News / USA

    US House Declares IS Atrocities Against Christians, Yazidis Constitute Genocide

    FILE - This undated image made from video released by Islamic State militants April 19, 2015, purports to show a group of captured Ethiopian Christians taken to a beach before being executed.
    FILE - This undated image made from video released by Islamic State militants April 19, 2015, purports to show a group of captured Ethiopian Christians taken to a beach before being executed.
    Cindy Saine

    The U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed, by a 383-to-0 vote, a bipartisan resolution declaring that systemic violence committed by Islamic State (IS) against Christians, Yazidis, Kurds and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria constitutes genocide.

    The resolution calls on all governments — including the United States — to "call ISIL [IS] atrocities by their rightful names: war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide."

    The resolution was sponsored by Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska and Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo of California, and had 200 co-sponsors from both parties.

    Fortenberry spoke Monday on the House floor, saying the measure rises above partisan politics because IS’s killing of civilians and destruction of churches, temples and monasteries is a threat to civilization itself.

    Fortenberry, who said he represents the largest Yazidi community in America in Lincoln, Nebraska, said the resolution is more than just symbolic.

    "A genocide designation will raise international consciousness and compel the international community of responsible nations to act, setting the preconditions for the reintegration of ancient ethnic groups and faith traditions into their ancestral homelands," he said.

    FILE - Assyrians citizens hold placards during a sit-in for abducted Christians in Syria and Iraq, at a church in Sabtiyesh area east Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 26, 2015.
    FILE - Assyrians citizens hold placards during a sit-in for abducted Christians in Syria and Iraq, at a church in Sabtiyesh area east Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 26, 2015.

    The measure outlines IS atrocities against Christians and other groups, including "mass murder, crucifixions, beheadings, rape, torture, enslavement and the kidnapping of children." It says those acts are deliberately calculated to eliminate those religious and ethnic communities from the so-called Islamic State caliphate the group has declared across parts of Iraq and Syria.

    Democratic Representative Brad Sherman of California also supported the resolution.

    He said the most significant thing the United States is doing to defeat IS is conducting airstrikes. Those airstrikes are limited by the rules of engagement, he said, and the U.S. has to be prepared to hit strategic targets such as convoys if it wants to defeat IS. The international community has to work together diplomatically and militarily to stop IS, Sherman said.

    Pressure on administration

    The vote on the resolution comes just three days ahead of a deadline set by Congress for Secretary of State John Kerry to deliver the Obama administration's decision on whether it will declare that IS atrocities in Iraq and Syria constitute genocide.

    Administration officials said the decision will come soon, but added that Kerry may not meet the March 17 deadline set by Congress.

    Appearing before Congress last month, Kerry said the determination "has to be done on the basis of the legal standard with respect to genocide and the legal standard with respect to crimes against humanity."

    A determination by the State Department has potential legal consequences. This would only be the second time a U.S. administration has declared genocide while a conflict is ongoing — the first time was in 2004, in Sudan's Darfur region.

    The House vote is intended to increase the pressure on the Obama administration to make a decision as lawmakers and religious leaders become increasingly impatient.

    The House also passed by a 392-to-3 vote a resolution condemning the "gross violations of international law amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity" by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, its allies and other parties to the Syrian conflict.

    It calls on President Barack Obama to promote the establishment of an international war crimes tribunal to address those crimes.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Wajid Khan from: New York
    March 15, 2016 2:02 PM
    IRAQI MAJORITY GOVERNMENT TOPPLED BY USA AND UK ILLEGALLY WITHOUT CONSENT OF UNO IN 2003 AND AFTER THAT MILLIONS OF IRAQI MUSLIMS KILLED AND REFUGE? SO BATH PARTY DID NOT DIE? THEY TURN INTO NEW SLOGAN ON ISIS AND CRUSHED IRAQI AND SYRIA APART! AND THEY CRUSHED THOSE WHO WERE IN SUPPORT OF USA,UK OR SHIA GOVERNMENTS? THAT IS WHY REACTION SIGHTED IN LEVANT.

    by: williweb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
    March 15, 2016 12:34 PM
    On a completely different front, we don't want to prosecute them, we want to kill them. Many tens of thousands of IS fighters have already paid the ultimate price for what they have done. We will continue until every trace of their so called caliphate has been completely eradicated for all time.

    by: Mark from: Virginia
    March 15, 2016 11:37 AM
    Well, now THAT is finally established, the wording has been officially adopted by Congress. See, the government can unanimously get something done, they can fully agree on something, after all.... Question remains, however, now that they have the legalities out of the way, what will they do about it, besides talk?

    by: Lou from: Atlanta
    March 15, 2016 10:00 AM
    Took them a long time to figure this out. Maybe they should be reading VOANews.Com.

    by: HG Gbahn from: Liberia
    March 15, 2016 9:54 AM
    Jihadi terrorism is not a movement targeting a specific group, religion, country or region now; it is rapidly becoming a global issue that needs a global collaborative answer aggressively. The treatment for every bad sore is proactive, antagonistic medication.

    by: annymous from: usa
    March 15, 2016 8:21 AM
    thank God that we have honest conscious lawmaker to declare honest assessment for poor Christian whom are subjected to prosecution because of their faith . it will be nicer that our president Obama do the same thing .

    by: meanbill from: USA
    March 15, 2016 7:58 AM
    Strange isn't it? .. Only after the ISIL beheaded 3 Americans did Obama call their atrocities terrorist acts, and promised that the US would bring the perpetrators to justice, and Biden said the US would follow the perpetrators to the gates of hell? .. From 2011 to 2014 they had been rebels fighting against Assad and Syria, even though they were raping, enslaving, torturing and killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians, and even after the ISIL invaded Iraq, [but], when they beheaded 3 Americans they finally became terrorists? .. Go figure it?

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