FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 8, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) solemnly marks the one year anniversary of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) takeover of Mosul, and the hundreds of thousands of people who were killed, displaced, or forced to seek refuge in neighboring countries. These former residents of Mosul are among the more than two million Iraqis who fled their homes due to ISIL’s offensive.
“One year ago, the world watched in horror as ISIL captured the city of Mosul and targeted its population, including its ancient and diverse religious communities,” said USCIRF Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett. “While more than half a million people fled Mosul, those who remained have experienced killings, rape, torture, and kidnappings. Throughout northern Iraq, ISIL has killed and displaced hundreds of thousands, murdered dissenting Sunni clerics, kidnapped Christian priests and nuns, abducted Yazidi women and girls as sex slaves, and destroyed Sunni houses and businesses, Shi’a shrines and Christian churches. ISIL’s unspeakable crimes and takeover of northern Iraq could well mark the end of that nation’s formerly religiously diverse makeup.”
USCIRF urges the United States to redouble its efforts to help protect and assist the region’s most vulnerable religious and ethnic minorities. Furthermore, USCIRF calls on the U.S. government to raise its annual refugee resettlement ceiling from 70,000 to at least 100,000. USCIRF also recommends that the U.S. government call for or support referral by the U.N. Security Council to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate ISIL violations in Iraq against religious and ethnic minorities, following the models used in Sudan and Libya, or encourage the Iraqi government to accept ICC jurisdiction to investigate.
“The United States and the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL must together ensure that the most vulnerable communities are protected, and that the Iraqi government and Kurdistan Regional Government security forces, where appropriate, are assisted to provide security for these communities,” said Lantos Swett.
In its 2015 Annual Report, USCIRF recommends that Iraq be designated a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) for its particularly severe violations of religious freedoms. For more information on religious freedom condition in Iraq, see USCIRF’s 2015 Annual Report.
To interview a USCIRF Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-786-0613.