Middle East minorities are victims of genocide, say MPs

April 30, 2016

David Warburton

WILFUL INTENT: David Warburton, Tory MP for Somerton and Frome, argued – along with other MPs – that the atrocities against the Yazidis, Shiites, Christians and other minorities by Daesh was genocide and not done by consequence, but by design.


LEGAL DEFINITION: Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East and Foreign Office minister, said evidence needed to be presented, and preserved and given to the legal authorities. He said this on 20 April eight days earlier he made this clear statement: “I too believe acts of genocide have taken place.”

Michael Tomlinson

POWERFUL MESSAGE: Michael Tomlinson, MP for North Poole and Mid Dorset, told Mr Ellwood uniting on the motion was the right thing to do and doing nothing was not an option. He and MP for Wealden Nusrat Ghani both confirm that Mr Ellwood said the words above.



A FOREIGN Office minister has admitted Middle East minorities were victims of genocide by Daesh but a week later appeared to retract it saying it was legally questionable.

On 20 April, Fiona Bruce, MP for Congelton, in Chesire tabled the backbench motion that says Yazidis, Druze, Christians, Arameans, Alawites, Shias and Mandaeans have experienced horrific ordeals under the occupation of the death cult and it featured contributions from Somerton and Frome MP David Warburton and Mid Dorset and North Poole MP Michael Tomlinson.

I have argued on this blog that Middle East minorities should be prioritised as refugees because of their vulnerability and in some cases of having to endure the horrors of recognising some of their jihadist persecutors in European migrant shelters when refugees from all backgrounds were fleeing through the Balkans – this has meant minority refugees along with gay men, lesbians and women on their own having to flee for their lives a second time. These quotes come from the records of the debate in Hansard.

Initiating the debate, Fiona Bruce said it was about recognising the accounts given to the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights via non-government organisations and human rights activists. In thousands of pages from witnesses, recording executions, mass graves, assassinations of church and other minority religious leaders, crucifixions, beheadings, systematic rapes and many other acts of unspeakable violence.

The UK Parliament was under considerable pressure to act as in January the Council of Europe, followed by the European Parliament in February and then the US House of Representatives in March all voted that was going on was genocide.

Wealden MP Nusrat Ghani said Foreign Office minister and MP for Bournemouth East Tobias Ellwood said on 12 April this about the crimes committed by Daesh. “I too believe acts of genocide have taken place.”

Mr Tomlinson, a fellow Dorset MP, said he remembered Mr Ellwood saying these words when he was challenged about it.

He said: “My Honorable Friend is making a powerful point. I was present when the Minister gave that response. Does my Honorable Friend (Ms Ghani) hope, as I do, that this afternoon this whole House will be given the opportunity to send a powerful message by voting and being united in that vote, and inviting Ministers and Parliamentary Private Secretaries – those on the payroll – to vote as well, to send a strong message that what is happening is genocide?”

David Warburton was one of the backbench contributors in this debate and said that “words without experience were meaningless” and the atrocities he refers in his speech are similar to the ones listed earlier in this article.

“The acts mentioned today which the honourable member for Glasgow East (Natalie McGarry) spoke about in shocking, appalling and powerful detail, are not just by consequence , but by design.

“The number of Christians in Syria has halved and in Iraq has dropped from 1.4 million to just 240,000. Perhaps even more striking is that the historical settlement of 60,000 Christians in Mosul has entirely disappeared.  Along with that, has been a targeted destruction of sites, including St Elijah’s Monastery, historic libraries and any representational art.

“Edicts have instructed Daesh troops to engage in the wholesale destruction of non-Islamic places of worship.

“A vote for the motion would begin the process of a possible referral to the International Criminal Court from the UN Security Council. It would a signal to the perpetrators that they will be brought to justice and it would, perhaps most crucially of all, act as a spur to the other 127 signatories.

“An émigré of a previous generation who fled persecution said; “Words without experience are meaningless’.

“The reverse is also true. When hundreds of thousands of people are suffering in such a way, we must apply the only word that is adequate for this job, and support this motion.”

In response to the questions raised by Mr Warburton, Mrs Bruce, Ms McGarry and others, Mr Ellwood said as far as the Government was concerned, it was up to legal institutions to define constituted as “genocide”.

All the evidence referred to by Mrs Bruce and Ms McGarry could be construed as “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions but they had to “clarify” what they meant by “genocide”.

Mr Ellwood said: “We must do everything we can to gather evidence that can be used by the judicial bodies who are the appropriate people to judge these matters, to make a judgement. It is vital to be done now, before evidence is lost or destroyed. Ultimately, this is a question for the courts to decide.

“It is not for the Government to be the prosecutor, judge and jury. The Prime Minister said: ‘Not only are the courts the best placed to judge criminal matters but their impartiality also ensures the protection of the UK Government from the politicisation and controversies that attach themselves to the question of ‘genocide’.

  • FOR the record, there were contributions form all sides including Labour, the Scottish Nationalists and the Democratic Unionists and the vote was unanimous – 278 votes to none.

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