(Washington DC)  March 17, 2016-

Secretary Kerry has used the power and moral authority of his office to proclaim the truth about the crimes that national, ethnic, and religious minorities including Christians have suffered at the hands of ISIS. He used the word that has the moral authority to raise the international consciousness and compel the international community of responsible nations to act.

This morning Secretary Kerry said, “My purpose of appearing before you today is to assert that in my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by its actions. In what is 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 Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.”

By proclaiming that they are victims of genocide, the United States has done a great justice to the victims of the atrocities committed by ISIS, including the over 1100 Christians who have been killed because of their faith, as documented by the nearly 300-page report released by In Defense of Christians and the Knights of Columbus last week. Hearing the voice of the United States speak this truth will restore the hope in the hearts of those who are still fearing for their lives and struggling to survive in the Middle East.

IDC President Toufic Baaklini made the following statement, “IDC extends our deepest gratitude to Secretary Kerry and to the Obama Administration for carefully reviewing the overwhelming evidence of the genocide against Christians, Yazidis, Shia Muslims and other religious minorities and for proclaiming the irrefutable truth that the crimes they have suffered constitute genocide.”

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry—sponsor of House concurrent resolution 75 decrying the ISIS genocide that passed the house unanimously just this week—made the following statement this morning, “I commend Secretary Kerry and the State Department for making this important designation. The genocide against Christians, Yezidis, and others is not only a grave injustice to these ancient faith communities — it is an assault on human dignity and an attack on civilization itself. The United States has now spoken with clarity and moral authority.”

By decrying an ongoing genocide, Secretary Kerry has taken a powerful and historic step which will renew the confidence of the international community that the United States will not waiver in our moral obligation to prevent genocide and mass atrocities whenever they occur. This marks only the second time a U.S. administration has decried and designated on ongoing genocide. The first was in 2004, when Secretary of State Colin Powell determined that atrocities being committed in Sudan’s Darfur region constituted genocide.

On numerous occasions, the United States has failed to intervene as the world has watched thousands of innocent people being massacred because of their nationality, ethnicity, or religion. We have rarely condemned such outrages while they are occurring.

But today Secretary Kerry and President Obama have reminded the world that the United States will not stand idly by as people are subject to atrocities because of their faith, nationality, or ethnicity and will condemn such atrocities when they are occurring.

Baaklini continued, “The United States is rightly viewed as the world’s leading defender of vulnerable minorities, and as an historic safe-haven for those fleeing religious persecution and this declaration of genocide by the State Department will bring Americans together to pursue the truth, to support the victims, and to bear witness to the noble principle of ‘Never Again.’”

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