If the Government will press for (a) new elections to be held in the Chaldo-Assyrian and other non-Kurdish minority areas in northern Iraq and (b) the establishment of an autonomous administrative region for the Chaldo-Assyrians in northern Iraq.
The national elections held in Iraq on
Does the Minister accept that the Chaldo-Assyrians are one of the most fragile and vulnerable Christian groups in the middle east; that, in fact, 150,000 of them were prevented from voting in these elections; and that their position has actually got worse since the invasion? What will his Government and other Governments with a responsibility for Iraq do to ensure that, in future elections, these minority groups are indeed allowed to exercise the democratic rights over which we went to war?
I respect the hon. Gentleman's view on this matter. I was certainly not aware that such a large number of Chaldo-Assyrians were prevented from voting and I would greatly appreciate seeing the hon. Gentleman's information about that. However, the drive for an autonomous administrative region for the Chaldo-Assyrians is not Iraq-based. The Chaldo-Assyrians in northern Iraq rejected the idea of such an autonomous administrative region as they fear that it would make their community more, not less, vulnerable to attack. It now seems to be an issue that the UK-based Chaldo-Assyrians, not those in Iraq, are pursuing.
I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. I attended a meeting yesterday with the high representative of the Iraqi-Kurdistan Assembly and I read the speech of Massoud Barzani, the new President of the autonomous region, in which he welcomed all the people, including the Chaldo-Assyrians, who have places in the assembly of northern Iraq. They are happy to be there and have made no demand for a separate assembly.
I am very glad to hear that. I know that my hon. Friend is very much aware of what often happens in circumstances like these when a balkanisation occurs with added, rather than fewer, tensions. Iraq can do without that.