U.S. Confirms Crimes Committed by ISIS are Genocide

Assembly Urges Obama Administration to Affirm Armenian Genocide

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Secretary of State John Kerry stated that ISIS (Daesh) is “responsible for genocide,” against groups in Syria and Iraq, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. The recognition was prompted by H.Con.Res.75, which includes Armenians as one of the Christian groups persecuted by ISIS.

“We know that in areas under its control, Daesh has made a systematic effort to destroy the cultural heritage of ancient communities آ­- destroying Armenian, Syrian Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches…” Kerry stated.

In his statement, Kerry also invoked one of the criteria of genocide as defined by the 1948 UN Convention.  "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 a choice between abandoning their faith or being killed, and that for many is a choice between one kind of death and another,“ Kerry said.

"Confronted with harrowing reports of similar crimes and atrocities, U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau in 1915 alerted the State Department and the world to the horrors taking place in the Ottoman Empire, stating that a ‘campaign of race extermination’ was underway against the Armenian people, and urged action to stop the slaughter,” observed Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.

image

“Today, Secretary Kerry responded to the unspeakable crimes carried out by ISIS.  ‘Naming these crimes is important. But what is essential is to stop them,’ Kerry stated. His statement recalls Morgenthau’s warning and the need to act. As President Obama has said, ‘America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides.’ We therefore call upon the Obama administration to also unequivocally affirm the Armenian Genocide,” Ardouny continued.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) stated today: “This morning, Secretary Kerry declared ISIS is committing genocide against Christians and religious minorities…now that our government is recognizing this crisis, it needs to do more to stop it. I hope the president will seize this opportunity to present a very clear strategy to defeat this enemy.”

image

Earlier this week, the Assembly welcomed passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of H.Con.Res.75, a resolution condemning ISIS atrocities and stated in part: “Whereas the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and associated extremists are committing egregious atrocities against ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, including Christians (including Assyrian Chaldean Syriac, Armenian, and Melkite communities, among others), Yezidis, Turkmen, Shabak, Sabaean Mandeans, and Kaka’i, among others.”

Click here to watch the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement on March 17, 2016.

Click here to watch the live footage of H.Con.Res.75 on the House Floor on March 14, 2016.

Photo Caption 1 (L-R): U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau and Secretary of State John Kerry

Photo Caption 2: Father Yeprem Kelegian, Armenian Assembly of America Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, and Archbishop Vicken Aykazian discussed importance of H.Con.Res. 75 with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Rubio: Genocide Determination Long Overdue

March 17, 2016

Washington, D.C. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement regarding the State Department’s determination that ISIS has been committing genocide against religious minorities in the Middle East:

“I am heartened by the Obama’s Administration’s genocide determination — a determination which has been a long time in the making — regarding the atrocities committed by ISIS against religious minorities, specifically Christians and Yezidis, in Iraq and Syria. That it took so long for the administration to arrive at this conclusion, in the face of unspeakable human suffering, defies explanation.

“ISIS has been engaged in a systematic effort to destroy ancient faith communities, including Christians and Yezidis, in Iraq and Syria.

“Yezidi men have been slaughtered, while women and children have been taken captive and subjected to unspeakable sexual violence. Already, mass graves, believed to be filled with Yezidi victims, have been unearthed. The Yezidis are hardly alone in their suffering, as Christians have also been targeted by ISIS. We will never forget the haunting image of the red letter ‘N’ for ‘Nazarene’ smattered across the homes and businesses of the Christians in the Nineveh Plain. Clergy have been kidnapped and assassinated; entire villages have been taken hostage; men have been executed for refusing to convert; ancient houses of worship have been decimated or repurposed into places of torture or weapons storage facilities; children have been ripped from their parents’ arms; and women have been raped. The human toll is vast, and so is ISIS’ historical and cultural assault on the people of these lands. ISIS has engaged in a systematic and thorough campaign intended to annihilate any vestige of Christian presence from the lands they now occupy.

“Determinations of genocide should be reserved for only the most grievous crimes against a people, and this is without question such a time. At long last the United States is no longer silent in the face of this evil, but it would be travesty if we were to mistakenly take solace in this designation, if the designation did not then yield some sort of action. It is time for U.S. assistance to be better targeted to help these persecuted communities and to ensure that they are not lost in the human chaos left in the wake of Syria’s devastation and Iraq’s instability. We also need to redouble our efforts to end Assad’s brutal assault on the Syrian people of all religious backgrounds and sects. Only once Bashar al-Assad has been removed will we be able to make real progress in eliminating the scourge that is ISIS and ensuring that the sort of genocidal policies the administration finally recognized today are a thing of the past.”

Rubio has characterized the Islamic State atrocities against religious minorities as genocide since 2014. Rubio was also an original cosponsor of S. Res. 340, Senate legislation finding that ISIS has engaged in genocide.