Committee declares “genocide” committed against Christians, Yezidis

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), unanimously passed two bipartisan measures to address war crimes and genocide in the Middle East.   Specifically, the measures condemn ISIS’s genocide against Christians, Yezidis and other ethnic and religious minorities, and call for an international tribunal to hold the brutal Assad regime accountable for war crimes.

On passage of the bills, Chairman Royce said:  “ISIS commits mass murder, beheadings, crucifixions, rape, torture, enslavement, and the kidnaping of children, among other atrocities.  ISIS has said it will not allow the continued existence of the Yezidi.  And zero indigenous Christian communities remain in areas under ISIS control.  So as ISIS destroys churches and other holy sites, they move closer towards eliminating certain communities.  Put simply, their desire is to erase the existence of ethnic and religious minorities from their self-proclaimed caliphate, by any means necessary.  ISIS is guilty of genocide and it is time we speak the truth about their atrocities.  I hope the administration and the world will do the same, before it’s too late.

“But we shouldn’t condemn ISIS atrocities without also denouncing the horrendous war crimes being perpetrated on a massive scale by Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.  For several years, this Committee has heard searing testimony regarding the terrible atrocities being committed by Syria’s government against its own people — widespread torture, industrial-scale murder, starvation as a tool of war, and the terror of unending barrel bombs.  Today’s resolution calls for the creation of an international tribunal to hold those responsible for these heinous crimes accountable – giving hope to those suffering today.”

The war crimes and genocide measures the Committee passed:

  • H. Con. Res. 121, introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), strongly condemns the gross violations of international law amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Government of Syria, its allies, and other parties to the conflict in Syria; and calls on the President to promote the establishment of a Syrian war crimes tribunal;
  • as amended, H. Con. Res. 75, introduced by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), expresses the sense of Congress that the atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians, Yezidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

A summary of the Committee action, including adopted amendments, will be available HERE.