Nine months ago, the ACLJ, in partnership with our European affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), filed urgent testimony with the United Nations Human Rights Council. Our written statement outlined the genocidal acts against Christians and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq occurring at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS), and requested that the United Nations take immediate action by formally recognizing these groups as victims of genocide.
In the nine long months since we submitted our testimony, ISIS has continued its systematic reign of terror against these groups, while the United Nations has remained silent. The victims who managed to survive and escape captivity languish in refugee camps.
In October, when Allied forces began their campaign to liberate the Nineveh region of Iraq from the grips of ISIS, some Christian leaders were able to return to their ancient homeland for the first time in over two years. Having fled for their lives when ISIS took over the region in 2014, the leaders returned to piles of rubble. The 300,000 Christians who resided in the region when ISIS brutally took over the region has now dwindled to 20 to 30 Christian residents. Their places of worship, ancient texts, and congregations have summarily been wiped out by ISIS.
As more ISIS-held regions are liberated in the coming months, more evidence will undoubtedly reveal the indisputable genocidal acts by ISIS against religious minorities. The growing body of evidence demonstrates that the inhuman violence at issue is, in fact, genocide. This evidence is well-documented, and it is sickening.
In our new submission to the HRC, we have once again urged the U.N. to take the first step toward ending these atrocities by recognizing these minority groups as victims of genocide as defined by The Genocide Convention. We wrote:
Yet, the U.N. has not taken this critical step of acknowledging the genocide taking place in Iraq and Syria. While the ECLJ calls for swift and decisive action by the international community to stop the genocide and protect the victims, it also recognizes that the first step is for the U.N. to recognize that the atrocities constitute genocide. A declaration by the Human Rights Council that the Islamic State is engaged in genocide and action by this Council calling for the U.N. General Assembly (and other appropriate organs of the U.N.) to follow suit would carry significant weight.
We need action now. The U.N. must defend the rights of all religious minorities, including the Christians in Iraq, Syria, and any other place where the Islamic State engages in genocide.
We respectfully request that this Council declare that the Islamic State and its followers are committing acts of genocide against Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities and to then act accordingly. The very mission of this organization requires nothing less.
We will continue to hold global leaders accountable to the international legal commitments they’ve made to ensure historic atrocities and genocide never occur again. As Christians and other religious minorities are targeted for extinction by ISIS, the international community must move quickly to recognize the genocide for what it is so that they can then act swiftly and definitively to end the historic human rights crises in areas of the world dominated by jihadists.
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