The British government should urge the United Nations to declare the jihadist eradication of Syrian and Iraqi minorities to be ‘genocide’, leading MPs have told David Cameron (BBC report here).
Their letter, whose 75 signatories are led by two Catholic MPs, Lord Alton of Liverpool and Rob Flello (Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South), list the atrocities perpetrated against Christians and Yazidis by Daesh, and says the Jihadist group has made clear “its intent to eliminate Christian communities from its ‘Islamic State’.”
The signatories are drawn from members of both Houses of Parliament, all political parties and people of all faiths and none. They include three Anglican Bishops, a former Director General of the Security Services Management Board (Lord Evans), a former Chief of the Defence Staff (Field Marshall the Lord Guthrie), former Ministers and Secretaries of State, professors and senior lawyers.
The term ‘genocide’ is defined by the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide as the systematic killing of a people because they are part of a recognisable group. That group may be “national, ethnic, racial or religious” and the treaty identifies “acts committed with intent to destroy [that group] in whole or in part.”
“There is no doubt in our minds that the targeting of Christians and other religious minorities by Daesh falls within that definition,” the MPs tell the prime minister. “We hope that by meeting with us we will have the opportunity to convince you to use all the influence of Her Majesty’s Government at the United Nations to obtain an agreement that the word ‘genocide’ should be used.”
A UN declaration of genocide would make clear that in the future those perpetrating it will be held accountable by the international community, and would encourage the 127 member states to “prevent and punish” the perpetrators.
“We must send a clear and unequivocal message to them that eventually they will be held to account by the international community for their atrocities,” Rob Flello MP said. “We hope the Prime Minister will now act swiftly to encourage the United Nations to describe these killings as the orchestrated genocide they are.”
Lord Alton said:
If beheadings, crucifixions, enslavement, rape, the seizure of homes and property, and mass graves, does not constitute genocide it is hard to imagine what does. The deliberate targeting of people because of their ethnicity or religion is precisely what constitutes genocide and that is precisely what has happened to Yazidis and Christians. Under international law, the failure of Governments and political leaders to name this as genocide is a serious dereliction of their duty.”
(Full text of letter and list of signatories here.)