#WeAreN2016: Join our global call-to-action by asking the United Nations to preserve religious freedom and recognize the genocide against Christians
Christians in "ISIS/Daesh" controlled areas are being murdered, beheaded, crucified, beaten, extorted, abducted, and tortured.
Please join CitizenGO, MasLibres, In Defense of Christians, and other civil society groups in our Call-to-Action. We ask the UN to recognize these aggressions as acts of genocide and take immediate steps to preserve religious freedom in the Middle East and worldwide.
In just over a week, on Friday, April 29th, we will present this Call-to-Action at the United Nations during our#WeAreN2016 event in New York City. Please add your name to this Call-to-Action to tell the UN that you stand with Christians around the globe who are being murdered and pushed out of their homelands for their faith.
Christians have been victims of summary executions. They have been enslaved. Christian children have been forcibly recruited and transferred to other groups. Women and girls in particular have been subjected to forms of sexual violence such as rape, forced marriages, and human trafficking. Churches and religious and cultural sites have been vandalized. Christian towns, villages, and districts have been devastated. Christians have suffered the interruption of humanitarian aid supplies and the bombardment of their homes and places of residence.
In just the past two years, an estimated 5,000 Yazidis have been killed by the so-called “ISIS/Daesh”, while many others have been tortured or forcibly converted to Islam. In August 2014, more than 150,000 Christians fled the advance of Daesh over Mosul, Qaraqosh, and other villages in the Nineveh Plains. These are just a few of the many examples of genocidal acts by ISIS/Daesh that we lay out in further detail in the Call-to-Action, which can be read in its entirety below.
This systematic pattern of coordinated attacks, the magnitude and intensity of the crimes, and the resulting disappearance of Christian communities from Syria and Iraq are evidence that the persecution of Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities in the Middle East has reached the threshold of genocide and it should be recognized as such.
Please join us in signing this Call-to-Action. The signatures will be presented at the UN on Friday, April 29th.
If you are a representative from an NGO and you would like to sign the petition on behalf of your organization, you can do so at this link: http://maslibres.org/wearen2016en/ngo/
CALL TO ACTION
To stop the genocide against Christians and other religious minorities and advance religious freedom worldwide
This Call to Action is to be endorsed by civil society organizations and citizens from around the world and presented at the United Nations Headquarters on April 29th, 2016.
Having regard to:
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.
The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 9 December 1948.
The UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion and Belief of 1981.
The UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1984.
The UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (year 2000)
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, in particular Articles 5 to 8 thereof (2002).
The Analysis Framework by the Office of the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide (OSAPG), 2009.
The UN Security Council Resolution 1888 (2009) on sexual violence in situations of armed conflict.
The Rabat Plan of Action on the prohibition of advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. Conclusions and recommendations emanating from the four regional expert workshops organized by OHCHR, in 2011, and adopted by experts in Rabat, Morocco on 5 October 2012.
The “Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict” endorsed by 122 Member States (Sept. 2013).
The Statement of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, of 25 August 2014 on “Iraqi civilians suffering “horrific” widespread and systematic persecution‟.
The statement of 12 August 2014 by the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect on the situation in Iraq.
Resolution S-22/1 adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on „The human rights situation in Iraq in the light of abuses committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated groups‟, of 3 September 2014.
The International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict (2014). UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
The UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015), endorsing a road map for the peace process in Syria and setting a timetable for talks.
The Joint Statement on "Supporting the Human Rights of Christians and Other Communities, particularly in the Middle East" at the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council (Geneva, 13 March 2015).
Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Iraq in the light of abuses committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated groups, of 27 March 2015, in particular paragraph 16 thereof on ”Violations Perpetrated by ISIL – Attacks against religious and ethnic groups”.
UN Security Council’s meeting in NY on March 27 2015 on “The victims of attacks and abuses on ethnic or religious grounds in the Middle East”.
