After months of pressure, then-Secretary of State John Kerry finally admitted and officially declared in March of 2016 that ISIS was responsible for committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims.
The declaration was one of the few times the United States has designated mass murders against religious minorities as genocide and was in accordance with a 1948 treaty that allows the U.S. to take steps to prevent and punish those responsible for such crimes.
It also allows U.S. relief funds to be redirected to helping those persecuted religious minorities and prompted Congress to allocate more than $1.3 billion in May of 2017 to provide assistance to refugees, including $10 million specifically earmarked for the Christian, Yazidi and Shia Muslim genocide victims.
These minority groups often will not go to the Muslim refugee camps for help out of fear for their lives. Thus, efforts are underway to help persecuted Christians rebuild their homes in Mosul and other parts of Iraq, and to help stabilize the area as pro-Iranian militias are reportedly buying up Christian land there to increase their influence.
In June, several senators, including Marco Rubio (Fla.), John Cornyn (Texas), James Lankford (Okla.) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking him to make sure the money is distributed appropriately to help the persecuted religious minorities, including the designated genocide victims.
Now, however, holdovers from the Obama administration are working behind the scenes in the State Department to erase references to “genocide,” the Free Beacon has reported.
The senators’ specific question regarding Christians and Yazidis was avoided when a response came from the State Department in a July 10 letter stating only that the department “shares your grave concern about the situation facing Iraq’s religious and ethnic minorities.”
Further, the response said the money would be distributed based on “individual need,” instead of referencing the genocide designation.
Nina Shea, an international human rights lawyer and director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, said top lawyers in the State Department are scrubbing the word “genocide” from all speeches and official documents, thereby excluding Iraq’s Christian and religious minorities from receiving U.S. aid intended specifically for them.
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