By Sarah Mac Donald - 09 February, 2016
The European bishops’ commission, COMECE, has welcomed the European Parliament’s use of the word “genocide” in its condemnation of atrocities committed by so-called Islamic State or Da’ish against Christians and Yazidis.
In a statement, Fr Patrick Daly, COMECE’s general secretary, said steps to prosecute these criminals and bring them to justice were imperative.
“We warmly welcome this resolution of the European Parliament as a significant step forward in facilitating measures to prevent the on-going incipient genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other ethnic and religious minorities and communities across the Middle East,” Fr Daly said.
The bishops’ commission recalled how Pope Francis was among the first to use the word “genocide” to describe the systematic, barbarous, lethal attacks on Christian communities and on other vulnerable groups targeted on account of their religious affiliation.
It was on 9 July 2015 that the Pope stated, “Today we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus. This too needs to be denounced: in this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, as form of genocide – I insist on the word – is taking place, and it must end.”
Referring to the European Parliament’s resolution, COMECE said it was a “move which is as remarkable as it is welcome”.
The resolution on the systematic mass murder of religious minorities by ISIS, states unambiguously that “so-called ISIS/Da’ish is committing genocide against Christians and Yazidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities, who do not agree with the so-called ISIS/Da’ish interpretation of Islam, and that this therefore entails action under the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”
The European Parliament also advocated that “action should be taken for it to be recognised as genocide by the UN Security Council.”
This resolution, which rests on a cross-party consensus rarely witnessed in the European Parliament, results from an initiative launched by MEP Lars Adaktusson.
It represents a growing appreciation among MEPs of the gravity of what persecuted minorities, including Christians, are enduring in the Middle East and a greater sense of urgency about addressing their fate.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (27 January 2016) was forthright in its view that “States should [henceforth] act on the presumption that Da’ish commits genocide.”
The European Parliament is saying the same thing in different words according to COMECE.