MP's Column

Christians, Yazidis and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria are suffering genocide at the hands of Daesh. It is profoundly disturbing that people in Iraq and Syria are being attacked for belonging to different religious and ethnic groups. Daesh has assassinated church leaders, committed torture, kidnapping, mass murders, sexual abuse, systematic rape and sexual enslavement of women and girls.

Daesh's official propaganda videos and newspapers document its specific intent to destroy Christian and Yazidi groups in Syria and Iraq. I attended an event in Parliament where eye-witnesses talked of women and girls as young as nine-years-old being imprisoned and systematically raped by Daesh men in former public buildings.

The UK has a rich tradition of helping and advocating on behalf of the world's most vulnerable people. Whenever a crisis or disaster occurs, we are quick to respond and lead the charge, providing humanitarian aid and financial assistance.

However, the UK, despite being one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, has been slow and appears reluctant to trigger the legal mechanisms that exists within the international judicial system.

The legal designation of genocide against Daesh relies first on action by the UN Security Council, and the UK Government has a role to play.

Already the US Secretary of State John Kerry, the US House of Representatives, the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have all described ISIS atrocities as 'genocide'.

British people are horrified by what they see and hear regarding the treatment of these minority groups and rightfully expect the UK Parliament to use whatever tools are available to work to bring this to an end and achieve peace in this troubled part of the world. A tool available to the UK is to recognise this as genocide, and to use our position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council so that this situation can be investigated by the International Criminal Court.

People are being brutalised, raped and murdered. We have a moral responsibility to seek justice for these people.

Derek Thomas
Member of Parliament for St Ives