Iraqi Parliamentarians with Mr. Struan Stevenson, President of the Iraq Delegation at the EU Parliament and other MEPs.
ITF EU representative, Dr. Hassan Aydinli with Members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives
Mr. Amin Farhan, Member Iraqi Council of Representatives, President of the Eyzidin Movement for Reform and Progress and its parliamentary faction, speaking at the meeting
Iraqi Turkmen Front EU Representative Dr Hassan Aydinli with MEP Tunne Kelam
ITF EU Representative Dr Hassan Aydinli with MEP Alexandra Thein
Iraqi Parliamentarians representing ‘Iraq’s ethnic and religious minorities’ at the European Parliament in Brussels
Brussels – 5TH October 2011
Fourteen Iraqi Parliamentarians representing the Chaldeo-Assyrian, Shabak, Yezidi and Mandaean-Sabean communities met with the EU Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq on 5th October 2011.
The Iraqi delegation was composed of:
§ Mr Younadam KENNA
§ Mr Amin FARHAN
§ Miss Ameena SAID
§ Miss Vian DAKHIL
§ Mr Hussain NERMO
§ Mr Meham KHALEEL
§ Miss Basma PITRUS
§ Mr Luis GARO
§ Mr Qasim BIRGIS
§ Mr Sharif SULAYMAN
§ Mr Khalid ROOMI
§ Mr Kaliss EISHO
§ Mr Imad YAKO
§ Mr Mohammed JAMSHEED
The meeting was chaired by MEP Struan Stevenson, President of the Iraq Delegation.
MEP Esther De Lange, Vice-President of the Iraq Delegation, and MEPs Ana Gomes, Tunne Kelam, Alexandra Thein and Jelko Kacin attended the meeting.
MEP Struan Stevenson informed the assembly that the Minorities Caucus in the Iraqi Council of Representatives was formed in July 2010 and that its aim is to develop a concrete plan of potential legislative action that stands to include reform of Iraq’s personal status law, local administration legislation, an anti-discrimination law and reform of Iraq’s educational curriculum.
The meeting has been organized with the help of :
- the Iraqi Council of Representatives,
- the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Iraq,
- the Institute for International Law and Human Rights,
- the U.S. Institute of Peace
With the support of :
- UNPO (the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization)
- No Peace Without Justice.
The Chairman Mr. Struan Stevenson started the meeting by saying that in the European Union we are all minorities, even Germany with its 82 million people is a ‘minority’, and that we Europeans have learned to work together. He added that over 23% of the population of Iraq is non-Arab and that these non-Arab communities are victims of discrimination and assimilation and that their survival in Iraq is threatened.
Mr. Struan Stevenson informed the delegation that in November a big conference on Christian minorities would be held in the Lebanon.
Ms. Esther De Lange MEP, welcomed the 14-member delegation, saying that it is the first minority delegation from Iraq to be invited at the European Parliament. She added that the delegation would also meet with the EU Commission. Ms. De Lange said that the EU Parliament would like to have concrete examples of the delegation’s demands.
Mr. Younadam Kenna, Member Iraqi Council of Representatives , representing the Chaldeo-Assyrian community, was the first to take the floor, he spoke in the name of the delegation, informing the assembly of the main problems the minorities are facing in Iraq, namely regarding the unfair distribution of budget funds, the executive law system which is still the one which was used under Saddam Hussein, the pernicious law for women in the Kurdistan region where honour killings still take place, law of oil and gas repartition, religious prejudice, lack of education in the language of the minorities in the Mosul region, the problem of the return of refugees belonging to the minorities, etc. He asked the help and support of the European Union to help resolve all these problems.
Other members of the Iraqi delegation spoke about their communities’ continued suffering due to forced displacement, land confiscation, wars, lack of justice, lack of security, bureaucracy, unfair repartition of funds for the minority communities.
Miss Vian Dakhil, Member Iraqi Council of Representatives, representing the Yezidi community, spoke in the name of all women belonging to minorities in Iraq. She called for the support and help of the European Parliament for these women.
Mr. Mohammed Jamsheed, Member Iraqi Council of Representatives, representing the Shabak community, recommended that the EU pay special attention to the Province of Ninewah because this is where 90% of the problems of the minorities are concentrated.
Mr. Kaliss Eisho, Member Iraqi Council of Representatives, representing the Chaldeo-Assyrian community, asked for an autonomous region for the Chaldeo-Assyrians in the Ninewah Plains.
Mr. Amin Farhan, Member Iraqi Council of Representatives, President of the Eyzidin Movement for Reform and Progress and its parliamentary faction, spoke with force and conviction about the need for the Committee for the Revision of the Constitution in Iraq to include at least one member of each community. He said that there is no democracy in Iraq, that minorities are threatened and that they should have the means to protect themselves. Mr. Amin Farhan said that he had asked Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to reinstate the old Yezidi army and police officers and that Maliki had agreed for the return of 332 of them, but that the Chief of Staff of the Iraqi army in Baghdad, a Kurd, had refused to reinstate them. He said that although he is a Member of the Iraqi Parliament, the Kurdish Regional Authorities do not allow him to visit his family in his home town Shikhan in the north of Iraq. Mr. Farhan spoke of the lack of freedom of expression in the Kurdish Region for Yezidis, informing the assembly that the Kurds are refusing them to distribute a Yezidi newspaper in their region.
All the members of the Iraqi delegation asked for help and moral support from the European Union, saying that they hoped the EU Parliament would make a statement on Iraq’s minorities. They expressed the hope that Members of the EU Parliament would visit the Iraqi Parliament frequently and that additional EU consulates would be opened in Iraq’s main northern cities.
Iraqi Turkmen Front EU representative, Dr. Hassan Aydinli, attended the conference. He met individually with the members of the Iraqi Parliament, questioning them about the situation of their respective communities in Iraq and he encouraged them to express themselves freely and without fear.
Dr. Aydinli met with Mr. Struan Stevenson, Chairman of the Iraq Delegation and with MEPs Tunne Kelam and Alexandra Thein, he informed them about the upcoming Turkmen Hearing by the subcommittee on Human Rights at the EU Parliament on 5th December 2011, he also updated them about the continued targeting of Turkmen intellectuals, businessmen and political leaders in the north of Iraq and about the failure and unwillingness of the Iraqi authorities and local authorities to provide adequate protection for the Turkmen community in the north of Iraq.