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ACN welcomes US State Department's charging ISIS with 'genocide' of Christians
"One does not have to wait until nobody is left to tell the story in order to call it genocide."
NEW YORK)—International Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has welcomed the decision of the US State Department to classify the suffering Christians and other minorities have endured at the hands of ISIS as “genocide.”
The use of the term—which has a precise, technical meaning in international law—could open the door to action to stop those groups who seek the elimination of Christianity in its birthplace, and holds out the possibility of justice and redress for the victims.
Aid to the Church in Need has received reports about attacks against Christian communities—which are now being recognized as genocidal acts—from representatives of the Catholic Church in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and, recently, in several African and Asian countries where the so-called Islamic State has attempted to eliminate Christians.
“Death is not the only condition which justifies the term genocide,” said ACNUSA’s Chairman George Marlin, who stressed that “the UN Convention (for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide) states that the declared intention to destroy in whole or in part an ethnic, cultural, racial or religious group means that the act of the perpetrator is genocide. One does not have to wait until nobody is left to tell the story in order to call it genocide.”
The account of acts of genocide as communicated to ACN by its project partners include murder, physical and mental harm, forcing groups into dire living conditions, the segregation of men and women, and the forcible transfer of children away from their parents.
“There is no need to create new terms to describe what is happening to us”, said Bishop Antoine Chbeir of Latakia, Syria. “All acts of genocide are crimes against humanity but not vice versa. And [if a situation is declared to be a genocide] the UN has clearly prescribed actions to follow with its members that do not necessarily include sending soldiers on the ground.”
The UN Convention mandates its signatory countries to stop genocide as it develops, not only by those direct perpetrators, but also any accomplices and enablers—including those funding them.
The US State Department decision joins other recent initiatives that are part of a global effort to stop the genocide against Christians and other minorities, notably expressed by the resolutions of the European Parliament (February 2016) and the Council of Europe (January 2016).
Maronite cathedral, St. Elias, in Aleppo, Syria; ACN photo