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 KerryWesley Clark says Trump not serving in Vietnam 'might have been for the best' in light of Russian bounty reports Juan Williams: Time for boldness from Biden The Memo: Trump's 2020 path gets steeper MORE dated Wednesday.


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 RubioTrump administration eyes new strategy on COVID-19 tests ACLU calls on Congress to approve COVID-19 testing for immigrants Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names 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 FortenberrySave wildlife, save ourselves Lawmakers cry foul as Trump considers retreating from Open Skies Treaty Where do we go from here? Conservation can show the way MORE (Neb.), Dave Trott (Mich.), Michael McCaul (Texas), Randy WeberRandall (Randy) Keith WeberHouse Republicans urge White House to support TSA giving travelers temperature checks House GOP lawmakers urge Senate to confirm Vought Top conservatives pen letter to Trump with concerns on fourth coronavirus relief bill MORE (Texas), Mark Meadows (N.C.), Sean DuffySean DuffyBottom line McCarthy blasts Pelosi's comments on Trump's weight Overnight Health Care: Trump says testing may be 'overrated' | Ousted official warns national virus plan needed | NIH begins studying drug combo touted by Trump MORE (Wis.), Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresLawmakers ask Trump administration to help Gulf oil and gas producers Texas kicks off critical battle for House control Democrats push to end confidentiality for oil companies that don't add ethanol 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 BarrThe Hill's Campaign Report: The political heavyweights in Tuesday's primary fights Democrat Josh Hicks wins Kentucky primary to challenge Andy Barr McGrath fends off Booker to win Kentucky Senate primary MORE (Ky.), Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtLobbying world The Hill's Coronavirus Report: WHO vs. Trump; Bernie's out Bottom line 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 GabbardFinancial firms facing serious hacking threat in COVID-19 era Gabbard drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process 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.).