Genocide: an intangible word of the past to those of us in the West; a daily reality to religious minorities in the Middle East. It’s a word not lightly used because of the reality it depicts.
But, we’ve heard the news reports of mass killings, hangings, beheadings, crucifixions, and rapes of religious minorities spanning all across the Middle East - the latest of which details the burning of Christians alive inside locked caskets.
Is this genocide, however? Do the actions of ISIS – the Islamic State – against Christians in the region rise to the level of genocide?
First, what is “genocide” as defined by international law?
The Holocaust gave rise to the necessity to define what “genocide” is, and Article 2 of the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948) did just that, defining it as:
any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Also, a footnote within the definition above states:
It might be necessary to determine if all or only a part of the group at risk within a specific geographical location is being targeted. The aim of the Genocide Convention is to prevent the intentional destruction of entire human groups, and the part targeted must be significant enough (substantial) to have an impact on the group as a whole. The substantiality requirement both captures genocide’s defining character as a crime of massive proportions (numbers) and reflects the Convention’s concern with the impact the destruction of the targeted part will have on the overall survival of the group (emblematic).
Now, let’s examine a few numbers:
In Iraq and Syria, 1 to 1.8 million Christians have been slaughtered or displaced – 600,000 of whom have been displaced in Syria in the last four years alone. Iraq’s Christian population is nearing complete annihilation as the community’s numbers have plummeted from 1.4 million to a mere 270,000.
That’s a more than 80% drop.
Looking back at the legal definition, not only have Christians – a specific religious group – been targeted within a certain geographical area, the number of Christians murdered or displaced are well within the range of what any rational individual would define as “significant.”
Now, why is labeling the atrocities against Christians in the Middle East paramount?
Because by calling it genocide, the international community is obligated to act. America and the rest of the world community will be called into action to stop what they’ve promised would “never again” happen.
Well, genocide is happening. It’s no longer just a thing of the past. It is a reality of our present – a reality that we must take decisive action to put a stop to now.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said it correctly: “When hundreds of thousands of Christians – men, women and children – are killed, this isn’t war. This is genocide. And we Jews know what happens when the world is silent to genocide.”
As we aggressively urge Congress and the U.S. State Department to recognize the genocide of Christians, add your name to our petition (below and) at BeHeardProject.com.
With your support, we're able to fight for Christians facing genocide & persecution worldwide. Have your tax-deductible gift doubled today.
As we wait to hear the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s decision on the fate of Christian mom Asia Bibi – wrongfully sentenced to hang for her Christian faith – angry Islamist radicals are circling, demanding she be executed. We recently told you that after years of delays, a special three-member bench...
Deadly violence against Christians has been on the rise in Egypt. Finally, evil jihadists who waged a bloody campaign against Christians in Egypt are being brought to justice. We told you about horrific attacks in Egypt in the last few years that have resulted in the slaughter of innocent...
Fifteen-year-old Leah Sharibu is facing death at the hands of Nigeria’s brutal jihadist militia Boko Haram because she is a Christian. Leah Sharibu was one of 110 Nigerian girls we told you had been kidnapped by the vile jihadist group Boko Haram – the militant West African radical Islamic army...
American Pastor Andrew Brunson has just been released from wrongful detainment in Turkey. We can confirm that after more than two years of detainment based on his Christian faith, Pastor Andrew is preparing to leave Turkey to return home to the United States. At the ACLJ, we represent Pastor Andrew...