Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Resolution Calling for Refuge for Religious Minorities Facing Genocide
September 24, 2015
Washington, DC—Today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI-02), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a bipartisan resolution (H.Res.435) with Rep. Duncan Hunter (R, CA-50), recognizing the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as genocide and calling for the United States to prioritize providing refugee status to such persecuted families and individuals. The resolution comes as Pope Francis made a historic address to the U.S.Congress earlier today, where he stated, “Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War.”
“Christians, Yezidis, and other minority groups in the Middle East are being targeted specifically because of their religious beliefs, and face forced conversions to Islam, mass abductions, sexual enslavements, and executions due to this ISIL-inflicted genocide,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “As the U.S. and international community consider lengthy procedures to address the rapidly growing international refugee crisis, these people continue to be targets of this genocide. These persecuted religious minority groups must be our first priority as the U.S.increases the number of refugees it will accept from that region, not only because it provides humanitarian relief to those who are most in need, but also because there are tens of thousands of them who already have proper identification and sponsors within the U.S., making themleast likely to be a national security threat.”
"Any commitment to allow refugees into the U.S.should put focus and priority on those who face the greatest threat—and this resolution does exactly that,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter. “Any refugee opportunity should not create a challenge for U.S.national security, and if done right we can accomplish dual goals of supporting individuals at risk and guaranteeing American security."
"We commend Congresswoman Gabbard and Congressman Hunter for their efforts in bringing awareness to the tragedy of the genocide that is occurring against religious minorities of Iraq and Syria,” said human rights activist and community leader Mark Arabo, who has been a spokesperson for the Iraqi Chaldean community. “In light of the Pope's words, and of the present situation, we as a nation must do more. Our inability to unify as one political body has only led to more death, more destruction, and brutality of some of the world’s oldest Christians. We cannot turn a blind eye to the victims of genocide. This resolution is an important step forward to reaching substantive action on the crisis we face. Our silence must not condemn those who remain displaced by Islamic fundamentalism, it must not condemn those who flee their homes as refugees. It is time that we as a people must act.”
Background: The persecution of minority populations in Iraq by ISIL and related groups has been condemned by the UN Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and much of the international community. The U.S. State Department recently announced plans to increase the numberof refugees resettled in the U.S. to 85,000 in fiscal year 2016, and 100,000 in fiscal year 2017.
Full text of the resolution can be found HERE.