Brutal Persection of Christians Is Genocide, Groups Cry Out

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by David Chambers on 10/12/2015 Christianity In The Middle East Is On The Verge Of Extinction Guest Post The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on Monday called for groups systematically persecuted by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – Christians, Yazidis, Shi’as, Turkmen and Shabaks – to be recognized as victims of genocide. “I join leaders who are urging Secretary of State John Kerry to include Christians in the State Department’s classification of genocide in the Middle East”, he added, noting that President Barack Obama has indicated that he recognizes the persecution of Yazidis at the hands of IS as a genocide, but not Christians. Kalabat delivered his impassioned testimony to the subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations as it considered the circumstances of religious minorities displaced by fighting in Syria and Iraq and the actions taken against them by ISIS. Iraqi Christian children, who fled the violence in the village of Qaraqosh, sit on a mattress at their makeshift shelter in an abandoned building in Arbil, north of Baghdad, August 11, 2014. Even Christian families who chose the option of paying the jizya – an Islamic tax on non-Muslims – had to hand their wives over to the Islamic State terrorists. Washington experts stress that any statement or widespread response must be inclusive of all religions. “If the State Department issues a genocide designation for Yazidis, that would be a step forward-but it is not enough”. Invoking genocide is a serious action and should only be done when conditions are most dire. That’s where we are now in Iraq and Syria. David Brog, a board member of Christians United for Israel, called the persecution of Mideast Christians “the great human rights tragedy of our time”. Apparently, the State Department is hesitating because, unlike Yazidis, Christians have a way out. A State Department source told – without specifically mentioning Christians – that alongside the atrocities against the Yazidi people, Islamic State has victimized a “wide range” of communities in Iraq and Syria, but that the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad regime is the actor most responsible for the mass murders of civilians in the region. Obama administration officials told Yahoo! Kalabat encouraged the US government to continue to work with the United Nations, churches, charities, private corporations to provide humanitarian relief in the area, and suggested the establishment of an autonomous region for Christians and other religious minorities such as Yezidis – an ancient religious minority in Iraq. “We are not going to comment on internal discussions”. “Our policy and objective is to degrade and defeat ISIL and hold perpetrators accountable”, the official said, using another term for ISIS. “The protection of members of groups under attack and the provision of humanitarian assistance to members of displaced groups are vitally important and will continue to be a key priority for the US government”. If Yazidis are the victims of genocide, she asks, why not Christians? Earlier this year, Fortenberry introduced a bipartisan resolution denouncing the genocide against Christians as well as other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. “The global community must confront the scandalous silence about their plight”. According to witnesses, religious minorities have faced sexual violence, forced conversions, killings and other threats. Pressure on the Obama administration to publicly use the genocide label is mounting, coming from various spheres of influence. “The U.S. government should swiftly designate Christian, Yazidi, Shi’a, Turkmen and Shabak communities of Iraq and Syria as victims of genocide and take all possible action to protect the remaining members of those communities, destroy ISIS and prosecute the leaders of the insurgency to the full extent of worldwide law”, Wolf said. “Only a judicial body with an appropriate mandate can make a legal determination”, Dieng said in a statement. Moore, Mohler and the others also ask for the opportunity to explain why the department’s “geographic and temporal focus is too narrow” regarding genocide against Christians. “I am always struck by how utterly abandoned the patriarchs and church leaders [in the Middle East] whose lives are on the line every day … how utterly abandoned they feel by the West, and particularly the United States”, said Kathryn Jean Lopez, a senior fellow with the National Review Institute and one of the event’s co-hosts. “It is a time for us to boldly declare that what they are doing is the worst of crimes and that is genocide”. Chronicle Daily