Minorities in the Middle East


DATE: 18:00-19:30, 13th September 2018

VENUE: Second Debating Chamber of the House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA

SPEAKERS: Lyn Julius, Nineb Lamassu, Dr Leyla Ferman, Councillor Mohammed Bakhtiar, Amir Khnifess




Well, Ladies and Gentleman, as you all seem to be here, we’re going to start a bit early. You are now in the second debating chamber of the House of Commons. I can’t shout any louder I’m afraid, and I don’t know if these are working now. Are these working? This one isn’t working. Oh we’ll get the, we’ll get the technology right. Is that better? Is that better? Well this is the second debating chamber for the House of Commons. And I wish it was as full as this for most of the debates that take place here, but sadly it is not. But I think that the subject of tonight’s discussion, the persecution, of minorities in the Middle East, has attracted so many people here.

Let me just start by declaring my interests in this. My name is John Howell, I am the Member of Parliament for Henley. It is a well-known constituency for having practically no Jewish members in it at all. And therefore it will come as no surprise to you that I am vice-chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel. And I think there is an important point there, that if I came from a constituency that was awash with people from one group, that would be special pleading. And I think what my role does is to give me an objectivity over what is happening in the Middle East.

Now, we all know that the Middle East is a region in tumult. There are many reasons for that, and particularly at the moment, there seem to be an enormous number of them that the fault can be laid at the door of Iran. And I’m not going to go into the politics of that.

But, you know, when I go to Jerusalem, and I’ve been to Jerusalem 9 or 10 times now in the past three years, if you go to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, you can see the effects of the persecution of minorities by themselves. In this case, you just have to look at and listen to the history of one Christian sect attacking another Christian set, and often quite violently. Of course today, it’s a little calmer than that.

But I do think that that illustrates the enormous difficulties that we have in operating in the Middle East.

We do have a very large area to cover, we have Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Yemen and Libya, to name just a few places.

And I want to encourage the speakers to go as widely as they can in addressing that. So, there have been an enormous number of displacements of various Christian groups, Jewish groups, and Yazidi groups across the region. And I hope that we can cover some of those and some of the reasons for that, and also what we are doing to help them, I do think that’s an important point.

But now, we can start. She doesn’t want to go first, but Lyn Julius is going to go first. So, welcome Lyn Julius. And her, a copy of her book is on the front here. Can you hold it, can you stand up and hold it up so that everyone can see it.

It’s a book called Uprooted, and it’s how 3000 years of Jewish civilisation in the Arab world vanished overnight. She’s a journalist, and co-founder of Harif and the Association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa.



Well, good evening, can you hear me? You can’t hear me, can you hear me now? Well, good evening and I don’t think I can argue with the Chairman, I have to go first whether I like it or not. But thank you very much for inviting me here tonight, I’m very honoured. Firstly, may I wish you all a very happy new year. We are now in the year 5779 since the start of the Hebrew calendar.

The Jewish people; the term derives from Judea, have been around for some 3000 years, most of that time in the Middle East, not just in their ancestral homeland of Israel, but throughout what is now the Arab world, Turkey and the Middle East…sorry, and Iran. Indeed, contrary to the propaganda that you might hear, Jews are one of the indigenous peoples of the Middle East. They were settled over 1000 years before Islam and the Arab conquest. For instance, the community in Iraq where my family comes from, was founded when the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the first Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BC and took Jews as captives back to Babylon. Thereafter, Jews lived on that land continuously for 2600 years. There are two aspects to the Jewish story. The Jews are (inaudible) to our discussion tonight as a minority under Islam. But Judaism is not just a religion; Jews are a nation in their own right, with their own identity, common history, distinctive culture, and ancient language.

To deal first with the issue of Jews as a minority: Like other indigenous minorities, Jews found themselves subject to the same currents of Arabization and Islamisation sweeping the region after the 7th century Arab conquest. Like Christians, Jews became dhimmis. This status gave non-Muslims few rights. They were allowed to practice their religion, as long as they forfeited their right to self-defence on payment of a tax.

In spite of their inferior status, the occasional pogrom, and forced conversion, Jews made great contributions to their societies.

They comprised up to a third of the residents of Baghdad. They were poets, thinkers, translators, traders, musicians.

Until 1948 there were a million Jews living in the Middle East and North Africa. Then came a period of persecution and catastrophic decline, to the point where there are barely 4,000 Jews in the Islamic world. In Iraq there were 150,000 Jews, today there are 5. In Algeria, there were 130,000 Jews, today there are none. In Egypt there were 80,000 Jews, today there are 13 or fewer. In Libya, there were 38,000 Jews, today there are none.  There are still functioning communities in Morocco and Tunisia, but these comprise barely 1% of their former Jewish populations. Communities in Turkey and Iran have also dwindled dramatically in the last few decades.

While Middle Eastern and North African Jews have not suffered on the scale of the Yazidis, for instance, they have endured arrests, internment, persecutions, pauperization, massacre and the threat of violence.

Why? You might blame the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yes, these Jews did suffer repercussions from the conflict, but I would argue that their maltreatment is a symptom of a dysfunction in Arab and Muslim society. It is a tendency to scapegoat minorities in times of struggle or instability. It is also an inability to tolerate difference. To use that fashionable world, to ‘otherise’ anyone who is different, because they are non-Muslim, or non-Arab, or the wrong type of Muslim.

Treatment of minorities is the litmus test of the health of a society. State abuse of minorities can soon degenerate to the abuse of anybody’s rights. This is precisely what happened as soon as Arab states acquired their independence, Jews, Christians and other minorities were the first victims of intolerance. All the others had their turn soon enough. Heretics, secularists. And then finally, those who did not fit in the mould of the nationalist of secular or Islamism.

And then, the nihilists of the Islamic State, hammered in the final nail in the coffin of diversity. Minority rights are not a luxury that only democracies can afford. After the right to life, the right to freedom of expression, culture and religion are the next most important human rights.

In the Arab Middle East and Iran, where so basic rights and freedoms are lacking, the struggle has to begin somewhere. Why not with minority rights?

And now to turn to the second aspect of the Jewish question.

As an indigenous Middle Eastern people, the Jewish people have a right to their sovereign state. What is wrongly turned the Arab world is actually a rich and variegated patchwork of religions and ethnic groups.

