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March 22, 2016

Wilberforce A!ert: US Government Acknowledges 21st Century Genocide

Last Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement declaring that the Islamic State is “responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims.”

Secretary Kerry’s strong condemnation closely aligns with a resolution the U.S. House of Representatives passed just two days prior in a unanimous 393-0 vote: “The atrocities perpetrated by ISIL against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria include war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.”

Taken together, this is a remarkable moment of clarity and leadership.  A sign outside the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, where Nazis killed more than one million of its victims in the Holocaust, proclaims, “never again.”  Yet that has not been the case.  This is only the second time in the history of the United States that an active conflict has been designated a genocide, and comes in the face of enormous political resistance and years of unwilling bureaucratic intransigence.

The U.S. government failed to formally recognize the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s, the Rwandan genocide of 1994, and the Bosnian genocide of 1995.  Today, in the midst of the most brutal reality imaginable, thousands have joined together to speak on behalf of truth and justice.  Last week’s genocide declarations would have never occurred without the leadership and initiative of countless individuals who believed in the power of their voices raised as one.

This includes Gary Cook, President of Dallas Baptist University, who wrote to six Congressional offices urging their support of a resolution, and Amy Kubichek, who used the 21CWI template to write to four offices in Virginia.

From releasing “Edge of Extinction,” one of the first major reports denoting the genocidal nature of the Islamic State, to authoring some of the most widely signed letters in the history of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable, to launching a #StopISISGenocide campaign, and advocating with the White House and numerous Congressional offices, the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative worked with you and others toward this declaration.

The genocide declaration is a testament that policy makers, religious leaders, civil society actors and those being persecuted can join together in solidarity against the voices of violence to empower movements that advance religious freedom as a universal right.

This is a solemn moment; a sobering reminder that in the past twenty-one months, thousands have lost their lives, thousands remain enslaved, millions have suffered trauma, and the ancient Christian and Yezidi populations have been nearly eliminated from the cradle of civilization.

Thank you for your actions that helped produce a clarion call for transformative difference.  We look forward to continuing the conversation this week.  There are a few ways to do so below.

Action Items:

1. Write to Secretary Kerry, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) to thank them for their leadership.

2. Utilize your social media platforms to broadly broadcast this extraordinary milestone.  Go to our Facebook page, our Instagram account, our Twitter page, or our Medium blogand repost this Alert on your favorite platform.

3. Join our conference call Thursday, March 24, at 1:00pm EST to receive a special thank you and hear about next steps. Call 712-775-7031 and use the meeting ID 525-407-730.

Category: Iraq , ISIS , Syria , U.S.
Region: Europe & The Americas
Keywords: genocide,IS genocide,ISIS genocide,Secretary of State,John Kerry,Fortenberry,Eshoo,21st Century Wilberforce Initiative,21 Century Wilberforce Initiative,21 Wilberforce,21CWI

Elijah Brown

Elijah Brown, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. Brown received his Ph.D. in Divinity from the University of Edinburgh. He was an Associate Professor of Religion at East Texas Baptist University, where he also served as the founding Director of the Freedom Center. In 2007, Brown was named one of 35 global emerging leaders by the Baptist World Alliance, a network representing 40 million Baptists worldwide.

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The 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative is empowering a global movement to advance religious freedom as a universal right through advocacy, capacity building and technology.