MPs & human rights activists urge UN rights council to act against Iraq massacres
GENEVA, Aug. 13, 2014 – A coalition of 22 MPs and human rights activists today launched a global campaign, spearheaded by the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch, urging UN rights chief Navi Pillay to lead the call for an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council over the atrocities committed by the Islamic State in Iraq against Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen, and other minorities. (See text below.)
“It is unconscionable for the world’s highest human rights body—which is pledged to prevent human rights violations and respond promptly to human rights emergencies—to turn a blind eye to the massacre,enslavement and rape of so many Iraqi civilians,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.
The coalition’s appeal hopes to build on yesterday’s joint statement by six UN experts on the plight of the Yazidis by adding a demand for specific and concrete action from Ms. Pillay and the 47-nation council.
“If High Commissioner Pillay leads the call for action, we believe key UN members will follow suit,” said Neuer.
“Our appeal seeks three basic actions: an emergency session to mobilize world attention, an inquiry to document the atrocities committed by the Islamic State, and a revival of the mandate of a Special Rapporteur to ensure we have an early warning system in place over the near and long term. With so many lives at stake, with so many women at risk of being terribly abused, the UN rights council can no longer stay silent.”
Urgent Appeal to UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay
to Stop Genocide in Iraq
Faced with shocking reports of mass slaughter threatened by the Islamic State in Iraq (ISIS) against numerous minority groups, possibly amounting to genocide, we, an international coalition of parliamentarians, dissidents, and human rights activists, urge you—in the name of humanity—to call for and take immediate action to convene an emergency special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, to protect the right to life of these vulnerable populations who are now in very grave danger.
As reported by the Washington Post, besieged Yazidis stranded on an isolated mountaintop are beginning to die of thirst. Ten of thousands of men, women and children fled their homes in northern Iraq, after Islamic State militants attacked the towns of Sinjar and Zunmar. “Children have died because of dehydration and lack of food,” Vian Dakheel, a Yazidi parliamentarian from Sinjar, said to the Iraqi parliament through tears. “My people are being slaughtered.”
Consider the past month alone:
- Islamic State militants destroyed a half dozen of places of worship, including a 14th century mosque in Mosul. Desperate to save their holy sites, residents of one town formed a human chain around an 840-year-old minaret to save it from the Islamic State militants.
- The UN Special Rapporteur on minorities expressed grave concern for the safety of Christians, Shia, Shabaks, Turkmen, Yazidis and other minorities in Iraq facing persecution on the grounds of their religion and ethnicity.
- The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons stressed that the ongoing conflict has already displaced some 1.2 million people, mostly minority members who have fled the northwest of Iraq.
It is unconscionable for the world’s highest human rights body—which is pledged, under UNGA Resolution 60/251, to prevent human rights violations and respond promptly to human rights emergencies—to continue turning a blind eye to the massacre, abuse, and intimidation of Iraqi civilians.
Accordingly, we urge you to end the silence and take action to convene a UNHRC Special Session that will:
- Mobilize world action to protect vulnerable populations in Iraq from mass killing, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other gross and systematic violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the right to life;
- Establish an urgent, international and independent Fact Finding Mission to investigate the Islamic State for acts committed to destroy, in whole or in part, various national, ethnic, racial and religious groups in Iraq, constituting genocide as defined in the Genocide Convention, and to recommend urgent action to the UN Security Council, as well as to ensure individual accountability before the International Criminal Court; and
- End the unacceptable protection gap of the past decade by reviving the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iraq which was terminated by the UNHRC without justification in 2004, thereby ensuring an early warning mechanism for the international community, with regular reporting to both the Council and the General Assembly.
We respectfully request that this joint NGO appeal be circulated among the 47 member states of the UNHRC, as well as among all observer states and other stake-holders.
Sir John Randall, Member of Parliament, UK
Roger Godsiff, Member of Parliament, UK
Irwin Cotler, Member of Parliament, Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Liberal Critic for Rights & Freedom and International Justice, Canada
Michael Danby, Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Opposition, Member of Parliament, Australia
Alan Griffin, Member of Parliament, Australia
Tunne Kelam, Member of the European Parliament, Estonia
Erik Meijer, Senator, The Netherlands
Gert Weisskirchen, former Member of Parliament, Germany
Matyas Eorsi, former Member of Parliament, Hungary
Hillel C. Neuer, Executive Director, UN Watch, Switzerland
Rev. John Pellowe, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Council of Christian Charities
Ulrich Delius, Society for Threatened Peoples
Ann Buwalda, Executive Director, Jubilee Campaign
Francois Ullmann, President, Ingenieurs du Monde
Basil Oezkaya, Main UN Representative, World Council of Arameans
Adel Alfetory, Horiyat Group for Development and Human Rights
Yang Jianli, President, Initiatives for China/Citizen Power for China
Christina Fu, President, New Hope Foundation
Regis Iglesias Ramirez, Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, Cuba
John J. Suarez, International Secretary, Cuban Democratic Directorate
Amardeo Sarma, GWUP – Wissenschaft und kritisches Denken
Maria Giovanna Ruggieri, President, World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations