John Kerry: ISIS Is Responsible for Genocide Against Christians

Days after unanimous House vote, Secretary of State finally agrees with international religious freedom advocates.

“We know that in areas under its control, [ISIS] has made a systematic effort to destroy the cultural heritage of ancient communities—destroying Armenian, Syrian Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches; blowing up monasteries and the tombs of prophets; desecrating cemeteries,” said Kerry. “ … We know that [ISIS] has threatened Christians by saying that it will, quote, ‘conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women.’”

 

Secretary of State John Kerry has declared that ISIS is committing genocide against Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East.

Speaking from the State Department on Thursday morning, the day of the deadline for his decision, Kerry said:

My purpose in appearing before you to today is to assert that, in my judgment, Daesh [ISIS] is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims.

[ISIS] is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions—in what it says, what it believes, and what it does. Daesh is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups, and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.

He cited the examples of ISIS killing Christians in Mosul and Qaraqosh “solely because of their faith,” as well as forcing Christian and Yazidi women into sexual slavery.

“We know that in areas under its control, [ISIS] has made a systematic effort to destroy the cultural heritage of ancient communities—destroying Armenian, Syrian Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches; blowing up monasteries and the tombs of prophets; desecrating cemeteries,” said Kerry. “ … We know that [ISIS] has threatened Christians by saying that it will, quote, ‘conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women.’”

He noted:

One element of genocide is the intent to destroy an ethnic or religious group, in whole or in part. We know that [ISIS] has given some of its victims a choice between abandoning their faith or being killed, and that for many is a choice between one kind of death and another.

The fact is that [ISIS] kills Christians because they are Christians; Yazidis because they are Yazidis; Shia because they are Shia. This is the message it conveys to children under its control. Its entire worldview is based on eliminating those who do not subscribe to its perverse ideology. There is no question in my mind that if [ISIS] succeeded in establishing its so-called caliphate, it would seek to destroy what remains of ethnic and religious mosaic once thriving in the region.

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