The European Parliament Resolution of 30 April 2015 on the persecution of Christians around the world, in relation to the killing of students in Kenya by terror group Al-Shabaab (2015/2661(RSP)), C.
The UN Secretary-General’s Report on Sexual Violence in Conflict of 23 March 2015 (S/2015/203)
The Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, presented in the Human Rights Council on 13 August 2015, in particular paragraphs 165 to 173 thereof.
The Paris Action Plan presented during the September 8th, 2015 International Conference on the Victims of Ethnic and Religious Violence in the Middle East.
The UN Security Council Resolution 2242 (Oct. 2015) regarding the protection of girls and women in armed conflicts.
The statement of 13 October 2015 by the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect on the escalation of incitement to violence in Syria on religious grounds.
The UN Security Council Resolution 2249 (November, 20th 2015) condemning recent terrorists attacks by ISIS.
The Marrakesh Declaration on the Rights of Religious Minorities in Predominantly Muslim Majority Communities (25th-27th January 2016).
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Resolution "Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq” on January 27th, 2016. ISIS “has perpetrated acts of genocide and other serious crimes punishable under international law.”
The European Parliament resolution on the systematic mass murder of religious minorities by the so-called ‘ISIS/Daesh’ (2016/2529(RSP)).
The authoritative, 300-page Report submitted to the Secretary of State John Kerry by the Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians that documents over a thousand instances of ISIS's deliberately massacring, killing, torturing, enslaving, kidnapping, or raping Christians and other religious groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
· The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Art. 18) states that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
· The number of Christians killed every year is more than 150,000. In just a few years, the number of Christians in Syria has dropped from 1.25 million to 500,000, and in Iraq from 1.4 million to under 275,000. Since its earliest days, Christianity has been present in these regions, but today, in some cities the number of Christians dropped by 80% or more, and in others there may not be one Christian left.
· Christians account for 80% of persecuted minorities. Together with Yazidis and other vulnerable minorities they are victims of the deliberate infliction of life conditions that are calculated to bring about their physical destruction by the so-called “ISIS/Da’esh”: They are being murdered, beheaded, crucified, beaten, extorted, abducted, and tortured. They have been victims of summary executions. They have been enslaved. Children have been forcibly transferred to other groups and forcibly recruited. Women and girls in particular have been subjected to other forms of sexual violence such as rape, forced marriages, and human trafficking. Churches and religious and cultural sites have been vandalized. Christian towns, villages, and districts have been devastated. Christians have suffered the interruption of humanitarian aid supplies and the bombardment of their homes and places of residence.
· In just the past two years an estimated 5,000 Yazidis have been killed by the so-called “ISIS/Daesh”, while many others have been tortured or forcibly converted to Islam. At least 2,000 Yazidi women have been enslaved and made victims of forced marriages and trafficking. Girls as young as six have been raped, and Yazidi children have been forcibly recruited as soldiers. There is clear evidence of mass graves of Yazidi people abducted by the Daesh.
· In August 2014 more than 150,000 Christians fled the advance Daesh over Mosul, Qaraqosh, and other villages in the Nineveh Plains. These Christians were robbed of all their belongings, and to date they remain displaced and in precarious conditions in northern Iraq. Those who were unable to flee from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains were captured. Non-Muslim women and children were enslaved, some were sold, and others were brutally killed on film by the perpetrators. In February 2015, more than 220 Assyrian Christians were kidnapped. To date, only a few have been released, while the fate of the others remains unknown.
· Nigerian Christians are also suffering outright persecution at the hands of Boko Haram and other extremist groups. According to the 2016 World Watch List by Open Doors, the killing of Christians in northern Nigeria has increased by 62% in just one year. In 2015, there were 4,028 killings and 198 church attacks that Open Doors was able to record. The figures recorded for the previous year were 2,484 killings and 108 church attacks.
