguing that it might lead to further massacres against Christians. They did not support calls to punish the offenders as they had become national heroes. Here’s an opportunity to belatedly recognise what happens when you ignore genocides.

I also met Baba Sheik, the spiritual leader of the Yazidis. The UK Government could do more to  help  abandoned Yazidi children and to help find the still missing 3,000 Yazidi women who were abducted and enslaved. We could also do more to  help preserve and restore manuscripts and artefacts which were hidden during the genocide and tell the story of these ancient communities.

The UK Government should also be directly supporting schools, women unions and youth organisation of the minority communities. Most of those I met  said that they had little contact with UK officials. The UK Government can, and should, work collaboratively with organisations like CSW  – and I pay tribute to them and to the Assyrian Aid Society for their help in facilitating my visit to Kurdistan – to provide necessary training to empower and equip local activists and to facilitate reconciliation and inter-community dialogue.

Survivors of ISIS genocide in Mosul and Sinjar told me that they had never been approached by British or international agencies to give their evidence. How will trials ever take place if we have failed to collect witness statements?

I met two men whose families fled from Mosul and another whose home was burnt down in Sinjar. No one from the international community or the Governments in Baghdad or Erbil has ever asked to meet them or to take their statements. Yet we are endlessly told we are “collecting evidence “ and that perpetrators will “be brought to justice”.

In the context of the immediate crisis the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, is right to “urge all parties to de-escalate. Further conflict is in none of our interests.

But we need a new long term strategy too.

There can be no lasting peace and no sustained reconciliation without justice and the rule of law – which is why  a central plank of our approach must be the creation of a regional court to try those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide. Until we do, lawless militias will go on behaving with impunity and retaliatory assassinations and killings will be the order of the day.

For 2020 – Make a New Year’s Resolution To Work For The Release Of Pastor Wang Yi -who, since the massacre in Tiananmen Square – has been a consistent voice for liberty, democracy, and freedom – and who has been given a 9 year prison sentence in China; Also see the NEW YEAR OPEN LETTER from 40 Parliamentarians and Dignitaries, from 18 Countries, Calling on Carrie Lam to Stop Police Brutality in Hong Kong; And read about the Lithuanian Foreign Minister who, following the desecration of memorials to pro democracy campaigners, who have died in Hong Kong, says such “shameful, disgraceful acts of vandalism…can’t and won’t be tolerated.”  This follows the desecration of over 40 Uighur cemeteries in Western China. In 2020 campaign to end the dishonouring of the dead and the dishonouring of the living.

 

For 2020 – Make a New Year’s Resolution To Work For The Release Of Pastor Wang Yi – who, since the massacre in Tiananmen Square – has been a consistent voice for liberty, democracy, and freedom – and who has been given a 9 year prison sentence in China.

Also see, below, the NEW YEAR OPEN LETTER from 40 Parliamentarians and Dignitaries, from 18 Countries, Calling on Carrie Lam to Stop Police Brutality in Hong Kong.

And read about the Lithuanian Foreign Minister who, following the desecration of memorials to pro democracy campaigners, who have died in Hong Kong, says such “shameful, disgraceful acts of vandalism…can’t and won’t be tolerated.”  This follows the desecration of over 40 Uighur cemeteries in Western China.

In 2020 campaign to end the dishonouring of the dead and the dishonouring of the living.

 

Asianews (30.12.2019) –

 

Chengdu (AsiaNews) – Pastor Wang Yi, founder of the Early Rain Covenant Church, has been sentenced to 9 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” and for “illegal trade”.

Wang was arrested in December 2018, along with 100 other members of his community in various locations in the Chengdu (Sichuan) district. After nearly a year of pre-trial detention, the Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court today issued the sentence. The trial was held on December 26th. According to several witnesses, the court was surrounded by a police cordon and there were only lawyers in the courtroom. No member of the Church, nor the relatives of the accused, was allowed to be present.

 

In addition to the nine-year sentence, Wang will be denied political rights for three years and his personal assets, which are around 50,000 yuan (about 6,300 euros), will be confiscated.

 

The sentence for “subversion” is explained by Wang Yi’s standing as a public figure and his activism, already a democratic activist at the time of the Tiananmen massacre, he later converted to Christianity and became pastor of the Early Rain Covenant Church. Defined by many as “the bravest” religious leader in China, Wang Yi branded the new regulations on religious activities as a tool to stifle religious freedom.

 

Recently, Wang Yi had also thrown himself against the “cult of Caesar”, after patriotic associations forced Christians to display – often on the altars – the photo of President Xi Jinping.

 

As for the “illegal trade” charge, it is linked to the fact that the community prints religious books and distributes them among its members and in Chinese society.

 

During the detention period, a letter was circulated to his community, which Wang Yi had written in anticipation of his arrest. In the text, he says he is “full of anger and disgust because of the persecution of the church by the communist regime, and of the wickedness in depriving people of freedom of religion and conscience”. At the same time, he says he has no desire to change China’s social order, but he does uphold the freedom to announce the Gospel.

 

For Wang, the persecution of Christians is pushing many Chinese people to “lose faith in their future, leading them to a desert of spiritual disillusionment and through this, to know Jesus”.

 

The persecution of Christians, he says, “is the most horrendous evil in Chinese society.” “All this – he explains – is not just a sin against Christians. It is also a sin against non-Christians. Because [in this way] the government threatens them in a rough and brutal mode preventing them from coming to Jesus. In the world there is no worse evil than this “.

 

The Early Rain Covenant Church has about 500 members and 300 sympathizers. Unlike many underground Protestant churches, its members practice faith openly; spread sermons and online studies; they evangelize on the streets of the city; they have a seminar to teach future pastors and a primary school for 40 children.

See also https://bitterwinter.org/early-rain-pastor-wang-yi-sentenced-to-nine-years-in-jail/ 

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OPEN LETTER: 40 Parliamentarians and Dignitaries from 18 Countries Call on Carrie Lam to Stop Police Brutality – click here for full text:

https://www.hongkongwatch.org/all-posts/2019/12/31/40-parliamentarians-and-dignitaries-from-18-countries-call-on-carrie-lam-to-stop-police-brutality?fbclid=IwAR0g_DbotLnrpCzwTphGNc7E6mhUydyw1ddFBC3vqW7i-8E4YijIT7IKLlI  

carrie lam

40 Parliamentarians and dignitaries from 18 countries, including Asia’s leading Catholic cardinal, the daughter of Indonesia’s former president and former UK House Of Commons Speaker John Bercow, have written an Open Letter to Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam expressing “grave concerns at the recent escalation of police brutality over the Christmas period.”

Signed by Parliamentarians and dignitaries from countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Denmark, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, South Korea, Lithuania, Malaysia, Myanmar, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the United States, including the Co-chairs of the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group for Hong Kong Baroness Bennett and Alistair Carmichael MP, Vice-Chair and Hong Kong Watch Patron Lord Alton of Liverpool, members of the German Bundestag Margarete Bause and Martin Patzelt, and former US Congressman Tom Andrews, the letter appeals to the Chief Executive to use her authority and responsibility to “seek genuine ways forward out of this crisis by addressing the grievances of Hong Kong people, bringing the Hong Kong Police Force under control, ensuring accountability and an end to impunity”. 

The letter also urges Ms Lam to begin a process of democratic political reform, noting the turnout and results in the district council elections last month.

We released it an hour ago, which was midnight Hong Kong time – New Year!

 

The Apple Daily have reported it here: – https://hk.news.appledaily.com/international/realtime/article/20200101/60434267?utm_campaign=hkad_article_share&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_content=share_link 

 

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Following the desecration of memorials to pro democracy campaigners who have died in Hong Kong the Lithuanian Foreign Minister has called for a Police investigation and has said that such “shameful, disgraceful acts of vandalism…cant and wont be tolerated.”  (see below):Uigurs 3

The desecration of people’s memorials and graves is a deeply offensive act. Reports of over 40 Uighur cemeteries in Western China being destroyed is now followed by the desecration of memorials to pro-democracy campaigners who have been killed in Hong Kong.  In traditional Chinese culture there is a deep respect for the dead and for ancestors who have gone before you. Along with so much else that is valued in Chinese civilisation such respect for the dead is a casualty of hard line ideological Communism.

 

Uighurs1

https://twitter.com/LinkeviciusL/status/1211253240102375425

 

Over Christmas, Islamic State Beheaded 11 Nigerian Christians. Shocking news reports with in depth analysis from the BBC on the ideology that is intent on creating a genocide in Nigeria. Read a parliamentary debate held 18 months ago. The warnings of systematic persecution and horrific executions, abductions, and an unfolding genocide have been wantonly ignored.  These terrible executions in Nigeria will be a first test of how the UK’s Foreign Office and Aid programmes will be deployed to provide substance to Boris Johnson’s very welcome commitment to end such barbarism. 

Over Christmas, Islamic State Beheaded 11 Nigerian Christians.

https://thenationonlineng.net/killing-of-11-christians-elders-forum-furious-with-buhari/

The BBC and other news outlets have provided shocking news reports with in depth analysis from  the ideology that is intent on creating a genocide in Nigeria.

Perhaps this will finally wake up officials in the UK’s Foreign Office and in the Department for International Development who insist on saying that Nigeria’s killings are overwhelmingly a result of climate change, loss of grazing land and poverty.

These may all be factors but to ignore the role of  a ferocious ideology is absurd, self-deceiving, wishful thinking.   Climate change didn’t behead these innocent people whose only “crime” was their Christian faith. 

Pasted below is a parliamentary debate held 18 months ago. The warnings of systematic persecution and horrific executions, abductions, and an unfolding genocide have been wantonly ignored.  The failure to respond to these repeated warnings send a message to these Jihadists that the world doesn’t care. 

