One of the stories was that of "Khalia," a middle-aged woman who was captured with 47 other persons and held for 15 days. "She literally fought off ISIS militants as they tried to rape the girls, and again later when they tried to take a 9-year-old as a bride," the report stated. "Ultimately, the hostages were left in the desert to walk to Erbil."
It includes testimonies of Christian women who were sold by the Islamic State as sex slaves, with age-specific prices listed on a "menu." There are numerous witness statements from persons in Iraq describing why they left their home, what happened to them and their family, and what members of the Islamic State said to them or their family.
There is also an extensively-sourced list of attacks against Christians in Iraq, Syria, and North Africa, and testimonies on the deleterious effects of displacement on the mental and emotional health of persons.
The Islamic State has made explicit statements of its intent to fight Christians in its magazine Dabiq, the report states, speaking out against Rome, the Pope, the "crusading armies" of Western powers, and Coptic Christians. They have "established a clear intent to destroy Christians as a group and Christianity as a religion," Anderson said.
The 21 Coptic Christians murdered by Islamic State militants on the Libyan coast last February, in a video titled "A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross," were targeted not "for any other reason than they were Christians," said Bishop Anba Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom.
A State Department designation of genocide, while not imposing specific legal consequences, would carry great moral weight, panel members insisted.
"Ladies and gentlemen, if Christians are excluded from the classification of genocide, my concern, my fear, my expectation is that we will be responsible for a greater and more ruthless campaign of persecution against them, not only in that country, but in the region," Bishop Angaelos stated.
"So if you recognize genocide for one group and not the other," he continued, "on the ground in the Middle East when you get people who want to actually persecute minorities, what they will do is see this as a green light to say that the international community is backing one group and not another … they will take soft targets."
"The word [genocide] packs moral force," stated Dr. Gregory Stanton, former president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. Using the term "requires action" to prevent further acts of genocide, he said.
Fr. Douglas al-Bazi, an Iraqi priest who ministers to the Mar Elia Refugee Camp in Erbil, said members of his congregation "feel that we are forgotten and we are alone and I am here to tell America the first [step] that should be taken is to call it a genocide."
Internally displaced persons have flooded Erbil, said Fr. Dankha Joola of the Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil. Some estimates have placed 70,000 internally displaced persons in the city.
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"If this is not genocide, then truly this word has no moral or legal meaning," Fr. Joola said. People have had to flee to a different society with many challenges of income, lack of privacy, and education.
"Are you going to take 100 years, or maybe 100 months to call what happened to my people a genocide? At that time, you will not find anyone of my people left."
Professor Robert Destro of the Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law excoriated lawyers at the State Department for the agency's lack of action on the genocide issue, calling it "genocide denial."
"How long is it going to take for the lawyers to get the message?" he asked, saying of Mary McLeod in the Office of the Legal Advisor, "she's not serving her client well."
"For the United States government to stand alone in denying this is genocide would be shameful, and an abdication not just of leadership, but of cooperation and common sense," Anderson stated.
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