Report: Kerry Will Call ISIS Attacks Genocide (Updated)
Thu, March 17, 2016
An ISIS fighter about to behead Christian prisoners. (Photo: Screenshot)
Update: As of 8:34 AM EST AP reports John Kerry has determined that the Islamic State's atrocities against Christians and Yazidi populations in the Middle East amounts to genocide. He is expected to make an announcement this week.
The U.S. State Department will miss the March 17 congressionally-mandated deadline to declare the Islamic State’s campaign against Christians and Yazidis as constituting genocide.
The deadline was set as part of a 2015 government bill on spending, but Secretary of State John Kerry requested more time.
“Determining these kinds of legal definitions such as genocide, crimes against humanity, requires a very detailed, rigorous legal analysis,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
“He just wants to be able to make or base his decision on the best evidence available and he has requested additional evidence, information in order to [make that decision].”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will discuss Congress’ response in a news conference also March 17.
The House of Representatives unanimously passed a concurrent resolution on Monday declaring the persecution of Christians in Iraq genocide. It has yet to pass the Senate. Even if it does, it will not hold the full force of law as with a congressional bill.
The strict legal classification of genocide is a specific and technical designation that can only be given if the atrocities fit certain criteria.
According to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948), genocide is defined as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part1 ; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
Regardless of the State Department’s eventual decision, the persecution faced by religious minorities in the territories controlled by ISIS is very real and action is needed soon to save the ancient Christian and Yazidi communities of the Middle East.
For more information on the Islamic State and its campaign of violence against minorities, see Clarion Project’s Special Report: The Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL).
Get a preview of Clarion Project’s upcoming film, Faithkeepers, about the violent persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The film features exclusive footage and testimonials of Christians, Baha’i, Yazidis, Jews, and other minority refugees, and a historical context of the persecution in the region.