Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) made the following statement after the United States House of Representatives unanimously passed his genocide resolution with a vote of 393-0. In a sign of overwhelming bipartisan unity, the resolution, H. Con. Res. 75, names and decries the ISIS violence against Christians, Yezidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities as “genocide.” By law, the State Department must make a genocide determination by March 17.
“It is my sincere hope that this trans-partisan resolution will further compel the State Department to join the building international consensus in calling the horrific ISIS violence against Christians, Yezidis, and others by its proper name: ‘genocide,’” Fortenberry said.
A rapidly expanding international coalition has recognized that ISIS is committing genocide. The European Parliament, the International Association of Genocide Scholars, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Pope Francis, and presidential candidates in both parties, among many others, are standing in solidarity to name and decry this genocide.
“At a time of deep political division in our nation,” Fortenberry continued, “the House has spoken with one voice to properly recognize and condemn this genocide—a threat to civilization itself. The genocide resolution elevates international consciousness and confronts the scandal of silence and indifference about ISIS’ targeted and systematic destruction of these endangered communities. A bipartisan and ecumenical alliance has formed to confront ISIS’ barbaric onslaught.”
Fortenberry along with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) in September 2015 introduced H. Con. Res. 75 in the House. Following the unanimous vote passing the resolution, he spoke on the floor of the House urging the State Department to include both Christians and Yezidis in a genocide designation.
Earlier, Fortenberry made the case for recognizing the genocide in the Middle East during an exchange with Secretary of State John Kerry at a hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. Fortenberry pleaded for a comprehensive genocide designation that encompasses these ethnic and religious communities, which are facing brutal persecution in the region.
Fortenberry added: “Christians, Yezidis, and other beleaguered minority groups can find new hope in the leadership of the House. Recognition of the ISIS genocide sets the preconditions for the reintegration of ancient ethnic groups and faith traditions into their ancestral homelands. The rich, religiously diverse tapestry of the Middle East will be restored only if Christians, Yezidis, and others are empowered to once again take their rightful place.”
Fortenberry serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. Along with Eshoo, he is co-chair of the Religious Minorities of the Middle East Caucus. He represents America’s largest Yezidi community.