Strong Tillerson statement on ISIS atrocities offers hope of US lead in bringing justice for victims

Need for US action grows 18 months after official genocide recognition
Thursday, August 17, 2017

 
NEW YORK – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed the ongoing atrocities of ISIS against religious minorities in Syria and Iraq during his presentation of the 2016 “International Religious Freedom Report” Tuesday at the State Department. In his remarks, he noted that ISIS “is clearly responsible for genocide against Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in areas it controls or has controlled.”

The report, required by Congress, details the state of religious freedom in 199 countries and territories worldwide. Tillerson’s predecessor, John Kerry, recognized the crimes of ISIS as genocide in March of last year.

“No person or group should live in fear of being killed, tortured, or oppressed because of their religious beliefs,” said Kelsey Zorzi, UN Counsel for ADF International in New York and contributor to the ADF International publication Never Again. “Recognizing and condemning the ongoing genocide of Christians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities was an important first step. As a signatory to the Convention on Genocide, the U.S. is obliged to act fast to stop the carnage and prosecute the perpetrators, and Mr. Tillerson’s comments provide hope that America will take the lead in finally bringing ISIS to justice.”

Tillerson made clear that the protection of religious minorities suffering from ISIS is a “human rights priority for the Trump administration.” Despite the partial liberation of Mosul and large areas of the Niniveh plains from ISIS, the terrorist group continues to control a large part of Syria and Northern Iraq. It has systematically purged Christians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities from its territories. So far, the international community has done little to bring the perpetrators of genocide to justice.

“The UN is allegedly waiting on Iraq’s approval before it takes action, but this has been the case for over a year, and no authorization is in sight,” said Zorzi. “Victims are suffering. Evidence is being lost and destroyed. The investigation into crimes committed in Syria is underway, but no tribunal yet exists to prosecute these crimes. Not a single ISIS militant has even been under investigation for genocide or other international crimes. We urge not only the U.S., but the entire international community, to act before it is too late.”
 

ADF International is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
 
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