The House is set to vote Monday on whether the Islamic State is committing genocide against Christians and Yazidis in Syria and Iraq.
GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s resolution, which argues ISIS most certainly is genociding Christians and Yazidis, will hit the floor of the House Monday, after originally being introduced in September 2015. The resolution passed through the House Committee on Foreign Affairs by unanimous consent March 2.
“When ISIS systematically targets Christians, Yezidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities for extermination, this is not only a grave injustice—it is a threat to civilization itself,” Fortenberry said in a statement. “We must call the violence by its proper name: genocide.”
Fortenberry sparred with Secretary of State John Kerry in an exchange late February, in which he argued the Department of State should issue a declaration of broad genocide, which encompasses all the various religious and ethnic groups suffering under ISIS jurisdiction.
The State Department will come to a decision March 17.
Numerous international groups have pointed out that ISIS is committing genocide against Christians, including the European Parliament and the International Association of Genocide Scholars. Catholic organization the Knights of Columbus also released a report Thursday documenting in great detail eyewitness accounts of Christians killed, abused or sold into slavery by ISIS.
“History will record the recent atrocities committed against religious minorities in the Middle East as genocide,” Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in a statement. “The question is whether America will be remembered as courageous as in the case of Darfur or as something much less so as in the case of Rwanda.”
The report notes that a minimum of 1,131 Christians have been slaughtered in Iraq from 2003 to 2014.
“Why the State Department has not conducted its own investigation in the region I don’t know,” Anderson said. “For example the State Department under Secretary Powell sent as many 24 experts to investigate the situation in Darfur.”
Gregory Stanton, a genocide researcher at George Mason University, said the Obama administration has held off making a determination since a declaration of genocide “packs moral force, and it requires action, and what we have here is a case where the administration is not ready to make the determination, because it is not determined to do what is necessary to really stop ISIS with the full force that it needs to do.”
Other representatives have offered support to beleaguered minorities in the Middle East. GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher introduced a bill in November to grant priority refugee status to Christians and Yazidis, as the Obama administration was holding off making any declarations, even as the situation has continued to deteriorate.
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