Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Stephen Metcalfe MP urges Government to recognise Kurdistan genocide

Stephen Metcalfe at a mass grave in
Kurdistan last year

Last week, Stephen Metcalfe MP took to the floor of the House of Commons to urge the Government to recognise the atrocities that took place in Kurdistan in the 1980’s as genocide.

The debate marked the lead up to the 25th anniversary of the infamous Anfal campaign in which for the first time in human history, a Government used chemical weapons on its own people. Under the presidency of Saddam Hussein, Ali Hassan al-Majid (otherwise known as ‘Chemical Ali’) sought to ‘solve the Kurdish problem’ in a systematic ethnic cleansing program against the Kurds.

This resulted in the catastrophic loss of life of over 100,000 Kurdish people and the calculated destruction of some 2,000 villages in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Many more lie buried and anonymous in the mass graves that blight the country. As the Kurdistan Mass Graves Commission have stated, “There is another Iraq under Iraq.”

Mr Metcalfe commented: “I am sure many people in South Basildon and East Thurrock will remember watching these horrific events unfold in the news. This genocide happened in our lifetime and given current events in Syria it has never been important to send a clear message to dictators all over the world that we will not tolerate genocide and we will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons.”

In a highly emotive debate, the House heard from MPs from across the political spectrum before listening to the response from Government Minister Alastair Burt MP.

In his speech Mr Metcalfe who is vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Kurdistan, spoke passionately about a nation earnestly seeking to move forward and that genocide must be recognised, “not to affirm the status of victim on the Kurdish people but to recognise what they have survived and to walk with them as they continue to surge forward economically, socially, diplomatically and culturally.”

The local MP, who visited Kurdistan last year, later commented:  “As Kurdistan continue to grow, Britain will continue to invest. Kurdistan offers many opportunities for businesses across the UK, and in South Basildon and East Thurrock. But, if we are to move forward with our ally economically, we must work with them to gain recognition for the genocide inflicted on their people. I do not use the word genocide lightly, but in this instance, I do not think any other word will suffice.”

“As I said in my speech, without recognition, we cannot have reconciliation and the Kurdish people cannot move forward. My colleagues and I will continue to campaign on this issue and I sincerely hope that one day we can secure Justice for the people in Kurdistan.”