(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) accused the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) of genocide for “systematically targeting Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq for extinction” during an impassioned speech on the House floor Tuesday.
Wolf – who earned an international reputation as a champion of human rights for his humanitarian efforts in China, Tibet, Sudan, Afghanistan and other countries during his 34 years in Congress - told his House colleagues that “I believe that what is happening to the Christian community in Iraq is genocide. I also believe it is ‘a crime against humanity’.”
"Last Thursday, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, more commonly referred to as ISIS, gave the few remaining Christians in Mosul until Saturday to leave or be killed,” Wolf said.
He added that "on June 16th, for the first time in 1,600 years, there was no Mass said in Mosul." Prior to the U.S. invasion in 2003, some 130,000 Christians lived in Mosul, where the Prophet Jonah is believed to be buried. However, only 2,000 are estimated to remain there today.
“Mr. Speaker, the international legal definition of the crime of genocide is found in Article II of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide,” Wolf stated.
“It says ‘genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.’
Based on this international standard, Wolf pointed out, ISIS is engaging in genocide against the “thousands of religious minorities [who] have been forced to flee the lands they have inhabited for more than 2,000 years.”
The Virginia Republican urged the United Nations to “immediately initiate proceedings in the International Criminal Court against ISIS for crimes against humanity.”
“Where is the Obama administration?” Wolf asked.
He quoted from a letter sent to President Obama on June 19 that was signed by 55 bipartisan members of Congress urging him to “actively engage with the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to prioritize additional security support for especially vulnerable populations, notably Iraq’s ancient Christian community.”
The letter cited a June 12 BBC article describing “summary execution, beheadings and even crucifixions” by ISIS, which it noted “has a reputation for brutality”.
“After more than 2,000 years, during which we have withstood obstacles and persecutions, Iraq is today almost emptied of its Christian presence,” Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Saad Syroub of Baghdad told Aid to the Church in Need, a charitable group.
“Absent immediate action, we will most certainly witness the annihilation of an ancient faith community from the lands they’ve inhabited for centuries,” said Wolf, quoting the last line of the letter.
“It is happening,” Wolf said Tuesday. “They are almost all gone – just as we predicted.”