Lawmakers press for Christians to be included in ISIS genocide designation

Lawmakers press for Christians to be included in ISIS genocide designation
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A bipartisan group of 30 lawmakers is urging the Obama administration to include Christians in any official designation of genocide it may make against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“We are gravely concerned by persistent press reports that the administration is preparing a genocide finding that would apply only to Yazidis, and may avoid judgment about whether ISIL is also committing genocide against Christians and the other minorities it is eliminating,” the lawmakers, led by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryHe who must not be named: How Hunter Biden became a conversation-stopper Rep. Joe Kennedy has history on his side in Senate bid Green groups line up behind Markey ahead of looming Kennedy fight MORE dated Wednesday.

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The administration is reportedly close to labeling ISIS’s slaughter of Yazidis genocide, with Assistant Secretary of State Anne Paterson telling the House Foreign Affairs Committee last month that “there will be some announcements on that very shortly.”

The genocide designation is a rare move that would have legal implications for doing more to protect the religious group.

The designation, though, will reportedly not include Christians, who are also a target of ISIS.

Critics have said the administration is not doing enough to protect Christians from ISIS, including admitting few Christian Syrians as refugees to the United States.

On Thursday, presidential candidate Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Five ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble Rubio criticizes Warren response on same-sex marriage opposition as condescending MORE (R-Fla.) also called for more aid for persecuted Christians.

In their letter, the lawmakers highlight that the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) included Christians in its call for a designation of genocide.

“USCIRF calls on the U.S. government to designate the Christian, Yazidi, Shi’a, Turkmen and Shabak communities of Iraq and Syria as victims of genocide by” ISIS, the commission said in a statement earlier this month.

The lawmakers argued that only including Yazidis in a genocide designation would discount the violence faced by other minorities.

“At the hands of ISIL, Christians and other minorities have faced mass murder, crucifixions, sexual slavery, torture, beheadings, the kidnapping of children and other violence deliberately calculated to eliminate their communities from the so-called Islamic State,” they wrote, using an alternate acronym for the group.

Because an official designation of genocide is rare, the lawmakers said Congress should be involved in the process.

“An official genocide determination by the administration is a rare and weighty occasion — one that should include thorough consultation with Congress,” they wrote. “As members of Congress, we will continue to insist that any genocide finding must reflect the actual experience of all minorities whose communities are being erased and whose families are being slaughtered because of their faith.”

In addition to Royce, the letter was signed by Republican Reps. Chris Smith (N.J.), Jeff FortenberryJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FortenberryHouse Democrats urge Trump to end deportations of Iraqis after diabetic man's death House Appropriations passes defense bill that would limit funds for border wall, pull US support from Yemen war Thirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill MORE (Neb.), Dave Trott (Mich.), Michael McCaul (Texas), Randy WeberRandall (Randy) Keith WeberGOP lawmakers call for provisions barring DOD funds for border wall to be dropped House conservatives call for ethics probe into Joaquin Castro tweet Conservatives call on Pelosi to cancel August recess MORE (Texas), Mark Meadows (N.C.), Sean DuffySean DuffyFormer Rep. Sean Duffy and wife Rachel Campos-Duffy welcome 9th child Here are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Duffy explains why unborn child's health caused him to resign from Congress MORE (Wis.), Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresThe Hill's Campaign Report: Warren, Sanders overtake Biden in third-quarter fundraising The Hill's Morning Report — Trump broadens call for Biden probes Pete Sessions announces bid for Bill Flores's Texas House seat MORE (Texas), Luke Messer (Ind.), John Shimkus (Ill.), Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership MORE (Ariz.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Peter King (N.Y.), Doug Lamborn (Colo.), Andy BarrAndy Hale BarrThe Hill's Campaign Report: Impeachment fight to take center stage at Dem debate McGrath raises nearly million in third quarter for bid to unseat McConnell Farm manager doubts story horse bit Pence: report MORE (Ky.), Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtHouse advances B agriculture bill Dems advance bill defying Trump State Department cuts Maryland raises legal tobacco purchasing age to 21 MORE (Ala.), Dave Brat (Va.), David Joyce (Ohio) and Ander Crenshaw (Fla.), and Democratic Reps. Juan Vargas (Calif.), Anna Eshoo (Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (Calif.), Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard slams New York Times profile of her Krystal Ball defends praise of Yang: I am not 'a Russian plant' Gabbard backs Sanders proposal to ban advertisements during primary debates MORE (Hawaii), Doris Matsui (Calif.), Bill Keating (Mass.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Sam FarrSamuel (Sam) Sharon FarrMedical marijuana supporters hopeful about government funding bill Marijuana advocates to give away free joints on Capitol Hill DEA decision against reclassifying marijuana ignores public opinion MORE (Calif.), Mike Honda (Calif.) and Steve Cohen (Tenn.).