From The Armenian Weekly
WASHINGTON (A.W.)—U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a press statement on March 17 that the militant Islamic group ISIL/Da’esh has and is continuing to commit genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and Shiite Muslims in Syria and Iraq. The U.S. Congress had set a March 17 deadline for Kerry and the State Department to make public their findings about labeling Da’esh’s crimes as genocide. Kerry’s statement marks the first time that the U.S. has used the term “genocide” to describe an ongoing conflict since Darfur in 2004. Kerry also condemned Da’esh’s ongoing destruction of cultural heritage, including Armenian churches and other historical monuments.
“We know that in areas under its control, Da’esh 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; and in Palmyra, even beheading the 83-year-old scholar who had spent a lifetime preserving antiquities there,” said Kerry, who called the militant group “genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions.”
“The fact is that Da’esh kills Christians because they are Christians; Yezidis because they are Yezidis; Shia because they are Shia,” said Kerry, stating that the group’s entire worldview “is based on eliminating those who do not subscribe to its perverse ideology.”
Kerry also said that naming these crimes is important; and stopping them is essential. “That will require unity in this country and within the countries directly involved, and the determination to act against genocide, against ethnic cleansing, against the other crimes against humanity must be pronounced among decent people all across the globe,” said Kerry.
Watch Kerry’s remarks below.
U.S. House Unanimously Condemns Genocide of Middle East Christians, Minorities
Kerry’s statement comes three days after the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously condemned as genocide the group’s ongoing crimes against Christians in the Middle East by adopting H.Con.Res.75. On March 14, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) reported that H.Con.Res.75 was adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously (393 to 0), condemning the ongoing Da’esh crimes against Christians—including Armenians and Assyrians—as well as Yezidis and other religious minorities in the Middle East.
H.Con.Res.75 was spearheaded by the co-chairs of the House Caucus for Religious Minorities in the Middle East, Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nev.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), both of whom offered powerful remarks following passage of the measure. Eshoo made specific reference to her Armenian and Assyrian ancestry, noting the importance of House reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide.