Christians and other minorities are suffering horrific and appalling violence in Syria and Iraq that can only be described as genocide, the House of Commons has said.
In a unanimous vote – 278 to zero – MPs called for the Government to refer the situation to the UN Security Council, “so that perpetrators can be brought to justice”.
Fiona Bruce led the debate, which saw speeches by MPs from across the political spectrum, and she concluded that the House had heard “irrefutable evidence of genocide”.
Referring to Islamic State as “Daesh”, MPs highlighted harrowing examples of persecution, including the experience of a mother in Syria.
“When Daesh knocked at the front door of her house and ordered the entire family out,” Fiona Bruce said, “she pleaded with them to let her collect her child from another room. They told her, ‘No. Go. It is ours now.'”
David Warburton, a Conservative MP, stated that genocide was an “inherent part of Daesh’s depraved operations”.
Warburton said the acts mentioned in the debate – including the assassination of church leaders and systematic torture – are “genocidal not just by consequence, but by design”.
The SNP’s Brendan O’Hara said that by “any measure, what Daesh has been doing to the Christian and Yazidi minorities in Iraq and Syria is genocide”.
Labour MP Stephen Timms said he hoped the Commons would make a “clear statement” about genocide to both express support for minorities and also show its determination to seek “prosecution and a just punishment”.
Responding for the Government – which had directed ministers and parliamentary aides to abstain in the vote – Tobias Ellwood said the accounts described were “heartbreaking”.
But he added that while he believed genocide had taken place, it was a matter for the courts, rather than politicians, to decide.
“We as the Government are not the prosecutor, the judge or the jury. Such matters are for the UN Security Council”, he concluded.
However, Fiona Bruce said parliamentary support for her motion was a crucial step towards the Government referring the situation to the UN Security Council in order for the International Criminal Court to act.
The motion read in full: “That this House believes that Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria are suffering genocide at the hands of Daesh; and calls on the Government to make an immediate referral to the UN Security Council with a view to conferring jurisdiction upon the International Criminal Court so that perpetrators can be brought to justice.”