The Prime Minister has rightly said that “In light of mounting evidence that Christians suffer the most widespread persecution… We will use the UK’s global reach and programme funding to improve the lives of persecuted people.”  And that “We will do everything possible to champion these freedoms…. We are determined to use the tools of British diplomacy in this cause, including our permanent seat on the UN Security Council.”

These terrible executions in Nigeria will be a first test of how the UK’s Foreign Office and Aid programmes will be deployed to provide substance to Boris Johnson’s very welcome commitment to end such barbarism. 

 

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/world-africa-50924266

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-50924266?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/c50znx8v435t/boko-haram&link_location=live-reporting-story

https://www.foxnews.com/world/isis-beheads-christians-nigeria-baghdadi

 

Other sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/27/world/africa/ISIS-executions-Nigeria.html 

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Islamic-State-beheads-11-Christian-hostages-48906.html

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/12/isil-claims-execution-11-christians-nigeria-191227141817907.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/isis-beheading-christian-hostages-nigeria-iswap-baghdadi-a9261991.html 

 

December 27th 2019:

According to the BBC, the Islamic State group has released a video claiming to show the killing of 11 Christians in Nigeria:

IS said it was part of its recently declared campaign to “avenge” the death of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a US raid in Syria in October.

No details were given about the victims, who were all male, but IS says they were “captured in the past weeks” in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno State.

The 56-second video was produced by the IS “news agency” Amaq.

It was released on 26 December and analysts say it was clearly timed to coincide with Christmas celebrations.” – BBC news report  

It brings back to mind the horrific executions, in 2015,  of 21 Egyptian Christians on the beaches of Libya by ISIS

Icon of the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded in Libya in February 2015

Ishaq Khalid, BBC News, Abuja:

“The video once again highlights the brutal tactics of Iswap, while the timing of the release – over the Christmas period – is also designed to get maximum attention.

This video may be intended to increase tension between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, as well as put more pressure on the government to respond to their demands, says security analyst Kabiru Adamu.

Earlier this month, the group released a video of the captives, appealing to the Nigerian authorities and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to intervene.

Iswap has used hostage-taking as a bargaining tool – either for ransom or in exchange for their arrested members, although the authorities have never confirmed carrying out a prisoner swap.

The militant group has previously killed a number of hostages, including members of the security forces and aid workers but this is the largest group to be killed at one time.

It is not clear how many captives Iswap is currently holding in Nigeria, but there are believed to be dozens – mainly security forces, aid workers and those perceived to be associated with government institutions.”

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See the warnings given 18 months ago in a House of Lords debate  on Nigeria by myself ,Baroness (Caroline) Cox and Lord Chidgey:

Photo of Lord Alton of LiverpoolLord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench  2:16 pm, 28th June 2018

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the continuing violence between communities and armed groups in Nigeria.

Photo of Lord Alton of LiverpoolLord Alton of LiverpoolCrossbench

My Lords,

the tragic topicality of today’s debate was underlined last weekend when more than 200 people were reported to have died in co-ordinated attacks on around 50 communities in Plateau state in Barkin Ladi. These attacks began on 22 June and lasted until 24 June.

The majority of the victims were women and children. At one location, 120 were killed as they returned from the funeral of an elderly member of the Church of Christ in Nations.

A dawn to dusk curfew was established and, as I heard first hand yesterday from the honourable Rimamnde Shawulu Kwewum, a member of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives, the area remains tense. This most recent episode is shocking, but it is also the latest in an extended pattern of violence that has become all too common across Nigeria, particularly in the Middle Belt and increasingly in some of the more southern states.

Last week Sam Brownback, the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, was in Nigeria.

On a single day during his visit, there were six suicide bombings by Boko Haram, the largest number ever on any single day. As we will hear later from my noble—and courageous—friend Lady Cox, who has visited these areas, these attacks have been systematic and go on unabated.

Human rights groups such as CSW have catalogued every reported attack. While it may not be definitive, the list attempts to provide as comprehensive a record as possible of known attacks and of the death toll in the Middle Belt during the first quarter of this year, underlining the critical need for urgent and effective intervention.

I have sent many of these details to Ministers but in the interests of time I will just give the House a snapshot from a few days in April of this year. On 10 April, 10 people were killed in Ukum in Benue state. On 10 April, 51 were killed in Wukari, Taraba state. On 12 April, 41 were killed in Ukum, Benue state. On 12 April, two were killed in Makurdi in Benue state, and another 41 were killed in Ukum in Benue state.

The charity Aid to the Church in Need, on whose board I sit in a pro bono capacity, has also documented appalling acts of violence, which I have sent to the Government.

In April, during early morning mass, militants attacked the parish in Makurdi killing two priests and 17 members of the congregation. ACN has also highlighted the 15,000 orphans and 5,000 widows in the north-east—an area that has come under repeated attack from Boko Haram.

I would be grateful to hear from the Minister what humanitarian aid we have been able to provide for victims.

CSW reports that in the first quarter of 2018, Fulani herder militia perpetrated at least 106 attacks in central Nigeria. The death toll in these four months, purely from herder militia violence, stands at 1,061. An additional 11 attacks recorded on communities in the south of the country claimed a further 21 lives. One spokesman said: “It is purely a religious jihad in disguise”.

There has certainly been a long history of disputes between nomadic herders and farming communities right across the Sahel, over land, grazing and scarce resources—I have visited places such as Darfur myself and have seen that at first hand. It is true that attacks by herder militia have, on occasion, led to retaliatory violence, as communities conclude that they can no longer rely on the Government for protection or justice.

Between 1 January and 1 May this year, there were 60 such attacks. However, compared with the recent escalation in attacks by well-armed Fulani herders upon predominately Christian farming communities, the asymmetry is stark and must be acknowledged by the UK Government in their characterisation and narrative of this violence. Given the escalation, frequency, organisation and asymmetry of Fulani attacks, does the Minister believe that the references to “farmer-herder clashes” still suffice?

In the face of the reports of violence collected by impartial human rights groups, there is no place here for, as it were, moral equivalence; nor is it sufficient for the Government merely to urge all sides to seek dialogue and avoid violence. I would urge the noble Baroness to revisit the narrative, conduct her own assessment and either confirm or dispute the data that I have given to the House already—I know other noble Lords will do the same.

Some local observers have gone so far as to describe the rising attacks as a campaign of ethno-religious cleansing. Armed with sophisticated weaponry, including AK47s and, in at least one case, a rocket launcher and rocket-propelled grenades, the Fulani militia have murdered more men, women and children in 2015, 2016 and 2017 than even Boko Haram, destroying, overrunning and seizing property and land, and displacing tens of thousands of people. This is organised and systematic.

We must ask where this group of nomadic herdsmen is getting such sophisticated weaponry from.

I wonder whether the Minister has had a chance to look into this; if not, will she give an undertaking to do so?

While recognising the complex, underlying causes of this violence, we must also acknowledge a growing degree of religious motivation behind the violence. The local chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria recently revealed that herdsmen have destroyed over 500 churches in Benue state alone since 2011.

Perhaps the Minister could also respond to reports that during many of these well-planned attacks by Fulani militia, their cattle are nowhere in sight, and they are often reported by survivors to have shouted “Allahu Akbar” during these attacks. Perhaps the Minister can comment on this undoubtedly sectarian aspect of the escalating violence.

Beyond intermittent verbal condemnations, I cannot see much practical action that has been taken to end the violence, which has emboldened perpetrators even further. Moreover, in the light of such an inadequate response thus far, communities will begin—and indeed already are beginning—to feel that they can no longer rely on government for protection or justice, and a few take matters into their own hands.

In the words of an Anglican canon in the Middle Belt, “Why do so many security service personnel spend their time guarding our politicians, rather than protecting our people?” I also put on record a recent statement to President Buhari issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria. Among other things the statement said:

“Since the President who appointed the Heads of the nation’s Security Agencies has refused to call them to order, even in the face of the chaos and barbarity into which our country has been plunged, we are left with no choice but to conclude that they are acting on a script that he approves of. If the President cannot keep our country safe, then he automatically loses the trust of the citizens. He should no longer continue to preside over the killing fields and mass graveyard that our country has become.”

That is a pretty awesome statement from a bishops’ conference.

Concern about partiality was also raised on 24 March, by the highly respected former army chief of staff and Defence Minister, Lieutenant General Theophilus Y Danjuma, who stated that the armed forces were, “not neutral; they collude” in the,

“ethnic cleansing in … riverine states”, by Fulani militia. He insisted that villagers must defend themselves because,

“depending on the armed forces”, will result in them dying,

“one by one. The ethnic cleansing must stop … in all the states of Nigeria; otherwise Somalia will be a child’s play”.

I would like to hear, therefore, what practical steps the UK Government are taking to work with the Government of Nigeria in developing effective solutions to bring an end to this escalating violence. Can the Minister tell us whether there is a strategic plan and what representations have been made directly? I know that finding solutions is complex, but there is nothing to stop the Minister calling on the Government of Nigeria to recalibrate security arrangements and to resource their forces as a matter of urgency, in order to offer sufficient protection to vulnerable communities.

As I close, I thank the noble Lords who are participating in today’s debate and go back to where I began: to the more than 200 people, mostly women and children, who were killed in sustained attacks on 50 villages by armed Fulani militia just this past weekend. People are dying daily. On 18 June, the Archbishop of Abuja referred in the Telegraph to what he described as “territorial conquest” and “ethnic cleansing” and said:

“The very survival of our nation is … at stake”.

This alone should serve as a wake-up call. Are we to watch one of Africa’s greatest countries go the way of Sudan? Will we be indifferent as radical forces sweep across the Sahel seeking to replace diversity and difference with a monochrome ideology that will be imposed with violence on those who refuse to comply? We must not wait for a genocide to happen, as it did in Rwanda. Ominously, history could very easily be repeated.

