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.

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“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.”

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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)

U.S. House of Representatives Recognizes and Condemns Genocide Committed By ISIS Against Christians and Other Religious Minorities

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Armenians Specifically Named as a Victim Group

Armenian Assembly Discussed Importance of Measure with House Speaker Paul Ryan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the House unanimously passed a resolution condemning the atrocities committed by ISIS as genocide against Christian, Yezidi, and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria.

Spearheaded by the House Caucus for Religious Minorities in the Middle East Co-Chairs, Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), H.Con.Res.75 garnered the bipartisan support of 213 cosponsors.

Upon passage in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued the following statement “What is happening in Iraq and Syria is a deliberate, systematic targeting of religious and ethnic minorities. Today, the House unanimously voted to call ISIS’s atrocities what they are: a genocide. We also will continue to offer our prayers for the persecuted.” The Speaker’s office also posted the following image on its website:

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During the Armenian Assembly of America’s (Assembly) meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) this month, Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny recalled Ryan’s involvement with the Armenian American community when he emceed the Assembly’s 2009 National Advocacy Conference & Banquet. They also discussed a range  f
critical issues, especially the importance of the resolution, as well as the Assembly’s support for it.

“The Armenian Assembly appreciates Speaker Ryan’s principled stand against the atrocities taking place. Experience has taught the value of using the right labels and taking action in order to prevent more violence, which is why we urge the State Department to follow the lead of the House,” Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny said. “The world has watched in horror as Christians, Yezidis, Kurds, and other innocent civilian groups have been subjected to attempts to eliminate not only their physical presence, but also their cultural and religious presence in their home countries. The Assembly and all Armenians are grateful to House Members and all those who stand against this tide.”

The bill was amended during consideration by the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) to include Armenians as one of the Christian groups persecuted by ISIS. H.Con.Res.75 specifically identifies 8 ethnic and religious groups as follows: “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.”

At the HFAC markup, Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI) spoke of the importance of this bill, highlighting his first trip as a member of Congress to Yerevan last year to commemorate the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. “I saw firsthand how painful and somber the memory of those atrocities are even today,” Rep. Trott said. “We have failed to recognize the Armenian Genocide and I urge my colleagues not to make the same mistake again,” he added.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) concurred and stated, “We can’t afford the same negligence that we saw on the Armenian Genocide, with respect against the Yazidis and Christians and other members seeking recognition.”

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

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

Photo Caption: Father Yeprem Kelegian, Armenian Assembly of America Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Archbishop Vicken Aykazian