8 Aug 2014

Out on the mountain right now, it is genocide’

The tears roll down Amed Burjus’  face. His hand is shaking so much he can scarcely write his name in my notebook. A group of bemused  Scandinavian tourists passes by, pauses, and moves on, shaken by such pain and grief.

“They are out there now,” he cries at us, ” my family , my people, my relatives. They have nothing – nothing. Out on the mountain right now, it is genocide.”

He now turns directly to the camera waving his small home-made placard: “Please helps us, please – please help the Yezidi.”

Like some endangered human species – in fact they are an endangered human species – the ancient, once sun-worshipping Yezidi people and culture now number only around 100,000 across Kurdistan and northern Iraq, from several million. Whittled down by centuries of persecution and mass murder.

A few hundred outside Downing Street today, joined by Christian and Muslim Kurds, all aghast at what they see as a genocide against minority peoples across northern Iraq from the Islamo-fascists of the Islamic State.

Adnan Kochar of the Kurdish Culture Centre in London helped organise today’s protest and says they have waited too long and the world has taken far too long to wake up to what Downing Street and the White House now readily call genocide.


As we are there news comes that the first airstrikes have been conducted by the US, against US weaponry – the heavy guns the IS looted from the US-supplied Iraqi army, which the west trained at such expense only for them to run away at the first sign of war from the bearded ones.

Reaction is mixed. “We welcome this but it will not stop the IS,” a woman tells us draped in the flag of Kurdistan

“You better do something to stop this, ” warns a young man, “these guys are getting more and more radical and your people are coming out to join them then coming back here and then who knows what?”

Adnan Kochar says darkly: “They are here now all over Britain – the IS. It is not safe for us on the streets here even now. It is happening.”

This being the region it is there are whispered theories about how involved Turkey is in all that is happening. Less than whispered anger at Qatar and Saudi Arabia, perceived – yet again – to be funding yet another franchise of Islamic ultra-violence.

Again and again and again from everyone here, tales of how the IS come into your town or village and offer you the chance to convert to Islam,  get out of town and your home – or be killed by bullet or beheading.

I am hearing this from everyone here today as I have all day by phone, Skype and Twitter from those in the region. Too many people, too often, in too many disparate situations for this to be any kind of war propaganda and myth.

Then a Palestinian man wanders up to me, as I talk to these protesters: “Funny, isn’t it? Cameron and Obama talk instantly about genocide with the Kurds, yet they never find that word when it comes to Gaza, do they?”

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4 reader comments

  1. teresa says:

    Hi there Alex, just trying to get a message to you. I think you are a real hero speaking out about the farce that is the Mccann case. Please if you have nothing else to loose but your good name please come and look at the Justice for Madeleine site. We are 30.000 plus strong alone plus there are many other sites with members just waiting for someone to go against the MSM’s storytelling. We, J. f M. base all our thoughs on the police files both U:K: and Portuguise. A little girl died and has not been put to rest.. the parent have done so well from this..something is just not right. Please, just come and read the files we have….costs you nothing!

  2. Monika Pourian says:

    Brussels (AINA) — Concerned Christian organizations from the Middle East met in Brussels today under the umbrella of the Middle East Christian Committee (MECHRIC) to demand action on the brutal and merciless ethno-religious cleansing against Assyrians, Copts and other Christians taking place in the greater Middle East.
    The message was simple: stop the massacres and cultural genocide against Christians in the Middle East.

    Currently there exists an exploding situation where Assyrians and other Christians are being kidnapped, executed and driven out of their homes — and found in mass graves. This persecution is being carried out systematically. These Christian communities must be recognized as persecuted nations.
    The delegations to the conference consisted of Assyrians, Maronites, Copts, Chaldeans, Syriacs and Melkites. Each one reported on their respective issues.
    Assyrians {also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs} from three continents formed the Assyrian Delegation at the Conference and at the European Parliament, and presented the latest reports of atrocities perpetrated against the Assyrian/Christian people in Syria by Muslims, and also reported on the human rights violations in Iraq, specifically by the Kurdistan Regional Government.
    Former Secretary General of the United Nations Boutros Boutros Ghali, who is an Egyptian Coptic Christian, sent a letter of support to the conference, stating that it is very important that the suffering of the Christians in the Middle East be highlighted in the world arena.

    “We came to Brussels to discuss the issues of Assyrians and other Christians in Middle East,” said Aprim Rasho, vice president of Assyrian National Council of Illinois “We feel that this was a good beginning and we will of course follow up.”

    Behind the daily reporting about clashes between different Muslim groups and regimes, Christian communities all over the Middle East are persecuted both for their religion and their ethnicity. These current atrocities are a chilling reminder of the genocide perpetuated against Christians during WWI when 750,000 Assyrians were killed, as well as 1.5 million Armenians and 500,000 Pontic Greeks.