 

Photo of Baroness CoxBaroness Cox Crossbench  2:47 pm, 28th June 2018

My Lords, I too congratulate my noble friend Lord Alton on securing this debate at this tragically critical time. Over recent decades there have been numerous attacks on Christians in the northern states, where sharia law has been established, as well as in Plateau state in the central belt. Thousands of Christians have been killed, hundreds of churches burned, and homes destroyed. The tragedies escalated with the rise of Boko Haram, which also killed Muslims who did not accept its Islamist ideology.

I have visited many times and seen the tragedies of death and destruction in Bauchi, Kano and Plateau states. But more recently, as other noble Lords have described, there has been a very disturbing change in the behaviour of the Fulani herdsmen. Since time immemorial, they have driven their huge herds of cattle through other people’s lands, causing tensions and some violence, but traditionally, they have moved on. However, in the last two to three years they have adopted a new policy: attacking Christian villages, killing local people, destroying homes, driving villagers off their lands and settling in their place. Now there has been this recent escalation of attacks on Christian villages by the Fulani, with, as other noble Lords have highlighted, over 200 civilians killed in Plateau state just last weekend. The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Last time I was in Nigeria, I visited four villages which had been destroyed by Fulani. I stood in the rubble of the pastor’s home where he had been slaughtered, and I saw the huge numbers of Fulani cattle roaming through the destroyed villages. There are concerns that the Fulani militants are now so well armed that they are possibly fighting a proxy war for Boko Haram, with the shared agenda of driving Christians out of their homelands in northern and central-belt Nigeria.

Time allows only a few examples of quotations from local people, but they are indicative of many more. They provided first-hand evidence of the horror and terror now prevailing in these areas. This is one quote:

“Fulani herdsmen, yesterday 23 June, on a rampage, attacked about 10 villages; ‘in Nghar village alone, about 70 corpses were recovered as the entire village was razed down’”.

This is another:

The attack last night was vicious … armed Fulani men dressed/masked in black entered Rasak & Gana Ropp villages, shooting randomly … The house of one … family … was surrounded & directly attacked … the Fulani were shooting into the house … as they shouted ‘Allahu Akbar!’”

This is another:

“Other villages in the area … were completely sacked by the armed herders. Survivors from the attacks from these ‘villages are believed to still be hiding in the bushes’”.

Over 60 people are known to have been killed there.

This is another quote:

“The attacks are continuing in other villages and in Gashish. As of 6 pm, at least 30 people were feared dead with several houses and cars razed down”.

This is my last example:

“In a continuing killing spree, Islamic Fulani cattle herdsmen killed eight people in Bassa local council, near Jos. From Sunday 17 June, till today (20th June) we have had no peace in the villages around here … all these villages have been attacked one after the other in three days”.

Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi, who had taken custody of a baby whose mother was killed, said:

“I am in tears because I have taken a child whose mother was shot dead. A family of four killed, another two young men shot dead and so on … Where are those who will protect the poor? Where is the leadership? It is a week and three days now with daily killings of poor unarmed and unprotected citizens of Plateau State”.

Related concerns expressed by local people include the interpretation of the situation as intercommunal attacks, with both sides being equally guilty. One resident said:

“It is annoying when politicians say this is a clash between herdsmen and farmers. I ask, how does a woman farming in her own farm clash with Fulanis carrying AK-47s?”

Other concerns include: failure of security services to protect civilians; impunity, with no one responsible for the killings being called to account; the escalation in the number of internally displaced peoples; and the destruction of crops, which are the livelihood of local people.

I want to make three requests of the Minister. Will Her Majesty’s Government make representations to the Government of Nigeria to take effective action to protect all their citizens and to call to account those who have been perpetrating atrocities? Will Her Majesty’s Government work with the high commission to ensure that adequate humanitarian aid is available for those suffering the loss of family members and the destruction of their homes and crops, and forced to become IDPs? Will Her Majesty’s Government urge the Nigerian Government to undertake an investigation into the ethnic and religious persecution of the affected people and the operation of the Nigerian army during these attacks?

There is real fear that these developments are part of a strategy by Islamist fundamentalists to drive Christians out of their traditional homelands in northern and central-belt regions of Nigeria. I urge Her Majesty’s Government to respond appropriately to the very real possibility of religious cleansing.

 

Photo of Lord ChidgeyLord Chidgey Liberal Democrat  2:30 pm, 28th June 2018

My Lords, I too congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Alton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Berridge, on their contributions, and thank the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for bringing this subject to us today. There has been a long history of disputes between nomadic herders and farming communities across the Sahel. In Nigeria, attacks are now occurring with such frequency, organisation and asymmetry, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, that references to “farmer-herder clashes” are wholly inadequate. Armed with relatively sophisticated weaponry, particularly AK47s, the Fulani herder militia is thought to have murdered more men, women and children, between 2015 and 2017, than Boko Haram.

It has overrun and seized property and land, and displaced tens of thousands of people. In 2017, herder militia claimed 808 lives in 53 villages in southern Kaduna alone, burning down over 1,400 houses. As pointed out by the noble Baroness, Lady Berridge, during most of these well-planned attacks, herders’ cattle were nowhere in sight. Over 180,000 people in Benue state are currently living in IDP camps because the herder militia violence has displaced them. More than 500,000 displaced people are living in temporary accommodation, and over 80,000 school-age children are living in IDP camps with no access to education.

Attacks continue unabated, with seemingly little government action. This has entrenched impunity. Apart from verbal condemnations, there has been no action to end the violence. No attacker has been brought to justice. With perpetrators emboldened, attacks by herder militia have now spread to southern Nigeria. No longer able to rely on the Government for protection or justice, communities are seeing a growth in vigilantism and retaliatory justice. The growth in murders of villagers and community leaders in Benue has also led to calls for President Buhari to consider his position, and for the reassessment of security arrangements as a matter of urgency.

As mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, on 24 March this year the respected former army chief of staff and Defence Minister, Lieutenant-General Theophilus Danjuma, stated that the armed forces were “not neutral” and that “they collude” in the “ethnic cleansing” of riverine states by the Fulani militia.

Earlier this week, I too had the opportunity to meet with the honourable Kwewum Rimande Shawulu, courtesy of the advocacy organisation CSW. The honourable Shawulu is a member of the Nigerian federal House of Representatives in Taraba state. Among his wide-ranging writing and editorial activities, he is currently chair of the National Assembly Army Committee, which gives him unique insight into Nigeria’s current security challenges.

In our discussions, he was able to rebut the claim that the anti-grazing laws are the cause of the spread of violence. The only states with anti-grazing laws are in fact Taraba, Benue and Ekiti, yet attacks have been occurring over 10 states. For example, in Plateau state, where there are no anti-grazing laws, there have been many killings, including last weekend, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, when over 200 civilians were reported killed. Interestingly, while there is some evidence that some of the violence has a religious dimension, the honourable Shawulu argued that the only affected area was Adamawa state, which is predominately Christian. Other areas with similar land and other resources have suffered no attacks, be they Christian or Muslim.

The overriding concern is that the growing instability and lawlessness in the region is providing fertile ground for kidnapping, banditry and terrorism with impunity. If this is not addressed, there is a real danger that the activities of Boko Haram, ISIS and similar terrorist groups could penetrate and destabilise the whole region. If not addressed, this could create a conflict and humanitarian crisis on a scale that would engage the international community, the UN Security Council and the UK. The prospect of terrorist cells spreading through Nigeria, Africa’s most populous state, and to territories beyond to threaten Europe cannot lightly be dismissed.

I urge the Government to act now, working alongside their Nigerian counterparts and fellow Commonwealth members, particularly while the UK holds the post-CHOGM Chair-in-Office. I suggest that DfID might examine the aid programme to Nigeria to ensure that provision is made for the communities that have been victims of the Fulani attacks. It should also ensure that minority communities in the north affected by Boko Haram attacks have access to humanitarian aid. There are also issues such as collective Commonwealth support in promoting the non-discriminatory and “even” application of the law to restore and strengthen faith in the law.

The attacks the Nigerian people are suffering can surely be mitigated, if not eroded, with the support of the agencies of the UN, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, the faith community and international NGOs. Can the Minister, in her response or in writing, set out how the UK might plan to play a primary role in such a venture?

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2018-06-28b.283.0&s=Nigeria+speaker%3A13103#g283.2

 

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Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Nigeria: Churches (30 May 2019)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that 900 churches in Nigeria have been destroyed by Boko Haram; and what assessment they have made of whether such activity is part of a campaign to eradicate Christianity in the north of that country.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Leah Sharibu (24 May 2019)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the protests in Nigeria demanding the release of the Chibok schoolgirls who have been held in captivity for over 1,500 days; and when they last raised their captivity, and that of Leah Sharibu, with the President of Nigeria.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Nigeria: Violence (7 May 2019)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recent killings in Nigeria, in particular the attacks in (1) Nassarawa State, (2) Benue State, (3) Kaduna State, and (4) Gombe.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Nigeria: Elections (19 Mar 2019)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following reports that Nigeria’s recent presidential and national assembly elections were marred by violence and allegations of electoral fraud, what representations they will make to the government of Nigeria about ensuring free, fair and peaceful gubernatorial elections are held on 9 May.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Nigeria: Detainees (19 Mar 2019)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Nigeria about the wellbeing of (1) Sambo Dasuki, (2) Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, and (3) Zeenah Ibrahim, who have been detained since 2015 despite court orders for their release.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Leah Sharibu (7 Mar 2019)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Nigeria about the continued imprisonment of Leah Sharibu, following the anniversary of her captivity; and what response they received.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Nigeria: Violence (8 Jan 2019)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment, if any, they have made of the remarks by the Bishop of Gboko Diocese in Nigeria, William Amove Avenya, about the level of violence committed by Fulani tribesmen and the inadequacy of the response to it.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Nigeria: Violence (8 Jan 2019)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment, if any, they have made of the remarks by the Bishop of Gboko Diocese in Nigeria, William Amove Avenya, about the response of the international community to violence committed by Fulani tribesmen.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Alex Badeh (8 Jan 2019)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information they have about the assassination of Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, the former Chief of Defence Staff in Nigeria.

Cameroon: English-speaking Minority – Question for Short Debate (14 Nov 2018)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: …and eloquent way in which he set the scene. The roll-call of suffering is horrendous and a harbinger of even worse to come if, as the noble Lord, Lord Judd, has just reminded us, we fail to act. In Nigeria, nearly 27,000 refugees from Cameroon are registered with the UNHCR. Thousands more have been forced to flee their homes and dozens of villages have been ethnically cleansed. According…

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Leah Sharibu (5 Nov 2018)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of Nigeria about the abduction of Leah Sharibu by Boko Haram; what information they have about her health and well-being; and what assessment they have made of reports that, following her refusal to renounce her faith, she will be enslaved for the rest of her life.

Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity – Question for Short Debate (13 Sep 2018)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: …humanity, Field Marshal Omar al-Bashir travels with impunity and seeks trade deals with the United Kingdom. In a recent debate I highlighted the same pattern of events now unfolding in northern Nigeria, where the former head of the country’s army recently described atrocities by Boko Haram and Fulani militias as a genocide, with 1.8 million displaced persons, 5,000 widows, 15,000…

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Nigeria: Violence (19 Jul 2018)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that communities in Plateau State, Nigeria, who have been victims of attacks by Fulani herder militia have been searched for weapons though the perpetrators of such attacks have not.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Nigeria: Religious Freedom (13 Jul 2018)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the attack on 30 June on the home of Benjamin Kwashi, the Nigerian Archbishop of Jos and General Secretary of the Global Anglican Futures Conference, which left one civilian dead; and whether they have taken any action to raise the plight of those subject to attacks by Fulani militia with the government of Nigeria.

South Sudan – Question for Short Debate (4 Jul 2018)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: …comply as well as Christians and followers of traditional religions. It cynically bought support by setting one group against another using the age-old tactic of divide and rule. Countries such as Nigeria would do well to study the appalling consequences of allowing the promotion of an ideology that is still being relentlessly pursued in other parts of Sudan, such as Darfur, Blue Nile and…

Nigeria – Question for Short Debate (28 Jun 2018)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the continuing violence between communities and armed groups in Nigeria.

Nigeria – Question for Short Debate (28 Jun 2018)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: …of an elderly member of the Church of Christ in Nations. A dawn to dusk curfew was established and, as I heard first hand yesterday from the honourable Rimamnde Shawulu Kwewum, a member of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives, the area remains tense. This most recent episode is shocking, but it is also the latest in an extended pattern of violence that has become all too common…

Conservative Home December 27th : “It is no secret that some senior civil servants in the Foreign Office do not share the Prime Minister’s commitment to implementing the Truro Recommendations.” Why he is right and they are wrong. And the persecution they ignore in China.

https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2019/12/david-alton-now-is-the-time-to-deliver-on-johnsons-commitments-to-persecuted-christians.html

On Boxing Day 2018 Jeremy Hunt MP, then Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, announced that he had asked Bishop Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, to establish an independent review into the global persecution of Christians. On July 4th he published his findings – including the estimate that, worldwide, almost 250 million Christians live in countries where they would be subjected to high levels of persecution.

Every day an average of 11 Christians lose their lives. Mr. Hunt and Boris Johnson, welcomed Truro’s 22 recommendations and committed themselves to implement them in their entirety.

 

This subsequently became a manifesto commitment. The Prime Minister declared:

 

“We will do everything possible to champion these freedoms…. We are determined to use the tools of British diplomacy in this cause, including our permanent seat on the UN Security Council.In light of mounting evidence that Christians suffer the most widespread persecution…we have accepted, and will implement, all of the review’s challenging recommendations. We will use the UK’s global reach and programme funding to improve the lives of persecuted people.”

 

The Truro Inquiry was in part a response to the growing awareness in Parliament, and beyond, that this massively neglected global issue could no longer be ignored. 

 

84% of the world’s population has a faith; a third are Christian. But, according to Pew Research Centre 74% of the world’s population live in the countries where there are violations at the hands of Islamists or Marxists. 

 

It had taken Jonathan (Lord) Sacks, our former Chief Rabbi, to describe the genocide wiping out Christians in the Middle East as “one of the crimes against humanity of our time.” He said he was “appalled at the lack of protest it has evoked.” 

 

The Spectator took up the theme of our indifference to this phenomenal tidal wave of persecution: “The global war on Christians remains the greatest story never told of the early 21st century” while in a powerful editorial The Times said we had become “Spectators at the Carnage… Christianity is by most calculations the most persecuted religion of modern times.” 

 

Nor was it coincidence that one of the biggest and most effective All Party Parliamentary Groups – on Freedom of Religion or Belief – had secured the support of hundreds of parliamentarians committed to upholding Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”

 

Last month I stood on the ground at Simile, in Northern Iraq, where, in 1933, the throats of Assyrian Christians were cut( https://davidalton.net/2019/12/06/12049/  ); I met Yazidis and Christians from Sinjar whose homes were burnt down over four years ago and daughters raped or abducted (3000 Yazidi girls are still missing); and witnesses who told me that in Mosul, after their homes had been daubed in red paint with the letter “N” designating them as Nazarenes, ISIS had told them they must convert or die ( https://davidalton.net/2019/12/05/today-in-nineveh-the-stories-of-two-ancient-communities-rang-out-as-a-rebuke-to-the-international-community-and-its-failure-to-protect-and-prevent-genocide-and-to-punish-those-responsible-yazidi-and/ ). 

 

All this was simply a continuation of the Genocide against the Armenian Christians which began in 1915 – claiming 1.5 million lives – and which continues to this day. In 1914, Christians made up a quarter of the Middle East’s population. Now they are less than 5%. 

 

Article 18 is proclaimed as a key human right and yet is under attack in almost every corner of the world – from Iraq and Syria to China and North Korea, from Eritrea to Saudi Arabia, from Pakistan to Nigeria. 

 

Without minimising other forms of persecution, or the suffering of others, the Truro Inquiry set out to map the extent and nature of the persecution facing Christians, to assess the quality of the response of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and to make recommendations for changes in both policy and practice. It achieved its purpose with admirable clarity and exemplary urgency. 

 

Its recommendations go to the heart of Foreign Office and DFID culture – which is why it speaks directly to the Prime Minister’s decision to see how those departments of State and their priorities relate to one another. For example, DFID can spend £2.6 billion over ten years in Pakistan (an average of £383,000 every day) but entirely ignore persecution which leads to a mob of 1200 burning alive a Christian couple and forcing their children to watch. 

https://davidalton.net/2019/12/21/todays-edition-of-dawn-details-the-case-of-an-academic-from-pakistan-junaid-hafeez-who-has-been-sentenced-to-death-on-blasphemy-charges-by-a-court-in-multan-its-the-city-whe/

In Pakistan, no one has been brought to justice for the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Christian Minister for Minorities; indifference greets the 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls forcibly married and converted; or the apartheid-style ghettoisation of minorities into squalid colonies which I have visited. Its occupants are forced to clean latrines and sweep streets. Yet we refuse to specifically direct any of the aid we give to Pakistan for the alleviation of the suffering and destitution of these desperate minorities.

 

Over Christmas I wrote to Foreign Office Ministers about the case of an illiterate Pakistani Christian woman, Shagufta Kauser. She is in the prison cell in Multan previously occupied by Asia Bibi – freed after nine years on death row for alleged Blasphemy.

 

 Shagufta and her disabled husband, Shafqat Emmanuel – paralysed from the chest down – spent their fifth Christmas separated from their four children, aged between 9 and 15 – sentenced to death. Held in separate prisons for nearly six years both Shagufta Kauser and her husband are reported to be experiencing severe depression. 

 

A doctor reports that Shafqat’s back is almost destroyed from bed sores as he is confined to a prison bed from which he is unable to move. Although they cannot read or write, they were sentenced to death in 2014 for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages in English – a language that neither or them speak and nor do they have any knowledge of alphanumeric symbols. 

 

At the time Mr Emmanuel said that he was tortured, forcing him to confess to something he did not do (and in the hope that his wife might then be freed). Prosecutors have been unable to produce any evidence linking the couple to the phone from which the alleged texts were sent. 

 

Last May, in response to a parliamentary question, Ministers told me that the Government is monitoring the case. But is this doing “everything possible to champion these freedoms” or using our phenomenal aid programme to insist on the upholding of Article 18?

 

It is disturbing how unaddressed persecution rapidly morphs into crimes against humanity and genocide. In Recommendation 7 of the Bishop of Truro’s Review, the Government are required to ensure that there are:

 

“mechanisms in place to facilitate an immediate response to atrocity crimes, including genocide through activities such as setting up early warning mechanisms to identify countries at risk of atrocities, diplomacy to help de-escalate tensions and resolve disputes, and developing support to help with upstream prevention work. Recognising that the ultimate determination of genocide must be legal not political and respecting the UK’s long held policy in this area, the FCO should nonetheless determine its policy in accordance with the legal framework and should be willing to make public statements condemning such atrocities.”

 

Recommendation 21(b) requires the Government to “champion the prosecution of ISIS perpetrators of sex crimes against Yazidi and Christian women, not only as terrorists.”

 

Yet, during my recent visit to Northern Iraq and Kurdistan I took first-hand accounts from survivors who told me that no one has even spoken to them about the things which befell them and their families – let alone the establishment of a Nuremburg-style Regional Tribunal (or like those established post Rwanda or Bosnia) to bring the perpetrators to justice. 

