House Passes Resolution Calling ISIS' Mass Slaughter of Christians a 'Genocide'

A Syrian refugee holds onto his daughter as he pleads to cross into Turkey at Akcakale border gate in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, June 15, 2015. | (Photo: Reuters/Umit Bektas)

The United States House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution Monday evening that labels the Islamic State's atrocities against Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities a "genocide," putting more pressure on the State Department to do the same.

The resolution, which is titled H.Con.Res.75, was authored by Reps. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and was introduced by Fortenberry last September. The resolution was co-sponsored by over 200 members of the House.

"ISIL is murdering and enslaving religious and ethnic minorities everywhere they gain power and we know it," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said on the House floor following the vote. "We know what they are doing and if we don't say it, we should be ashamed. ISIL is committing genocide. They are targeting non-Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and more and pushing them to extinction."

"The world cannot look away. The Obama administration can't dance around the question," McCarthy continued. "Today, the House stands firmly to proclaim to the world that genocide is happening, that evil is real and that it must be stopped. We urge the administration to join us. We must look at evil in the face and confront it because if we do not wake up, more innocent blood will be shed."

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., announces that the introduction of a resolution in the House calling for the U.S. government to label the atrocities committed by ISIS as a genocide. Fortenberry made a surprise appearance at an In Defense of Christians panel discussion on the persecution of Middle Eastern Christians at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 9, 2015. | (Photo: The Christian Post/Samuel Smith)

During the debate on the floor prior to the vote, Fortenberry noted that it is rare to see lawmakers from both parties rise "above the petty and difficult [political] differences" to come to a bipartisan agreement on any issue.

"It is my sincere hope that this trans-partisan resolution will further compel the State Department to join the building international consensus in calling the horrific ISIS violence against Christians, Yezidis, and others by its proper name: 'genocide,'" Fortenberry said in a statement shared with The Christian Post following the passage.

Although the European Union, Pope Francis, the Iraqi and Kurdish governments, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom and numerous humanitarian groups have all found enough substantial evidence to call what the barbaric terrorist group is doing to religious minorities a genocide, the State Department has so far shied away from making a genocide declaration.

The passage of the House resolution comes after news emerged Monday that the State Department likely won't meet its March 17 deadline to decide whether or not to label IS' atrocities a genocide, claiming that "a legal review is still under way."

Last week, the Catholic fraternal organization Knights of Columbus, along with the human rights group In Defense of Christians, submitted a 280-page report to the State Department chronicling how IS has murdered, imprisoned, enslaved and raped Christians in the Middle East and North Africa.

"The question remains: Will the State Department join the rest of the world in calling this what it is — genocide? Or will it undermine the global and national consensus on this issue, signaling to terrorists that we don't take their crimes as seriously as the rest of the world does?" Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson said in a statement.

"The facts are well documented in our nearly 300-page report on this matter, and we must remember that for the State Department to issue declaration of genocide, the standard required is merely probable cause, which any prosecutor could find on any of ISIS's Facebook pages."

Also on Monday, the House passed another resolution asking President Obama to direct the United Nations ambassador to promote the establishment of a war crimes tribunal, where the war crimes committed by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can be addressed. The resolution passed by a vote of 392 to 3.

"We also can't ignore what else is happening in Syria. The Assad regime and its allies are indiscriminately killing in a breathtaking scale — torture, rape, chemical weapons, barrel bombs, forced starvation," McCarthy also said in his remarks after the vote. "The Syrian regime is targeting millions and millions are suffering."

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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