Secretary of State John Kerry determined that the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or Daesh) is committing genocide against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria. Kerry made the official statement on Thursday, acting to meet a deadline set by the House of Representatives, which condemned ISIS by a unanimous vote on Monday.
In my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including: Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions — in what it says, what it believes, and what it does. Daesh is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, directed at these same groups, and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.
This is the first time that the United States has declared a genocide since Darfur in 2004. Kerry’s declaration does not oblige the US to take action against ISIS, nor does it prejudge any prosecution against the group’s members.
Kerry just made the deadline laid out by Congress in its nonbinding resolution of ISIS genocide made on Monday by a 393-0 vote. This vote demonstrated bipartisan support for condemning ISIS.
Doug Napier, senior counsel and executive director at Alliance Defending Freedom, said official recognition of genocide would trigger laws in the United Nations to investigate and prosecute offenders, in addition to obliging the United States to take measures to end the violence. Napier chided even the U.S. House for not having declared this genocide earlier, in the face of overwhelming evidence that Christians and other minorities are being specifically persecuted.
Religious and ethnic minority groups in the Middle East are being deliberately targeted by ISIS for destruction. The number of Christians has dropped from 2 million to under 1 million in Syria, and from 1.4 million to under 260,000 in Iraq in just a few years. The atrocities include assassinations of church leaders, torture, mass murders, kidnapping, sexual enslavement and systemic rape of Christian and Yazidi girls and women, destruction of churches, monasteries and cemeteries.
Next Page: Voice of the Martyrs Pointed This Out — Two Years Ago!
Most Jews and Christians have left Iraq, while some stay to “be salt and light” in the war-torn country.
The Voice of the Martyrs, a Christian organization aimed at fighting persecution across the world, started the “I am N” campaign in July of 2014 to draw attention to Christian persecution in Iraq. The Islamic State has used the symbol ‘N’, or ن in Arabic, to identify a “Nazarene,” a Christian. Militants use the sign as drawn on doorways and in front of houses to assess where a house’s loyalties lie and whom to target for abuses.
These moves by the House of Representatives and Secretary Kerry are welcome, but both are open to criticism. Why did it take almost two years for Congress and the Obama administration to finally acknowledge the truth?