 

The UK Government deserves credit for initiating the Investigative Team established by the UN Security Council Resolution 2379 but it has subsequently taken its eye off the ball. In suggesting that Iraqi Courts can competently deal with these matters, it has shown wanton indifference. 

 

The Truro Review’s final recommendation is a ‘sunset clause’ which will lead to an assessment of how the Report’s Recommendations have been implemented. Truro Review requires the Foreign Office to demonstrate that it has introduced new mechanisms identifying situations likely to escalate into mass atrocities like genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes – and how they have co-ordinated inter-departmental responses. 

 

The FCO is also required to review its long-standing and flawed policy of leaving the question of genocide determination to international judicial systems. A Genocide Determination Bill published by Fiona Bruce MP (chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission) and myself sets out ways to achieve this.

 

In responding to Recommendation 21(b), the Government will have to champion the ISIS fighters’ prosecutions domestically and internationally. A new Treason Act and Magnitsky powers will be perfect tools for prosecuting terror related offences but also in ensuring prosecutions for murder, torture, rape and sexual violence and enslavement, as well as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. 

 

Truro recommends a complete culture shift affecting “strategy and structures”, making “Freedom of Religion or Belief central to the FCO’s culture, policies and international operations” Truro calls for “Consistency and Co-ordination: Strengthening joined up thinking; Education and Engagement” and the development of “a religiously-literate local operational approach” the training and equipping of local embassy staff with in-depth knowledge of religious history, religious persecution and religious culture of the country in which they work. 

 

It is no secret that some senior civil servants in the Foreign Office do not share the Prime Minister’s commitment to implementing the Truro Recommendations.

 

On their Watch diplomats around the world (as Freedom of Information Requests have revealed) have not been asked for, or given, details of any action taken to “use the UK’s global reach and programme funding to improve the lives of persecuted people.” 

 

But even if they disagree with the Prime Minister and the good Bishop let them consider this: a 2014 report examined economic growth in 173 countries and considered 24 different factors that could impact economic growth. It found that that “religious freedom contributes to better economic and business outcomes and that advances in religious freedom”, contribute to “successful and sustainable enterprises that benefit societies and individuals.” 

 

And let reluctant officials look at the way religious persecution can so easily become a key driver for the mass movements of refugees. 1 in 5 of all countries have suffered religiously provoked attacks since 2014 and consequently many of the 68 million refugees worldwide have been forced to flee their homes– with all the attendant loss of human dignity which that number conceals.Persecution is not a marginal, or fringe concern. 

 

The Truro Report has rightly put it centre stage.

 

And in case you are in any doubt about persecution read this report from China…

On a wing and a prayer in China

Churches and gathering points in Shenyang have been sealed off as Catholics fear for the underground church’s future

https://international.la-croix.com/news/on-a-wing-and-a-prayer-in-china/10792?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=e-mail&utm_content=30-12-2019&utm_campaign=newsletter_crx_lci&PMID=de0ae0509028d54f52ac38c32886241d#

David Alton (Lord Alton of Liverpool) is a Crossbench Peer and a member of the House of Lords Committee on International Relations and Defence. www.davidalton.net

Also See:

https://davidalton.net/2019/12/02/when-and-how-does-a-genocide-begin-meeting-communities-in-kurdistan-and-iraq-which-have-been-subjected-to-genocide/

https://davidalton.net/2019/12/03/knowing-their-own-story-self-governing-kurds-in-iraq-have-been-an-oasis-of-stability-and-provided-sanctuary-for-persecuted-minorities-signs-of-hope-amongst-great-suffering-and-persecution/

https://davidalton.net/2019/12/04/genocide-in-iraq-was-also-about-attempts-to-destroy-identity-memory-language-and-the-ethnicity-and-beliefs-of-ancient-peoples-but-there-are-signs-of-hope-as-brave-communities-refuse-to-die-or-let/

https://davidalton.net/2019/12/07/bardarash-refugees-fleeing-north-east-syria-describe-ethnic-cleansing-and-war-crimes-and-their-sense-of-betrayal-bardarash-is-a-symbol-of-the-worlds-inability-to-uphold-international-law-a/

 

https://davidalton.net/2019/12/07/alqosh-nahum-prophet-of-iraq-with-a-powerful-message-for-our-own-times-healing-history-and-contradicting-the-prophets-of-doom/

 

Herald Jan 1 2020.jpg

The most important book I have read in 2019 is Professor Julia Lovell’s brilliant “ Maoisim: a Global History.” The  winner of the 2019 Cundill History Prize, she examines the new Maoist mood in China. This book is indispensable reading if you want to understand what it is that the people of Hong Kong are so fearful of and have taken a stand against.

Maoism 2

The most important book I have read in 2019 is Professor Julia Lovell’s brilliant “ Maoisim: a Global History.”

The  winner of the 2019 Cundill History Prize, she examines the new Maoist mood in China. This book is indispensable reading if you want to understand what it is that the people of Hong Kong are so fearful of and have taken a stand against.

In November she recorded these two interviews about the book:  

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qho5GBqkpzs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3deoougf3uI

 

It’s a theme which John Gray takes up in an article for Unherd – in which he says that 2019 was when the West finally understood the threat to liberal democracy represented by Maoist ideology, recast by the Chinese Communist Party. The West foolishly thought that the collapse of Soviet Communism in 1989 was the end of the ideological battle and it wrongly assumed that economic reform in China would open the way to a plural, rules based, liberal society which would respect diversity and difference.  

https://unherd.com/2019/12/what-the-west-gets-wrong-about-china/?tl_inbound=1&tl_groups[0]=18743&tl_period_type=3

Here are a selection of posts from 2019 – to provide a recap of the year through a different lens – and a distraction when the festivities prove too much.  The year begins and ends with posts about Genocide in Iraq, human rights violations in Pakistan and North Korea, and disturbing events in Hong Kong.

 

Here are a selection of my posts from 2019 – to provide a recap of the year through a different lens – and a distraction when the festivities prove too much.

 

2019 began with a post about genocide in Northern Iraq and the then Foreign Secretary’s announcement that he had commissioned a Review of how the Foreign Office responds to persecution.

 

Among the last posts of the year are reports from my recent visit to Northern Iraq – during which I visited the spiritual leader of the Yazidis, met survivors of ISIS genocide and went to Simile the site of the 1933 genoicde against Syrian Christians.

 

There are also recent posts about continuing persecution in Pakistan and North Korea. 

 

There are posts from Timisoara (commemorating the 30th anniversary of the fall of Communism); reports from Taiwan and Hong Kong (fearing asphyxiation by Chinese Communism);  posts about the General Election; events and speeches in Parliament; the defence of human life in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; an essay on our loss of identity and identity politics; a post on Article 19 of the UDHR and attacks on journalists; posts on the life of children  in Pakistan’s 20,000 brick kilns and modern day slavery and human trafficking; the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants seeking a better life in the UK; the launch of a new coalition on genocide; a lecture at Salt Lake City’s Brigham Young University on freedom of religion or belief;  talks in New York  and Philadelphia on remembering atrocities like the Armenian Genocide and acting to prevent new ones; talks in Washington on the destruction of sacred places and the threat to North East Syria; the freeing of Asia Bibi; a surprise anniversary event to celebrate 40 years in Parliament; posts highlighting the plight of Uighurs, Yazidis, Rohingya and Kachin minorities;  debates on Nigeria, North Eastern Syria, Hong Kong, the Amritsar Massacre, and Pakistan; an inquiry into the drug Primodos and the long campaign for victims of mesothelioma.

You can click on the text to open the hyperlink and to see the original post:

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Over Christmas, Islamic State Beheaded 11 Nigerian Christians. Shocking news reports with in depth analysis from the BBC on the ideology that is intent on creating a genocide in Nigeria. Read a parliamentary debate held 18 months ago. The warnings of systematic persecution and horrific executions, abductions, and an unfolding genocide have been wantonly ignored.  These terrible executions in Nigeria will be a first test of how the UK’s Foreign Office and Aid programmes will be deployed to provide substance to Boris Johnson’s very welcome commitment to end such barbarism. 

2 days ago

Conservative Home December 27th : “It is no secret that some senior civil servants in the Foreign Office do not share the Prime Minister’s commitment to implementing the Truro Recommendations.” Why he is right and they are wrong. And the persecution they ignore in China.

2 days ago

The most important book I have read in 2019 is Professor Julia Lovell’s brilliant “ Maoisim: a Global History.” The  winner of the 2019 Cundill History Prize, she examines the new Maoist mood in China. This book is indispensable reading if you want to understand what it is that the people of Hong Kong are so fearful of and have taken a stand against.

3 days ago

Here are a selection of posts from 2019 – to provide a recap of the year through a different lens – and a distraction when the festivities prove too much.  The year begins and ends with posts about Genocide in Iraq, human rights violations in Pakistan and North Korea, and disturbing events in Hong Kong.

Dec 22, 2019 8:17 PM

Christmas in Pakistan: shocking story of Christian woman while Dawn details the case of an academic from Pakistan,  Junaid Hafeez, who has been sentenced to death  on blasphemy charges by a Court in Multan. He has already spent 6 years in solitary confinement, which in human rights law must amount to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to the provisions of Article 7 of the ICCPR (to which Pakistan is a State Party). Multan is the city where Shagufta Kauser, once again  spent Christmas – in the cell previously occupied by Asia Bibi – and separated from her disabled husband, Shafqat Emmanuel. He is paralysed from the chest down and is also incarcerated on blasphemy charges, sentenced to death, and separated from their four children, aged between 9 and 15. Also, the case of a 14 years old Christian girl Huma, who was kidnapped, forcibly converted and married to her abductor, in Karachi. And this shocking story: “They Forced Me Down, All I Did Was Pray”: the account of a Pakistani Christian rape survivor

Dec 21, 2019 4:00 PM

Christmas in North Korea: Why North Korea is still number one on the World Watch List, according to a North Korean Escapee. Read his harrowing and challenging account of the three options facing North Koreans who have a religious faith, knowing that if you are discovered, you will be imprisoned, tortured, and almost certainly killed. Spare them a thought as we approach Christmas.

