Charity demands world governments recognise genocide

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• “One does not have to wait until nobody is left to tell the story in order to call it genocide.”
By John Newton
CATHOLIC charity Aid to the Church in Need is backing calls for world governments to recognise the attempted annihilation of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities by Daesh (ISIS) and other extremist groups as genocide.
ACN’s Executive President Johannes Heereman said: “Death is not the only condition which justifies the term genocide, the UN Convention (for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide) states that the declared intention to destroy in whole or in part an ethnic, cultural, racial or religious group means that the act of the perpetrator is genocide.
“One does not have to – and indeed should not – wait until nobody is left to tell the story in order to call it genocide.”
ACN project partner Maronite Bishop Antoine Chbeir of Latakia, Syria concurred with the charity’s assessment.
He said: “There is no need to create new terms to describe what is happening to us. All acts of genocide are crimes against humanity but not vice versa.
“And [if a situation is declared to be a genocide] the UN has clearly prescribed actions to follow with its members that do not necessarily include sending soldiers on the ground”.
The recognition of the attacks on Christians and other religious minorities as genocide – which has a technical meaning in international law – means that there is an obligation to help the victims.
According to the UN Convention, the international community has a duty to stop unfolding genocides by protecting its victims and punishing those perpetrating the crimes.
ACN has received reports from project partners in the Middle East which have described murder, physical and mental harm, groups forced into dire living conditions, the segregation of men and women, and the forcible separation of children from their parents.
Evidence of the genocide of Christians and other minorities was related in ACN’s 2015 Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith, which highlighted “religiously-motivated ethnic-cleansing of Christians” both in the Middle East and parts of Africa.
The call by the charity follows the US recognition that Daesh (ISIS) is committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other minority groups.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “In my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims”.
He added: “The fact is that Daesh kills Christians because they are Christians, Yazidis because they are Yazidis, Shia [Muslims] because they are Shia.”

• To add your support to the petition calling on the UK Government to recognise the genocide of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities, go to

Editor’s Notes

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.