A major report submitted to Secretary of State John Kerry making the case that genocide is being waged against Christians in the Middle East was released today by the Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians at a news conference at the National Press Club.
The 280-page report includes substantial material not previously available, including the most comprehensive information to date, not just on churches that have been destroyed, but also on Christians who have been killed, kidnapped, raped, sold into slavery, driven from their homes, and dispossessed. It also details interviews with witnesses to the atrocities that were collected during a Knights of Columbus fact-finding mission to Iraq last month.
Senior State Department officials had requested that the K of C produce such a report four weeks ago, as they neared a congressionally-mandated March 17 deadline for making a determination as to whether or not ISIS was committing genocide against Christians and other minority groups. The report is available online at www.kofc.org and www.StopTheChristianGenocide.org. The latter site also hosts a petition calling on Secretary of State John Kerry not to exclude Christians from a declaration of genocide at the hands of ISIS. The petition has been signed by more than 60,000 people.
The report includes an executive summary, a legal brief outlining the case for a genocide declaration, and addenda including summaries of witness interviews, a database of crimes known to have been committed against Christians by ISIS and its affiliated groups, lists of Christians killed, estimates of the number of dead in various regions under ISIS control, statements by other governments and world leaders, and additional evidence of ISIS’ intent and actions against Christians that has been widely overlooked in the Western media.
“There is only one word that adequately, and legally, describes what is happening to Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. That word is ‘genocide’,” said Supreme Carl Anderson in presenting the report.
He pointed out that the UN Convention on genocide and U.S. statutes that mirror it state that genocide occurs even when the destruction of the group is not complete but only in part. He also noted that non-legal terms such as “ethnic” or “religious” cleansing or even legal terms such as “crimes against humanity” lack the elements necessary to address the situation.
He continued: “In her 2002 book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power wrote that ‘the United States had never in its history intervened to stop genocide, and in fact rarely even made a point of condemning it as it occurred.’” She documents a long history of American inaction in places like Bosnia, Rwanda, and Cambodia.
Anderson commended “the courageous action of [then] Secretary of State Colin Powell who became the first member of any United States administration to apply the label ‘genocide’ to an ongoing conflict when he reported to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that ‘genocide has been committed in Darfur … and that genocide may still be occurring.’”
Anderson noted that “Secretary of State Kerry has a similar opportunity to exercise moral leadership.”
Calling the persecution of Christians – and other religious minorities – in the Middle East “genocide” has global consensus: support comes from a strong majority of the American people, as evidenced by a K of C-Marist poll, and bipartisan support from candidates of both parties, including former Secretary of State Clinton who applied the label to what is happening to Christians.
The report also cites both U.S. and international law which are clear on the matter and support the case that the persecution of Christians in the Middle East meets the legal definition of genocide at every level.
Anderson also noted that over 200 members of Congress from both parties are co-sponsoring H. Con. Res. 75. He added that “today we renew our support for this excellent piece of legislation and applaud its progress.”
“The evidence contained in this report as well as the evidence relied upon by the European Parliament fully support—I would suggest compel—the conclusion that reasonable grounds exist to believe the crime of genocide has been committed,” Anderson said.
“While we believe this to be the most comprehensive report on this subject to date, covering incidents in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Yemen, we continue to receive new reports and new evidence,” said Anderson. But with new reports pouring in every day, he cautioned: “It may only be the tip of the iceberg.”
Anderson noted that Secretary of State John Kerry himself in August 2014 stated: “ISIL’s campaign of terror against the innocent, including Yezidi (sic) and Christian minorities, and its grotesque and targeted acts of violence bear all the warning signs and hallmarks of genocide.”
Anderson said, the collective evidence, and ISIS’ own public statements and publications make clear that it targets Christians in order to destroy them as a group and Christianity as a religion.
ISIS’ magazine, Dabiq, has promised to destroy the “Crusader army,” a Christian reference, and has labeled Pope Francis “the crusader pope.” ISIS’ videos have encouraged the killing of priests – and Christians in general – as well.
Among the chilling statements in the magazine is this one: “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women… If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.”
A panel of speakers with expertise in this area also spoke in favor a genocide designation, including Coptic Bishop Anba Angaelos; Chaldean Catholic priests Father Douglas Bazi and Father Dankha Joola, both from Iraq; religious freedom scholar Nina Shea; Catholic University of America law professor Robert Destro; Prof. Greg Stanton, founding president of Genocide Watch; Defying ISIS author Johnnie Moore, and Juliana Taimoorazy.