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Bishop of Shrewsbury calls on Government to act after MPs unanimously recognise the genocide of religious minorities in Syria and Iraq

The Bishop of Shrewsbury has urged the Government to heed the will of Parliament and to refer the “genocidal acts” of Daesh terrorists to the United Nations Security Council and the International Criminal Court.

Bishop Mark Davies issued a statement following the unanimous 278-0 vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday 20th April that recognised atrocities against Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq as a campaign of genocide waged by Daesh.

“We are witnessing nothing less than genocide being committed with horrifying cruelty against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East,” he said. “Whole communities face annihilation and look to the international community for support.

“We must welcome and applaud the decision of the House of Commons to support the motion moved by Fiona Bruce MP to call upon our own Government to refer these genocidal acts of Daesh to the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court. I hope the British Government will reconsider its position and be ready to stand with other governments and international bodies in recognising this crime of genocide.”

Bishop Davies had previously denounced the genocide in a homily preached in Shrewsbury Cathedral on Easter Sunday, and had also lamented the refusal of the Government “to join other western governments in recognising this intent to destroy a people”.

An attempt to recognise the genocide in the House of Lords had failed just days earlier after the Government whipped Conservative peers to vote against.

However, last Wednesday, MPs voted unanimously to support a motion tabled by Fiona Bruce, the Conservative MP for Congleton, Cheshire, which indicated the clear will of Parliament.

The motion read: ‘This House believes that Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria are suffering genocide at the hands of Daesh; and calls on the Government to make an immediate referral to the UN Security Council with a view to conferring jurisdiction upon the International Criminal Court so that perpetrators can be brought to justice.’

Following the vote, Mrs Bruce said that it was the responsibility of the Government to follow the will of Parliament and to refer Daesh for crimes of genocide to the UN Security Council and the ICC “as soon as possible”.

The recognition of the genocide by the Commons follows a declaration last month by John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, that the crimes of Daesh amounted to genocide. This followed a unanimous vote in the U.S. House of Representative to recognise the crimes as genocide. Both the European Parliament and the Council of Europe have also reached the same conclusion.

If a resolution recognising the genocide was adopted by the United Nations, the countries which have signed the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide would have an obligation to bring the activities of Daesh to an end, to prioritise the protection of the victims, and to pursue and prosecute perpetrators once the hostilities were over.

In seeking to establish an Islamic caliphate, Daesh has since 2014 persecuted anyone who does not share its ideology.

Terrorists have assassinated Church leaders and have driven millions of Christians and Yazidis from their homes in a campaign which has included mass murders, crucifixions, beheadings, torture, kidnapping, sexual enslavement, systematic rape and forced conversions. Many Christian churches, monasteries, shrines and cemeteries have been destroyed. Many Shia Muslims and Muslims considered as “moderates” have also been murdered by the terror group.

Pope Francis, during a trip to Bolivia in July, used the word “genocide” to describe the plight of the persecuted Christians.