As the British government considers measures to name the Islamic State’s persecution of Christians and other religious minorities as genocide, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has urged the British Parliament to “stand with other governments and international bodies.”
“We are witnessing nothing short of genocide being committed with horrifying cruelty against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East,” Bishop Davies said in an April 21 statement. “Whole communities face annihilation and look to the international community for support.”
His comments follow a unanimous vote in the British House of Commons April 20 in favor of referring to the violence committed by Islamic State — also known as Daesh, or ISIS — against Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria as “genocide.”
The House of Lords had failed only days earlier to recognize the violence as a genocide.
Conservative MP Fiona Bruce received unanimous support in the House of Commons for her motion to label these atrocities “genocide” but the government remains hesitant, citing the rarity of a referring to ongoing acts of war as genocide, rather than waiting for international courts to do so.
“This is ultimately a matter for the courts to decide. It is not for governments to be prosecutor, the judge or indeed jury,” Foreign Officer minister Tobias Ellwood said, the BBC reported.
For her part, Bruce said that recognizing the Islamic State's actions as genocide would “help inject momentum into the international efforts to stop the killings.”
"It would hopefully lead to more active safeguarding of those members of religious minorities on the ground whose lives and very communities currently hang in the balance,” she said, according to the BBC.
Bishop Davies said that “ We must welcome and applaud the decision of the House of Commons to support the motion moved by Fiona Bruce MP to call upon our own Government to refer these genocidal acts of Daesh to the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court.”
“I hope the British government will reconsider its position and be ready to stand with other governments and international bodies in recognising this crime of genocide,” he added.
Last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry declared that Christians, Yazidis, Shia Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities are victims of genocide at the hands of Islamic State.
Secretary Kerry announced at a news conference March 17 that “in my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims.”
During his July 2015 trip to Bolivia, Pope Francis called the plight of persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria “genocide.”