UN must halt ‘frontal assault on human rights’ – Knights

The United Nations has a crucial role to play in securing the future of the Middle East, particularly for people being tortured, kidnapped and killed because of their religious beliefs, the CEO of the Knights of Columbus said at a day-long UN conference part-sponsored by the Vatican.

Speaking at the April 28 conference, sponsored by the office of the Vatican’s permanent observer to the UN and joined by In Defence of Christians and other organisations focusing on human rights abuses in the Middle East, Carl Anderson called attention to threats published in Dabiq, the online magazine of the so-called Islamic State, and said “we know that ISIS has killed thousands of Christians in Iraq, Syria, and Libya”.

“Mass graves have been reported in Syria, and the desert between Mosul and Erbil was littered with bodies as Christians there fled too quickly to bury neighbours and family members,” he added.

He called on the UN to recognise that ISIS’ actions constitute genocide, and to act to halt what he called “a frontal assault on fundamental human rights, freedom and development throughout the region”, punishing the perpetrators and establishing international standards of justice, equality, the rule of law and religious freedom throughout the region.

Other speakers at the conference included from Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the UN, and people who had personally experienced or witnessed atrocities being committed against religious minorities.

Among these was Samia Sleman (pictured), a 15-year-old Yazidi girl from Hardan, Iraq, who had been captured and tortured by ISIS. She related how she spent six months trapped with other girls who were starved, raped and sold to other ISIS members. Some enslaved girls are as young as seven or eight years old, she said.