New report details 'genocide' by Islamic State against Christians, minorities

IMAGE: CNS photo/Stringer, Reuters

By Dennis Sadowski

(CNS) — The Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians contend that
Christians in Libya, Iraq and Syria are victims of genocide carried out by the
Islamic State in a new report.

278-page document was released March 10 in Washington, a week before a
congressionally mandated deadline for the Department of State to announce if
genocide was being committed against religious and ethnic minorities in the
Middle East and North Africa by the Islamic State.

argues that the case for genocide exists and called on Secretary of State John
Kerry to make such a declaration and to include Christians in it.

organizations delivered the report to Kerry March 9.

Anderson, Knights of Columbus CEO, said during a news conference introducing
the report that the evidence uncovered supports a declaration of genocide by
the U.S. government. He said that the dozens of atrocities uncovered “may
only be the tip of the iceberg.”

and over again, we report that as bad as things are, we expect that things are far
worse,” he said.

If a
genocide declaration is made, the perpetrators of the violence then can be
indicted and eventually brought to trial, Anderson added. Until such a
designation is made, he explained, Islamic State members can continue acting
with impunity toward anyone they claim does not adhere to their fundamentalist

Department officials hinted in October that a genocide designation was coming
for the Yezidi minority in the region, but not for Christians. The comments led
to a firestorm of protest from Christian groups that resulted in congressional
action setting the March 17 deadline for Kerry to respond.

participants in the news conference called for any genocide declaration to
include Christians. Omitting any group from the designation would allow Islamic
State militants to continue their attacks on those communities without fear of
legal prosecution, they said.

report contains dozens of statements collected from Feb. 22 through March 3
from witnesses and victims of atrocities carried out by Islamic State forces.
The incidents include torture, rapes, kidnappings, murder, forced conversions,
bombings and the destruction of religious property and monuments.

of Christians is commonplace. Many have been killed in front of their own
families,” said the report, titled “Genocide Against Christians in
the Middle East.”

cites statements from religious leaders, including Pope Francis, and
conclusions from the European Parliament, the U.S. Commission on International
Religious Freedom and the Iraqi and Kurdish governments, all of which have
labeled the Islamic State’s actions as genocide.

Douglas Bazi, who ministers in a camp for 400 displaced persons in Irbil, Iraq,
explained that the incidents detailed in the report are just a few among the
thousands he has heard from people forced to flee the Islamic State in Iraq.

we do not declare a genocide, we are not saying the truth,” said the
priest, who was held for nine days and beaten with a hammer after the church he
was assigned to was bombed by the militants.

am here to tell you that my people feel they are forgotten and they are
alone,” he said.

said the report is an early step in raising awareness of the violence being
carried out against Christians and other religious minorities by the Islamic
State. He expressed hope that people will come to realize that it is time to
speak out for those being attacked, kidnapped, threatened, injured and killed.

report includes a legal brief directed toward Kerry detailing the case for a
genocide designation.

European Parliament adopted a resolution in February stating that the Islamic
State was “committing genocide against Christians and Yezidis and other
religious and ethnic minorities who do not agree with the so-called ISIS/Daesh
interpretation of Islam, and that this, therefore, entails action under the
1948 U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom called on the U.S. government
in December to designate Christian, Yezidi, Shiite Muslim, Turkmen and Shabak
communities in Iraq and Syria as victims of genocide by the Islamic State.

Knights of Columbus and the Washington-based In Defense of Christians began a
petition campaign in late February asking Kerry to make a genocide declaration.
The organizations said more than 50,000 people had signed on through March 9.

organization highlighted numerous Christian religious leaders and prominent
people who signed the petition. Among them were Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of
Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops;
Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the bishops’
Committee on International Justice and Peace; Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New
York, chairman of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association; Archbishop Jose
H. Gomez of Los Angeles; Bishop A. Elias Zaidan of the Maronite Eparchy of Los
Angeles; and Andrew Benton, president of Pepperdine University.

Gomez explained his stance while lamenting the March 4 deaths of four
Missionaries of Charity sisters and 12 other people killed by uniformed gunmen
who entered the home the sisters operate for the elderly and disabled in Yemen,
in a column for Angelus, the online edition of The Tidings, the archdiocesan

is clear that what the so-called Islamic State is doing to Christians and other
minority groups in Iraq and Syria fits the United Nations’ definition —
violence and killing with ‘intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national,
ethnical, racial or religious group,'” he wrote.

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Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

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