On year ago today, on March 17, 2016, then-Secretary of State John Kerry formally designated the actions of ISIS as genocide. As part of that declaration he said: “[ISIS] is… 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… [ISIS] kills Christians because they are Christians; Yezidis because they are Yezidis; Shia because they are Shia. …naming these crimes is important. But what is essential is to stop them.”
Unfortunately, one year later nothing about ISIS’ ruthless mission throughout the Middle East, and the world, has changed. Their efforts have been impeded and numbers are smaller, but they still wage a sick ideological war against innocent people, simply because of a perverted anti-religious hatred.
Secretary Kerry was right to declare that ISIS kills Christians because they are Christians; Yezidis because they are Yezidis; and different Muslims sects because they believe in a different brand of Islam than them. While the recognition of these horrific crimes is important, we must not lose focus of the need to protect the fundamental right to religious freedom as a source of stability for all people around the world. America must lead the world in calling out human rights abuses wherever they exist. Much more needs to be done, but calling genocide genocide was a step in the right direction.
On the one-year anniversary of the genocide designation, I urge the Trump administration to take steps to address this atrocity through advocacy for religious freedom, the provision of humanitarian aid, the pursuit of justice against perpetrators, and assistance with economic revitalization.
Anti-religious freedom regimes exists around the world. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2016 report claims that numerous countries, including China, Burma, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan, among others, continue to imprison, torture and persecute religious minority communities, including Jews, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Buddhists. According to the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, five billion people around the world face religious persecution and one-third live in places where religious freedom is severely restricted.
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SOURCE: The Hill
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)