2016-03-19 11:28:00

US labels IS atrocities genocide: US Rep leads effort

(Vatican Radio) US Secretary of State John Kerry this week described violent persecution of religious minorities including Christians by the so-called “Islamic State” (often also referred to as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh) as “genocide” – the first time any cabinet official of the US government used the term.

“[I]n my judgment,” said Kerry in a statement to journalists in Washington, DC on Thursday morning, “Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims.”

Kerry’s statement came in response to a deadline set last year by Congress for the Obama administration to determine whether the targeting of minority religious and ethnic groups by the Islamic State meets the US government’s definition of genocide, and in the wake of a Resolution of the US House of Representatives (393-0) explicitly condemning the atrocities committed by the Islamic State against Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria as genocide.

The principal architect of the House Resolution, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE1), said the attack on Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities “not only an attack, and a grave injustice, to the people who are suffering so much, it’s an assault on human dignity and the principles of civilization itself.”

He told Vatican Radio the recognition of the atrocities as genocide has profound symbolic significance, the practical consequences of which are not to be discounted. “In terms of practical outcomes, hopefully this raises international consciousness as to the plight of Christians, Yezidis, and others: ancient faith traditions who once were part of the rich, diverse tapestry of Middle East ancient peoples.” He said it would also help create the preconditions necessary for a the potential security settlement that would “re-integrate . . . Christians, Yazidis, and others, back into their ancestral homelands.”

Representative Fortenberry said the daily reports of IS atrocities “elevated not only the consciousness of  many members of Congress, but hopefully the international community.” He recalled the words of Pope Francis, who called this “a scandal of silence.” “There has been a scandal of indifference to what has happened to the Christians and Yezidis and others,” Fortneberry said, “and they must be a part of the ongoing policy discussion” so that when a security settlement is reached “these ancient traditions” can be re-integrated re-integrated back into their homeland – and in the meanwhile, [be] given forms of protection so that they can survive.”

Listen to the full interview of US Representative Jeff Fortenberry with Vatican Radio’s Chris Altieri: 


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