Some have been demanding self-determination for almost a century, since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Why should Arab states have a monopoly on political rights? The state of Israel, and initially Lebanon, were the only non-Muslim states to be established in the region. Why should a Jewish state or Kurdish state, or an Assyrian state, or a Berber state be viewed as an anomaly? The Jews driven from the Arab and Muslim world find a safe haven in Israel. If they had not, they would have suffered much more misery and death. They and their descendants comprise over 50 percent of the population today.

The lesson that the Jews have learnt from their history as an oppressed minority is that to survive, in the words of the writer Matty Friedman, you need your own sovereign state and the power to defend it.

But their tiny state has been under attack since its birth. 70 years since Israel’s establishment, the struggle is still ongoing to preserve it. As George Deek, a former Arab-Israeli diplomat once observed, the key to change is connected deeply to our ability as Arabs to accept the legitimacy of others.

The Jewish state is our biggest challenge because they insist on their right to be different. The day we accept the Jewish state as it is, all other persecution in the Middle East will cease. Thank you.

John Howell MP:

If it’s okay with you I am going to press on with the other speakers, and then we can come back to discussion at the end of it rather than breaking up the flow. So, the next speaker, is Amir Khnifess, who is the Chairman for the Institute for Druze Studies. He was awarded his bachelors and Masters degree in the History of the Middle East, and Political Science in the University Haifa. He subsequently earned a Masters degree from the London School of Economics and a Doctorate from SOAS. So in addition to his research, Amir has taught the politics of the Middle East at SOAS. He too is also working on a book, you can’t actually wave it about we can look out for that. His title is the struggle for Palestine, and Druze politics of silence.


Thank you very much, Chairman. Um, I would first like to begin by thanking the organisers for this opportunity to speak today. Let me start by Henry Jackson Society for organising this important event here at the House of Commons. I am really touched by the support and the warm welcome that I have receive over the last day by Lady Cox and her hospitality, thank you very much, thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, my talk today is about the Druze politics in Syria. But before I go and describe the current political situation that faced by the community Syria, I would like to provide just a quick overview of the religious beliefs of the Druze community. The idea here is to show is that even small and peaceful communities in the region are persecuted and subject to hate and prejudice, in most countries in the Middle East, and this is the fact.

The Druze, as many many other monotheistic religions, are one that believe in one God. Culturally, they are (inaudible) the people of generosity, by reference to their kindness and hospitality to others. Druze believe in (inaudible) the manifestation of the appearance of God in the shape of a human being over many times over the course in history. It’s true, that in addition to other monotheistic religions, they also believe in reincarnation, the cycle of rebirth. These beliefs and qualities are captured in the Druze community flag, the one that you can see in the screen. Which the red symbolises the bareness, the yellow the knowledge, the green the nature, the blue is the tolerance and brotherhood, and the white is the peace.

During modern times Druze have mainly lived in 4 countries in the Middle East. You see in the screen Israel, where the community has exceeded 120,000 members. Lebanon, where between 350 and 450,000. Jordan, where around 40,000 Druze live. And of course Syria, where there are between 600 and 700,000 Druze. Even within these four states, the Druze community is concentrated mostly in one specific region. Mainly, it is to preserve themselves as a unique cultural group.

But despite that, the fact that they don’t cause any threat to any religious or cultural community in the region, since the beginning of the 20th century, more than half a million Druze have fled the region over the last decades, due to religious persecution and discrimination. Most of those who have fled now live in North and Latin America, Australia, and more recently, Europe.

Let me more focus on the Druze community in Syria. Which, as you all know, had played a core role in the formation of the state. They played a key role in the national struggle against the French, under the leadership of (inaudible). In fact, the Druze provided much of the military force and national spirit of the Syrian revolution between 1925 and 1927. This, however, did not help them. Since the civil war is began seven years ago, the community is in a tragic and devastating situation. The 14 Druze villages in the North and Eastern part of Syria, in the region called Jabat (inaudible), the one you see there on the screen, were the first major casualties of the war, (inaudible) when Jabat-Al-Nusra demolished and attacked their villages. There is no way to describe the degradation, the devastation, that the community suffered at the hands of this militia.

Thousands of families were shattered. Nay killed, many raped, and many forced to flee from the ashes of their homes. A few months later, Jabat Al-Nusra allowed them to return to their homes. With one condition, that they convert to Sunni Islam. You see, this is the Druze prayer house and as you can see the flag in the middle was converted to a mosque. So if that is not enough, only recently, on the 25th of July 2018, just less than months. The Isis group entered the city of (inaudible) in the early hours of the morning. They killed and slaughtered 250 Druze, men women and children.  In many cases, destroying the entire families with fires. This is the ruins of (inaudible).

The pain and the suffering of the community did not stop with the killing of 250 Druze. Soon after this event, ISIS took 36 Druze hostage, 20 of them were women, aged between the ages of 16 years old and 60. Their fate and whereabouts is not known to this day. Some sources say that these prisoners of war are now in the northern part of Iraq, others say that they are in the northern part of the state close to the border with Turkey. The community, religious and political leadership, have made great efforts over the last few weeks to track down the victims, with little success.

These are some of the women that ISIS kidnapped on the 25th of July. As you can see the flag, they have the ISIS flag on their back, and they have to cover their hair now, they are forced. In fact, they just released a video this morning about their condition.

I want to conclude by repeating my opening statement that small and peaceful religious minorities are persecuted and subject to hatred and prejudice in most Middle East countries. I want to implore upon you the need of the plight of these people to be acknowledged and for action to be taken to alieve their suffering. I want to take this opportunity, Mr Chairman, to ask each and every one of you to raise the issue of the hostages with people in a position to intervene. To urge the policymakers and the international community to increase their efforts to return hostages to their homes and to their families.



Well thank you, very much Amir, that was very powerful, what you were able to tell us there. Let’s move on to the next speaker. Who is Nineb Lamassu. Who’s a research assistant at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies in the university of Cambridge. Born in Iraq, he is a Christian of Assyrian heritage. Mr Lamassu holds a BA in Near Eastern studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, a masters of philosophy in modern Assyrian languages, and that’s I think from the University of Cambridge. And he is currently studying for a PhD. He is Executive Director of Assyrian culture trust, and he’s chief editor of (inaudible) journal and a board member of the Nineveh Centre for Development and Progress. With an enormous list of those credentials, we expect absolute perfection of you.


Thank you, Mr Chairman. I fear that I won’t meet your expectations. Good evening ladies and gentleman, distinguished guests, I would first like to thank the organisers for organising this, thank you for giving me this opportunity to be the voice of the voiceless Assyrian prisoners in the Middle East.