Dec 20, 2019 1:42 PM

SURGEON PRESENTS EVIDENCE OF HONG KONG POLICE VIOLATIONS AGAINST MEDICAL WORKERS TO BRITISH PARLIAMENT AND CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL INQUIRY

Dec 19, 2019 10:09 AM

Robert Hardman writes powerfully in today’s Daily Mail about the plight of the Uighur Muslims of Western China.Instead of  censuring and disowning Mesut Ozil for speaking up on their behalf – he posted a message on Instagram in their defence – Arsenal football club should have stood by him and praised his courage

Dec 18, 2019 12:49 PM

Timişoara and the Romanian Revolution of 1989 – and how László Tokes rewrote history.

Dec 15, 2019 2:56 PM

It’s not often that you can choose to save a life or to end one. But when you cast your General Election vote you have the opportunity and duty to do just that. If a candidate wants to deny a vulnerable person the right to life, isn’t it time to deny them your vote?

Dec 11, 2019 6:32 PM

December 10th was United Nations Human Rights Day. This year’s theme? Youth standing up for human rights.In Hong Kong, an entire generation’s struggle for democracy in the face of brutal repression continues. Stand With Hong Kong’s young people standing up for democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Former House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, says Carrie Lam should be engaging with the newly elected councillors in Hong Kong and calls for universal suffrage

Dec 10, 2019 5:00 PM

Interview with Hong Kong’s Nina Lo of Radio Television Hong Kong Current Affairs Programme The Pulse. With 800,000 pro democracy campaigners on the streets again this weekend, Carrie Lam needs to be less of an ostrich, take her head out of the sand, and meet the newly elected representatives who speak for millions.

Dec 9, 2019 5:45 PM

Bardarash – Refugees fleeing North East Syria describe ethnic cleansing and war crimes and their sense of betrayal. Bardarash is a symbol of the world’s inability to uphold international law and its failure to punish injustice. “Mr.Trump says we Kurds are ‘not angels.’ No. But we are human beings.” Daily Telegraph article about Bardarash

Dec 7, 2019 1:01 PM

Alqosh – Nahum – Prophet of Iraq – With A Powerful Message For Our Own Times – healing history and contradicting the prophets of doom.

Dec 7, 2019 10:27 AM

Standing at Simile where throats were cut in an orgy of violence and meeting today’s Genocide victims challenges our generation to break the unremitting cycle of hate and brutality.

Dec 6, 2019 6:09 PM

Today in Nineveh the stories of two ancient communities rang out as a rebuke to the international community and its failure to protect and prevent genocide and to punish those responsible. Yazidi and Christian leaders told me “what happened to us was beyond imagination”

Dec 5, 2019 4:45 PM

Genocide in Iraq was also about attempts to destroy identity, memory, language, and the ethnicity and beliefs of ancient peoples. But there are signs of hope as brave communities refuse to die or let their remarkable history be eradicated in the contemporary Dark Ages of ISIS.

Dec 4, 2019 5:27 PM

Knowing Their Own Story – Self Governing Kurds in Iraq Have Been An Oasis Of Stability And Provided Sanctuary For Persecuted Minorities. Signs of hope amongst great suffering and persecution

Dec 3, 2019 6:15 PM

When and How Does A Genocide Begin? Meeting communities in Kurdistan and Iraq which have been subjected to Genocide.

Dec 2, 2019 5:23 PM

South China Morning Post – why Carrie Lam mustn’t squander the opportunity given to her and why she should be convening an urgent consultation with Hong Kong’s newly elected councils and councillors. Chris Patten urges Carrie Lam to respond to Hong Kong’s elections

Nov 30, 2019 8:54 AM

Speech to students at the University of Oxford. Deny your vote to those who deny others the right to life. Why both lives matter.

Nov 28, 2019 4:29 PM

Today Is Red Wednesday: Stand Up for people persecuted for daring to be different – persecuted for their beliefs or religion by regimes and ideologies that refused to accept Article 18 of the Universal declaration of Human Rights. The Foreign Office, Lambeth Palace and Westminster Cathedral among those to light up red.

Nov 27, 2019 1:05 PM

Independent Electoral Observation Mission Findings on the 2019 District Council Election in Hong Kong. Carrie Lam is asked to establish an independent Electoral Commission – to replace the State run Authority, which is seen as “marking its own homework” – and to introduce the residential registration of voters to prevent personation and attempts at election rigging. Banning candidates or parties or limiting free speech emasculates democracy. “I would say directly to Carrie Lam, do not squander this opportunity. Don’t waste this chance … the window has been opened for you,” Interview with BBC World Service Radio.

Nov 26, 2019 3:54 PM

GIS Reports On Line – Essay on The Politics of Identity and the loss of trust in politicians. With a loss of trust pointing to a growing divide between the concerns of the political classes and those of British citizens, most British voters now believe that their Parliament does not reflect the nation’s views. As they battle for votes in the forthcoming General Election, political elites would do well to consider struggling and forgotten communities.

Nov 26, 2019 1:18 PM

At a ceremony today in Hong Kong, Joshua Wong Received the Westminster Award For Human Rights, Human Life, and Human Dignity.

Nov 25, 2019 9:43 AM

Hong Kong – Did you see the people vote? Did you hear the people’s voice? Beijing and their Hong Kong Government mustn’t squander this historic opportunity to build political progress and end months of paralysis. How the South China Morning Post covered this historic election. Why Carrie Lam must seize the opportunity to engage and respond. Articles from City AM and Der Spiegel

Nov 24, 2019 9:00 PM

As Masked Intruders Set Fire to Hong Kong’s Epoch Times Printing Press, what is it about free speech that totalitarians hate the most? Answers from Liu Xiaobo, Mala Yousafzai, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Winston Churchill, Terry Pratchett, Abraham Lincoln, Immanuel Kant, and Nelson Mandela… And the New York Times on the incarceration of 1 million Uighurs “This Is Not Dystopian Fiction. This Is China.” Column on Hong Kong from this week’s edition of The Universe.

Nov 21, 2019 10:47 AM

Will the UK Government act when its own employees are ‘tortured’? The fate of Simon Cheng graphically illustrates why people in Hong Kong are so fearful of Chinese Communism. Reports from The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, and Washington Post

Nov 20, 2019 6:31 PM

URGENT – What is happening at Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University is truly shocking…..UK POLITICIANS CALL ON HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE CARRIE LAM TO ACT TO PREVENT LOSS OF LIFE AT HONG KONG’S POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY. Lord Hogan Howe urges no use of ” lethal force because it can only make the situation worse… Unless life is at risk hold back.” Letter is sent to Carrie Lam reminding her of her duty to prevent the use of lethal force. John Bercow – former Commons Speaker – adds his voice. Plus Other Views including an article by Nathan Law

Nov 17, 2019 5:44 PM

As Red Army Soldiers Take To Hong Kong’s Streets- For The First Time – What’s this clash of competing ideologies and beliefs all about? China: The View from Over the Wall

Nov 16, 2019 4:13 PM

Remembering Mrs.Hudson

Nov 14, 2019 10:28 PM

Hong Kong Universities Turned Into A War Zone. Can you hear the people sing? Will you come and stand with me?

Nov 13, 2019 10:16 PM

As Berlin celebrates the fall of the Wall and the end of Communist dictatorship, pro democracy campaigners in Hong Kong face fatal violence. We are all Hong Kongers Now 🇹🇼 🇭🇰

Nov 10, 2019 12:24 PM

What is South Korea thinking of by repatriating refugees to the North? It would have been like sending people back over the Berlin Wall to their certain death.

Nov 9, 2019 8:08 PM

Why, in the General Election, I hope people back Frank Field – the right honourable and brave Member of Parliament for Birkenhead

Nov 8, 2019 2:04 PM

A Parliament of Errors Which Could Now Hang The Country – General Election 2019

Nov 7, 2019 7:48 AM

Questions Raised In Parliament about China’s Repatriation of North Korean Refugees; about North Korea’s human rights violations; about hunger in North Korea; and reports that 11 million people, including 140,000 children in North Korea remain undernourished and that 30,000 of those people “face an increased risk of death”.

Nov 4, 2019 6:55 PM

MAJOR NEW COALITION LAUNCHED IN PARLIAMENT TO CONFRONT CONTEMPORARY GENOCIDE Read Article On Conservative Home and Endorsement by Helena Kennedy QC. Visit Coalition for Genocide Response web site. Read posts by Coalition founders. Ewelina Ochab and Luke de Pulford

Nov 3, 2019 7:10 PM

November 2nd Rally In Protest At Eritrea’s Confiscation of Hospitals and Clinics, its Persecution Of People of Faith and Indefinite Conscription. Also, Eritrea In The News – Important exhibition held in London and featured more than 40 images – a mix of archive material and personal collections, some never publicly exhibited before.

Nov 1, 2019 4:11 PM

US House of Representatives In Historic Vote To Recognise The Killing of Over 1 Million Armenians As A Genocide. New York Conference Links Past Genocides And Persecution To Contemporary Genocides. America Magazine article.

Oct 30, 2019 11:22 AM

Joshua Wong’s Disqualification From Contesting Hong Kong’s District Council Elections Throws Doubt On Their Legitimacy. Link to Thursday’s 3 Hour House of Lords Debate. Times Reports On Tests Now Imposed On Chinese Journalists; Threats To UK Universities; Parliamentary Reply On International Observers For Hong Kong Elections; Hong Kong Watch Response to the UK Government’s 6 Monthly Report On Hong Kong. British Government Expresses Its Concern Over Joshua Wong’s Disqualification

Oct 29, 2019 9:52 AM

Faras Ghani of Al Jazeera has produced a powerful report about the 4.5 million people- many of them children, and many from Dalit and Christian minorities- forced to work in Pakistan’s 20,000 brick kilns. You can read it here. Also whether the persecution of Ahmadi and Christian minorities was raised during the visit to Pakistan by HRH the Duke of Cambridge.