    And now, tragically, nearly half of the remaining Assyrians and other Christians of Iraq have left the country (report) since the fall of Saddam and the exodus continues. The International Community turned a blind eye to the plight of Christians in Iraq (report). The same fate is now befalling the Syrian and Egyptian Christians. Approximately one million Middle Eastern Christians have been made refugees and are stranded in countries such as Jordan, Turkey, Chad, Sudan and even as far as Thailand.

    “We have refugees all over the world and it’s overwhelming,” said Pauline Jasim, who worked for seven years on women’s and minority issues in Baghdad for the US Embassy. “We need support from the UN and the leaders of the free world to shelter, assist, and ensure that countries are stabilized to enable these refugees to return.”

    The delegations met with top diplomats from various countries, including the Russian Ambassador to the European Union, who said “be assured that Russia will stand behind the Christians of the Middle East.” Several members of the European Parliament attended the conference and expressed great concern.

    The MECHRIC conference proposed that it act as an umbrella organization for all the delegations in leading an International effort to bring the plight of the Christians in the Middle East to the forefront in the free world.

    The conference agreed to take the following steps immediately:

    Provide emergency aid provided to Christian refugees in various countries.
    Demand equal rights for the indigenous Christian populations in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Turkey and Lebanon by putting pressure on the respective governments.
    Request self-administration to instill confidence among Assyrians in Syria and Iraq.
    Pressure Egypt and Turkey to enshrine equal rights and protection under the law for all citizens.
    Request funding for NGOs to draw attention to the plight of Middle East Christians by producing documentaries, conferences and reports.
    According to the general sentiment of the Christian delegations at the conference, the only way to stop the ethno-religious cleansing is through a more muscular foreign policy that holds the regimes of the Middle East accountable. The European Union should apply pressure on moderate movements and regimes to stop the persecution. The delegates called for a high level special envoy to be appointed at the embassies in Middle Eastern countries for the sole purpose of monitoring the human rights of the Christian and indigenous peoples of the Middle East.

    During the MECHRIC Conference each delegation presented its case. However, the EU specifically asked for country reports for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. Five members of the EU dealing with religious freedom were present. At end of the meeting, they expressed their deep concern and astonishment of the atrocities committed against the Christians in Middle East.

    In the Assyrian Delegation was Nuri Kino, winner of the 2010 European journalist prize, and Attiya Gamri, Member of Parliament in Netherlands and an Assyrian Activist. In his speech Mr. Kino spoke about Syria and the deliberate targeting of Muslim militants of the Christian population through systematic eviction, terror, kidnapping and executions. According to Kino, within the last few days at least two mass graves have been found.
    “We, the Assyrian delegates, were well prepared,” said Nuri Kino. “We have for a decade now gathered information about the ethno-religious cleansing. The European Union cannot now say that it didn’t know.” The Assyrian Delegation presented investigative and human rights reports to the other delegations and to the EU members. The Assyrian Youth Federation of Sweden (AUF) actively reviewed and summarized human rights reports for submission to the EU and the MECHRIC conference attendees.

    “Whatever more evidence they need we will provide it to them,” said Professor Malik Merza, who represented Assyrians in Sweden.

    In her testimony, Attiya Gamri said “If the EU prefers to see Iraq devoid of its oldest people, language and some of the oldest churches in the world, then the Member States and institutions of the EU should close their eyes to this catastrophe.” She said the Assyrians are not asking for more than what the other citizens of Iraq enjoy today, including an Assyrian police force for Assyrian areas, an Assyrian parliament, an Assyrian university and protection for ancient and historical churches and monasteries.

    “We, the Christians of the Middle East, need to cooperate and make our plight known,” said Sargon Lewie, former president of Assyrian American National Federation. “Copts, Maronites, Melkites and the various denominations of our people such as the Chaldeans, Syriacs and Assyrians must all stand as one against the atrocities. Our goal, and the only way to stop the persecution, is federal states for the Christians of Middle East.”

  3. Bob says:

    For goodness sake send in the Marines now! both US and Brits,

  4. anon says:

    Europe once faced devastation from the Mongols, crucially the Crusaders allowed a Muslim army to pass unhindered and even helped with supplies, the Mogols were defeated at Ain Jalut, a cruial turning point,
    the point being the enemy of your enemy is your friend, fast track to the Middle East, I suggest these digusting evil people calling themselves the Islamic state should be labelled as heretics apostastes by the Muslim world and that the Israelis and hamas, the uS, Russia, everyone should combine to fight this evil,
    why not?

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