(CNSNews.com) - Knights of Columbus (KofC) CEO Carl Anderson called for “a worldwide effort to save the historic, indigenous minority communities” of Syria and Iraq from extinction Thursday morning at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Anderson, who was a member of a panel of experts invited by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations to discuss the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, reminded the U.N. that its own document, Responsibility to Protect– which was unanimously adopted by the General Assembly in 2005 – “includes the pledge of all nations to protect populations from genocide.”
“We are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the [U.N.] Charter…on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity,” that document states.
On March 17, after the KofC and In Defense of Christians (IDC) submitted a 300-page report documenting atrocities committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), including mass rapes and the murder of thousands of indigenous Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “in my judgment, Daesh [ISIS] is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims.”
“The world’s greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II is unfolding in the Middle East,” Anderson said. “This crisis implores all people of good will to unite in a solidarity of conscience to build a worldwide effort to save the historic, indigenous minority communities of the region regardless of their race, ethnicity or religion.”
“ISIS consistently violates the four main goals found in the Preamble of the United Nations Charter to: (1) save succeeding generations from the scourge of war; (2) protect and reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights; (3) promote justice and adherence to international law; and (4) foster development and freedom,” he continued.
“The scourge of what is happening in Iraq and Syria is a frontal assault on fundamental human rights, freedom and development throughout the region.
“Religious minorities have an indisputable right to live in their homeland. Their disappearance would diminish us all,” Anderson said.
Anderson called on the U.N. to take “concrete steps” to live up to its commitment by referring “key perpetrators of genocide for prosecution by the International Criminal Court”; “locating and providing relief to communities – such as Yezidis and Christians - that have been targeted for genocide”; “advocating for full and equal rights for religious minorities in the region”; and “preparing now for the consequences of the liberation of ISIS controlled areas… as civilians flee the fighting.”
Displaced persons who want to return to their homes should receive legal and material assistance to do so, including “international support for their claims to property or compensation,” while those who prefer to remain where they are now should also receive help from the international community, he said.
“The world stands at a crossroads. The rich tapestry of religious pluralism in the region must be preserved now or it will be lost forever.
"If Christianity disappears in this region, so does the opportunity for pluralism there; and the likelihood of majoritarian theocracy, or something worse, is increased. The threats from such an outcome to peace, stability and security – in the region and beyond – are substantial,” Anderson noted.
On April 19, Anderson testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, saying that “the United States cannot help defeat ISIS without defeating its genocidal antecedents — the malignant idea that discrimination and second-class status are the lot of religious minorities, and that those who offend Islam, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, must be eliminated.”
The KofC has raised over $10.5 million for relief for the victims of genocidal persecution in the Middle East. An online petition the group sponsored with IDC urging Kerry to declare genocide there was signed by more than 150,000 Americans.