WASHINGTON, D.C. – US Secretary of State John Kerry stated on Thursday that ISIS (Daesh) is “responsible for genocide,” against groups in Syria and Iraq, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. The recognition was prompted by H.Con.Res.75, which includes Armenians as one of the Christian groups persecuted by ISIS.

“We know that in areas under its control, Daesh has made a systematic effort to destroy the cultural heritage of ancient communities ­- destroying Armenian, Syrian Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches…” Kerry stated.

In his statement, Kerry also invoked one of the criteria of genocide as defined by the 1948 UN Convention. “One element of genocide is the intent to destroy an ethnic or religious group, in whole or in part. We know that Daesh has given some of its victims a choice between abandoning their faith or being killed, and that for many is a choice between one kind of death and another,” Kerry said.

“Confronted with harrowing reports of similar crimes and atrocities, U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau in 1915 alerted the State Department and the world to the horrors taking place in the Ottoman Empire, stating that a ‘campaign of race extermination’ was underway against the Armenian people, and urged action to stop the slaughter,” observed Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.

“Today, Secretary Kerry responded to the unspeakable crimes carried out by ISIS. ‘Naming these crimes is important. But what is essential is to stop them,’ Kerry stated. His statement recalls Morgenthau’s warning and the need to act. As President Obama has said, ‘America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides.’ We therefore call upon the Obama administration to also unequivocally affirm the Armenian Genocide,” Ardouny continued.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) stated: “This morning, Secretary Kerry declared ISIS is committing genocide against Christians and religious minorities…now that our government is recognizing this crisis, it needs to do more to stop it. I hope the president will seize this opportunity to present a very clear strategy to defeat this enemy.”

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