Washington, DC – On October 8th, IDC Executive Director Kirsten Evans made the following statement:
“This week new footage has emerged of yet another brutal war crime against innocent civilian lives by ISIS. The execution of three Assyrian Christians, Ashur Rustam Abraham, Bassam Issa Michael, and Dr. Abdel-Masseh Aniya, purported to have taken place on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, a holy day set aside for animal sacrifice, is the most recent in an unspeakable series of globally publicized executions of Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities by so-called Islamic State. The ongoing campaign of violence and terror that cannot be described as anything less than ‘genocide.’
“The three men were asked to publicly identify themselves as “Nazarene”, or Christian, before being shot in the head, a characteristic trait of the execution under ISIS. Their crime is nothing more than their Christian faith, which they heroically refuse to renounce, even when facing death.
“During the three-day assault on Christian villages in Syria in which the men were kidnapped, churches were burned to the ground and hundreds of Christians were taken hostage. In August another 250 Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic families were captured. Those who have escaped tell of the ‘schools of death’ to which they were sent, where men are executed and women and girls turned into sex slaves if they refuse to convert to Islam.
“The region is facing a refugee crisis unparalleled by any seen since the Second World War, as entire communities seek safety from persecution. Yet while thousands are displaced and adrift, without access to basic needs, still thousands more are left behind unprotected. Many choose to remain in their homes to defend their ancestral homeland.
“One month ago a resolution was introduced to the United States Congress, H. Con. Res. 75, calling upon US lawmakers to officially recognize the crimes of ISIS against minorities as ‘genocide.’ Pope Francis recently exhorted the United Nations to come to the protection of these vulnerable communities. This week over 100 religious leaders, scholars of genocide, and human rights advocates entreated President Obama for the same.
“The declaration of ‘genocide’ has international legal consequences for the perpetrators of these horrific crimes, as well as the increased protection of the vulnerable, including the moral and legal weight of the international community to come to the aid of these communities by expanding asylum and relief and to prevent further violence from taking place.
“Swift moral leadership is needed at all levels of the international community. The international community can no longer drag its feet while ancient and peaceful communities in the Middle East face an existential crisis of genocidal proportion.
“IDC joins its voice with other organizations, human rights advocates, religious leaders, lawmakers, and people of good will in calling upon the United States government and the international community to act to defend the defenseless.
“It is time to Stop the Christian Genocide.”
In Defense of Christians, board and staff, extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the deceased in these tragic events, may their souls rest in eternal peace, and to the families of those still missing in captivity.