Obama Finally Names Islamic State's 'Genocide' - Now End it
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Obama Finally Names Islamic State's 'Genocide' - Now End It



For seven years, President Obama's administration has done and said little that has been praiseworthy when called on to protect religious freedom either at home or abroad.

Obama dragged his feet for a year and a half before even nominating an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. More recently, the State Department was months late in delivering a report to Congress on global human rights.

It is therefore encouraging that the State Department on Thursday finally and officially designated the atrocities perpetrated by Islamic State against Christians and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq as "genocide," which the Washington Examiner has been urging for months.
More from the Washington Examiner

"…[I]n my judgment, Daesh (the Islamic State) is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims," Secretary of State John Kerry said in his announcement on Thursday. "Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by its actions. In what it says, what it believes, and what it does. Daesh is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities."

The State Department's designation comes in the wake of the House of Representatives unanimously passing a resolution by Nebraska Rep. Jeff Fortenberry demanding it.

We've documented the scope and severity of the atrocities before. As we wrote last year, "Christians in Islamic State-controlled Iraq and Syria are being tortured, raped, kidnapped for ransom, enslaved, beheaded and crucified. So many Christians have fled that some experts warn that Christianity could virtually disappear in the place of its birth within a generation or two." A report last week placed the estimated number of Christians killed for their faith in IS-controlled areas at 1,100.

We called on the Obama administration to make this declaration three months ago. Better now than never. But, the question is: What comes next? The declaration must lead to action to improve the lives of religious minorities living under constant threat.

This is only the sixth time Washington has issued a genocide designation. The last time, in response to the Darfur genocide in Sudan in 2004, it was made only after State Department lawyers determined that employing the word wouldn't carry any legal obligation to act. But even if such a designation doesn't create a legal obligation to respond, it does carry a moral one. It was this dilemma that President Bill Clinton havered over in the mid-1990s while Hutu tribesmen slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Tutsis in Rwanda.
Also from the Washington Examiner

State Department spokesman John Kirby told MSNBC this Thursday that the practical effect of the "genocide" designation would be intensified attacks on the Islamic State and increased public awareness of the atrocities. Kirby said the State Department also wants to continue to gather evidence and analyze it "to ensure that future victims and suffering can be averted or at least documented for history's sake."

Sec. Kerry has pledged that he will "strongly support" an independent investigation into the atrocities by a "competent court or tribunal." This could be accomplished by the United National Security Council or, given U.N. fecklessness, by an ad hoc regional tribunal, the creation of which an accompanying resolution called for on Monday.

"Naming these crimes is important," Kerry said in announcing the genocide designation. "But what is essential is to stop them." It took Kerry, Obama and the United States too long to do the former. They need to ensure they are not so tardy in accomplishing the latter.