Before I start reading what I have to, I was told that I have got 5 minutes so I would like to be succinct.

I would like to follow up on what Lyn was saying. I remember growing up with my parents telling me something that an anecdote of my grandmother, when the Jewish pogroms happened in Iraq. She was told by her friends and neighbours, Jewish friends and neighbours, that be prepared, today is Saturday, but tomorrow it will be Sunday. As you know, we are living what her friend and neighbour, predicted.

I’ll be very brief. The Assyrians, also known as the Caldeacs and Syriacs are indigenous and stateless people and their modern homeland is now spread across four states Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran. These for states, they have been subjected to massacres, genocides, and pan- nationalist and religious policies of the formation of states. For example, in Turkey, an Assyrian student going to school every morning is forced stand up and say: ‘How beautiful is it for me to stand up and say I am Turkish’. To keep this brief, I will talk about the current situation in Syria and Iraq because it’s much larger to talk about the four states. In Syria, the 34 old Assyrian villages of the (inaudible) basin, was overrun by ISIS in 2015, and nearly 300 women and children were taken captives some of them used as sex slaves, in fact one of them, we still don’t know the fate of. The Assyrian (inaudible) fought alongside the YPG, our allies in the West, against the ISIS and took part in the liberation (inaudible) of the region. However, this did not prevent, rather unfortunately, the YPG from oppressing the Assyrians in Syria. Shortly after the major offensive to liberate the region was launched, the YPG assassinated the chief commander of the (inaudible) guards. And his second chief in charge miraculously survived the assassination attempt, and he continues to take undertake operations to recover from his fatal injuries.

Recently, under the Kurdish-led democratic federation of Northern Syria, the Kurds have tried to impose rather chauvinistic policies on the Assyrian populated areas.

Just as the Baathist regime did to them, the Kurds and the Assyrians. For example, in (inaudible) they have recently clamped down and forcibly closed all Assyrian private schools.

But in Assyria, the Assyrians find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. (inaudible) The policies of the Baathist regime on the one side, and the chauvinistic policies of the Kurds…not the people of course, but the Kurdish politicians, on the (inaudible) area.

Going back to the (inaudible) region, all the Assyrian villages of the (inaudible) basin, which were predominately Assyrians, some of them solely Assyrians, you could say they are actually fully empty of their original inhabitants now.

In Iraq, I better touch on the most recent developments, so to cover the Assyrian rights in Iraq and their oppression, would take days (inaudible) but a little background of the key points in recent history.

In August 1933, the Iraqi government, through its army and some Arab and Kurdish tribes, committed the most horrendous massacre against its innocent Assyrian civilians. This massacre remains un-apologised for, un-compensated for, in the so-called democratic Iraq. They have been oppressed and they have always sided and fought alongside the Iraq. Whilst always maintaining their firm loyalty to a unified and democratic state.  The Assyrians fighting alongside the Kurds against the oppressive regimes of Iraq, in order to secure their rights in a democratic state.

The first martyr of the Kurdish movement in Iraq, in what is known as the September uprising of Iraq, was an Assyrian, under the name of (inaudible). They also fought alongside the Iraqi opposition overall, in general, and in the West. All the political parties sided with the Iraqi opposition.

Both the Kurdish opposition and the fact that (inaudible) of the resolution, and the general Iraqi opposition post-2003, have done nothing to secure the legitimate rights of these Assyrian citizens, other than paying them a lip service and forming public parties to overshadow their demands. To demonstrate this I will give you the most recent examples.

Under the quota system, the Assyrians are given five seats in both the Iraqi and the KRG Parliament. The major Shia and Kurdish parties have always tried and succeeded in hijacking these seats and forming their own public slaves. For example in the recent Iraqi elections, the (inaudible) secured three of these five seats, boasting openly about it on twitter. More harming than beneficial, because this leaves the Assyrians without representation. For example, the Kurdistan democratic party has always monopolised elections in the KRG by forming Assyrian representation that serves its agenda. This is the reason by Nahy party has actually boycotted, only two days ago, the current KRG elections set to take place at the end of this month, and called the Assyrian public to do the same.

In fact, within the KRG exists huge abuse of the indigenous lands of the indigenous Assyrians. There are 95 Assyrian villages in the (inaudible). 57 of them suffer from land abuse. There are 3000-6000 acres of abused land. This is 95% of the village. That is not one small plot of land. 95 percent of the village. And (inaudible) I travel and I’m based nowadays mostly in Iraq and in Cambridge, but in the valley of (inaudible) which is part of the Erbil government, every single Assyrian village I visited was suffering from land abuse and land grabbing. In Ankara, which is the largest Assyrian town in the Erbil government, the government has taken Assyrian farmland to build housing compounds since 2005. These farmers are not being compensated for their lands. It’s fine to take lands for the general benefit of the public to build housing compounds, but as the rule of thumb goes, the farmers need to be compensated- they have not. Furthermore, Erbil’s international airport is built on 13,000 acres of land grabbed from the Assyrian inhabitants of the town of Ankara. Every time we fly to Erbil, in a way we are condoning what is happening. 13,000 acres of land, to date, nothing compensated for.

And in Ankara there is wealth tax that is imposed on the Assyrians. Nowhere else. Ankara is the largest Assyrian town of the Erbil government. There is a wealth tax that is imposed only on the Assyrian inhabitants and nowhere else is wealth taxes being imposed.

Basically, the Assyrians in Iraq find themselves without a future in their own indigenous lands. And find themselves without a voice, because the five seats that have been allocated for them are not being occupied by their own genuine representation. In the Iraqi Parliament and the KRG, they are thought voiceless.

Therefore, on behalf of the Assyrian people of the Middle East and Syria Iraq specifically, they are in dire need of friends in the West. They feel that their demands are falling on deaf ears without your support and your solidarity, they cannot achieve anything in Iraq.


Thank you very much. Thank you. Now, we move to Dr Leyla Ferman, sitting at the end of the table here, who’s co-President of the Yazidi federation of Europe. And Dr Ferman was Born in Germany into a Yazidi and Kurdish family, and she studied political science at Leipnitz university, which I think is near Hanover. She completed a degree with an MA on theodolism in Iraq published in 2009. After graduating from university she worked as a volunteer at the Zeit (inaudible) foundation in Hamburg, in the international relations department. She completed her PhD published her dissertation in 2014. I don’t think you’ve got a book either, have you, to show us today. She is currently contributing to the preparations for the first World Congress of the Yazidi.


