Date: March 14, 2016
If passed, the vote on Resolution 75 will put additional pressure on the U.S. administration as Thursday’s deadline looms.
If the crimes are actually labeled as genocide, leaders of the international community are bound by law to do the following: establish a criminal court to try the accused (ISIS) and determine appropriate punishments for the crimes committed.
Steve Oshana, A Demand for Action’s Executive Director, issued the following statement via Facebook:
“…words matter. The resolution as amended will serve to amplify the legislative efforts we have been pursing since the so-called Islamic State first began their campaign of terror against the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac people and others.
“Let us never forget that this is simply the next step, albeit a critical one, in the march towards justice. Our work does not and cannot end here.”
Members of the Obama administration have been hesitant to use the genocide label. When questioned directly by Congressman Jeff Fortenberry on February 24, Secretary of State John Kerry hemmed and hawed.
“I share just a huge sense of revulsion over these acts, obviously. None of us have ever seen anything like this in our lifetimes, though obviously if you go back to the Holocaust, the world has seen it.
“We are currently doing what I have to do, which is to review very carefully the legal standards and precedents for whatever judgment is made…. I’ve asked for some further evaluation, and I will make a decision on it as soon as I have that additional evaluation. And we will proceed forward from there.”
Soon after, the Knights of Columbus issued a lengthy report to Kerry, complete with legal briefs, witness statements, and evidence.
These are but a few of the claims highlighted in the report:
- Patriarch Ignatius Youssef III Younan of Antioch, Syria, asserts that over a thousand Christians have been killed by ISIS in Syria, and over 500 in Iraq.
- Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo, Syria, asserts that hundreds of Christians have been killed or kidnapped in Aleppo, and up to “thousands” throughout Syria.
Christian homes in Mosul were marked with the Arabic letter “N” for Nazarite and “Property of the Islamic State.”
(Image, caption courtesy Vision Beyond Borders)
- From a witness statement: “They [ISIS] said if you didn’t convert to Islam, you would be killed…. They put their swords on our necks and threatened us.”
“Hardline Islam is going to go after Christians; it’s just normal that they will, because they can’t force [Christians] to accept their message,” says author and Middle East expert, Tom Doyle.
“It angers them, and they’re going to persecute [Christians]; they’re going to kill them. Last year, in 2015, it was called the ‘Year of the Martyr.'”
Whether labeled as genocide or not, the atrocities committed against Christians by ISIS were part of what led Doyle to pen Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It’s Not Safe to Believe.
“As far as we know, in hundreds of years…this is the highest number of martyrs we’ve had [in 2015], and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to write Killing Christians – to show believers what it’s like to live in the midst of ISIS,” says Doyle.
“[Believers are] living from hour to hour, knowing that they could be persecuted, knowing that they could be killed.”
Despite heated debate surrounding the genocide label and ongoing ISIS horrors, Doyle says a silver lining exists.
“I was just talking with a national leader in Syria, and he said this: ‘The amazing thing about all that we’re going through is that Jesus-followers, the Church, has never grown faster in Syria.'”
Most of the above-ground churches in Syria have been destroyed by ISIS. But it’s not stopping the breakout of “underground” fellowships, where Muslim-background believers are meeting in the middle of the night to pray, learn, and grow.
“Politically, there’s not a lot of solutions on the horizon that look good, but Jesus is bringing peace to Alowites that follow Him now, and former Sunni Muslims.”
- Pray for God’s Kingdom to continue growing in ISIS territory.
- Pray that new believers will find peace in Christ and continue following Him despite multiple dangers.
- Pray for God’s will to be done in the Middle East.
- Pray for Christian lawmakers in the U.S. and Europe who are trying to protect our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.