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Associated Press Photo

UPDATE: (3/17/16) United States: Islamic State committed genocide against Christians, Shi’ites.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry:

“The fact is that Daesh kills Christians because they are Christians. Yazidis because they are Yazidis. Shi’ites because they are Shi’ites,” Kerry said, referring to the group by an Arabic acronym, and accusing it of crimes against humanity and of ethnic cleansing.

Video of Secretary Kerry giving his statement on the Islamic State is now included at the bottom of this post.

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In a rare 393 to 0 vote, The U.S. House has officially condemned the Islamic State and its crimes against humanity, by passing H. Con. Res. 75. The hope is that this will give greater attention to and eventually action to help the victims of the Islamic State.   Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry  (R-NE), this bill “[expresses] the sense of Congress that the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL [The Islamic State of of Iraq and the Levant] against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria include war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.” [emphasis added]

This bill declares that:

  • the atrocities committed against Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities targeted specifically for religious reasons are crimes against humanity and genocide;
  • each of the Contracting Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and other international agreements forbidding war crimes and crimes against humanity, particularly the governments of countries and their nationals who are in any way supporting these crimes, are reminded of their legal obligations under the Convention and these international agreements;
  • the United Nations (U.N.) and the Secretary-General are called upon to assert leadership by calling the atrocities war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide;
  • the member states of the U.N., with an appeal to the Arab States that wish to uphold religious freedom and justice, should collaborate on measures to prevent further war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, and collaborate on the establishment of tribunals to punish those responsible for the ongoing crimes;
  • the governments of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Lebanese Republic, and other countries are commended for having undertaken to shelter and protect those fleeing extremist violence; and
  • those who force the migration of religious communities from their ancestral homelands, including specifically the Nineveh Plain and Mount Sinjar, should be prosecuted in accordance with the laws of the place where their crimes were committed and under applicable international criminal statutes and conventions.

The bill has moved to the Senate, but no vote has been scheduled yet. For background and an in-depth look at the implications of this bill, I recommend reading ‘s recent analysis for the Washington Post.

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