Well first of all, good evening, I am more than glad to be with you this evening.  Thank you to the Henry Jackson Society for inviting us, for inviting me especially. I am going to talk about the situation of the Yazidis and the Sinjar. Well if we look on this map you see the area of the Sinjar it’s based in the Northern part of Iraq close to the border with Syria. Well, The Yazidis call themselves an ethnic group, some Yazidis are saying we are a nation. The traditional homeland of the Yazidis is the border area of the Syria, Iraq and Turkey. Due to many genocides as part of history, they were only used to living in a big number in Sinjar. That means that Sinjar became the centre of the Yazidis in the Middle East and the only place where a big number of Yazidis are living. As you might know, in August 2014, the ISIS attacked Sinjar- they had different aims. Maybe the most important aim was the region of Sinjar. Because, after having announced the caliphate in part of Syria and Iraq, they needed the area of Sinjar in order to better attack Syria and Iraq and also the Kurdish areas of Syria. But they were also aware of the fact that there are many non-connected oil-fields in the areas Of Sinjar. The Yazidis were seen as non-Muslims, and for the IS, that means that they can kill the Yazidis, the Yazidis have no right to exist. They are aware of the fact that the Yazidis are not an organised society, so they were thinking they would have easy gains in Sinjar. I will share with you a few numbers. Within a few hours, 4,000 Yazidis became refugees and IPDs. 30,000 Yazidis escaped to Sinjar mountain where they were surrounded by ISIS for 7 days. And only thanks to a corridor, the YPG was organising a corridor, 10 thousands of Yazidis could escape. About 6,500 Yazidis were held in captivity. There from 3,500 are back with their families. Most of them were women and children. Well, there were thousands of stories about these women. Of course it is not the first time that women were misused in such kind of conflict. By misusing women, by selling them on markets, by misusing them as sex slaves and as home slaves IS wanted to try to destroy the whole culture of Yazidis. Still 3,500 Yazidis are missed. Unfortunately, we think most of them have been killed and their bones are under at least twenty mass graves in Sinjar. About 1000 Yazidis decided to go back to Sinjar.

Well, as you might imagine after four years of war, and Sinjar has been divided into two parts. The northern part of the state only a few weeks in the hands of the ISIS, after few weeks, Kurdish armed forced and Yazidi armed forces were able to get areas in the Northern part of Syria, but the southern part of Sinjar remained for years in the hands of IS.

We face infrastructure problems, like limited access to water, because it has been destroyed limited access to electricity, and so on. We also face social infrastructure problems; access to schools, medical care, some very big problem in Sinjar. Women have the need to organise also themselves and to come together because they have special needs. And we have serious security questions.

Well, this genocide has two dimensions. On the one hand, we say there is an internal issue. By saying an internal issue, it means there are several groups of the Yazidis, but they never had big conflict between them. But when it comes to the Kurdish population in Iraq, the Yazidis today do not trust anymore the Kurds. They were unable to protect them, or they somehow left this area. And, um there are, there is an external dimension, it means there is an external dimension, like states. It is not only the IS. We have also to ask the question of who is supporting IS. There are interest of Turkey. Turkey is not only bombing Syria and the northern part of Syria, but Turkey is also bombing Sinjar. Just once months ago a very famous Yazidi leader has been killed by the Turks, because he was the most important working for the unity of the Yazidis.

The Yazidis decided to go back to their homeland. The Yazidis decided to survive. I would like to share with you a few impressions of our last days in Sinjar. Here you see the city of Sinjar, in the Southern part of Sinjar. Many of these streets are completely destroyed. As you might imagine it is impossible for people to go back on this area. Here are pictures of villages, called Kutur. Kutur became a symbol of Sinjar, because almost all men have been killed by IS and almost all women have been held in captivity by IS. And also here you see that the village is really destroyed, this picture on the right is only one of at least 20 mass graves in Sinjar.

Well, what are we doing? We are civilians. Of course, we really have respect for those who are fighting against IS in the fields. Especially for Kurds, especially for Iraqis and others, because this is their right to protect themselves. But we are civilians, we are doing other things. Especially me, I am part of the platform for struggle for women who are held in captivity. One of our main work is to collect evidence of this genocide, and to do especially interviews for women who were kept in captivity by IS.

We start to bring together Yazidis. There are Yazidis coming together, somehow working for their own homeland. Before this genocide, Yazidis have always been divided, and they have always been looking to others, but not to their own community. This is one picture also from Northern Sinjar, very big refugee or IDP camp, they are living in tents. You can imagine, living four years in tents, this brings really big social problems also.

We are caring also about holy places in Sinjar. In the Southern part of Sinjar, many holy places have also been destroyed by IS. So our aim also is to protect the holy places and to rebuild holy temples like here. Well, with our work, we want to receive justice. I mean, this has to, I meant this is very very important work. Because, without justice, there will be no believing, also in the future. I really would like to ask you this question. I mean, do you really want IS to win this game? I mean for instance, we are collecting many many many evidence.

So I am wondering, who is interested in learning who is IS? Who are the members? Who is supporting them? Which states are supporting them? How is their structure? Where are there members? How are they connected? Not only in the Middle East, but also in Europe?

It is not only us to care about it, but it should be all our task to have a very closer look at this issue.

We are supporting infrastructure projects. We especially looking at women escaping IS. We are facing a traumatised society.

We are trying to create work opportunities to give the Sinjar a new future. And we are an enactor of the preparations of the first Yazidi world congress. Without the unity of the Yazidis, there won’t be any future for this community. I am also not here today in order to ask you to support us, but we would be more than glad to go together, this joint task, so our task to be engaged for democracy, for peace and also for human rights. So thank you.


Well thank you Leyla…that was a very comprehensive description.

Our last speaker is Councillor Mohammed Bakhtiar. He is a councillor, and I think he is the deputy mayor of the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea. He was first elected in May 2014. And he is an active member of the Kurdish community. And Mohammed is a freelance translator working in Arabic, Kurdish and English. He also helps the Kurdish community and works with an Iraqi organisation for war veterans. And I think the Grenfell fire had a big impact on you, and what you have done is to change the focus of the way that you work, to become more engaged in… and make sure the council is more engaged with borough residents, who were affected by that.


