Murder in Aleppo: October 14th 2016
Article by Grazie Christie
The List of Victims Is Long Enough
I did not want to go to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, during our pilgrimage in Israel last week. It seems enough to know (without the accompanying tragic images) that European Jews of the last century endured an amount of suffering that boggles the mind.
Although violence and misery were everywhere during the dark years of World War II, the museum focuses on what has rightly been called the “crime of crimes,” or genocide. A U.N. convention defines it as an attempt to destroy a group through extermination, torture and forced deportation. At Yad Vashem you get a sickening understanding of the process and its vicious, systematic ruthlessness. European Jewry was coldly, efficiently and mercilessly reduced in a few short years from 9.5 to 3.5 million – not only an incalculable loss of God’s children, but of a whole beautiful and rich culture and community. During that hour in the museum, each person lost seems to clutch at your heart.
Later that week, far to the north of Jerusalem, we saw something else which clutched at our hearts. From the top of a ruined and bullet-pocked building on the Golan Heights we saw an eerily deserted Syrian town – dusty, dry and rubbled, with a church rising from its center. And we could hear the sound of constant bombing like low rumbles of distant thunder. Hazy puffs of black smoke on the horizon accompanied the sound of destruction and death.
Pictured: the view of from the Golan heights of the abandoned Syrian city of Quneitra
A Destroyed And Forgotten People:
Nina Shea: September 2016:
‘Gross injustice’: Of 10,000 Syrian refugees to the US, 56 are Christian
WASHINGTON—Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Rep. Trent Franks (AZ-08), and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01) have introduced legislation to provide relief for survivors of the ISIS-perpetrated genocide against vulnerable religious and ethnic groups in Syria and Iraq, and to ensure that perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in those countries are punished.
The Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2016, H.R. 5961, directs the U.S. Administration to treat these heinous acts as the crimes that they are, and to prioritize supporting the criminal investigation, prosecution, and conviction of perpetrators.
“Mass murder and rape are not only human rights violations – they are also criminal acts that require careful investigation, documentation, and prosecution to bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Chairman Smith. “We need to support entities doing this work in the field, and close gaps in U.S. law so that our justice system can prosecute foreign perpetrators present in the U.S., as well as any Americans who commit such crimes.”
The legislation also requires the U.S. State Department to create a “Priority Two” (“P-2”) designation for Iraqi and Syrian survivors of genocide, and other persecuted religious and ethnic groups in Iraq or Syria. Refugees who meet the P-2 criteria are able to apply overseas for resettlement in the United States without requiring a referral from the United Nations, an NGO, or a U.S. Embassy.
“Although a P-2 designation does not guarantee admission to the United States – applicants must still clear the same security screening as other refugees – it provides victims of genocide with a much-needed additional path to access the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program,” said Chairman Smith.
Finally, the bill directs the U.S. Administration to identify warning signs of deadly violence against genocide survivors and other vulnerable religious and ethnic communities in Iraq or Syria; assess and address the humanitarian vulnerabilities, needs, and triggers that might force them to flee their homes; and ensure that the U.S. supports entities effectively serving genocide survivors, including faith-based entities. Chairman Smith noted that the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil, which provides vital assistance to internally displaced families of Yezidis, Muslims, and Christians, including to all of the approximately 10,500 Christian IDP families in the Erbil region, has received no funding from the U.S. Government or any other government.
“So far, the Administration has failed to keep its promise to enable these genocide survivors to remain in Iraq and Syria. It is overlooking groups, like the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil, that are serving tens of thousands of survivors every day. If the needs of these communities are ignored, thousands of victims may have to leave their ancient homelands forever and never return,” Chairman Smith said.
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 57 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.
Jan Figel has been appointed as the EU Special representative dealing with the taggetting of religious minorities. He is interviewed at:
The following link takes you to the Resolution of the European Parliament from February 2016. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2016-0051+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN (There are 23 linguistic versions of this important resolution.)
It speaks about mass murdering, atrocities, crimes against humanity and genocide of Christians, Yezidis and other religious and ethnic minorities under ISIS/Daesh.
Jan Figel says: “Terrible crimes are reported by Islamist terrorists , even online, as they try to spread fear and their ideology of hatred. The question today is not about deeds, facts and brutal crimes. The question is: Are we ready to do something against this, or rather only comment and lament on…? There is a need for reflection and suitable initiatives in order to raise public awareness about this unprecedented situation, to push UNO and our governments to stop these atrocities and to help innocent people in need and to bring perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice.”
He points out that:
“Ongoing murdering and persecution by ISIS/Daesh in Syria and Iraq has been strongly denounced and labelled as a genocide by the US Congress, the British Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Australian Parliament. We hope that other countries will join this list …and we also need to urge UN Security Council and General Assembly to step up their effort and to really act in line with the valid international law.”