· The use of rape and other forms of sexual violence in armed conflicts is one of the greatest, most persistent, and most neglected injustices. This form of violence inflicts unimaginable suffering, and it is designed to destroy individuals, families, and communities. Sexual violence not only affects hundreds of thousands of women and girls, but it also affects and victimizes men and boys. In addition to the extreme physical and psychological trauma suffered by the survivors and witnesses, sexual violence may engender and aggravate ethnic, sectarian, and other divisions in communities. This engrains conflict and instability and undermines peace-building and stabilization efforts. Despite all that the UN, other multilateral organizations, and civil society groups have done to halt this tragedy, those who commit these crimes, and their superiors who condone them, have gone unpunished for too long.
· The systematic pattern of coordinated attacks, the magnitude and intensity of the crimes, and the resulting disappearance of Christian communities from Syria and Iraq go to show that the persecution of Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq has reached the threshold of genocide and should be recognized as such.
· Several reports by UN bodies, including the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, have stated that acts committed by the so-called “ISIS/Daesh” may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
· The European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the United States Congress (by unanimous vote of 393 members in favor and 0 against), the US Secretary of State, Pope Francis, and Christian leaders from a broad array of faith traditions have called ISIS/ Da’esh’s actions against Christians and other religious minorities genocide.
We call upon UN Bodies and Member States to take Action, and therefore:
1. We ask the UN Security Council to recognize as genocide the acts committed by the so-called “ISIS/Daesh” against Christians and other religious minorities.
2. We ask the UN to activate protection mechanisms for the minority groups being persecuted (according to the Responsibility to Protect principle), as well as the punishment of criminals (as provided by the Convention on Genocide).
o We urge members of the UN Security Council to support a referral by the Security Council to the International Criminal Court, in order to investigate violations committed in Iraq and Syria by the so-called “ISIS/Daesh” against Christians, Yazidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities.
o We ask the international community to ensure the right of return for refugees and the displaced with maximum guarantees, and to provide them with protection and aid, including military protection and aid, in accordance with international law, to all those targeted by the so-called “ISIS/Daesh” and other terrorist organizations.
o We ask the United Nations to create safe havens, protected by UN-mandated forces, to provide temporary protection for the millions of refugees from the conflict in Syria and Iraq.
o We ask the UN to guarantee that religious minority communities will be stakeholders in all peace negotiations that take place within the region; to ensure an empowered and active political role for them in determining the political future, as well as the reconstruction and security of their homelands; and to ensure that their own parties nominate their representatives in this process.
o We request that the UN create an international fund of financial aid for families of the victims of genocide.
o We request the UN to support measures taken to restore family links for displaced persons, in order to facilitate voluntary return and family reunification, especially for separated children.
3. We request the UN to prepare a specific Action Plan to rescue kidnaped and enslaved Christian and Yazidi women and girls, addressed to:
o Ensuring that sexual violence prevention and response efforts are prioritized and adequately funded from the first phase and throughout all responses to conflict and humanitarian emergencies.
o Providing better, more timely, and more comprehensive assistance and care (including health and psychosocial care) that addresses the long-term consequences of sexual violence in conflict for female, male, and child victims, and their families, including children born as the result of sexual violence.
o Ensuring that all peace, security, and conflict mediation processes explicitly recognize the need to prevent, respond to, and reduce crimes of sexual violence in conflict and stress the need to exclude such crimes from amnesty provisions.
o Continuing to forcefully fight impunity with appropriate means, such as supporting and encouraging the implementation of the International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict (2014), aimed at promoting accountability for crimes of sexual violence under international law in a new global effort to shatter the culture of impunity, helping survivors, and deterring people from committing these crimes.
4. We request that the UN General Assembly recommend that all countries institute a Universal Day of Religious Freedom to be observed as a day of worldwide recognition of this fundamental right. We suggest that the Day be observed on the anniversary of the day on which the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief on November 25th, 1981.
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Recognize Genocide against Christians