Thanks you very much. It is a privilege to be in your presence, and thanks for your kind invitation. To start with Grenfell, it is not on the agenda, but it is mentioned. Grenfell was the biggest tragedy since World War Two in my view, and I think if you check, you will see this is right. Because we lost the biggest number of victims, in (inaudible) in peacetime. 72 lives so far and hundreds of people displaced. That made me think, I joined a political party 15 years or 17 years ago. And I had a choice of studying politics or doing politics. And I have chosen doing politics, and being a decision maker, rather than being an advisor. Because in the end, politicians could get away with any decision they make.  And this is exactly what happened in my borough.

To give you an example, one thing I did, was in July this year, I managed to submit a motion for the council to change one of their key policies to engage with our residents. We in the council, we provide 2,300 people working in our council. 82% of them, outsiders, were living in the borough. (inaudible) Taken away 85% of our wages. So, I managed to convince the council (inaudible) to have a policy to train local jobseekers and to give them a job within our council whenever it is going to be available.

Until recently, until few years ago, back to the main question (inaudible). I have great sympathy for my colleagues and our speakers before me. Because we, I as a Kurd, my nation, we go exactly through the same things you go through, and even worse. Until few years ago, it was very difficult to tell someone that you are a Kurd and you belong to this group of people. Before you needed to give a lesson in geography to explain where Kurdistan means and what Kurdistan is; but luckily for us, and thanks to our brave boys and girls of Peshmerga’s, who managed to defeat ISIS, nowadays it is much easier.

If you think you have a problem, think again. Because, being a Kurd is the biggest problem in your life. Last Saturday, Saturday the 8th September, District city (inaudible), capital city of the KRG, was bombed and targeted by Iranian al-Quds brigade, using for the first time, smart missiles to attack civilians. Killing 16 and injuring more than 50. This is only few days ago. The irony is, in the UK we have Welsh, Irish, Scots, but no one calls them, they have never been classed as minorities. Yet in Kurdistan, my nation, we are population of nearly 50 million, and we are classed as minorities, wherever we go.

This is the biggest problem we have in that part of the world.

Kurdish language is not permitted in Iran and Turkey and Syria. You can’t educate your children using your own language; you are not allowed. Until recently, until a few years ago, Turkey, even Turkish citizens, didn’t recognise having Kurds in the country. They were saying, we have Turks living in the cities and Turks in the mountains; so Kurds were classed as Turkish mountains.

The problem we have in the Middle East now, especially post-2003, when Saddam regime’s was toppled; We have a new kind of politicians and new kind of policies, we’ve never seen before, it’s very Iranian-like, very one-sided. Politicians related to gods, prescribed to angels. When a country like such as Iraq, where you have 17 percent, nearly half of the population, are illiterate. They don’t finish, they do their GCSEs, they only follow their clerics and they take orders from them and that’s why the Americans spend billions and billions to build a new Iraqi army; we now have (inaudible) the al-Quds brigade in Iran. Okay, they are very dangerous. These kinds of politician are the biggest (inaudible) looking for a solution in that part of the world.

One thing we could do in the West. The biggest problem I had, we see, politicians from the undeveloped developing countries; warlords, criminals, politicians drug-dealers, they leave the state, they leave their nations and they bring this money, and they invest it in the West because it is safe haven for their properties and investments.

If you want to solve this problem if you want to promote democracy in the developing countries, which the Middle East is part of it, you need to have regulations and laws to prevent warlords and politicians from coming here. UK need to start doing this and promoting it. UK is one of the countries of five which are responsible for policing the world. UK, Russia, China (inaudible) and France.

We should start something, as politicians in here. The whole Middle East situation escalated after 1979, after the Iranian revolution. Now look at the Middle East. We have Yemen, Syria, Libya and Iraq, and more to come. The regime in Iran can’t stand, they are always promoting their ideology, I want to move to Rome and import the revolution to other countries where Shia lives. Iran needs to be stopped to make any changes to that part of the world.

To keep it short, I can’t see peace in the Middle East, without Kurds being free in the first place, enjoying the freedom like all other nations on this planet. Thank you.


Well thank you very much indeed, Mohammed. That’s a very good description of the situation. Well we have on the panel here representatives of a number of different communities. We have Jewish, we have Druze, we have a Yazidi, and we have a Kurd. We can go right across (inaudible) answer, I’m sure, a number of your questions.

But I would like to kick off your questions with a first question. Mohammed, you talked about getting the politics right in the Middle East but it seems to me, from what you all said, that the politics cannot be divorced from the lack of respect for the identities of your minorities. Is that not, is that not something we should be desperately upset about? And the supplementary question of that, is what one thing would you ask Western democracies to do in order to make things better.


I worked with the Kurdish forces in Iraq, for nearly three years, as an advisor, and I have noticed, very braze…very (inaudible) intelligent…but they had no clue, they didn’t know why there were there, for the first place. The only thing they were interested in, they had a rotation of 10 months, they wanted to go home in one peace.

I think politicians on the top, they are trying to impose western ways of solving problems. Iraq is a failed state for the past 100 years. Iraq was created after 1st World War. We have three nations living in Iraq; plus other nations; three major nations. They are different, they have nothing in common. Yes, Islam is a common umbrella for nearly 2 billion peoples on this planet…but we have hundreds of other nations…Stop imposing Western solutions, and listen to people that live there. Because it’s like…we need to come back to Europe. Look at Brexit, what happened. In my view, European Union, despite its negativities, was the best achievement of the mankind. Because these nations in Europe, we have two major wars in Europe, and ended it here. EU was making a difference, now we pulled out because we think it’s not good for us. To come back to your question again, listen to people. If you want democracy, you need to have a free Kurdistan. (inaudible) If I have an external threat…I don’t keep a blind eye on many things, because we are in danger, but if we don’t have this danger, then I have to ask the population what have we done…where did you take this money, why are you doing this… but we have Shia. We have ISIS… I’m not going to say anything about democracy. Democracy is not an urgent part of democracy now. We need to split these nations into three. These nations cannot live together.


Well, um In the Middle East, to give power to others, unfortunately, means conflict. But without sharing power, there won’t be any process of democracy at all. The question of whether Europe should support others to become democrats, but it is very important to well, listen, of course, to the people, and to have a very sensitive look to the local people. Not just to send money, for instance, through the government, but to really have a have a close look in the field and to support people who would like also to be an actor in this field. Because everyone and every people has the right to become an actor and to receive the rights as a people.



