Presentation of religious freedom report focuses on US genocide recognition; Strong Tillerson statement needs to be followed by stronger actions
NEW YORK – On 15 August, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presented the 2016 International Religious Freedom Report. The document details the state of religious freedom in 199 countries and territories worldwide. During the presentation, Tillerson addressed the ongoing atrocities ISIS is committing against Christians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq. 18 months ago, then-US Secretary of State John Kerry recognized those crimes as genocide.
“No person or group should live in fear of being killed, tortured, or oppressed because of their religious beliefs. 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 US is obliged to act fast to stop the carnage and prosecute the perpetrators. 18 months have passed since the designation. The US and the international community must act now, before it is too late,” said Kelsey Zorzi, UN Counsel for ADF International in New York, and contributor to the ADF International publication Never Again.
ISIS territory purged from Christians
Tillerson has made clear that the protection of religious minorities suffering from ISIS was a “human rights priority for the Trump Administration.” Despite the partial liberation of Mosul and large areas of the Niniveh plains from the terror group, ISIS continues to control a large part of Syria and Northern-Iraq. It has systematically purged its territories from Christians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities. So far, the international community has done little to bring the perpetrators of genocide to justice.
Victims are suffering. Evidence is being lost and destroyed.
“The UN is allegedly waiting on Iraq’s approval before it takes action, but this has been the case for over a year and there is no authorization in sight. Victims are suffering. Evidence is being lost and destroyed. The investigation into crimes committed in Syria is underway, but there is still no tribunal in existence to prosecute these crimes. Not a single ISIS militant has even been under investigation for genocide or other international crimes. We are hopeful that the US will take the lead in finally bringing ISIS to justice,” said Zorzi.