Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Iraq's Christians face ethnic cleansing

The Independent - May 24th 2006

Sir

Patrick Cockburn (20 May) is right: the ethnic cleansing going on in Iraq is terrible but he hardly mentions the plight of the Assyrians. The indigenous Iraqi Assyrians community is nearly a million strong and represents nearly 10 per cent of the population centred on the Nineveh plain.

This Christian community is a being ethnically cleansed from the suburbs of Baghdad, Basra and elsewhere. Atrocities abound, with women sporadically having acid thrown in their faces and even being killed in some cases for wearing jeans or not wearing the veil, especially in the Mosul area. Young men are being forced to flee into exile to escape death threats and assassination. This means they are not able to work or study, a disaster for a whole new generation of Iraqi Assyrians and Christians.

Unlike the Sunni, Shia and Kurds they as yet have nowhere else to call home, despite the European Parliament's plea that the Nineveh plain be recognised as an autonomous Assyrian area . The European Parliament last month voted virtually unanimously for this threatened community to be allowed to establish on the basis of section 5 of the Constitution a federal region where they are free from outside interference and can practice their own way of life.

Jordan and Syria have already seen hundreds of thousands of Assyrian Christian refugees but many more will join if protection is not provided urgently by the government of Iraq and the coalition forces.

GLYN FORD MEP (LABOUR, SOUTH-WEST ENGLAND)
DR CHARLES TANNOCK MEP (CONSERVATIVE, GREATER LONDON)
ANDY DARMOO (SAVE THE ASSYRIANS CAMPAIGN)
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
BRUSSELS