Last week, we sent two new legal letters defending dying Christians and other victims of ISIS genocide to the United Nations (U.N.) commission investigating the ongoing genocide in Syria and Germany’s Ambassador to the U.N.
These are just the latest letters in our largest global advocacy campaign on behalf of persecuted Christians and other religious minorities who continually face genocidal atrocities at the hands of ISIS.
In our letter to the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic at the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), we thanked the Commission for its for report acknowledging the ongoing ISIS genocide against Yazidis and explained why it is important to also formally recognize the genocide against Christians and other religious minorities as well.
The Commission had omitted Christians from the genocide designation because it claimed that ISIS’s sometimes allowing Christians to pay the jizya tax somehow negated its atrocities as genocide. Jizya is an exorbitant financial extortion levied on Christians under the threat of death, a “tax” that is often unbearable. Even Christians who pay it are sometimes still slaughtered.
In response to the Commission’s report, Germany asked the simple question: What about the other religious minorities facing genocide?
Our letter responds to that question outlining how ISIS victimizes Christians, how the alleged application of jizya does not downgrade the Islamic State’s genocide against Christians, and the various international bodies that have recognized that Christians are victims of the ongoing ISIS genocide.
Our letter uses international law, the facts on the ground, and more to lay out the case that the jizya is nothing more than a “publicity stunt” and is yet more evidence that ISIS is committing genocide against Christians as well.
Responding to the Commission’s false jizya argument, we stated:
This argument fails to fully appreciate how the jizya tax is arbitrarily used against Christians, the difference between the historical understanding of that term and the meaning of the term as applied by the Islamic State, and the full breadth of the threats Christians face at the hands of the Islamic State. The Islamic State’s Caliph “Abu Omar al-Baghdadi has admitted for nearly a decade that Christians no longer qualify for the historical protection offered by Islamic law” . . . .
This explains why the Islamic State’s concept of jizya has been described to be “more of a Salafi Caliphate publicity stunt than a careful recreation of jizya as practiced by the early Caliphs”.
Islamic State jihadists have expressed their specific intent to kill all Christians if they do not convert or, sometimes, pay jizya.
The Islamic State arbitrarily imposes the jizya, slaughtering some Christians while releasing others. These actions are all intended to present a veneer of legitimacy to what is actually a barbaric and evil practice with only one goal – world domination and elimination of anyone who refuses to bow a knee to their jihadist worldview.
As our letter points out, the arguments also fail under international law:
Reliance on jizya to deny genocide also fails under international law. Forcible conversion coupled with destruction of Christian places of worship are acts that by their very nature are intended to destroy Christians as a religious group. Destruction of places of worship is generally “designed to annihilate the centuries-long presence of the group”. If Christians succumb to forced conversion, there will be no such group called Christians in Iraq and Syria. If they do not convert and refuse (or are unable) to pay jizya, they will be killed. Either way, Christians as a religious group will cease to exist in the region—a clearly stated and demonstrated goal of the Islamic State. Moreover, just because the Islamic State may allow some Christians to pay jizya to spare their lives does not negate Islamic State actors’ intent to destroy Christians as a religious group. The fact that some Christians have not been killed does not legitimize the many instances where thousands have been killed.
Furthermore, international law does not require that the targeted group be destroyed completely in order for it to constitute genocide. Intending to destroy the targeted group “in part” fully suffices. As such, one cannot legitimately claim that, because some Christians can, allegedly, save their lives by paying jizya, the Islamic State is not engaged in the genocide of Christians. A substantial number of Christians have already been killed. More will be killed if they either decline to pay or cannot pay jizya. Converting to Islam, paying jizya, or suffering death, all amount to “[d]eliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part” under subparagraph (c) of the Genocide Convention’s definition of genocide.
The jizya tax is a devious ploy of the Islamic State used to extort money from Christians, often right before they turn around and murder those same Christians or expel them from their homeland. Jizya should never be legitimized, especially by an international legal body holding itself out as protecting human rights.
Our second letter sent last week was delivered to Germany’s Ambassador to the U.N. In it we thanked Germany for their acknowledgment of the shortcomings in the report acknowledging genocide against Yazidis, but not Christians. In addition, we provided Germany with the letter we sent to the U.N. Commission addressing Germany’s important question and outlining why Christians should be formally recognized as genocide victims as well.
Each of these letters is vital in our ongoing campaign to urge the international community to meet their obligations under treaties and laws to stop the genocide and protect Christians and other religious minorities.
We will not stop fighting on your behalf to be heard for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.
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