On Thursday, Mar. 17, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry states that ISIS is responsible for genocide. This is the first time that the United States has declared an act of genocide since 2004, in Darfur. Although this does not mean we have to take action, this certainly puts a great deal of pressure on the Obama administration to do something about it. However, this declaration politicizes the issues more, making involvement less of an opinion because it is officially labeled a genocide. "My purpose here today is to assert in my judgment, [ISIS] is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims," Kerry said during a news conference at the State Department.
Kerry stated that in 2014, ISIS trapped Yazidi people, killing the men, and enslaving the women solely based upon their Christian faith. In Aug. of 2014, the US military returned to Iraq to halt the massacre that ISIS was committing against the Yazidi. "Without our intervention, it is clear that those people would have been slaughtered," he said. The House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution stating that the atrocities that ISIS against Christian groups in Iraq and Syria are in fact considered genocide. The move, aimed at increasing the pressure on the Obama administration, appears to have worked.
Although only now being considered genocide, Senator Marco Rubio from Florida criticized the administration for not acting sooner. "That it took so long for the administration to arrive at this conclusion, in the face of unspeakable human suffering, defies explanation," said Rubio, who until Tuesday was a GOP presidential candidate, stated. "At long last the United States is no longer silent in the face of this evil, but it would be travesty if we were to mistakenly take solace in this designation, if the designation did not then yield some sort of action."
The people of Iraq are reluctant that the atrocities that are being committed against them are being recognized. Mirza Dinnayi, an Iraqi activist was welcoming to Kerry’s statement. "I am very happy to hear that (the U.S.) will recognize the genocide of Yezidi and Christian minorities," he told CNN in an email. "This is an important step to stop the suffering of the persecuted people under the control of the extremist Islamic groups, especially ISIS. And this is also important for my community to trust the international community again, because we were left in the hands of Islamic State." This was a move by Kerry that was much needed and essential in protecting innocent lives.
Although there are no legal obligations that come with the resolution of Genocide, it certainly sheds some light on a topic to which many people turned a blind eye. Carl Anderson, chief executive of the Knights of Columbus, an influential Catholic group, issued a report on the atrocities committed against Christians by the Islamic state. "Following this declaration, America must continue to focus on those being killed in this genocide, and our country, and the international community, must make sure the slaughter ends and that these innocent people are protected. There is much work still to be done," Anderson said. Even if the practical impact of Kerry’s declaration is negligible, it carries important symbolic weight, causing many influential calling on the United States to take immediate action.