A priest from Iraq literally waved the bloody shirt Thursday at the National Press Club as he described the terror and genocide being experienced by Christians in the Middle East at the hands of Islamic State radicals.
A parish priest in Baghdad, Father Douglas Al-Bazi was kidnapped by Islamic radicals in 2006 and tortured for nine days. He said his kidnappers used a hammer to pound out his teeth and break his nose. The bloody shirt he waved was the shirt he wore during his torture.
Al-Bazi was part of a panel of Middle Eastern experts that met Thursday to put pressure on the Obama administration to apply the name “genocide” to what is happening to Christians in the territory now controlled by the Islamic State.
The group, led by Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, say whole communities of Christians in the Middle East have fallen to the sword of Islamic State radicals and that Christians are being specifically targeted for extermination by ISIS. In the territory they control, ISIS has been largely successful.
According to Hudson Institute expert Nina Shea, “There are no operational Christian communities in any of the territory now controlled by ISIS.”
Yet, the Obama administration refuses to call this genocide, a term advocates say not only accurately describes the situation, but a term that fits within international law and demands action.
A 280-page report, Genocide against Christians in the Middle East, was prepared for the State Department by the Knights of Columbus and the group In Defense of Christians.
Carl Anderson spoke to the press and said, “The major report makes the case that the terror campaign being waged by ISIS and its affiliates against Christians and other religious minorities meets the definition of genocide” in international law.
The report includes “substantial material not previously available, including the most comprehensive information to date on Christians who have been killed, kidnapped, raped, sold into slavery, driven from their homes, and dispossessed, as well as churches that have been destroyed,” said Anderson.
The report is a compendium of horror, including the names of more than 1,000 Christians martyred by Islamic radicals, along with a lengthy list of documented attacks on Christians and Christian institutions. The report includes horrifying witness statements, 11-month-old babies beaten and thrown against the wall, and much else.
The group — that included a Coptic Bishop, a Christian refugee from Iran, and a legal expert from the law school at Catholic University of America — are frustrated that the U.S. Department of State will not join the European Union and the U.S. House of Representatives in calling the situation “genocide.”
They say the U.S. was shamed before in not acting in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, where whole villages were hacked to death with machetes.
According to international law that the U.S. is a party to, genocide includes “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such; killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part…” The prevention and punishment of genocide is generally considered one of the few widely accepted examples of a peremptory norm: A crime that can be tried and punished in any jurisdiction, which no nation can opt out of.
Johnnie Moore, author of Defying ISIS: Preventing Christianity in the Place of its Birth and in Your Own Backyard, said to the press on Thursday, “What will we tell our children if we fail to call this genocide?” He reminded the group of the fresh killings in Yemen a week ago where Nuns of Mother Theresa’s order were shot in the head. “Christian persecution is now viral,” he said. “They believe they can do this and no one will hold them accountable, and they might actually be right.”
Robert Destro, professor of law at Catholic Univeristy of America, said the administration is resisting naming the situation genocide and laid the blame at the feet of the State Department Deputy Legal Advisor Mary McLeod, warning history will judge her badly.
It was unclear what the group wants the administration to do except officially call it “genocide,” but Destro said he would like to see the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control get involved and track the money supporting ISIS. “I’d like to see a banker dragged out of his hole and charged with complicity to genocide,” he said.
Thursday’s press conference was precipitated by Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) whose resolution naming the unfolding Christian tragedy “genocide” was passed by unanimous consent by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs last week. His spokesman told Breitbart News that more will be happening on this issue and soon.