MPs accuse Islamic State of genocide
Witness: Nadia Murad Basee Taha (centre, right) visits the makeshift refugee camp at the northern Greek border point, Idomeni, at the beginning of this month. She is a shortlisted candidate for the 2016 Nobel Peace PrizeCredit: AP
Witness: Nadia Murad Basee Taha (centre, right) visits the makeshift refugee camp at the northern Greek border point, Idomeni, at the beginning of this month. She is a shortlisted candidate for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize
MPs in the House of Commons voted unanimously, on Wednesday, to recognise the atrocities carried out in Syria and Iraq by Islamic State (IS) against Christians, Yazidis, and other minority ethnic and religious groups as genocide.
The motion also called on the Government to make an immediate referral to the UN Security Council to transfer jurisdiction to the International Criminal Court (ICC). This would allow the ICC to investigate and prosecute the terrorist group.
The Conservative MP for Congleton, Fiona Bruce, who moved the motion, said that genocide was the most appropriate term to describe IS’s campaign of murder, rape, and destruction. “After the horrors of the Holocaust, the words ‘Never again’ resounded through civilisation. We must not let them resound again.”
MPs from across the House made speeches in support of the motion.
The Conservative MP for Eastbourne, Caroline Ansell, said that the group’s actions matched the definition of genocide in the UN’s statement of 1948: that it involves “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”.
She asked: “Have we seen evidence of such intent? Yes, indisputably, in the kidnapping of women and girls; in torture, rape, and sexual enslavement; in beheadings, crucifixions, and mass graves; in the assassination of church leaders, and the desecration and destruction of churches, cemeteries, and artefacts; and in the enforced conversions and the driving of people from their lands.”
The Labour MP for Ealing North, Stephen Pound, paid tribute to the bravery of IS’s victims. “Is it not extraordinary how many of them refuse to recant or recuse, and how many say: ‘This is our faith’? In some cases, they die for that faith. That is extraordinary, and testament to the courage that still exists.”
Referring to the flight of Syrian and Iraqi Christians from their homeland, and the destruction of monasteries and villages, the Conservative MP for South Ribble, Seema Kennedy, said that Christianity was “dying in its cradle”.
The motion was carried by 278 votes to 0.
Last month, the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, said: “Our urgent prayer is for Christians, Yazidis, and a variety of other identifiable groups against which the hatred of Daesh [IS] is directed, and, supremely, for each individual — each of them precious to God.
“Therefore, can the category of ‘genocidal acts’ help to stop the killing, and help to bring the perpetrators sooner to account for their crimes? Yes, I believe it can.”
A legal organisation that campaigns for freedom of religion across the world, AFD International, has estimated that the number of Christians has fallen from two million to less than one million in Syria, and from 1.4 million to fewer than 260,000 in Iraq in the past few years.