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Send Aid to Genocide Victims

9/22/2016

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson speaking with Rep. Chris Smith

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson speaks with Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, following the hearing.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson called on the U.S. government and humanitarian relief agencies to deliver aid directly to Christians and other communities who are victims of genocide in Iraq and Syria. He made the comments in testimony before a joint government commission on Thursday, Sept. 22.

Addressing the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, the supreme knight said:

Our legislative and executive representatives need to deliver to our diplomatic and aid entities a clear and simple message: In the midst of this genocide, saving Christians — and other communities that face extinction — in Iraq and Syria is part of your mission. There is nothing unconstitutional, illegal, unethical or unprofessional about prioritizing their right to survival as communities. They are innocent victims of a genocide. If these victim communities are not receiving aid, you are not fulfilling your mission. And such action is consistent with the best of American and U.S. State Department tradition.

Noting a precedent for such aid to specific communities devastated by genocide, the supreme knight cited American relief work in the early 20th century. During this period, the U.S. government worked with Church groups and individuals to provide funding and deliver aid directly to communities that had been victimized by the genocide against Christians during and following World War I.

In addition, Supreme Knight Anderson went on to call for an emergency appropriations package for the groups that have faced genocide. He said that U.S. aid to governments in the region should be conditioned on equal rights for religious minorities in order to foster religious pluralism and tolerance:

[T]he aid we provide must be an investment in a more peaceful future in the region. This cannot happen unless the system of religious apartheid there ends. Christians and other religious minorities are entitled to equal rights.

The Helsinki Commission is an independent agency of the federal government, with commissioners from the House, Senate and executive branch. For 40 years, the commission has monitored compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advanced comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in the 57-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) region. The commission is chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and co-chaired by Sen. Roger F. Wicker (R-MS).

The Knights of Columbus has raised more than $11 million in support of Christian refugees, especially those from Iraq and Syria. Together with In Defense of Christians, the Knights also produced a nearly 300-page report documenting the genocide occurring against Christians at the hands of ISIS and related groups. That document was presented to the U.S. State Department in March and has been widely credited for being instrumental in securing the U.S. government’s genocide designation, delivered by Secretary of State John Kerry on March 17.

Supreme Knight Anderson’s testimony before the Helsinki Commission was his fourth testimony before the federal government in the past year. In May, he also testified before the United Nations.