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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Confronting the Genocide of Religious Minorities: A Way Forward

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 2:00pm
1334 Longworth House Office Building


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on ISIL’s genocide against religious minorities and a review of options for the United States and the international community to address this historic challenge.  

In June 2014, forces of the so-called “Islamic State” captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. Tens of thousands of Christian residents fled the city, and eventually the surrounding areas of the Ninevah Plain, for fear that ISIL forces would capture or kill them. Many of those who remained were subjected to rape, torture and kidnappings, or were killed.  Hundreds of Christian homes, businesses, and churches and Shi’a shrines were destroyed or converted to military outposts and mosques. Two months later, in August 2014, ISIL militants assaulted religious minority communities in the Sinjar and Tal Afar districts of Iraq, killing Yezidis, Assyrian Christians, Shi’a Muslims, and others.  ISIL destroyed religious sites, executed hundreds of Yezidi men and women, and kidnapped and sold women and girls into sexual slavery. These horrific incidents of mass murder and destruction represent only a small portion of the atrocities ISIL and its affiliates, as well as government security forces, have committed in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere.

On March 14th, the Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, along with 391 other members of Congress, voted to condemn ISIL’s actions as genocide. On March 17th, Secretary of State John Kerry concurred with this designation, stating “the fact is that Daesh [an Arabic acronym for ISIL] kills Christians because they are Christians; Yezidis because they are Yezidis; Shia because they are Shia.” 

This hearing will present information on ISIL’s atrocities in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere and explore potential steps that the United States and international community can take after the U.S. genocide designation.  The hearing also will seek to explore concrete options within and outside of the framework of existing international institutions.

This hearing will be open to members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public and the media. For any questions, please contact Isaac Six (for Rep. Pitts) at 202-225-2411 or, or Kimberly Stanton (for Rep. McGovern) at 202-225-3599 or

Hosted by:

Joseph R. Pitts, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC

Opening remarks

Closing Remarks


Panel I

  • David N. Saperstein, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State

Panel II

  • Dr. Robert P. George, Chairman, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
    Written testimony

Panel III

  • Representative Frank R. Wolf, Distinguished Senior Fellow, 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative
    Written testimony
  • Carl Anderson, Current Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus
    Written testimony
  • Douglas Irvin-Erickson, Ph.D., Fellow of Peacemaking Practice and Director of the Genocide Prevention Program, George Mason University
    Written testimony


Submitted for the Record




114th Congress