Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Applauds Decision Designating ISIS Atrocities “Genocide”

Mar 17, 2016
Press Release
Attacks Against Christians Cannot Stand

12-Year-old Crucified for Refusing to Denounce His Faith 

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today commended the State Department for designating the slaughter of Christians by ISIS as genocide – an official term used only once in history by a U.S. administration while a conflict was ongoing. In 2004, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell declared genocide in response to the slaughter of civilians in Darfur, Sudan.

“The administration made the right decision to recognize the magnitude of ISIS’s horrific acts,” Buchanan said. “ISIS is the face of evil and there is no room for equivocation. Their actions clearly constitute genocide.” 

The State Department announcement coincides with today’s deadline imposed by Congress. Congress passed legislation late last year requiring the administration to make a formal determination of whether genocide has occurred by March 17, 2016.

The terrorist group has decimated the Christian population of Iraq and Syria. Fewer than 300,000 Christians are left in Iraq – home of an ancient tradition of deep Christian faith – according to one Iraqi Catholic priest. Some estimates put the number of Iraqi Christians at 2 million before the ISIS occupation began.

Buchanan praised unanimous House passage Monday of legislation recognizing the terror campaign being waged by ISIS as genocide. The resolution, H.Con.Res. 75, states that “those who commit or support atrocities against Christians and other ethnic and religious minoritiesand who target them specifically for ethnic or religious reasons, are committing, and are hereby declared to be committing, "war crimes," "crimes against humanity," and "genocide."” 

According to Christian Aid Mission, a humanitarian group, 12 Christians were murdered late last year in Syria for refusing to renounce their faith. "In front of the team leader and relatives in the crowd, the Islamic extremists cut off the fingertips of the boy and severely beat him, telling his father they would stop the torture only if he, the father, returned to Islam," Christian Aid revealed, according to a report from Morning Star News. "When the team leader refused, relatives said, the ISIS militants also tortured and beat him and the two other ministry workers. The three men and the boy then met their deaths in crucifixion."

ISIS has undertaken a sustained, methodical campaign of crucifixion, mass murder, beheading and other horrific actions – all designed to exterminate religions and ethnicities that do not align with their twisted worldview. According to a United Nations report, “Women and children remain particularly vulnerable, with ongoing reports of sexual violence, including sexual slavery, and the forcible recruitment and use of children in hostilities.”

A number of influential individuals and organizations have said that the terror group’s targeting of religious minorities in the Middle East should be classified as genocide, including Pope Francis, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Holy See’s representative to the U.N., and the European Parliament.