I think one of the clear things we are saying in recent years is that we are expecting that foreign states and the West put more pressure on terror organisations, that you can see for the last 7 years has destroyed 5 countries in the region. But there is true, that also we have to say it here, certain leaders in the region, that’s not secret, playing double face, they are supporting the terrorist organisation on one hand, and killing thousands of Kurdish on the borders for many years…on the other hand they are having a different language in the West and I think the West should put more pressure on these Presidents.


I think there is very little one can do in this region unless there is stability and an end to war. There has to be a monopoly of force, as well, so what you were saying about warlords and militias. I mean you can’t have any hope for these people unless there is some kind of government in place which actually enforces law and order. Not just that, but which has the will to protect everybody regardless of their ethnic group of religion. All citizens of that country have to be entitled to be protected by the forces of law and order. Otherwise, you cannot progress.


Thank you Mr Chairman for your most astute observation and I thank you for your observation. You don’t think there would be any progress without these communities, these nations, these peoples and these nations respecting each other and recognising each other’s rights. I think that is the core issue. My esteemed colleague talked about Iraq as a failed state.

She is failure…can you imagine in today modern Democratic Germany. Hitler being praised in school curriculums. Of course not, and you all should fight that. With every thing of power you have in this.

Now in the KRG, in the school curriculum (inaudible) who committed the most horrendous, highly documented in the British documents of the time, crimes against the Assyrians, and the Yazidis, and (inaudible) who committed similar crimes and assassinated the Assyrian patriarch is praised in school curricula, and is translated into the Assyrian language, and taught to the Assyrian students…can you imagine that, in a Jew living in Germany? Would that state not be a failure? Would that not be not respecting the communities and the people living among you and with you in their own indigenous lands?

My esteemed colleague talked about Kurds not being recognised as a people in Turkey. Of course that is wrong, and we should all be fighting that. So are the Assyrians of course. (inaudible) there are seen as Turks of the mountains, and they are called Kurds, they live on the mountains because they live in the snow, and when they step on the snow they shout: ‘Kurd Kurd Kurd’. But in the KRG, the Assyrians are called Christian Kurds. Really, it is all to do with this nation building. Unfortunately, there seems to be something wrong with this concept of nation building.

It’s always happening on the account of the indigenous people and other people of the land. We all suffer and suffer under the pan-Arab Baathist regime and policies, and pan-terrarium policies of Turkey, and in Iran (inaudible). If we do not recognise other’s violence, we can ourselves never be free. If we want a free and democratic Iraq, then the KRG government, should recognise the rights of the people in there as they recognise their own rights, thank you.


Just before we open this up to the floor, there’s one organisation that I think you ought to spend a bit more time getting to know, and that is the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe is not part of the EU. It was founded after the Second World War. It already has, as associate members, the Israelis, representatives of the Palestinians, who participate in our debates, as if there was nothing wrong with it. I mean they do tend to take positions that you would expect them to take, but so do the rest of us there.

That forum for allowing discussion is a very good one, that you ought to take more notice of.

There are hands already going up. Can we take three questions in a row so that we can get through them. Yes, you first.


We have heard tonight about murders, kidnaps, refugees, bombings, terrible terrible things. I would like to ask the panel members why they think that the British press in general, the church in England and the BBC in particular, virtually ignore all these atrocities carried out on your own ethnic groups, and seem to think that the only oppressed minority in all the Middle East are the Palestinians.


I don’t know if you saw the news bulletin on Yemen last night on the BBC. It went through the whole news bulletin without once mentioning the Iranians. I mean such bias is indescribable. The gentleman over there.




Okay so, you mentioned now in this program about Yemen, didn’t mention Iran. (Inaudible) I was just wondering, if Iran was mentioned before. Iran is obviously a failed state. But you also have Iran as a player in Iraq, you have Iran in Syria, in Lebanon. I would like to know what the feeling is about Iran and what we can actually do about it.


Right, should we try to give you some answers to those. Mohammed, do you want to start.


I will answer you. I have lived in Iran, and I can tell you that the destabilisation of the Middle East started in Iran in 1979, when we had the Iranian Islamic revolution. And now we have war in almost every country in the Middle East. The BBC, why they haven’t mentioned Iran. I think this is a direct outcome of Brexit. Your country is panicking. Your country is really panicking. Trying to find markets, making allies in the country, the Prime Minister is all over the place, trying to secure markets, in case we have a hard Brexit.

In my view, the European Union, despite all its failings, is the best thing of humankind, because all these countries were drinking each other’s blood started cooperating with one another.


I’ll tell you something like that…I lived in London for about 12 years…I think I will agree with you, if you follow the news in the BBC, you will think the only conflict in the world is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a very systematic way, it ignores not only the minorities in the Middle East, but all the other conflicts around the world. I will assure you, that if you go back to the BBC and their website, and you see whether they covered the killing of 250 Druze, and the fact that there is still 36 kidnapped, until today, I promise you you will probably find about half a page about the whole thing.


I think it is a mystery why Britain, which is a Christian country, has ignored the plight of the Christians in the Middle East. Not just in Iraq and Syria, but the Copts in Egypt, who have suffered for decades. We have an established church in this country and yet you don’t even hear a statement from a bishop, or the Archbishop of Canterbury. As far as I recall, we haven’t heard very much from them. I think yes, there is an inbuilt bias within the BBC. It’s partly for practical reasons. It’s much easier to broadcast from free countries like Israel. Notice there’s not much broadcasting going on from the Palestinian authority. On the question of immigration, I think it’s very sad that those with the greatest need have not been given priority. I think there are a lot of economic migrants have been coming in from the mass exodus in the Arab world, and say, harassed and persecuted minorities have not been given priority. I’m thinking in terms of Christians who actually get harassed in refugee camps in Syria by Muslim refugees and nothing has been down although I understand that some groups have tried to help them. On return, you mentioned Jews returning to Morocco. I’m sorry to say that very few Jews have returned to Morocco. The offer is out there. But I’m afraid Morocco has got an Islamist problem. If the king of Morocco were to be deposed tomorrow, the future would look very bleak for any Jew to return. I don’t think we should try turn the clock back and try and revive these Jewish communities that used to live in the Arab world. I think they are finished. We need to come to terms with the new reality, which is that Israel exists, it is now home to 50% of Jews who once lived in the Muslim world.


