17 December 2015, The Tablet

Lithuania puts pressure on EU by calling Christian plight in Middle East genocide

by Ruta Tumenaite

Legal resolution may force hand of Europe over persecution in Syria, Iraq and Pakistan

Lithuania has become the first EU country to legally call the persecution of Christians in the Middle East by Isis and other Muslim organisations genocide.

The Baltic state’s parliament - the Seimas - passed a resolution by massive majority calling on the United Nations and the European Parliament to recognise the plight of Christians in the Middle East - and in particular in Syria, Iraq, Iran and north Africa - as an act of genocide and to act in accordance with the UN Human Rights Convention.

Of 97 MPs that were registered for the vote, 95 voted for the resolution, nobody voted against it, and 2 had abstained. The Seimas has a total of 141 MPs. 

The resolution cites “systematic violence against Christians and other religious minorities”, carried out by the “so-called ‘Islamic State’ (Da’esh) and other extremist militant groups in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria, and North Africa”.

Because of the violence, which has been exercised since 2003, millions of the representatives of such minorities were forced to leave their home and become refugees, the resolution states.

The document concludes that Christians and other religious minorities in this region are targeted “on religious grounds” therefore the atrocities carried against them, including killings, kidnappings, serious bodily and mental harm, sexual slavery and other forms of violence “only may be considered as genocide and, by this Resolution, is treated as the crime of genocide under international law”.

The resolution calls on “the United Nations and the United Nations Secretary-General to take clear political leadership and recognise the atrocities being committed in the Middle East and North Africa as the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes”.

Lithuania is the first European state and EU country to make such a significant diplomatic step. It immediately puts pressure on the European Parliament to debate the persecution of Christians as a genocide - something it has been reluctant to do thus far.

“We cannot remain silent. The magnificent civilisation of the Middle East, dating back thousands of years, is turned into nothing before our eyes. A true genocide is taking place nearby Europe,” Mantas Adomenas, an MP and author of the resolution said.

“I firmly believe that this resolution is an excellent example of will and clearly articulated civic position to all the UN member states.”



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