The killing and enslavement of Christians and Yazidis by Islamic State must be recognised as genocide, a group of Parliamentarians has said. They have written to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, urging him to use his influence in the United Nations to ensure that the term ‘genocide’ is used in relation to the slaughter of minority groups in Iraq and Syria.
Rob Flello MP and the cross-bench peer Lord Alton, both Catholics, have said that the label is not just a matter of semantics, but would send the message that those responsible would be caught, tried and punished.
There is evidence that Islamic State is responsible for the assassination of church leaders, mass murder, torture, kidnapping for ransom and “the sexual enslavement and systematic rape of Christian girls and women”, the letter said, according to the BBC. It has been signed by 60 parliamentarians across the two Houses of Parliament.
In addition, the letter attested that Islamic State is carrying out “forcible conversions to Islam”, as well as the destruction of Christian property and artefacts including churches and cemeteries, and theft of lands and wealth from Christian clergy.
“This is not simply a matter of semantics,” the letter said.
“There would be two main benefits from the acceptance by the UN that genocide is being perpetrated.
“First, it would send a very clear message to those organising and undertaking this slaughter that at some point in the future they will be held accountable by the international community for their actions; they will be caught, tried and punished.
“Second, it would encourage the 127 nations that are signatories to the Convention to face up to their duty to take the necessary action to ‘prevent and punish’ the perpetrators of these evil acts.”
Article II of the 1948 U.N. Genocide Convention defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:
“Killing members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
“Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
“Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
“May I also invite him once again to remind the British people that we are a country fashioned by our Christian heritage and it is that heritage that has resulted in our giving refuge to so many of other faiths over so many centuries, but that we will not tolerate those who abuse our freedom to try to inflict their alien and violent fashions upon us, particularly in the name of Islam?” he added
Mr Cameron replied: “[W]e should do everything we can to defend and protect the right of Christians to practise their faith the world over. That is an important part of our foreign policy.”
“Britain is a Christian country,” he said, adding: “I believe that the fact that we have an established faith and that we understand the place of faith in our national life makes us a more tolerant nation and better able to accommodate other faith groups in our country.
“That is why, as I said earlier, we should be proud that this is one of the most successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith, multi-religion democracies anywhere in the world. That is not in conflict with our status as a predominantly Christian country; that status is one of the reasons why we have done it.”