Monday, May 30, 2016

Christian Communities Facing Extinction

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson talks with U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), who convened the congressional hearing, May 26. “The ISIS Genocide Declaration: What Next?” was the title of the hearing that included testimony from the Supreme Knight.

May 26, 2016 - For the third time in the past several months, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson testified before Congress, this time before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
At the hearing, he described a dire situation for Christians in Iraq and Syria that the United States could take steps to improve. “Many of the region’s indigenous communities now face extinction. These communities may disappear in less than a decade. But their fate is not inevitable,” Anderson warned lawmakers. The United States can avert this crisis, he said, by acting according to six principles:

1. Increase humanitarian aid and provide oversight to ensure it gets to those targeted for genocide.
2. Support the long-term survival of indigenous religious and ethnic communities by supporting their right to remain in their country.
3. Punish the perpetrators of genocide and crimes against humanity.
4. Assist the victims of genocide to attain refugee status.
5. Prepare now for foreseeable human rights challenges as ISIS-controlled territory is liberated by ensuring that Christians and other minorities have equal rights to decide their future.
6. Promote the establishment of internationally agreed upon standards of human rights and religious freedom as conditions for humanitarian and military assistance.

Supreme Knight Anderson also reported that Christian leaders in Iraq and Syria say they receive no money from the U.S. government or the United Nations to respond to the crisis of internally displaced persons, or IDPs, and urban refugees.
“If assistance from outside Church-affiliated agencies ends in Erbil [Iraq], Christians there will face a catastrophic humanitarian tragedy within 30 days,” said Supreme Knight Anderson. He explained that, while these private charities have responded to the humanitarian need, the assistance of governments and international organizations is necessary.
“The ISIS Genocide Declaration: What Next?” was the title of this latest congressional hearing that included testimony from Sarhang Hamasaeed of the U.S. Institute of Peace; Johnny Oram, executive director of the Chaldean Assyrian Business Alliance; and David Crane of Syracuse University College of Law.
Supreme Knight Anderson appeared before the same subcommittee in December to raise awareness of the persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria, and to call for the Department of State to label the atrocities committed against these Christians a genocide. The U.S. Department of State, along with the U.S. House of Representatives, made such a declaration in mid-March.
He was then invited in April to testify in Congress before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission to suggest a path forward for the victims of genocide.
Through its website, ChristiansatRisk.org, the Knights of Columbus has raised over $10.5 million for humanitarian relief and awareness to benefit Christian refugees in Iraq and Syria.
In March, the Knights submitted a nearly 300-page report (available here) to the State Department detailing the brutality that Christians and other minorities have experienced at the hands of ISIS. The report was credited by officials as having been influential in the State Department’s declaration of genocide.

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