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A welcome decision – #CallItGenocide

 Aid to the Church in Need welcomes news of the US State Department’s decision to classify the persecution of Christians by ISIS as “genocide”.

Königstein, March 18, 2016 – Aid to the Church in Need welcomes 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.

Johannes Freiherr Heereman, président exécutif d'Aide à l'Église en Détresse International.
Johannes Freiherr Heereman, Executive President of Aid to the Church in Need

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, lately, 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 ACN’s Executive President Johannes Heereman, “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 – and indeed should not – wait until nobody is left to tell the story in order to call it genocide.”

The 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.

Pictures from Ignatio Zori - Trip Iraq March 2015 Communication“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 within a global movement to stop the genocide against Christians and other minorities, notably the resolutions of the European Parliament (February 4, 2016) and the Council of Europe (January 27, 2016).

Here in Canada, ACN sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling on his government to recognize the genocide underway.  For the time being, National Director Marie-Claude Lalonde has received acknowledgement from the prime minister’s office.

Support the campaign through your social media channels by sharing ACN information using the hashtag:

#CallItGenocide.

 

 


 

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