ISIS campaign of horror against Christians and other minorities is nothing new because Genocide is nothing new. Genocide is defined by the United Nations in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948) 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 part ; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
There can be no doubt that genocide against Christians is happening and it must be opposed. Extensive and irrefutable evidence supports a finding that the so-called Islamic State’s mistreatment of Iraqi and Syrian Christians, as well as Yazidis and other vulnerable minorities, meets this definition. This evidence includes:
• assassinations of Church leaders
• mass murders and deportations
• kidnapping for ransom
• sexual enslavement and systematic rape of girls and women
• forcible conversions to Islam
• destruction of Christian churches, monasteries, cemeteries, and artifacts
ISIS’s own public statements take “credit” for the murder of Christians precisely because they are Christian and express its intent to wholly eradicate Christian and other minority communities from its “Islamic State.” Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill noted in their historic joint statement that “whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated.”
The Knights of Columbus, to their credit, are part of an effort along with In Defense of Christians (IDC is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that seeks the protection and preservation of Christians and Christianity in the Middle East through raising global awareness, mobilizing international support, and educating policymakers toward constructive international policies on their behalf.) to encourage the US administration not ignore Christian genocide. A new online petition is urging Secretary of State John Kerry not to exclude Christians from a declaration of genocide at the hands of ISIS. Co-sponsored by In Defense of Christians (IDC) and the Knights of Columbus, the petition can be signed at StopTheChristianGenocide.org
Christians in Iraq and Syria have suffered injustice after injustice by being kidnapped, killed, having their homes and churches confiscated or destroyed, and being forced to flee for their lives. Because of hit squads, they fear to enter UN refugee camps and, as a result, are then often excluded from immigration to the West,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who signed the petition and testified on the matter before a congressional subcommittee in December.
He added, “After all of this, these people deserve to have the U.S. State Department call what has happened to them by its rightful name: genocide — just as the European Parliament, Pope Francis, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom and so many other prominent individuals and institutions have already done.”
IDC Executive Director Kirsten Evans said, “The International Association of Genocide Scholars, over 200 members of Congress and over seventy human rights experts and organizations, spanning the nation’s religious and political spectrum, have raised their voices that the treatment of these communities by ISIS meets even the strictest definition of genocide under international law, and must be treated as such.”
The State Department is required by law to make a designation one way or the other on the matter by mid-March.
Take a moment to sign the petition today. Pray and work for peace every day.