Kerry told the subcommittee, “I share just a huge sense of revulsion over these acts, obviously. “None of us have ever seen anything like it in our lifetimes. Although, obviously, if you go back to the Holocaust, the world has seen it. We are currently doing what I have to do, which is review very carefully the legal standards and precedents for whatever judgment is made.”
The full exchange between Fortenberry and Kerry is below.
Fortenberry: Mr. Secretary, I had the extraordinary privilege of being in the room with Pope Francis when he, in a very powerful moment, was given a small cross, a Christian crucifix. That crucifix had belonged to a young Syrian man who had been captured by the jihadists, and he was told to choose: Convert or die. And he chose his ancient faith tradition. He chose Christ, and he was beheaded.
His mother was able to recover the body, recover this cross, and bury him. And she fled to Austria, which set the stage for this moment which I witnessed.
Mr. Secretary, this is repeating itself over and over and over again against Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities in the region. In 2004, Colin Powell, when he was secretary of state, came before Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and I believe you served on that committee at that point, and declared what was happening in Darfur to be a genocide.
There are 200 members of Congress in a bi-partisan fashion, we’ve put our names on a resolution that is forthcoming that declares this genocide. There is a growing international consensus in this regard. The European Parliament has passed something similar. The U.S. Catholic Bishops, Pope Francis has spoken out, Hillary Clinton has called it such, Marco Rubio, the international association of genocide scholars.
I want a note as well a word of thanks to you and President Obama for the quick action on Mount Sinjar that actually saved the lives of women and children, countless persons who would have been wiped out and victimized.
So, what I’m urging here today is that you use the authority and power of your office to call this genocide, to help restore the rich tapestry of the ancient faith traditions in the Middle East, to stop this assault on human dignity and civilization itself. And to set potentially the conditions that we are all hoping and praying for that re-establishes stability and reintegration of these ancient faith traditions into the fabric of the communities in the Middle East entirely.
I think the stability, the future stability, of the entire region depends upon this.