Tillerson Condemns Isis 'Genocide' Of Religious Minorities in Annual Report
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday (August 15) called out Islamic State as one of the greatest offenders of religious freedom, saying the group was "clearly responsible for genocide against Ezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims."
He made the remarks while presenting the International Religious Freedom Report for 2016. The annual report to Congress details the current status of religious freedom in nearly 200 countries and territories.
"More recently, ISIS has claimed responsibility for attacks on Christian pilgrims and churches in Egypt," Tillerson told reporters. "The protection of these groups and others subject to violent extremism is a human rights priority for the Trump administration."
ISIS has systematically killed, captured or enslaved thousands of Ezidis when it overran the town of Sinjar in northern Iraq in August 2014.
Proclaiming a theocratic caliphate based on a radical interpretation of Sunni Islam, ISIS has tried to erase the Ezidis' identity by forcing men to choose between conversion to Islam or death, raping girls as young as nine, selling women at slave markets, and drafting boys to fight.
According to the General-Directorate of Ezidi Affairs in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs, there are an estimated 550,000 Ezidis living in Iraq.
Of those Ezidis, as many as 360,000 were displaced following the 2014 attacks and an estimated 1,200 others were killed during the militants’ rampage.
ISIS militants managed to kidnap over 6,400 others, including 3,538 women, who have been the focus of rescue efforts.