House Foreign Affairs Committee Includes Armenians in Resolution Condemning ISIS Genocide

Key House Panel Adopts Fortenberry-Eshoo Measure as Deadline Looms for Obama Administration to Issue a Determination on the Matter

WASHINGTON—The House Foreign Affairs Committee on March 2 brought Congress one step closer to properly condemning as genocide the ongoing ISIL/Da’esh crimes against Christians—including Armenians and Assyrians—as well as Yazidis and other religious minorities in the Middle East, adopting H.Con.Res.75 by voice vote, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

House Foreign Affairs Committee adopts H.Con.Res.75, designating the ISIL crimes against Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq as genocide.
House Foreign Affairs Committee adopts H.Con.Res.75, designating the ISIL crimes against Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq as genocide.

“The ANCA welcomes the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s passage of H.Con.Res.75 as an important step in elevating our government’s response to genocide from a political choice to a moral imperative,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We cannot continue to treat the recognition of genocide—whether it is the systematic destruction of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians in 1915, or ISIL’s attacks against Christians and other minority groups today—as a geopolitical commodity, to be bartered or bargained away. Our stand against genocide must be unconditional. We urge the Obama Administration and Congress to speak clearly and unequivocally on this matter.”

The move paves the way for full congressional consideration of the matter and is timed just weeks before a March 17 deadline, when the Obama Administration will be offering its official determination on the matter. The administration has been under increasing pressure from U.S. religious leaders, human rights, and civic groups—led by In Defense of Christians (IDC), the Knights of Columbus, the International Religious Freedom Roundtable, and supported by the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the ANCA, and more than 100 organizations—to properly characterize the attacks against Christians in Syria and Iraq as “genocide.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) opened the March 2 consideration of H.Con.Res.75 with an amended version of the measure that offered broader details about Christian and other minority groups targeted by ISIL, listing Assyrian, Chaldean Syriac, Armenian, and Melkite communities as well as Yazidis, Turkmen, Shabak, Sabaean Mandeans, and Kaka‘i by name. The resolution specifically notes the ISIL crimes against these communities “constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide”; urges all governments—including the United States and United Nations—to acknowledge them as such; and calls for a coordinated international campaign to stop the violence. The measure also commends Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq for accepting refugees from the violence and asserts that Syria’s Assad regime and ongoing civil war in that country has contributed to the growth of ISIL.

During committee debate on the resolution, Congressman Dave Trott (R-Mich.) cited his trip to Armenia in 2015 to mark the Armenian Genocide Centennial. “I saw first-hand how painful and somber the memory of those atrocities are, even today,” said Trott, who went on to state, “We have failed to recognize the Armenian Genocide and I urge my colleagues not to make the same mistake again.”

Chairman Royce concurred, noting, “We can’t afford the same negligence that we saw in the Armenian Genocide with respect to this genocide against the Yazidis and Christians.”

H.Con.Res.75, spearheaded by the co-chairs of the House Caucus for Religious Minorities in the Middle East, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), has bipartisan support from 200 co-sponsors. In a press conference hosted by the IDC in December, Eshoo, who is of Armenian and Assyrian origin, explained why this issue is so important to her. “This is history for my family that is repeating itself all over again. […] Future generations will look at us and ask, ‘Did they do anything?’” (Watch the ANCA’s video at

“We cannot underestimate the moral authority the United States has when we simply utter what is true,” stated Fortenberry, holding a photo of Christians shackled by ISIS abductors prior to their murder. (Watch the ANCA’s video:

The ANCA has teamed up with IDC to set up an action alert urging congressional support for H.Con.Res.75, which is available at:

A similar resolution in the Senate by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.)—S.Res.340—has 11 co-sponsors.


More than 42,000 Sign Knights of Columbus / In Defense of Christians Petition 

Grassroots initiatives calling on the Obama Administration and Congress to take action to stop the Christian genocide in the Middle East abound, with the Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians leading the latest online grassroots petition campaign, which has garnered the support of top religious leaders including the Cardinal Tim Dolan, archbishop of New York; Leith Anderson, president, National Association of Evangelicals; Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, prelate of the Armenian Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Eastern USA; as well as a diverse group of business and community leaders, including Hollywood producer Mark Burnett and Forbes Magazine publisher Steve Forbes.

To join the more than 42,000 co-signers of the petition, visit

Earlier this month, the ANCA joined an International Religious Freedom Roundtable campaign that also called on the Obama Administration to take clear and unequivocal action condemning the Christian genocide. A copy of letter is available at

In December, the ANCA joined with In Defense of Christians and “A Demand for Action” at a White House meeting to make the case for a U.S. designation of ISIS anti-Christian attacks as “genocide.” Additional information about that and other ANCA efforts is available at


Kerry Faces Increased Congressional Pressure to Support Christian Genocide Determination

Last week, as Secretary John Kerry appeared before Senate and House Foreign Affairs and appropriations panels to defend the Obama Administration’s Fiscal Year 2017 foreign aid budget request, key congressional leaders, including Helsinki Committee Co-Chair Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), pressed the Christian genocide issue in the Middle East. Smith expressed concern about reports that the administration was poised to speak out only regarding attacks against the Yazidis and fall short in properly characterizing anti-Christian attacks. Kerry responded that the administration continues to look at the matter.

In December 2015, 30 U.S. Representatives, led by Chairman Royce, sent a letter pressing Kerry to condemn the ongoing ISIL attacks against Christians and other Middle East minorities as “genocide.” A copy of the letter is available at

Meanwhile, the issue of the Christian genocide in the Middle East continues to be a key topic on the U.S. presidential campaign trail, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) condemning the attacks against Christians and other regional minorities as “genocide.”


ANCA Joins Coalition in Support of Genocide Prevention Legislation (S.2551)


Parallel to ongoing efforts to secure proper characterization of ISIL’s attacks against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East and justice for the Armenian Genocide (H. Res. 154/S. Res. 340), the ANCA has joined a growing coalition of human rights and civic groups in supporting the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2016 (S.2551).

Introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) on Feb. 11, the measure outlines concrete steps to be taken by U.S. administrations to “help prevent acts of genocide and mass atrocities, which threaten national and international security, by enhancing United States civilian capacities to prevent and mitigate such crises.” Specifically, it would make permanent an Obama Administration decision to “establish an inter-agency Atrocities Prevention Board,” which would monitor developments worldwide and oversee the development and execution of policies and tools to enhance the capacity of the United States to prevent and respond to atrocities. The bill currently has 15 co-sponsors.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

1 Comment

  1. Do these folks realize that the vast majority of people that ISIS kills and dispossesses are Muslim? So are the MAJORITY of the victims just part of the “other religious groups” at the end? What a shame. What a lost opportunity for Christians and people of all faiths and non-faiths to stand in solidarity with their Muslim siblings rather than continue to vilify them, ignore them, and equate them to ISIS.

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