Throughout the Middle East, ISIS – the Islamic State – is beheading, raping, enslaving, torturing, and executing Christians and other religious minorities with one goal – exterminating them forever.
This week, the ACLJ joined non-governmental organizations, scholars, and religious leaders from around the country in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to publically acknowledge that the Islamic State’s actions constitute genocide against Christians, Yezidis, Shia Muslims and other religious minorities. In addition, the letter was also delivered to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The letter sent from the International Religious Freedom Roundtable details the atrocities committed against these groups and documents the Islamic State’s express intent to annihilate these religious minorities from the region and eventually the entire world.
The letter opens:
Dear Mr. President,
We write as an informal and diverse group of non-governmental organizations and individuals who are scholars, religious leaders, and human rights advocates to express our grave concern for religious minorities, among them Yezidis, Christians and Shia Muslims, at the hands of the Islamic State. We urge you to formally declare the systematic destruction of these ancient communities a genocide.
Mounting evidence indisputably shows the Islamic State’s ongoing genocidal campaign in the Middle East through its attempts to create a global caliphate devoid of religious freedom and diversity. For more than a year, the news headlines have been replete with stories of almost unimaginable human suffering caused by the Islamic State. Religious minorities in these lands, among them the ancient Christian, Yezidi and Shia Muslim communities, have suffered grave injustices: displacement, forced conversion, kidnapping, rape and death.
The letter then goes on to outline what constitutes genocide under international law and details why the actions of the Islamic State undoubtedly fit this definition.
The letter closes by stating the importance of formally labeling the ISIS actions as genocide:
Under the Islamic State, religious minorities now face an existential crisis and live on the edge of extinction in the lands that many have inhabited since antiquity. These communities will continue on a trajectory of tragic and precipitous decline into eventual non-existence without swift moral leadership on behalf of the administration and the international community.
It is our belief that officially declaring and subsequently halting this genocide and its spread is a matter of vital moral and strategic importance for the United States, the international community, and the overall state of religious freedom around the world. Perhaps equally as important, such a declaration will give a stronger voice to the long-suffering victims while furthering and sharpening ideological engagement against those currently at the forefront of this campaign.
It is critical that the United States, where we pride ourselves so much in being a beacon of freedom and human rights around the world, leads the world by speaking with absolute clarity about the wickedness of ISIS’ actions. In order to do this, we must not be afraid to declare what ISIS is doing as genocide.
After World War II, when the international community declared it would do whatever it took to ensure the genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity would never happen again, the United States led the way. And today, with these atrocities happening right in front of us, the U.S. must lead again.
A declaration that ISIS is guilty of genocide by the Obama Administration would compliment the bipartisan efforts of Congress to do the very same thing. House Concurrent Resolution 75 was recently introduced with the endorsement of 40 members of Congress. If passed, it will formally recognize ISIS’ actions as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
If the United States cannot unequivocally call ISIS’ campaign genocide, then what does the word even mean?
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