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U.S. House passes legislation to aid Christian and Yazidi genocide victims in Iraq and Syria

Good to see that this initiative wasn’t decried as “Islamophobic.”

“Smith Bill to Help Christian Genocide Victims in Iraq and Syria,” Shore News Network, November 28, 2018:

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Rep. Chris Smith’s (R-NJ) legislation to provide humanitarian relief to genocide victims in Iraq and Syria, and hold ISIS perpetrators accountable—HR 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018—passed the House on Tuesday night and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law, after over two years in the making.

“When genocide or other atrocity crimes are perpetrated, the United States should direct humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery aid to enable these people to survive–especially when they are minorities whose existence as a people is at-risk,” Smith stated on the House Floor before the vote. “HR 390 would ensure our actions match our words.” (Click here to read excerpts of Rep. Smith’s Floor remarks.)

Less than 200,000 Christians remain in Iraq, down from 1.4 million in 2002 and 500,000 in 2013, before ISIS swept through the region on its genocidal campaign. Many of the remaining Christians in Iraq are displaced, mostly in Erbil in the Kurdistan region, and need assistance to return to their homes and stay in Iraq. After the ISIS invasion, 60,000 Yazidis fled to Europe, and of the 550,000 Yazidis still in Iraq, 280,000 remain displaced and only 20 percent have been able to return to their historic homeland of Sinjar, according to the Yazdi organization Yazda. Those displaced will also need assistance to return to their homes.

Smith introduced the legislation in 2016 and again in 2017, with lead Democratic cosponsor Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA). “Tens of thousands of religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria were targeted for genocide by ISIS between 2014 and 2017,” Rep. Eshoo said. “As survivors return to their homes and begin rebuilding their communities, the United States government must make it a priority to help families in need of assistance now, while ensuring the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity are held accountable. H.R. 390 will aid in these efforts and send a powerful message to these communities that we haven’t forgotten them. I thank Chairman Smith for his passionate leadership on this issue and I look forward to the President swiftly signing this legislation into law.”

Among other key provisions, H.R. 390 authorizes and directs the Administration to:

  • Fund entities, including faith-based ones, that are providing humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery aid on-the-ground to genocide survivors from religious and ethnic minorities;
  • Assess and address the humanitarian vulnerabilities, needs, and triggers that might force these survivors to flee;
  • Identify warning signs of deadly violence against religious and ethnic minority communities in Iraq or Syria that have been victims of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes;
  • Support entities conducting criminal investigation into ISIS perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Iraq – including collecting and preserving evidence that links specific perpetrators to specific atrocity crimes and is usable in a range of courts; and
  • Encourage foreign governments to add identifying information about suspected ISIS perpetrators to their security databases and security screening and to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators….

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images originally appeared on Jihad Watch. It is republished with permission. The featured image is from the Yezidis Genocide Tracking Group on Facebook.

Christian Persecution by Muslims in 2015 at ‘Levels Akin to Ethnic Cleansing’

Persecution of Christians is on the rise, with 2015 the most violent year in modern history for members of the faith. That is the conclusion of a new report by Open Doors USA, a non-profit group that has been monitoring Christian persecution worldwide since 1955.

The group says last year persecution of Christians reached “a level akin to ethnic cleansing,”

The report notes, “Islamic extremism remains by far the most common driver of persecution: in eight out of the top 10, and 35 out of the top 50 countries, it is the primary cause. A rise in Islamic extremism sees Pakistan at its highest position ever, and Libya entering the top ten for the first time.”

Worldwide, the report notes, according to conservative estimates and excluding North Korea, Syria and Iraq (where records do not exist), over 7,000 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons in this past year  – a rise of almost 3,000 from the previous year.

Close to 2,400 churches were attacked or damaged – over double the number for last year.

In addition, the report also states “all the time, beneath these ‘headline’ events, there is constant, low-level, localized persecution. Christians are driven out of their communities, refused burial, denied jobs or education. Churches are torn down because of local opposition or mob rule. For millions of Christians, the everyday persecution happens in their village, or even among their family.”

