A group of legal experts, religious leaders and other advocates wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Dec. 4, asking him to a briefing with a delegation on why ISIS' campaign against Christians in Iraq and Syria is, in fact a genocide.
ISIS has waged genocide against not only Yazidis, but also Christians, Shi'a Muslims, and Turkmen and Shabak communities in Iraq and Syria, said the independent, bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a religious liberty watchdog that makes policy recommendations to the State Department. On Dec. 7, the commission urged the administration to make a genocide designation for all those communities.
"We have adequate proof already of the intent to commit genocide by ISIS against Christians and against Shi'a Muslims," Stanton stated in his testimony.
And Congress should consider special funding to investigate for further evidence of genocide in Syria and Iraq, suggested Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, before the House subcommittee.
A prompt genocide designation would also give prioritization to the resettlement of Christian refugees, many of who cannot be resettled in the U.S. because they avoid the U.N. refugee camps out of security concerns, and thus do not register as refugees. The U.S. bases its resettlement process off of referrals by the U.N.'s refugee agency, UNHCR.
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"Religious minorities do not feel safe in the camps, and therefore if the process hinges on being in the camps, we have to find alternative mechanisms to go out and register these people outside of the camps," Anderson said.
"That's why the designation of genocide is so important because it gives priority to these vulnerable minorities," he added, many of who are stuck in neighboring countries. They have had their homes destroyed and communities occupied and could wait years to obtain a visa.
One of the objections raised to a genocide designation for Christians is that they are theoretically considered "People of the Book" and therefore given an option by ISIS invaders to remain in their communities if they pay a jizya tax. While they would receive second-class status, they would not be forced to flee, convert to Islam, or be killed. The Holocaust Museum report – upon which the State Department will reportedly base its designation – noted this, Stanton said.