Story by S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) - Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), with other House representatives, has introduced a resolution denouncing the genocide currently experienced by Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.
He was joined by Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), and Jeff Denham (R-CA) on September 9 in introducing this bipartisan concurrent resolution, which is identified as H. Con. Res. 75.
“Christianity in the Middle East is shattered,” said Fortenberry in a press release issued the day after the resolution was introduced.
He continued, “The ancient faith tradition lies beaten, broken, and dying. Yet Christians in Iraq and Syria are hanging on in the face of the Islamic State’s barbarous onslaught. This is genocide. The international community must confront the scandalous silence about their plight. Christians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities have every right to remain in their ancestral homelands.”
H. Con. Res. 75’s title is strongly worded, declaring that “those who commit or support atrocities against Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities, including Yezidis, Turkmen, Sabea-Mandeans, Kaka´e, and Kurds…are hereby declared to be committing, ‘war crimes’, ‘crimes against humanity’, and ‘genocide’.”
The resolution was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. At press time, it had rapidly gained the support of 143 members of the House of Representatives, including Representative Brad Ashford (D-NE) and Adrian Smith (R-NE). That’s nearly one-third of the House, and support continues to grow with both Democrats and Republicans signing on.
A concurrent resolution is used to express facts, principles, opinions, and purposes of the two Houses. Once the House and Senate approve this resolution, it will be signed by the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate and transmitted to the Archivist of the United States for publication. Since it is a concurrent resolution and not a matter of legislation, it will not have to be presented to the president for approval.
Once approved and published, a resolution such as H. Con Res. 75 can have global impact and possibly paves the way for further actions of Congress.
Fortenberry and Eschoo are co-chairs of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus. The caucus was founded by Eschoo and the now retired Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) as an informational and advocacy entity for besieged religious minorities who are central to a pluralistic, multi-cultural Middle East.
Fortenberry was appointed co-chair of the caucus last January. At the time, he said, “Congress, as well as the international community, must promote their cause—a cause that is essential to civilization itself.”
Citizens can monitor the progress of H. Con Res. 75 at www.congress.gov. Simply type the resolution identification into the search box near the top of the page.