Oct 27, 2019 6:56 PM

War Crimes In North East Syria Raised Again In Parliament On October 24th. And Antony Loyd’s Report From The Times That ISIS Flags Are Flying Again Over ISIS Camps. Parliamentary Reply about the use of White Phosphorous: November 4th.

Oct 25, 2019 11:42 AM

For 3 Hours, the House of Lords Debated Hong Kong. British Politicians United Across All Parties In Demanding That “one country, two systems” is honoured. Both living former Governors of Hong Kong Spoke. Peers highlighted egregious violations of human rights in China and called for reform, tolerance, dialogue and free speech and for the international community to stand with the people of Hong Kong in their hour of need.

Oct 25, 2019 11:20 AM

With the danger of further Genocide in north east Syria my Genocide Determination Private Member’s Bill will receive its First Reading in Parliament Today

Oct 21, 2019 8:46 AM

The blood of the innocent in Northern Ireland will cry out. Read what Nuala O’Loan has to say to Westminster and Belfast politicians

Oct 20, 2019 12:19 PM

House of Lords Debate on The Queens Speech  – 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions. War Crimes and Human Rights Violations in North East Syria. The Use of White Phosphorous Against Children and Civilians. 70 Years of Chinese Communism – and the fears of the people of Hong Kong – and a new Genocide Bill to be considered by Parliament.

Oct 16, 2019 9:06 PM

Attacks On journalists – defending Article 19 of the UNDHR

Oct 14, 2019 3:58 PM

Our Duty To Stop The Bombing of The Kurds – letter to The Times Questions in Parliament about War Crimes and potential  Genocide against minorities in North East Syria  – October 15th.

Oct 12, 2019 2:42 PM

St.John Henry Newman – “A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault” “Fear not that your life shall come to an end, but rather fear that it shall never have a beginning” “The love of our private friends is the only preparatory exercise for the love of all men.” “I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons” “Heart Speaks To Heart…”

Oct 12, 2019 10:43 AM

Human Dignity and Religious Freedom – Speech at Brigham Young University, Salt Lake City, Utah

Oct 11, 2019 8:20 PM

As China tells Hong Kong to force its citizens to expose their faces to facial recognition surveillance here are two stories that should make us face up to the nature of Tiananmen-style authoritarianism

Oct 4, 2019 10:14 AM

Countdown To Barbarism in Northern Ireland – as health care providers join the mass protests against a barbaric law being imposed by Westminster.

Sep 26, 2019 5:05 PM

Some talks in Philadelphia, organised by Matt Pinto and Ascension.  These included talks on heritage and identity, at the Collegium Institute, and others on human trafficking and global religious persecution.  

Sep 24, 2019 10:03 PM

Parliamentary Replies from the Minister of State at the Foreign Office on Hong Kong; Yazidi girls being sold in Iran; Eritrean abuses of human rights; and a reply from Sajid Javid, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, about Local Housing Allowance Rates. UK Government Insists That China Must Honour Two Systems One Country.

Sep 20, 2019 7:37 PM

New Reports Launched in Parliament on the Plight of Pakistani Minorities and the Rohingya.

Sep 20, 2019 4:13 PM

The Tragic Deaths of 39 Vietnamese Migrants – including teenagers – are a shocking wake up call that slavery did not end in the 19th century. Today there are more slaves in the world than ever before: with more than 40 million people enslaved. The Director of the charity, the Arise Foundation, describes how it is making a fundamental difference on the front-line in the battle against human trafficking and modern day slavery – Read about their amazing work here:

Sep 18, 2019 4:37 PM

155 U.K. Parliamentarians Join Forces To Call For International Support For The People Of Hong Kong With An “Insurance Policy” Of Second Citizenship And A Second Place Of Abode – Should The Need Arise

Sep 10, 2019 12:43 AM

Kill the Bill Not Northern Ireland’s Future. Northern Ireland Stands United In Defiance of Westminster’s New Law To Impose Abortion Up To 28 Weeks Gestation. Huge Crowds Gather Peacefully at Stormont To Make Their Voices Heard.

Sep 6, 2019 9:10 PM

Cross Party Alliance of MPs Call on The International Community To Give Hong Kong’s People a Second Citizenship And Right of Abode If Communist China Dismantles “Two Systems One Country” and Rides Roughshod Over The Rule of Law, Democracy, and Human Rights in Hong Kong. See Motion and Letter in Today’s Times newspaper….

Sep 3, 2019 12:24 PM

Tackle food waste – which accounts for up to 10% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for 30% of all food produced – and simultaneously tackle obesity and overeating by 2 billion of the world’s population – and you positively impact  hunger, famine, global warming, and poor health. It should be a no brainer. More than enough in the world for everyone’s needs but not enough if we fail to tame our greed.

Aug 28, 2019 6:40 PM

Brilliant article setting out the case for Britain to honour its commitment to Hong Kong and to fundamental human rights. It calls on the Commonwealth and other nations to offer a second place of abode, and citizenship, as an insurance policy to Hong Kong people, should Hong Kong resile on its commitment to “one nation, two systems.”

Aug 28, 2019 11:10 AM

Burma’s Cardinal Charles Bo in “Reflections from the Periphery” doesn’t dodge the big challenges facing his own country or the rest of us. But it offers peaceful ways forward and its respectful and hopeful message deserves to be widely read.

Aug 15, 2019 12:48 PM

China and Hong Kong:  David and Goliath Struggle     The UK and Commonwealth should guarantee the citizenship, resettlement rights and right of abode of Hong Kong people in Commonwealth countries.     “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will….In a gentle way, you can shake the world” – Mahatma Gandhi  

Aug 15, 2019 11:34 AM

The Destruction of Sacred Places in the Middle East and what cultural genocide means for the region’s living stones and Will religious freedom survive in north east Syria? Also, You Tube video of speech to the Washington Ministerial on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Jul 18, 2019 6:55 PM

Speech At The Ministerial on Religious Freedom in Washington DC

Jul 17, 2019 6:58 PM

Parliamentary Debate on Religious Freedom following the publication of the Report of the Independent Inquiry into Persecution of Christians which concluded that the persecution of 250 million Christians comprises the, “most shocking abuses of human rights in the modern era”. And four Ministerial Replies concerning the situation in Nigeria, Eritrea, Burma, and the plight of North Korean refugees repatriated from China.

Jul 13, 2019 10:16 PM

Why Westminster Politicians Are Wrong To Ignore Devolution In Northern Ireland And To Impose Abortion. Listen To Northern Ireland -where 64% of people are opposed to Westminster intervening to change its law, rising to 66% of women and 72% of 18 to 32 year-olds. Recall that 100,000 would not be alive in Northern Ireland today if Great Britain’s abortion law had been imposed there.

Jul 13, 2019 10:02 PM

British and Pakistan Governments and the Commonwealth Challenged In The British Parliament To Champion the Persecuted Minorities Of Pakistan; to uphold the ideals of Muhammad Ali Jinnah; and for Prince William to meet the minorities during his forthcoming visit.

Jul 3, 2019 12:16 PM

Forthcoming July 2nd Parliamentary Debate about the plight of Pakistan’s Minorities and the UK’s £2 billion aid to Pakistan – and the treatment of Asia Bibi. Forthcoming article from Parliament’s House Magazine. Some of the Questions and Interventions on behalf of persecuted Pakistanis.

Jun 28, 2019 7:13 PM

China and Hong Kong:  David and Goliath Struggle     The UK and Commonwealth should guarantee the citizenship, resettlement rights and right of abode of Hong Kong people in Commonwealth countries.     “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will….In a gentle way, you can shake the world” – Mahatma Gandhi  

Jun 22, 2019 10:00 PM

When a British Court orders a woman to have an abortion, it turns justice on its head, is a gross violation of human rights, and represents the tyrannical suppression of the rights of a family. It also makes a mockery of the so-called “right to choose.”

Jun 22, 2019 9:10 AM

Why we must stand in solidarity with Sudan’s brave protestors

Jun 21, 2019 9:56 PM

Why we should support Jeremy Hunt’s call for a strong response to Iran and not lose sight of how this theocratic regime subjugates it’s own people.

Jun 21, 2019 11:04 AM

This week’s Parliamenary debate on anti-Semitism

Jun 19, 2019 1:24 PM

Shocking Report launched in Parliament highlighting the trafficking and exploitation of North Korean women and girls – one as young as 14 sold into marriage by trafficking gangs

Jun 16, 2019 12:41 PM

Campaign to encourage Dads to read books to their children – the best investment of time that you could ever make.

Jun 14, 2019 10:59 AM

Listen To The People of Hong Kong – And Help Them To Preserve The Basic Law That Protects Autonomy and Freedom. Read Joshua Wong’s Powerful Letter From His Prison Cell. Some Good news from Hong Kong.

Jun 13, 2019 8:57 AM

The Suffering of Pakistan’s Minorities Raised In the UK Parliament. Government promises to look again at how £2.6 billion of aid has been prioritised.

Jun 6, 2019 7:07 PM

Spectator article: President Trump’s visit to the UK – and why the UK needs to think carefully about where its true friendships lie.

Jun 4, 2019 4:31 PM

Today’s House of Lords Debate on Britain’s Foreign Policy. Calls to use “smart power” to defend fundamental freedoms and to sustain rules based order.

May 21, 2019 11:49 PM

Attacks On Journalists – 2018 was the deadliest year ever for journalists – 99 were killed, 348 detained and 60 taken hostage by non-state groups.

