Veteran Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf lashed out at the president Thursday for his inaction regarding the genocide in Iraq, warning “your conscience will haunt you long after you leave office.”
Wolf, who has been a vocal human rights advocate in Congress since President Barack Obama was an undergraduate, has taken to the House floor nearly every day for the past two weeks trying to get the administration to respond to the crisis in Iraq.
“Genocide is taking place today in northern Iraq, where the Christian and Yezidi populations are being exterminated by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS),” his Thursday letter read. “There is no question that systematic and targeted brutality is occurring. Yet, as I said on the House floor last week, the silence from you and your administration is deafening. … Children and the elderly are dying of thirst, families are being separated and women and young girls are being raped and sold into slavery.”
On Tuesday a heart-rending video surfaced of a Yezidi politician breaking down in the Iraqi parliament while begging for the government to protect her people. “I speak here in the name of humanity,” she cried. “Save us! Save us!”
“We cannot pretend these atrocities aren’t taking place,” Wolf continued. “There are now videos on the Internet being promoted by those sympathetic to ISIS proudly displaying their brutal and grotesque slaughter and abuse of Christians, Yezidis and other religious minorities in Iraq. Your administration is aware of what is going on, yet you are doing nothing. Just what is the point of having an ‘Atrocities Prevention Board’ if it takes no action to prevent or stop atrocities?”
President Obama created the Atrocities Prevention Board in 2012, saying that “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.” Thousands of civilians have already been killed since the Islamic State began its offensive a few months ago. Dozens of Yezidi children and elderly have starved to death since the ethno-religious minority group was driven to take refuge on a mountain in northern Iraq earlier this week.
“The children and elderly who have died are so many that they cannot be counted,” said one reporter. “In the past four days I have witnessed the death of many.”
“Much like President Clinton has deeply regretted his failure to stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, I believe you will come to regret your inaction for years to come,” wrote Wolf.
The congressman reminded the president of a speech he gave in 2012, when he said that “Three years ago today, I joined many of you for a ceremony of remembrance at the U.S. Capitol. And I said that we had to do ‘everything we can to prevent and end atrocities.’ … Last year, in the first-ever presidential directive on this challenge, I made it clear that ‘preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.”
“It is now clear to the nation and the world that your words were hollow,” Wolf seethed. “Your ‘presidential directive’ apparently was nothing more than a token gesture. You will come to sincerely regret your failure to take action to stop the genocide in Iraq. Your conscience will haunt you long after you leave office. Mr. President, say something; do something.”