Monday, January 10, 2011

British parliamentarians to strive for international recognition of Kurdish genocide

 » The British delegation lays a wreath at the Halabja cemetery 

Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq (KRG.org) - Members of a British parliamentary group visiting Kurdistan said they will work towards having the genocide in Kurdistan recognised internationally.

The British delegation was made up of Nadhim Zahawi MP, Lord Clement Jones, Robert Halfon MP, Gary Kent, director of Labour Friends of Iraq, journalist John McTernan and others. The group, which was the guest of the Kurdistan Parliament, was accompanied by Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, Kurdistan Regional Government’s UK Representative.

The parliamentary delegation told a press conference in Erbil yesterday (Saturday), at the end of their six-day visit to the region which included a visit to Halabja, that they will strive to make the genocide known to the world.

“Our visit to Halabja was the most moving part of the trip,” said Mr Zahawi. “One of the action points to take back to our parliament is to make sure that the evil events of March 16, 1988 in Halabja are recognised as genocide by the whole world.”

The group went to Halabja as part of a tour of Kurdistan which took them also to Dohuk, Erbil and Suleimaniah. In Halabja, they met survivors of the chemical bombardment that killed about 5,000 people and injured 7,000 in 1988. They also paid their respects at the monument to the victims and saw the cemetery where many are buried in mass graves. The events of Halabja are part of a wider genocide campaign by the former Iraqi regime which targeted Faylee Kurds as well as others including more than 8,000 Barzani men and boys who disappeared in 1983.

Mr Halfon said, “I will do all I can with the All Party Parliamentary Group to ensure the genocide is recognised and to ensure the perpetrators are not living in freedom in Europe.”

During their visit, the delegation met President Masoud Barzani, Dr Kamal Kirkuki, the Speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament, Prime Minister Barham Salih, representatives of the business community, women’s organisations, Turkmen and Christians, academics, ministers and officials.

The parliamentarians congratulated President Barzani on his recent initiative that led to the formation of the Iraqi government and on his open-door policy towards persecuted Christians.

“Congratulations on the efforts you made to ensure all the Iraqi political blocs came together to work towards forming a government,” Mr Zahawi, speaking on behalf of the delegation, told the President. “During this visit, we have heard stories from the Bishop of Erbil and other Christians about the safe haven you have provided those fleeing the violence in other parts of Iraq. The world should recognise the work you have done to support and protect the Christian community.”

President Barzani thanked Mr Zahawi and the delegation and reiterated his commitment to supporting the Christian and other communities in Iraq. “We are very touched and concerned by this issue. This is a most heinous crime committed against a peaceful people. We in the Kurdistan Region proudly say we welcome Christians and will continue to do so,” he said.

In their meeting with Dr Kirkuki, the delegation discussed in detail Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution and the steps needed to resolve the issue of the disputed territories, which if left unresolved would create a dangerous environment in Iraq, according to Dr Kirkuki.

With Prime Minister Salih, they discussed Kurdistan’s growing economy. Prime Minister Salih told the delegation that Kurdistan is Britain’s ally and the commercial gateway to Iraq. Mr Zahawi said, “This is our fourth visit to Kurdistan as the All Party Parliamentary Group on Kurdistan Region and the economic miracle we have witnessed is wonderful and we will support and champion that in our own parliament and our country.”


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