London, UK – Lord Alton called for the government in the north of Iraq to return land that had been seized from minority groups. "The Kurdish Regional Government needs to ensure a swift and complete return of Christian homes, land and property that has been misappropriated which includes 58 Christian villages taken by Kurds.
"How The Kurdish and Iraqi authorities treat their minorities including Christians, Yezidis, and Mandaeans will be a test of their determination to create a tolerant society respectful of difference."
Around 90 people packed into a House of Lords' committee room to attend a hearing about the crisis currently facing minorities in Iraq.
A statement from the Syriac and Chaldean Churches read out at the meeting similarly sounded a note of caution about the direction the country was taking: "It seems that Iraq is one step closer to becoming an Islamic state intolerant to non-Muslims".
These concerns were echoed by Zahra Mohammed, speaking on behalf of the Faylee Kurd minority, who warned that "ethnic cleansing, sadly, can be still seen in the new Iraq".
Presentations at the meeting began with Prof Gregory Stanton, president of international organization Genocide Watch, who warned that the treatment meted out to minorities in Iraq had all the signs of attempted genocide.
Neville Kyrke-Smith, UK national director of Aid to the Church in Need, also spoke, underlining the need to provide aid to allow the Christian communities to remain in the country.
He concluded by quoting Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk: "Iraq is a mosaic of cultures, religions and different ethnic groups. The Church can play a key role so that the country can recover its balance."
The meeting called by Lord David Alton to address the problems, speakers described how various minority groups have suffered murder, rape, kidnapping, forced conversion, and extortion.
Although the room could only accommodate 50 people up to 90 turned up to express their concern about the problems facing minorities in Iraq.
Speaking after the meeting Lord Alton, said: "The Christian minorities in Iraq along with other vulnerable minorities have suffered appallingly.
"Since 2003 more than 700 Iraqi Christians have been murdered and at least a further 15 have died in Mosul, as thousands of Christian families fled to safety."
Stressing the need for an extensive enquiry he went on to say: "The Iraqi Government needs to conduct a full and transparent investigation into who was responsible for the events in Mosul."
With thousands of Iraqis from minority groups having fled the country and currently seeking refuge in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Syria and Turkey, the issue of refugees was of particular interest to those at the meeting.
There were calls from several of those present for countries such as the USA and UK to generously welcome the minorities who were now refugees from Iraq.
Others addressing the meeting included Adnan Kochar of CHAK (Centre of Halabaja against Anfalization and genocide of the Kurds), Peter Price the Anglican Bishop of Baths and Wells, and Nicola Craven, researcher on Mandaean refugees in Syria.