In-Depth: In introducing this bill on the House floor during the 114th Congress, sponsoring Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) called his legislation “imperative” in protecting Middle Eastern Christian and Yazidi communities from further acts of genocide:
“Ancient 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 five cosponsors in the House, all of whom are Republicans.
Of Note: During the 114th Congress, 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.”
The 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 Bill 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.
The Obama administration declined to call the situation facing ethnic and religious minorities in Syria and Iraq a genocide until March 17, 2016 when Secretary of State John Kerry called it a 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)