Secretary of State John Kerry’s declaration Thursday that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is committing genocide is a welcome development, albeit a bit late.
Kerry correctly noted that Yazidis are not the only ISIL (ISIS, Daesh) victims of genocide. Christians and Shiite Muslims have also been targeted.
“Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions – in what it says, what it believes, and what it does,” according to a transcript of the secretary’s declaration at a press briefing Thursday. “Daesh is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.”
The declaration is part of the process that will ultimately bring to trial those who are responsible for genocide.
Media often report on genocide without including the legal definition. The U.N. Convention on Genocide outlines the criteria for a determination of genocide: “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; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
ISIL’s horrific crimes most certainly meet the definition of genocide. ISIL has murdered by mass execution, caused significant hardships, destroyed religious shrines and mosques, and engaged in human trafficking and slavery. It wants to destroy anything that does not reflect its perverted ideology.
What is important now is to help the victims whenever possible and to document the genocide.
The victims have heard enough words describing their plight. They knew long ago that a genocide was taking place.
It is time for deeds to replace words. Action to replace inaction. It’s time for an international tribunal that is vested with investigatory and sentencing powers.