The Obama Administration declares the Islamic State has committed genocide after Congress unanimously approves a resolution sponsored by a Nebraska Congressman.
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry says unanimous approval of his resolution provided a strong platform in discussions with Secretary of State John Kerry.
“From my perspective, my own dialogue with Secretary Kerry was one of urging and pleading to call this what it is, because the facts are clear, a genocide,” Fortenberry tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Fortenberry says his heart was uplifted when he heard the administration, after being hesitant to issue such a declaration, had formally denounced the Islamic State’s action as genocide, an attempt to wipe out Christians, Yezidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East.
“This is an invasion of the sacred space of humanity and it is inconsistent with an orderly and just world,” Fortenberry says. “That’s why this is so important.”
The Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, has engaged in the systematic destruction of ancient Christian, Yezidi, Shia Muslim, and even Sunni Muslim communities. Fortenberry sponsored a resolution condemning the terrorist group which passed the United States House of Representatives by a vote of 393-0.
Fortenberry serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations and is co-chair of the Religious Minorities of the Middle East Caucus. He represents America’s largest Yezidi community, which resides in Lincoln.
Secretary Kerry said a review by the State Department and U.S. intelligence determined that Yazidis, Christians and Shiite groups have been victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing by the Islamic State. Kerry said the United States would support efforts to document atrocities committed by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq for possible international prosecution.
The International Association of Genocide Scholars and the International Commission on Religious Freedom within the State Department have also condemned ISIS’ actions.
Fortenberry says an official designation of genocide carries weight.
“Once there is a political and economic and security settlement in the Middle East, it says that these ancient traditions must be given protection and the right to reintegrate back into their ancestral homeland.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]