By John Newton
A LEADING Catholic charity has welcomed a unanimous vote in the House of Commons recognising Daesh (ISIS)’s attacks on Christians, Yazidis and other ethnic and religious minorities as genocide.
The motion, which also called on the Government to refer the issue to the United Nations Security Council in a bid to bring those committing the genocide to justice, was passed by 278 to 0.
The national director of Aid to the Church in Need (UK) Neville Kyrke-Smith welcomed the result of yesterday’s vote (Wednesday 20th April)
He said: “We are delighted by this result – as it should now lead to action for Christians and other persecuted minorities in the Middle East.
“Our project partners in the region say they often feel abandoned and forgotten by the West, we hope that this will lead to concrete steps being taken that will give them real hope amidst the ongoing turmoil.”
Article two of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide covers “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.
This includes not only killing, but “Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group” and “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.
Daesh has declared its intent to both eradicate Yazidis from the region and to kill “the worshippers of the cross”.
Opening the debate in the house, MP Fiona Bruce referred to evidence from Yvette, a woman who had flown in from Syria to address parliamentarians at a meeting the evening before.
Mrs Bruce said that: “[Yvette] spoke of Christians being killed and tortured, and of children being beheaded in front of their parents.
“She showed us recent film footage of herself talking with mothers—more than one—who had seen their own children crucified.
“Another woman had seen 250 children put through a dough kneader and burnt in an oven. The oldest was four years old.
“She told us of a mother with a two-month-old baby. When Daesh knocked at the front door of her house and ordered the entire family out, she pleaded with them to let her collect her child from another room. They told her, ‘No. Go. It is ours now.’”
Mrs Bruce also mentioned “the truly harrowing personal testimony” of 16-year-old Yazidi girl Ekhlas.
“She was seized by Daesh from her home, along with others from her community in Sinjar in northern Iraq.
“At the age of 15, she saw her father and brother killed in front of her. She told of how every girl in her community over eight, including herself, was imprisoned and raped.
“She spoke of witnessing her friends being raped and hearing their screams, and of seeing a girl aged nine being raped by so many men that she died.”
Mrs Bruce also told how Ekhlas has seen a two-year-old boy being killed and his body parts being ground down and fed to his own mother.
Ekhlas managed to escape from Daesh during a bombardment of the area. Mrs Bruce added: “Others are not so fortunate”.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom St John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in more than 140 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 176 languages and more than 51 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow.
For more information, contact John Newton, ACN Press Officer, 020 8661 5167.