May 16, 2019 1:39 PM

Asia Bibi is Free- See BBC Interview

May 8, 2019 1:13 PM

Why Sanctions On The Burmese Military Need To Be Strengthened; Why Those Responsible For Crimes Against Humanity – Against Rohingya and Kachin – Need To Be Bought To Justice; and Why, As Basic Freedoms Are Eroded In Burma, Hopes Of Progress Are Being Dashed

May 2, 2019 9:32 AM

Surprise Celebration of 40 years in Parliament – 40 years since the Liverpool Edge Hill By Election: Freedom is not “free” it comes at a great price.

May 1, 2019 5:36 PM

Amnesty haemorrhages support as it loses its way. It should stop spending its funds to promote abortion and get back to the vision of its founder, Peter Benenson, working for prisoners of conscience and human rights.

May 1, 2019 9:55 AM

The Danube Institute Conference on Invisible Victims and Religious Freedom, April 9th, 2019, The Reform Club, London. And what Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, had to say on Easter Sunday about the targeting of Christians

Apr 10, 2019 12:39 PM

Three speeches in Parliament this week: War in the Yemen and the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia; Corruption and aid programmes to countries like Pakistan; and the lack of legal mechanisms to hold to account those who use rape as a weapon on war in countries like the Congo

Apr 3, 2019 1:46 PM

The World of Yesterday – Memoirs of a European – Stefan Zweig:  and its relevance to Project Hate 2019.

Mar 24, 2019 10:35 AM

Gladys Aylward, the little woman, and China’s Inn of The Sixth Happiness – or more accurately, the Inn of the Eight Happinesses

Mar 9, 2019 11:20 AM

Please support disabled children like Amy by giving them a voice – while I remain siLENT for 24 hours for Million Minutes

Mar 7, 2019 9:10 PM

Aegis Trust ceremony at the House of Lords as Ambassador Kenneth Quinn is given an Aegis Award for Combating Genocide in Cambodia; Report of Parliamentary Meeting about Hong Kong British Nationals Overseas Passport Holders And Home Office Signals Progress In A Letter From Ministers

Mar 5, 2019 4:18 PM

Primodos: A Welcome Review Into A Drug That Did Enormous Harm – including follow up letter from the Minister for Health.

Mar 1, 2019 9:57 AM

House of Commons debate on forced organ harvesting. Follow up Questions and Minister’s reply- April 4th 2019 – in the Lords. Spectator Article. How To watch the China Tribunal on line. Questions in Parliament on the Muslim Uighurs . Ministers Questioned in the House of Lords about tortured lawyers; demolished Christian churches; abducted Pastor; organ harvesting and incarceration of Uighurs and how the continued deterioration of human rights in China will fuel resentment and radicalisation across the globe and threaten China’s desire to create a harmonious society. Speech by Fiona Bruce MP about the Uighurs.

Feb 25, 2019 4:24 PM

2019 marks the centenary of Jallianwala Bagh – the Amritsar Massacre which Churchill condemned as “an extraordinary event, a monstrous event… which stands in singular and sinister isolation.” We must learn the lessons of history.

Feb 19, 2019 12:30 PM

The Battle Against Asbestos Related Diseases Such As Mesothelioma – which will kill another 60,000 British people unless we find a cure – Raised In Parliament. 

Feb 17, 2019 12:38 PM

Threat To Murder An Innocent Woman Who Has Languished On Death Row  for Nine Years. Pakistan’s Supreme Court Upholds Their Decision To Free Asia Bibi. Questions asked in Parliament about renewed threats to her life and the role of UK aid in promoting a less discriminatory society. BBC Report.

Jan 29, 2019 12:41 PM

Carnage and Murder in the Philippines As innocent People Pay The Price of Extremism. Parliament Debates the Human Rights Violations of the Duterte Government. Calls to Protect Filipino Workers From Exploitation and Trafficking. Extremists Urged To End the Violence In Joint Declaration in UAE

Jan 28, 2019 11:59 AM

Jeremy Hunt’s promised Foreign Office Review into Persecution will have no credibility if it simply seeks to justify the indifference that led to the mass graves of Nineveh. Read Christina Lamb’s account of what happens when you ignore genocide. February 2019 New Genocide Act in US Raised In Parliament.

Jan 2, 2019 3:08 PM

This Charterhouse feature abut Kurdistan/Northern Iraq  will appear on January 1st 2020

Herald Jan 1 2020.jpg

Christmas in Pakistan: shocking story of Christian woman while Dawn details the case of an academic from Pakistan,  Junaid Hafeez, who has been sentenced to death  on blasphemy charges by a Court in Multan. He has already spent 6 years in solitary confinement, which in human rights law must amount to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to the provisions of Article 7 of the ICCPR (to which Pakistan is a State Party). Multan is the city where Shagufta Kauser, once again  spent Christmas – in the cell previously occupied by Asia Bibi – and separated from her disabled husband, Shafqat Emmanuel. He is paralysed from the chest down and is also incarcerated on blasphemy charges, sentenced to death, and separated from their four children, aged between 9 and 15. Also, the case of a 14 years old Christian girl Huma, who was kidnapped, forcibly converted and married to her abductor, in Karachi. And this shocking story: “They Forced Me Down, All I Did Was Pray”: the account of a Pakistani Christian rape survivor

In his Christmas message, the Prime Minister reminded us that millions of people would be unable to freely celebrate Christmas. These bleak stories from Pakistan – a Commonwealth country – is a graphic illustration of how bad it can get for vulnerable people whose only crime is to manifest their beliefs. 

“They Forced Me Down, All I Did Was Pray”: the story of a Pakistani Christian rape survivor

Today’s edition of Dawn https://www.dawn.com/news/1523521 details the case of an academic from Pakistan,  Junaid Hafeez, who has been sentenced to death  on blasphemy charges by a Court in Multan He has already spent 6 years in solitary confinement, which in human rights law must amount to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to the provisions of Article 7 of the ICCPR (to which Pakistan is a State Party).

multan

In its Judgement the Court stated that ”this court has got no circumstance for taking [a] lenient view and it is also not permitted in Islam.”

Mr.Hafeez has been in solitary confinement in Multan’s Central Jail for at least six years. His parents say that “delaying tactics” the difficulties of finding “adequate legal counsel” and the difficulties of getting a fair trial at a low level of the judiciary have led to extraordinary suffering by their son.

His previous lawyer, Rashid Rehman, was shot dead in May 2014 in his office. At least seven judges were transferred through the course of Hafeez’s case.

Rashid Rehman

Elsewhere in Multan’s prison, in the cell previously occupied by Asia Bibi, another illiterate Christian woman, Shagufta Kauser, once again  spent Christmas separated from her disabled husband, Shafqat Emmanuel – paralysed from the chest down – who is also incarcerated on blasphemy charges – and separated from their four children, aged between 9 and 15.

ShaguftaAsia Bibi

Before their arrest the Kausers lived in the city of Gojra in the Punjab province in East Pakistan, where Mrs Kauser worked as a cleaner. 

Shagufta Kauser 1

Having been held in separate prisons for six years both Shagufta Kauser and her husband are reported to be experiencing severe depression. A doctor’s report details fears for the health of Shafqat whose back is almost destroyed from bed sores as he is confined to a prison bed from which he is unable to move.

Although they cannot read or write, they were sentenced to death in 2014 for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages in English – a language that neither or them speak and nor do they have any knowledge of alphanumeric symbols. 

At the time Mr Emmanuel said that he was tortured, forcing him to confess to something he did not do (and in the hope that his wife might then be freed). Prosecutors have been unable to produce any evidence linking the couple to the phone from which the alleged texts were sent.

On 8 April 2014 Farrukh Saif Foundation filed an appeal against their death sentences but no date has been fixed for a hearing.

Last May, in response to a parliamentary question, Ministers told me that the Government is monitoring the case. I have asked Foreign office Ministers to what action that monitoring has led and for your evaluation of Shagufta’s health and that of her husband.

In this week’s Queens Speech the Government said that they intend to look at the link between DFID and the policies of the Foreign Office.

They should explain why none of the £2.6 billion in aid given by the UK to Pakistan over the past ten years (£383,000 every day) has been conditional on a reform of the Blasphemy Laws – which have been used again and again to persecute Ahmadis and Christians – or to help persecuted minorities (instead of being “religion blind”).

 

When two children are forced to watch a lynch mob of 1,200 burn alive their parents; when no one is brought to justice for the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Minister for Minorities….

….when 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls are forcibly married and converted; and when minorities are ghettoised into squalid colonies, which I have visited, and forced to clean latrines and sweep streets…..

 

 

….is it not time that the Government re-examined its policy of refusing to specifically direct any of the aid we give to Pakistan for the alleviation of the suffering and destitution of these desperate minorities and to use it as leverage to promote Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees the right to believe, not to believe, or to change belief and(to which Pakistan is theoretically a signatory).

 

 Junaid Hafeez has the right not to believe just as Shagufta Kauser has the right to be a Christian. Neither of them should be languishing for years on end  in Pakistan’s prisons with death sentences hanging over them.

death penalty

Also see

https://protect-eu.mimecast.com/s/2m7PCXL8Ei19xj9fVPkcD?domain=dailytimes.com.pk

This is the case of a 14 years old Christian girl Huma, who was kidnapped, forcibly converted and married to her abductor, in Karachi. Later she was forced to make a video to say that she had voluntarily converted to Islam and was married now so that her parents should not try to go to authorities.

As the mother asks the question in the interview, how can law allow her to convert and marry, while it is illegal to marry in Sindh until you are 18

also read this:

“They Forced Me Down, All I Did Was Pray”: the story of a Pakistani Christian rape survivor

“They Forced  me Down, All I Did Was Pray”: the story of a Christian rape survivor