The leading voice for human rights in Congress is blasting President Obama for doing nothing as Christians and other religious minorities face slaughter, starvation, rape and other atrocities at the hands of the al-Qaida branch known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., said the evidence is clear that ISIS is on a murderous rampage throughout parts of Iraq and Syria and action is needed urgently.
“It’s very dire. The administration has known this, and they’ve done nothing. In fact, the president put together a genocide prevention board back in April 2012. Well, genocide is taking place. This meets the test of genocide against an ethnic group,” Wolf said. “The ethnic group are the Christians. The ethnic group are the Yazidis. It also is a crime against humanity, which meets the whole U.N. test. Yet, the administration has watched this and done fundamentally nothing.
“We’re saying do something. Act. Act. Act. People are without food. They’re without lodging. They’re without medicine.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va.:
Reports from aid groups and others in the region depict horrors on a grand scale aimed at Christians and others. Another group in great peril are the Yazidis, a sect with ties to Zoroastrianism and other religious traditions. Wolf contends some 200,000 Yazidis were forced to flee their homes. Tens of thousands of them sought refuge on Mt. Sinjar without provisions and with summertime temperatures soaring far above 100 degrees.
Nina Shea is an international human rights attorney and Christian religious freedom advocate with the Hudson Institute. In a piece written for National Review Online, she cited a shocking report from the Assyrian Aid Society of Iraq.
“Yesterday 45 children died of thirst. Some families throw their children from the top of Sinjar mountain in order not to see them die from hunger or thirst, or not to be taken by the terrorists. 1,500 men were killed in front of their wives and families, 50 old men died also from thirst and illness. More than 70 girl and women including Christians were taken, raped and being captured and sold,” the group reported.
Chaldean Christians are also a major target for ISIS in northern Iraq. Businessman Mark Arabo detailed the grisly atrocities for CNN.
“There is a park in Mosul where they actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick and have them in the park,” Arabo told the cable channel. “More children are getting beheaded, mothers are getting raped and killed and fathers are being hung [sic].”
ISIS is reportedly making considerable military progress and seems to have captured a critical river dam near Mosul that controls much of the water supply to a wide area. All of this is even more frustrating when considering ISIS is making this advance largely with American-made tools of war that were abandoned by the Iraqis.
“They have Humvees. They have automatic weapons. I heard they even have Black Hawk helicopters. I’m not sure they know how to fly them,” Wolf said. “But it is basically a nation-state now that you’re faced with and they have a lot of money.”
Rep. Wolf said strong leaders don’t just sit back and allow these kinds of horrors to proceed.
“The administration says they’re going to lead from behind, which means they’re going to follow,” he said. “I don’t know that I could tell you why they’re not acting. I think if we had somebody like President Reagan or President Truman, they would act. They would do something. We’re not talking about military activity. There’s a lot of things that can be done with regard to that, but the Christian community is waiting for someone to help them.
“I think the president has to speak out. I think it was Martin Luther King Jr. who said, ‘You understand the silence of your enemies but you don’t understand the silence of your friends.’ I think the president has to speak out,” he said.
The congressman said ISIS needs to be confronted now or its agenda could succeed “all the way.” He said the immediate threat ISIS poses to the U.S. and its allies is much greater than many realize.
“Some of them are going to come to the United States perhaps,” Wolf said. “There are over 115 Americans with American passports that are fighting with ISIS, Americans who could fly back into the United States. There’ll be nothing on where they were, and they won’t say where they’ve been. They fly to Turkey. From Turkey they go south, and they joined ISIS. You have almost 2,000-3,000 western Europeans with British passports, French passports. They could fly here to the United States.”
So what could or should the Obama administration be doing?
“There [is] a number of things the U.S. could do. One, thank the Kurds for defending the Christians and the Yazidis and urge them to continue to do it. Two, help with some of the foreign aid. Re-program money, giving some to Catholic Relief, World Vision, Save the Children to bring the basic necessities there. Three, allow the Kurds to sell their oil,” Wolf said.
“This administration has a ship in the Galveston harbor. They won’t let it unload, because they say the oil belongs to the Maliki government in Baghdad. If the Kurds can’t sell the oil, they can’t have any supplies. They can’t defend anybody and the last couple days, the Kurdish military have been withdrawing. As a result of that, you see what’s taking place yesterday and again today.”
In addition to the obvious humanitarian crisis, Wolf said a tremendous amount of religious history for Christians and others is threatened or already destroyed by ISIS.
“More biblical activity took place in Iraq than any other country in the world other than Israel. Abraham is from Iraq. Esther ‘for such a time like this,’ in Ninevah they blew up Jonah’s tomb over a week-and-a-half ago in Mosul. Daniel, a great man of the Bible, is buried in Iraq. And yet, no one’s saying anything,” he said.
On Thursday, Wolf sent another letter to the White House, demanding action from the president.
“We cannot pretend these atrocities aren’t taking place; there are now videos on the Internet being promoted by those sympathetic to ISIS proudly displaying their brutal and grotesque slaughter and abuse of Christians, Yezidis and other religious minorities in Iraq,” he wrote.
“Your administration is aware of what is going on, yet you are doing nothing. Just what is the point of having an ‘Atrocities Prevention Board’ if it takes no action to prevent or stop atrocities? When was the last time this board has met? Has the board even been convened to address the genocide taking place in Iraq?” Wolf wrote.
He concluded, “It is now clear to the nation and the world that your words were hollow; your ‘presidential directive’ apparently was nothing more than a token gesture. You will come to sincerely regret your failure to take action to stop the genocide in Iraq. Your conscience will haunt you long after you leave office. Mr. President, say something; do something.”