In-Depth: In introducing this bill on the House floor, lead
sponsor Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) called his legislation “imperative”
in protecting Middle Eastern Christian and Yazidi communities from further acts of genocide:
longstanding communities of Christians in the Middle East are being
murdered individually and en masse, targeted for extinction. Under
President Obama’s leadership, our government has stood by impotently and
watched this crime against humanity.”
This legislation has the support of 14 cosponsors in the House, all of whom are Republicans.
Of Note: The House passed a resolution declaring that Christians and Yazidis are the victims of genocide on a 393-0 vote.
The U.N. Genocide Convention defines genocide as the following:
“Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic,
racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group;
causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to
bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing
measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly
transferring children of the group to another group.”
decision of whether to designate a situation as “genocide” can be a
politically contentious decision. The federal government doesn’t formally recognize the Armenian genocide due to its relations with the government of Turkey, although 43 U.S. states and 23 countries have called it genocide.
During the Clinton administration, the U.S. was slow to respond to the Rwandan Genocide
as it developed and as many as one million people were killed in the
span of several months. Former President Clinton has expressed deep regret over his failure to mobilize a timely intervention, estimating that doing so may have saved at least 300,000 lives.
Thus far, the Obama administration has declined
to call the situation facing ethnic and religious minorities in Syria
and Iraq a genocide. However, the State Department will be deciding on March 17, 2016 if the targeting of those groups by ISIS meets the legal definition of genocide. The State Department was required to consider designating the situation as a genocide by a provision in the December 2015 omnibus appropriations bill that give the agency 90 days to make a determination.
Media:Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Defend International / Creative Commons)