The following are some of the main outtakes from the report:

Islamic extremism has been crossing borders:

The Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) has moved beyond Syria and Iraq and into Libya. Boko Haram has spread to Cameroon and Chad, and al-Shabaab into Kenya. Meanwhile, many smaller extremist movements have declared themselves part of the ISIS group of caliphates. Even the West has felt the tremors. Bombs in Paris, gunfights in California, holidaymakers killed on a Tunisian beach: in a globalized world, there is no such place as abroad anymore.

Many parts of the Muslim world are becoming more Islamic:

All over the Middle East especially, Muslims are becoming more fundamentalist, partly out of fear that extremists may take over. However, there is a counter-trend as many Muslims search for a new identity as they turn away in disgust from extremism. Many are choosing Christianity as a faith instead.

African countries continue to move into the top 50:

Islamic extremism in the world today has two hubs, one in the Middle East, the other in sub-Saharan Africa. Sixteen countries in the top 50 are from Africa, seven in the top 20. In numerical terms, if not in degree, the persecution of Christians in this region dwarfs what is happening in the Middle East.
More state
s are lawless, and minorities suffer violence:

Much of Syria and Iraq has become effectively lawless, with Christian communities especially targeted. In lawless Libya, migrant Christians from Sudan, Egypt and Eritrea were brutally executed, and the tiny Muslim-background believer church has been driven even further into hiding. In Yemen, Saudi-led forces make it even harder for the few Christians remaining.

Never have so many Christians been on the move:

The “migrant crisis” is not limited to the Mediterranean. Tens of thousands of Christians fled the 12 Islamic Sharia states of northern Nigeria. In Kenya, Christians are fleeing the Muslim majority areas. Every month, thousands leave Eritrea, braving desert and trafficking gangs. Even Pakistani Christians are fleeing to countries in South East Asia.

Ethnic cleansing is back as an anti-Christian tactic:

In the Middle East and Africa, persecution increasingly takes the form of ethnic cleansing. In middle-belt Nigeria, Christians have been forcefully removed from their homes and indigenous land by the Hausa-Fulani settlers. In Sudan, Nuba Christians have been indiscriminately targeted and killed. The intent is to remove or even exterminate Christians.

Get a preview of Clarion Project’s upcoming film, Faithkeepers, about the violent persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The film features exclusive footage and testimonials of Christians, Baha’i, Yazidis, Jews, and other minority refugees, and a historical context of the persecution in the region.

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of police beating a Pakistani Christian. (Photo: © Reuters)

Found: Mass Grave of 120 Yazidis Slaughtered by the Islamic State

The bodies of more than 120 Yazidis have been found in a mass grave near the town of Sinjar, Iraq.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces retook Sinjar earlier this month. Last year the Islamic State overran the area after storming most of northern Iraq including the city of Mosul.

Between 10,000 and 40,000 Yazidi civilians were trapped on Mount Sinjar, surrounded by ISIS fighters, without access to food and water. Kurdish forces were able to rescue an estimated 20,000 Yazidis and supplies were airdropped to those stranded on the mountain.

This find marks the sixth time this month that a mass grave has been found. The official in charge of the area, Mahma Kalil, said the grave had been rigged with explosives by ISIS fighters before Kurds recaptured the area.

An earlier mass grave contained the bodies of 80 women aged 40 to 80. One official suspected the women were killed because they were too old to rape and enslave.

The Yazidis are regarded by the Islamic State as devil worshippers, because of their unique religion. ISIS has captured thousands of Yazidi girls and forced them into sex-slavery.

For more information about the Islamic State and its campaign of genocide against the Yazidis, see Clarion Project’s Special Report:The Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) 

Get a preview of Clarion Project’s upcoming film, Faithkeepers, about the violent persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The film features exclusive footage and testimonials of Christians, Baha’i, Yazidis, Jews, and other minority refugees, and a historical context of the persecution in the region.

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of a Kurdish soldier examining remains from a mass grave. (Photo: Screenshot from video).