ICC Note: Chaldean Priest, Douglas al-Bazi, gave an inspired and passionate speech in Washington, D.C. regarding the categorization of “genocide” for Christians in the Middle East. Al-Bazi was a former hostage and victim of jihadists in Iraq so has witnessed the massacre of minorities in his home country. The article discusses the Obama administration’s response to the term “genocide” as it notes Josh Earnest’s response, “there are legal ramifications.” ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East discussed these ramifications in an interview with John Clemens of USA Radio News yesterday. “These are the ‘legal ramifications’ Mr. Earnest is referring to: when you admit there is a genocide, you have a “duty to actively protect” the religious minorities being massacred and forcibly displaced. That’s it.” The Obama Administration should have no “legal” issue with this classification which leads many to believe that the motivations driving the unwillingness to label as genocide has more to do with preserving a legacy than protecting minorities.
3/10/2016 Middle East (Washington Times By: Guy Taylor) – A decade has gone by since the Rev. Douglas al-Bazi was kidnapped and had his teeth knocked out by Islamic jihadis in Baghdad, a nightmare that still haunts the Chaldean Catholic priest and one that fuels his quest to have the horror endured by his fellow Iraqi Christians be recognized for what it is: “genocide.”
“I am here to tell the world, ‘Do you realize what is happening or not? Are you going to help or not?’” Father al-Bazi said in Washington this week.
His visit is aimed at highlighting the resistance by the Obama administration to officially recognize that an organized genocide targeting ancient Christian communities is underway in Iraq and Syria.
By some estimates, there were as many as 2 million Christians of various denominations in Iraq in 2003. Today, there are fewer than 300,000, said Father al-Bazi, who fled Baghdad three years ago for the Kurdish city of Irbil [Erbil], where tens of thousands of displaced Christians are living in 17 makeshift refugee camps.
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Pope Francis and some presidential candidates, including Republicans Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, have already called what is happening to Christians and other minorities in the Middle East a genocide.
March 17 deadline
U.S. administrations have long been reluctant to adopt the genocide tag, which brings with it formal obligations under international law and, in some cases, can make a negotiated settlement to an international crisis harder to achieve.
When pressed in early February on why the Obama administration has steered away from using the word in relation to Christians in the Middle East, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “My understanding is that the use of that specific term has legal ramifications, and so there are lawyers that are considering whether or not that term can be properly applied in this scenario.”
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