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New report details ‘genocide’ by Islamic State against Christians, minorities

10 Mar 2016 – By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians contend that Christians in Libya, Iraq and Syria are victims of genocide carried out by the Islamic State in a new report.

The 278-page document was released 10 March in Washington, a week before a congressionally mandated deadline for the Department of State to announce if genocide was being committed against religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East and North Africa by the Islamic State.

It argues that the case for genocide exists and called on Secretary of State John Kerry to make such a declaration and to include Christians in it.

The organizations delivered the report to Kerry 9 March.

Carl Anderson, Knights of Columbus CEO, said during a news conference introducing the report that the evidence uncovered supports a declaration of genocide by the U.S. government. He said that the dozens of atrocities uncovered “may only be the tip of the iceberg.”

“Over and over again, we report that as bad as things are, we expect that things are far worse,” he said.

If a genocide declaration is made, the perpetrators of the violence then can be indicted and eventually brought to trial, Anderson added. Until such a designation is made, he explained, Islamic State members can continue acting with impunity toward anyone they claim does not adhere to their fundamentalist beliefs.

State Department officials hinted in October that a genocide designation was coming for the Yezidi minority in the region, but not for Christians. The comments led to a firestorm of protest from Christian groups that resulted in congressional action setting the 17 March deadline for Kerry to respond.

Several participants in the news conference called for any genocide declaration to include Christians. Omitting any group from the designation would allow Islamic State militants to continue their attacks on those communities without fear of legal prosecution, they said.

The report contains dozens of statements collected from 22 February through 3 March from witnesses and victims of atrocities carried out by Islamic State forces. The incidents include torture, rapes, kidnappings, murder, forced conversions, bombings and the destruction of religious property and monuments.

“Murder of Christians is commonplace. Many have been killed in front of their own families,” said the report, titled “Genocide Against Christians in the Middle East.”

It cites statements from religious leaders, including Pope Francis, and conclusions from the European Parliament, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and the Iraqi and Kurdish governments, all of which have labeled the Islamic State’s actions as genocide.

Father Douglas Bazi, who ministers in a camp for 400 displaced persons in Irbil, Iraq, explained that the incidents detailed in the report are just a few among the thousands he has heard from people forced to flee the Islamic State in Iraq.

“If we do not declare a genocide, we are not saying the truth," said the priest, who was held for nine days and beaten with a hammer after the church he was assigned to was bombed by the militants.

“I am here to tell you that my people feel they are forgotten and they are alone,” he said.

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