WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of State John Kerry, under mounting pressure, has determined that the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS) has committed genocide against Christians, Yazidis, Shiite groups, and other minorities in areas it controls.
“The declaration, while long sought by Congress and human rights groups, changes little,” notes The Associated Press (AP). “It does not obligate the United States to take additional action against IS militants and does not prejudge any prosecution against its members.”
Although his determination does not carry much weight, the secretary of state noted that he hoped the groups he identified as victims would take some comfort in the fact that the “the United States recognizes and confirms the despicable nature of the crimes committed against them.”
Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) introduced a non-binding resolution earlier this week, condemning ISIS atrocities as genocide, that passed with broad bipartisan support, by a 393-0 vote.
The resolution and others who have advocated for the declaration put pressure on the Obama administration to acknowledged that the atrocities perpetrated by ISIS against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria constitute “genocide.”
Kerry told reporters on Thursday:
My purpose in appearing before you today is to assert that, in my judgment, Daesh [Arabic acronym for ISIS] is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shiite Muslims.
Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions — in what it says, what it believes, and what it does. Daesh is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.
On Wednesday, the State Department disclosed that Kerry would miss the congressionally mandated deadline of March 17 for the Obama administration to determine whether ISIS perpetrated mass killings, kidnappings, and rapes against Christians in the Middle East and the destruction of their religious property amounts to “genocide.”
The deadline was imposed by the omnibus bill that President Obama signed into law in December 2015.
Kerry noted on Thursday:
The fact is that Daesh kills Christians because they are Christians; Yezidis because they are Yezidis; Shiite because they are Shiite. This is the message it conveys to children under its control. Its entire worldview is based on eliminating those who do not subscribe to its perverse ideology….
I want to be clear. I am neither judge, nor prosecutor, nor jury with respect to the allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing by specific persons. Ultimately, the full facts must be brought to light by an independent investigation and through formal legal determination made by a competent court or tribunal.
He vowed that the United States will do everything in its power to see that ISIS is held accountable.