ISIS (the Islamic State) continues its genocidal slaughter. Over the weekend, disturbing news broke of yet more unspeakable evil perpetrated by ISIS against religious minorities in the region, as 19 girls were burned alive.
But the United Nations (U.N.) won’t even call it genocide.
Moving forward on our 7-point plan to stop ISIS genocide against Christians and others religious minorities, the ACLJ continues its pressure for action at the U.N. – and its pressure on our U.S. delegation to the U.N. to do their part.
Today the ACLJ delivered a legal letter to Ambassador Samantha Power – the U.S. Representative to the U.N.
Our message: Intervene at the upcoming U.N. Human Rights Council session later this month. Press the Council to recognize the genocide and take action to stop it.
If anyone understands genocide, it’s Ambassador Power. She wrote the book on it, “A Problem From Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide. And as the head of the U.S. Mission to the U.N., she is in a position to do something about it. She is the one who speaks for Americans at the U.N. As she said in her book, and as we reminded her:
The United States should stop genocide for two reasons. The first and most compelling reason is moral. When innocent life is being taken on such a scale and the United States has the power to stop the killing at reasonable risk, it has a duty to act. . . . [T]he second reason: enlightened self-interest . . . . [A]llowing genocide undermined regional and international stability, created militarized refugees, and signaled dictators that hate and murder were permissible forms of statecraft. . . . [S]ecurity for Americans at home and abroad is contingent on international stability, and there is perhaps no greater source of havoc than a group of well-armed extremists bent on wiping out a people on ethnic, national, or religious grounds.
She had identified two reasons for U.S. inaction against genocide in the past: a claimed lack of knowledge and a feeling of futility in the face of such evil. But as we explained to her in our letter, the U.S. – through its government and its people – has publically professed the knowledge. Secretary of State John Kerry, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom have declared ISIS atrocities against Christians constitute “genocide.” Hundreds of thousands of people have signed petitions calling for action. Ambassador Power has been equipped with both the message and the position of influence to take that message to the U.N.
As to perceived futility, we reminded the Ambassador that she herself had rejected that notion, citing “small or belated steps” by American officials that “saved hundreds of thousands of lives.” In her words, “If the United States had made genocide prevention a priority, it could have saved countless more.”
We have no excuse. We know what is happening. Our actions can save lives.
With this in mind, this is what we told Ambassador Power:
[R]ecognizing your commitment to confronting the evil of genocide, we respectfully urge you to continue and intensify your diplomatic pursuit of any and all available means to mobilize the international community to stop the ongoing genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities and protect the victims. Specifically, we write to you in advance of the upcoming 32nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council with the hope that you will press for a declaration recognizing the Islamic State genocide at that Session.
Ambassador Power has recognized that the U.S. has “a duty to act” against genocide. And in our letter, that is precisely what we urged her to do.
Speak for America, we asked her. “But most importantly, speak for the victims.”
The ACLJ has been on the front lines of the fight against the ISIS genocide. We’ve developed a 7-Point Plan we’re advancing on a daily basis through a comprehensive, multi-pronged legal advocacy campaign – the largest for persecuted Christians in our history. We’ve sent critical legal letters to key officials: a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon; two letters to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (available here and here), and now a letter to U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power. We’ve filed two written submissions to the U.N. (available here and here), made an oral intervention at the U.N., and are preparing to make another oral intervention at the U.N. later this month. We urged action in Europe, for example, by urging the European Parliament to recognize the genocide. We also filed written observations regarding ISIS atrocities against Iraqi Christians in a case before the European Court of Human Rights. We continue to work with Congress to advance the cause of the genocide victims. We’ve written extensively on this heartbreaking issue, and continue to spread the word on social media.
We are making progress on all fronts. Just a week after our letter to the U.N. Secretary-General, his representative raised the issue of ISIS genocide to the U.N. Security Council. And just weeks after our first letter to Secretary Kerry, he answered the call and publically proclaimed that ISIS was committing “genocide against . . . Christians.” Following our requests for action in Europe, the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe formally recognized the genocide.
Here at home, our work in Congress is also generating results. Congress unanimously passed a measure recognizing the genocide, and is already advancing a measure responding to the genocide by implementing one of our proposals – in-region safe zones – and a measure expanding the authority and influence of the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom to take meaningful action on these issues.
The momentum is building, but as the daily barrage of news reports from the Middle East make clear, our work is far from over.
Join us in our campaign to stop the genocide against Christians and other religious minorities and protect the victims. Add your voice to the growing number of Americans who are speaking out.
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