The House just passed a resolution to declare acts committed by the Islamic State (ISIS) to be genocide and also accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of war crimes.
H.Con.Res.75 - Expressing the sense of Congress that those who commit or support atrocities against Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities, including Yezidis, Turkmen, Sabea-Mandeans, Kaka'e, and Kurds, and who target them specifically for ethnic or religious reasons, are committing, and are hereby declared to be committing, "war crimes", "crimes against humanity", and "genocide".
The resolution was introduced by Representative Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska and passed the house on 3/14/16.
The resolution was Introduced in the House on 09/09/2015 and declares that:
- the atrocities committed against Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities targeted specifically for religious reasons are crimes against humanity and genocide;
- each of the Contracting Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and other international agreements forbidding war crimes and crimes against humanity, particularly the governments of countries and their nationals who are in any way supporting these crimes, are reminded of their legal obligations under the Convention and these international agreements;
- the United Nations (U.N.) and the Secretary-General are called upon to assert leadership by calling the atrocities war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide;
- the member states of the U.N., with an appeal to the Arab States that wish to uphold religious freedom and justice, should collaborate on measures to prevent further war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, and collaborate on the establishment of tribunals to punish those responsible for the ongoing crimes;
- the governments of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Lebanese Republic, and other countries are commended for having undertaken to shelter and protect those fleeing extremist violence; and
- those who force the migration of religious communities from their ancestral homelands, including specifically the Nineveh Plain and Mount Sinjar, should be prosecuted in accordance with the laws of the place where their crimes were committed and under applicable international criminal statutes and conventions.
The resolution is more of a political statement and declaration of support for Christians and holds little weight to initiate actual actions to resolve the matter. Power to make a difference in the situation rests on the shoulders of the Obama administration, who have until March 17th to determine if they will declare the actions of ISIS genocide against humanity.
The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's fraternal organization, submitted a report to Secretary of State John Kerry that details the murders, attacks, and sexual slavery being committed against Christians in the middle east with the hopes the administration will do something to stop the crimes.
We will see how the administration reacts to the report and the resolution. Personally, I have a feeling the administration will refuse to declare the persecution of Christians an act of "genocide" for fear of negative Muslim reactions around the world. At best, I believe Kerry will just make a "soapbox speech" claiming ISIS is a threat to all religious groups and will encourage world leaders to unite against the ISIS threat -- Thus declaring the obvious with no declaration of genocide or real action to stop the persecution.
All we can do right now is pray for those being persecuted and support the efforts of organizations trying to help.
UPDATE: Sec. Kerry did make an announcement on 3/17/16 declaring "genocide" on Muslim, Christian and minority groups in the area. This is exactly what we suspected, which is the administration will refuse to single out the Christian genocide. We suspected Kerry would make "a 'soapbox speech'claiming ISIS is a threat to all religious groups" and that is exactly what he did. However, he did suprise us that he declared these attacks "genocide" because we have heard that a declaration of genocide would obligate the U.S. to take actions. However, we hear the administration will not take action and will leave the final determination of genocide and appropriate action to the international community. Therefore, the Kerry declaration is useless. Basically, this is what we suspected.