(AINA) -- There are reports in the media that state the Obama Administration will designate ISIS's attacks on Yazidis in Iraq as genocide, without giving the same designation to ISIS's attacks on Assyrians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria, even though these attacks targeted both groups and were conducted in tandem.
There is no question as to the suffering of the Yazidis and Assyrians. Thousands of Yazidis have been killed, Yazidi women have been captured and raped and sold as sex slaves. Hundreds of thousands of Yazidis have been displaced. 200,000 Assyrians were driven from the Nineveh Plains in North Iraq last year (AINA 2014-08-07) in the ISIS attack that began -- not coincidentally -- on August 7, the Assyrian Martyrs Day. Most have not returned and are living as refugees in Arbel and Dohuk.
Related: Timeline of ISIS in Iraq
Related: Attacks on Assyrians in Syria
ISIS has destroyed or occupied 45 Assyrian churches in Mosul. It has killed Assyrians in Mosul. It has snatched Assyrian girls from the arms of their mothers, never to be seen again (AINA 2014-08-28).
In Syria, ISIS captured 500 Assyrians, and still holds about 400 of them for ransom. ISIS attacked 35 Assyrian villages on the Khabur on February 23, killing 4, capturing 253 and causing 3,000 Assyrians to flee (AINA 2015-02-23). It executed 3 of them on September 23 in a video (AINA 2015-10-08). On August 7 -- again, not coincidentally -- ISIS attacked Qaryatain and captured 250 Assyrians (AINA 2015-08-07).
ISIS has also engaged in the destruction of the Assyrian cultural heritage, both in Syria and Iraq. It destroyed the city of Nimrud, destroyed the walls of Nineveh, destroyed Assyrian artifacts in the Mosul museum. In Syria it destroyed Assyrian churches (AINA 2015-06-18) and archaeological sites (AINA 2014-05-17).
Article 2 of UNCG lays down the meaning of genocide:
In the present Convention, 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:
- Killing members of the group;
- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
- Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
ISIS has engaged in all of these acts against both Assyrians and Yazidis.
It is a welcome step for the U.S. government to designate ISIS's attacks as genocide, but this must apply to all affected groups, not just Yazidis. There is no rational basis for excluding Assyrians from such a designation.
We urge the U.S. Government to designate ISIS's attacks on all groups as genocide, and to name all affected groups explicitly to focus attention on the desperate plight of these minority groups.