September 16, 2015

KRG applauds bipartisan Congressional legislation recognizing genocide against minorities in Iraq

Washington, DC, USA (us.gov.krd) – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) applauds and fully supports a bipartisan initiative in the United States Congress denouncing the persecution and genocide of Yezidis, Christians, Turkmen, Shabaks and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq.

The Iraqi minorities are in the midst of a genocide against their people, culture and heritage, and the first step to address these crimes is formal recognition of the atrocities in order to facilitate humanitarian aid, protection and faster refugee processing for these most vulnerable communities. To this end, the Congressional co-chairs of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and the co-chairs of the International Religious Freedom Caucus, Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Trent Franks (R-AZ), introduced a resolution (H. Con. Res. 75) denouncing the atrocities as “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity” and “genocide.”

Iraq is witnessing the systematic killing of minorities and the crimes committed by ISIS include torture, murder and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Yezidis, Christians, Turkmen, Shabaks and others. These ethnic and religious minorities constitute an integral part of Iraq’s cultural fabric and their persecution is in clear violation of national and international laws and treaties.

Unfortunately, the Kurds are no strangers to genocide, having experienced the systemic persecution of Kurdish communities in Iraq beginning in the 1960s. At the hands of Saddam Hussein, including during the Anfal campaign in the 1980s that included chemical weapons attacks at Halabja and other towns, hundreds of thousands of Kurds perished or disappeared, and families were torn apart.

During this latest genocide in Iraq, Kurdistan has served as an example of religious freedom, tolerance and justice, and it remains important now as ever, to send the world a message of support for international conventions and human rights. Critically, H. Con. Res. 75 recognizes Kurdistan as a safe haven for Iraqi minorities fleeing the violence of ISIS.

KRG representative to the United States, the honorable Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, said “The people and government of the Kurdistan region have welcomed with open arms and are currently caring for approximately 1.8 million refugees and displaced people who have fled violence in Iraq and Syria. The KRG will continue to work with the Congress to achieve formal recognition of this genocide by the US government in order to help those in need, prevent further atrocities and punish those responsible.”
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