In March 2016, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Islamic State was committing genocide in Syria and Iraq Minority groups like Yazidis, Christians, and Shiites have been targeted by ISIS and systematically executed
Reports estimate that as many as half a million Yazidis have been displaced by ISIS, and thousands killed This is only the second time in its history that the US has designated acts of genocide during a conflict The first was the 2004 genocide in Darfur But many are asking why it has taken so long for the terrorist group to be accused of genocide, and what actually qualifies under the title So, what exactly constitutes a genocide, and why is it so hard to define? Well, genocide is officially defined in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” The United Nations adopted the Convention in 1948, following the Armenian Genocide during World War One and the Holocaust during World War Two
The Convention originally also planned to include political groups, but at the time, the Soviet Union refused to acknowledge the addition, and it was removed Despite a relatively clear definition, accusations of genocide are almost always denied Many make a distinction between genocide, and crimes against humanity For example, in the Congo, one Rwandan Tutsi leader was nicknamed the Terminator for his mass killings of civilians and the recruitment of child soldiers And yet, in the International Criminal Court, he was charged with Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes, but not genocide
So what’s the difference? Well, both of them involve systematically killing huge numbers of people However, the distinction is in the focus and purpose of the massacres When a large number of people are killed in pursuit of a political goal, or something similar, it is considered a crime against humanity The label also applies in cases of mass slavery, deportation, torture, rape, apartheid, and other crimes But if the purpose of the killings is specifically to eliminate a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, then it can be called a genocide
This is why some, who disagree with the term "Armenian genocide", attribute the deaths to wartime casualties and mass deportation, not a genocidal effort to eliminate the Armenian race But getting to the heart of intent is often a problem in labeling genocide With a tragedy like the Holocaust it was easier, as there was significant evidence of Adolf Hitler’s intent to eliminate whole populations But until recently, it has been more difficult to attribute the ISIS murders of minority groups as an effort to wipe them out Evidence that ISIS views the Yazidis as “devil worshippers”, and actively seeks to exterminate them through murder, sexual slavery, and rape, solely based on their faith, leaves little doubt to the designation of a “genocide”
As ISIS continues ramping up its efforts in Iraq and Syria, many are calling for international governments to take stronger action The hope is that finally labeling what's happening as a genocide, will help spur greater action, and put an end to the mass killing Besides struggling over the ISIS genocide, another heavily contested mass killing occurred in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1917, killing as many as 15 million Armenians So, was it a genocide or not? Find out about the controversy in this video! Thanks for watching Seeker Daily, don’t forget to like and subscribe for new videos every day!