By Ken Camp, The Baptist Standard
ISIS is guilty of committing genocide against Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said March 17.
Christians, Yazidis and Shiite Muslims are victims of genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the group variously known as the Islamic State, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, Kerry asserted.
A broad-based coalition of religious groups and human rights organizations had been urging the United States to declare as genocide the systematic killing of religious minorities in parts of the world.
“Today, the United States stood with millions in Iraq and Syria who have experienced the most brutal reality imaginable — genocide,” said Frank Wolf, a distinguished senior fellow at the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative and former U.S. congressman.
In December, Congress included in its omnibus bill a provision giving the secretary of state 90 days to report whether the persecution by ISIS constitutes genocide. The House of Representatives unanimously passed a nonbinding resolution March 14 condemning ISIS actions as such.
“My purpose in appearing before you today is to assert that, in my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians and Shi’a Muslims,” Kerry said in a news conference at the U.S. State Department.
“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.”
Kerry urged the international community to hold the group accountable and called for an independent investigation regarding crimes against humanity.
“One element of genocide is the intent to destroy an ethnic or religious group in whole or in part. We know that Daesh has given some of its victims the choice of abandoning their faith or being killed and that, for many, is the choice between one kind of death and another,” Kerry said.
“The fact is that Daesh kills Christians because they are Christians, Yazidis because they are Yazidis and Shi’a because they are Shi’a. … Its entire worldview is based on eliminating those who do not subscribe to its perverse ideology.”
Kerry voiced hope that victims of persecution would take comfort in knowing “the United States recognizes and confirms the despicable nature of the crimes that have been committed against them.”