I would like to actually touch on two of the questions. One of them is the media. Before talking about the Assyrians from the media. Usually it is called the Middle East problem. As if there is one Middle East problem. It is not just the Israeli Palestinian issue; Assyrians are there, Yazidis, Kurds, who talks about them, how often. Well thanks to Peshmerga advancements mad, Kurdish got a bit of coverage. But now in Iraq, there are major demonstrations, protests, and a huge clampdown on them. There are fatal deahts, they are brutally clamped down on. For example in the government of Basra. Where is the BBC on this. These are the people who we hope and we see and we believe, are going to bring the (inaudible) of progress and democracy in Iraq because they are against corruption and they are against these religious parties who have not done anything for their own people, nor for the country.

How much of this is being covered by the BBC? When ISIS forcibly evacuated the Assyrians from the Assyrian heartland, Nineveh, and its surroundings, how much of that was covered in the news? I was very active and I tried my best. We did get some coverage. But nothing compared to the magnitude of the problem. Very briefly in question two. Now, the second question about offering people asylum in the west, or the right solution is to make sure they live free and secure in their own homelands. Now from a financial economic perspective, of course it is better for us to ensure that they live there freely and securely. Now last months, I was in Erbil (inaudible) in one of the IDP camps, with Assyrians there from Nineveh, Mosul and the Assyrian planes. Initially they said nearly all of them, without exception, wanted to leave. And then when I started talking about if there were protection and there were secured, they said of course they don’t want to leave. The Peshmergas in fact, made sure that these Assyrians of the Nineveh plains are not armed (inaudible) and they left without making sure they are (inaudible). These people, according to my estimation, want to stay and live in their homeland, but with security, and in fact international protection, because they don’t trust no one with Iraq.


Would it be better to support the people on the field? Of course. No one want to leave their country and their homeland. The Yazidis they don’t even have access to water in their village. So I am wondering, can you survive somewhere without any access to water. So what we are asking for is even humanitarian aid. I mean, if there is no security of course the Yazidis have to escape. I am concerned, not only about the Yazidis, but on about many people on this region, they would stay if they would be able to have a safe future. We should also understand that many of the refugees are traumatised. It’s not just like well they are coming here and they are just going to join something here, so we have to be of course aware of it.

While there are many conflicts…okay we can deny everything, we can blame everyone. But somehow we have to start somewhere. We want to survive in this area. So what we are asking also, especially of Europeans, to support also, and in the fields also, people who want to survive. We of course hope to also receive support for instance for basic thing such as access to water. This is how we could start a policy (inaudible) to support others to become democrats. Not just to send money to Kurdistan regional government and to Baghdad, but also to let them also learn to share their decisions in the field. And this is something we could start today. Nothing we should always deny and complain about the conflicts, we have to support the people on the field who would like to survive. And I think every people has the right. Thank you.


Regarding the Yazidis in Sinjar, it’s absolutely impossible…the Kurds have blocked the vote, why is that? You tell me that? These people are dying, we are killing them. You have no right. Nobody is supporting the Yazidis. They are terrified. The Sunni Arabs have come back to the village. They are terrified. Since 2015, just five Yazidis have been allowed to come to the UK. They do not want to stay in Sinjar, the young ones do not want to stay. They want to leave Kurdistan, where they are oppressed in camps (inaudible).


There is two words that haven’t been mentioned and the first is Donald and the Second is Trump, and the retreat from the international order-based system. (inaudible).


(Inaudible) Druze minorities in Israel, and other minorities, I would like to hear more about how Israel (inaudible).


I am from Israel, I am Maronite Christian from Israel. I belong to the Assyrian Maronite community. As a minority I have a question…my country recognised me (inaudible) while in other countries, we are still not recognised, and as I hear from my Assyrian brother here, even the Kurds are persecuting the Assyrians. My question is after seeing the success of Israel as a national state law and having a democracy for all other minorities living in it. Not one minority is perfect, even England is not perfect in its laws. Israel, even trying to be better with minorities and we are trying to help them. If I heard my Kurdish friend here, he wants three states in Iraq, what about the Kurds, what about the Yazidis. Why do you neglect the Maronites in Lebanon? 10 million Maronites worldwide, only 1 million in Lebanon.


Okay, just want to say, I sympathise a great deal with the lady there, I think it’s terrible the Yazidis have not received very much international help and I think we should do more to help them. Right, absolutely, it’s an absolute tragedy.




I just want to make a point about Trump and the withdrawal from international norms based politics. I thin it’s a bit too early to tell where Trump’s policies are leading. I think he has done one very good think in my estimation, by abrogating the deal with Iran. Ad I think, as you have pointed out, Iran is one of the main players stirring up trouble in the Middle East, and the quicker we, put pressure on, the more pressure we put on the regime…we want to see this regime gone, and a better future for the people of Iran not just in the region. I believe Iran is also an artificial state. I believe there are only about 50 percent ethnic Persians; the rest are Azuris, Kurds (inaudible). It’s being held together by sticky tape, I think. Maybe it too might explode, we don’t know.


Regarding the question about the Druze community in Israel. Of course, after showing all the pictures on the screen before and there massacres that happened to the Druze community in Syria, the recent one is from last July… 250 civilians. I thought I would focus on the Druze community in Syria. But I can assure you that the Druze community in Israel live in peace, in respect and in dignity. There are a few fact that you can’t argue with it. Because it’s fact and when it comes to fact it’s like the picture I show on the screen. The same community in 1948 at the establishment of the state was 14,000 and now we are 120,000. At the time of the establishment of the state we had 1 graduate now we have hundreds of graduates of girls and women (inaudible). In 1956 it was recognised as an independent community. And the most important thing, not only about the Druze community but all community in Israel, is that they have the right not only to live in dignity and respect but to respect their culture and religious beliefs in any way they like.


I am not a Yazidi. I was a successful career in my country. I was a lawyer in my country. I never wanted to leave. I had to leave (inaudible). I lost tens of friends, personal friends, and I didn’t know what trauma is until I arrived here. And I didn’t know what it was like waking up in the middle of the night in nightmares. I didn’t understand what all the speakers are talking about. I do sympathise with Yazidis…I will tell you what I believe is happening there. It is a big conflict with PKK, and other parties in there, it’s very big and very complicated. Your other speaker made very unjust comments about Kurdistan. Describing Kurds as being dictators, being unjust to Assyrians. Do you know in Kurdistan we have only three cities (inaudible)…we have 2.5 million Arabs refugees still there. It is a safe haven for minorities… Kurdistan is trashed (inaudible). I know the facts, I have been there. If you ask my family, who are originally (inaudible) them, would they like to come to the UK, they would say yes (inaudible)…its chaos in there.


