Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Mandaean Human Rights Presentation to European Parliament

Written by  Human Rights Group

By invitation from the EU parlimant  member MEP  Joe Weidenholzer ,  The Mandaean Human Rights Group attended The"Human rights and religious minorities in Iraq". on Monday, 29th of June and below is the presentation given by Dr Suhaib Nashi, Honorary President of The Mandaean associations Union , President of The mandaean Human Rights Group :


The Mandaeans are ethnic and religious minority. They lived in southern Iraq and Iran for thousands of years on the shores of the Tigris and Euphrates at the edges of the marshland. They have their own religion, language and other cultural and ethnic attributes. They are one of the ancient indigenous people of Mesopotamia who are still surviving in the modern states of Iraq and Iran.
Their small numbers and adherence to pacifist beliefs, which prohibit them from all forms of aggression, has left them exposed to violence from all sorts especially from religious extremists in the region.
Throughout their history, they were subject to repeated threats and atrocities. The most important of which was the indefinite determination by the Islamic scholars whether they are people of the book or not.
The violence that was unleashed in Iraq, since 2003, has threatened the whole community's existence. . Extremism, lawlessness, and political agendas have left the Mandaeans struggling for their lives and the majority were forced to leave their homes lands. Some are still refugees in neighbouring countries or internally displaced.
The Iraqi government most of the time was either ineffective, unable or unwilling to stop the violence against the religious minorities. Out of 60,000-70,000 of the Mandaean, may be fewer than 10,000 remain inside Iraq today. Not surprisingly, a new wave of refugees has started since the recent ISIS atrocities in the North West of the country.
Currently The situation of the Mandaeans is no better compared with 10 years ago. Unfortunately the Iraqi Government interprets religious and ethnic rights as appointing a CEO in one of the governmental positions or few thousand dollars paid to build a structure or even now we have a "Mandaean ambassador" but forgetting the social, cultural, religious and political depth of the humanitarian crisis of minorities. Even the parliamentary system that gives the Mandaeans one seat in the parliament was easily rigged by the bigger Islamic parties due to a flawed election system.
The sectarian system in now well established and rooted, the corruption is of epical proportions, the legal and security system now is totally in shamble having the clan system in place and most important is that the national loyalty has been totally replaced by loyalties for sects , militia or political party . In all of these the Mandaeans and other smaller minorities being the weakest links are totally ignored and abused on all levels. The best day for Mandaeans now are the days when no one is killed, no shop looted, no women or kid kidnapped and no home is taken away and that's how they live their days day to day.
The Mandaeans now are very worried about the future of Iraq and afraid that the status quoi of three countries may divide them even more and ask what will happen to their rights and that of other minorities if that division became a permanent painful reality.
As for ISIS, it issued a decree about its position on minorities and in that decree paragraph 13 clearly state that Mandaeans have no place in any Islamic state anywhere and should be killed as infidels
We, as Mandaeans suggest the following solutions to the current humanitarian crisis in Iraq.
• The Mandaeans are indigenous to Iraq and the majority consider themselves as Iraqi citizens. The Iraqi government therefore has a particular responsibility to promote the protection of the Mandaean who are still in Iraq and to allow them to practice their religion and to bring up their children according to their religious convictions and not to the destruction of their culture.
• We recommend that in order to put a stop to the cycle of sectarian, religious and ethnic violence the Iraqi government should work hand in hand with civil society to secure a better future for the generation of Iraqis to come.
• We demand the establishing of The Minority Security Council representing religious minorities with a direct link to the highest level of government to guarantee a swift response in cases of emergency or put long term solutions. Members of which are chosen by the religious minorities themselves rather than the government.in addition to presence of international supervision to guarantee its success. .
• We ask for equal legal rights for all Iraqi citizens regardless of religion or ethnicity and for Iraqis to accept each other as equals and to fight the clan laws that are dominant now.
• We ask for the separation of state and religion and the avoidance of any segregation on sectarian or ethnic grounds. And have constitutional reform to guarantee that.
• We ask for improvement in the justice system to ensure that crimes against religious minorities are properly investigated and prosecuted and we urge the Iraqi government to investigate, prosecute and punish hate crimes against minorities including the confiscation of property, kidnapping, rape, and consider them crimes against humanity.
• We demand that the Iraqi government start promoting religious tolerance and understanding by actively educating society about religious co-existence. The use of the media and the educational curriculum in schools and institutes is vital.
• It is of vital importance to enable religious minorities including the Mandaean to maintain their religious places of worship and religious institutions and that adequate resource should be made available to religious minorities to allow them to practice their rights of religion, language and culture thus preserving an important part of Iraqi heritage.
• The Mandaean community collectively and as refugees should be compensated for their lost culture, community and livelihood
• The international community and the coalition countries should give the Mandaean refugees the right to re-establish their community as a nation in a place of their choice.

Finally, the rights of the Mandaeans as indigenous people of Iraq should be noted in any future change or restructuring of Iraq as country in any form or shape. Their right in self-determination should be noted internationally especially the UN and their right to gather as one nation should be allowed by the international community and agreed upon by all..