Outside of the Dachau concentration camp there is a sign written in five languages — Hebrew, English, French, German and Russian — saying “never again.” Following the unfathomable horrors of the Holocaust, the world rallied around a new word for a crime that has plagued human history. Following the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the international community, heavy with guilt, vowed “never again” to allow such atrocities to occur.
Sadly, this promise has been broken again and again, whether in Rwanda, Srebrenica or Cambodia. Once again, we are faced with the same evil as in the past, and, tragically, we are once again allowing it to continue.
After visiting northern Iraq in January, meeting with representatives from the region and closely following the reports over the last few months, I am convinced that what I witnessed was and is an ongoing genocide of Christians, Yezidis and other religious minorities.
Following Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s declaration of his so-called caliphate, members of these historic faith communities were given the option to “convert, leave or die.” Children as young as seven months have been ripped from the loving arms of their parents, some of them have been forced into sex slavery, others brainwashed and made into child soldiers for this inhuman insurgency.
Those allowed to stay are subjected to repression that masquerades as “religious tolerance” but are simply another means of ensuring the slow but steady eradication of any semblance of religious diversity under Islamic State rule. Put simply, actions committed against these groups meet every criterion for genocide spelled out in Article II of the 1948 Convention, and yet the actions continue. “Never again” has become “once again.”