5/27/2005 8:11:35 AM

Yesterday, the Federal Parliament heard of the plight of Iraqi’s ethnic minorities in Post-Hussein Iraq and the need for the international community and the Australian Government to act so as to avoid another humanitarian crisis.

Federal Member for Prospect, Chris Bowen moved a private members motion urging the Federal Government to make urgent representations to the Iraqi Government, concerning the plight of some of their ethnic, Christian minorities.

“There is another dimension to the unfolding Iraqi story which has received little attention,” said Mr Bowen during the debate.

“It is a story which has the potential to erupt into renewed violence and develop into a humanitarian crisis of the first order.

“It is the story of Iraq’s other minorities: the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Mandaeans and Syriacs.

“The challenge now for the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Government is to build on the spirit of bipartisanship that was evident during the debate,” said Mr Bowen at the conclusion of the debate.

Government and Opposition Members supported Mr Bowen’s motion.

The Federal Government needs to make direct representations to the newly elected Iraqi Government to ensure their ethnic minorities are:

  • Constitutionally guaranteed the right to freely exercise their customs, religion, language and traditions;
  • Given the same protection by law enforcement and international security forces as other ethnic groups; and
  • Entitled to proper representation and participation in all levels of government.

“Anyone who believes that people should be able to follow the religion of their choice without fear of persecution has every reason to fear recent developments in Iraq.”

Today’s parliamentary debate comes on the back of numerous public statements and speeches by Chris, including the tabling of a petition by Chris in the Parliament with over 2,000 signatures, as well as an intensive lobbying effort by the Australian-Assyrian community.