Again, about 5 6 months ago I was in Iraq. As Assyrians we are indebted to the Yazidis. During the 1915 genocide…(inaudible) protected the Assyrians and fought the Ottomans and did not surrender the Assyrian refugees. I suggested we also cover what happened to the Yazidis, but we were not allowed to cover…everything you said is right. My esteemed colleague said I made unjust claims about the KRG. First, I want to make one thing clear. I know my people are not against anyone. But they are against racist policies. When I talk about these policies, I am not talking against the Kurds who are some of my best friends (inaudible). I’m talking facts. Out of 95 villages…57 suffer from land abuse, nothing has been done about it. Have I said anything that contradicts the facts? We all want a successful Iraq and a successful KRG. That cannot happen if I do not respect others just as I respect myself. (inaudible)


Well, concerning Sinjar, as you also know, IS wanted to occupy Sinjar, but it didn’t work. But now what is going on, by the policy of the Kurdistan region…also by Turkey by bombing those areas of Sinjar…they are trying to fulfil the aims of the IS, because the IS couldn’t manage it. This is something we really have to understand. How come the Kurdistan region is saying we don’t want anyone to support the Sinjar, you have to ask my first and I will decide if anything can support the Sinjar or not. So the aim is this: they don’t want to have a Sinjar organised by the Yazidis, but it is their traditional homeland. When it comes to the bombing of Turkey, IS tried to occupy the area in Syria, it didn’t work, Turkey decided to bomb. The relationships between the states and IS are very clear, but now I want to repeat what can we do to support people to survive.

We can support them also as civil organisations, it is possible. We as civilians we are also receiving support.



Okay, there is a Lady whose arm is about to drop off. You have a question there.

Okay I have a question first of all for (indaudible). You have been in a lot of disinformation about the KRG party. I am Kurdish. One side of my village they are Christians, the other side Jewish. The Jewish people (inaudible)

Christian are following them, mostly Kurdish. So my question, what my friend said there: no one airport is made from the old airport, which is Erbil, only five minutes…the land…

(Inaudible) all the problem. Now is our time, please, everyone to stand up, for Kurdish nation, to support Iraq. Jews left Iraq, Christians leave Iraq, now the Kurdish leave Iraq. (inaudible)


Can I stop you there so we can get some more questions there.


Just wanted to say that were all moral, but it seems that big corporations rules the world. For example, Obama gave Iran the nuclear problem.




I’m afraid I can’t take any more questions. Who wants to answer those questions? I really would urge you to be very every short in your answer.


Again, I feel I need to emphasise. I am not against anyone nor was my intention here to be against KRG. But, I am here to speak facts. If you want, well. Well you see, this is really (inaudible)…we cannot be standing here trying to defend ourselves. We have to be here to find solutions. And solutions can only be founded on mutual respect… and not from (inaudible). If you want, I can send you all the documentation how the Erbil international airport is built on 13,000 acres of Assyrian lands. Which have been submitted to the KRG (inaudible). Nothing being implemented.


The clear picture from this panel is that all these minorities suffer discrimination and prejudice from one big group and I think it’s probably the right time that all these minorities together unite to one group.


Maybe, yes you are right, compared to other people in the region the Kurds are democracies, but yes this is not enough. When I talk about the Yazidis, we are also suffering as woman. It is also our task ,when we demand democracy when we demand safety of ourself, we are also demanding safety also within our own society. This is something also the Kurds of course should understand and should accept, well to allow that.


Well, the fact is, the fact is, democracy is another end in process. (Inaudible) You can’t expect them to perform in the same way we have democracy in this country…they need international help…I will become a lawyer for all minorities in Iraq, you should respect your rights. (inaudible). If Whatever, this is what I believe.


Vey very short, well as I said, in my speech, the most important right is the right to life, without the right to life, you can’t move forward, obviously. And then comes all the other rights, freedom of expression, women’s rights. But we’ve got to get our priorities right.


Well thank you very much from your questions. I can see from the hands that are still going up that we could have been here until at least midnight answering questions. But it is with great pleasure now that I ask Lady Cox to provide some closing remarks to the conference.


Thank you very much. This is a real pleasure for me to give this vote of thanks for this meeting, which is very long overdue. Most of us haven’t heard most of the stories; we may think all the speakers we’ve heard about you and we’ve seen demonstrations, but most of us have not. I’m really thrilled that we’ve had the opportunity today.

I must say I was very depressed; all the groups I have met asking you to speak today. The stories you hear are so depressing and its such a terrible world. When Henry Jackson Society called this afternoon to say we need a bigger room because so many people want to come. That was the first good news I’ve heard for weeks and weeks and weeks. It’s too wonderful that people are interest in making the truth. I wanted to make a whole attack on the BBC but I won’t bother; I think we’ve heard enough about what we think of the BBC. I had the pleasure of meeting our chairman for the first time today, and that was a realy pleasure for me as well…(inaudible) after all the trouble people in the labour party have had with our leadership that was a great honour for me to meet him.

I want to also thank Lyn Julius. She is marvellous. She is really cleverer than me. But of course there are none so deaf as those who won’t hear and not so blind as those who don’t speak. I want to thank Lyn, try and get her book, there is a pamphlet advertising her book, and I think every Jewish person at least should have her book. I want to tell her that we love her and she’s always been there whenever we’ve needed her.

I want to think Dr Leyla Ferman and Nineb Lamassu. haven’t really met you and I hope I’ll have a chance to do so now. I want to also thank Amir Khnifess, who I know.

We’ve worked together years before, and I’m a very old lady now. His old uncle who was a Knesset…we worked together many years ago and tried to defend the same people and the same causes, and it’s so lovely, I’m so proud of Amir, now he has taken over as the leader of the Druze community in Israel. I’d like you all, if you want to help and want to join in with us… leave your names and addresses in the contact (inaudible) at the door. We’d like to be able to contact you against and continue to do some of this work.

Sorry I missed out one speaker, but it was superb, and I hope I meet you now and we can be able to talk. It’s time to stop the murder of the Kurdish people. It’s time to stop the murder of the Christian people in the Middle East, and it’s time to stop all the terrible things in the world. Thank you, and hopefully we can meet again.


Well thank you. That’s it. Goodnight. Have safe journeys home. Thank you.


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