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21 April 2016

Parliament declares atrocities against Christians to be genocide

Parliament declares atrocities against Christians to be genocide

A debate in the House of Commons about crimes committed against Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq has voted that the atrocities constitute genocide.

The motion was overwhelmingly passed with a vote of 278 – 0.

The government has so far refused to define the violence as genocide due to a policy of not giving a legal definition to potential war crimes.

Stephen Timms MP, a friend of the Alliance, said during the debate: "I hope that we can make a clear statement today that this is genocide, both to express solidarity with Yazidis, Christians and Shi'a Muslims who are the victims of this horrifying brutality, and to make clear our determination to ensure that those responsible face prosecution and a just punishment for what they have done."

Many contributors pressed the government to refer the issue to the United Nations Security Council.

Representing the government, parliamentary under-secretary ofsState for foreign and commonwealth affairs, Tobias Ellwood said: "I commend the efforts of members in all parts of the House who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the voices of those who have been murdered, persecuted or silenced by Daesh are heard.

"I believe that genocide has taken place, but as the prime minister has said, genocide is a matter of legal rather than political opinion. We as the government are not the prosecutor, the judge or the jury. Such matters are for the UN Security Council."

Speaking earlier this week, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, said of the debate: "While appreciative of all that continues to be done around the world...the solution at the heart of the issue is a realisation of the value of every life.

"This is why we not only pray for those who fall victim to these crimes, but for those who continue to carry them out, that there is a greater understanding of our shared humanity and the pain and loss that is caused to us all through the taking of any life."

If you would like to find out more about ways you can support Christians suffering for their faith in the Middle East or around the world, please do get in touch with any of the members of the Religious Liberty Commission (RLC), of which the Alliance is a member along with Open Doors UK, Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Release International.

The RLC believes in the rights of all people, of any faith or none, to have freedom of religion or belief, including the freedom to convert.