ISIS persecution of Christians, minorities must be recognized as 'Genocide' by the U.N., demand thousands in petition

A petition with thousands of signatures was presented at the United Nations on Friday, April 29, by advocates who want the intergovernmental organization to declare that genocide is being committed against religious minorities, including Christians.

Syrian refugees wait inside a tent at a camp as they wait to be allowed to cross the Greek-Macedonian border, near the village of Idomeni, Greece. February 22, 2016. | REUTERS / Alexandros Avramidis

"We're here at the United Nations headquarters to file more than 400,000 signatures from citizens from all over the world asking the Security Council of the United Nations to declare what's happening right now with ISIS in Syria and Iraq a genocide," Ignacio Arsuaga, president of the advocacy group CitizenGO, said during a press conference, as quoted by the Catholic News Agency.

The petition, given to the office of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, is asking the governing body to give protection to religious minorities protection and punishment for those guilty of the crime of genocide. It is also asking member nations to do something to stop the war in Syria, provide "safe havens" for those who were forced to flee and help them return to their homes with aid and protection, as well as have an action plan to rescue the women, both Christian and minority, who were abducted and put into slavery.

"So we are here to support our brothers and sisters, Christians and other believers that are suffering persecution, that are suffering killings, that are suffering discrimination in this part of the world, the Middle East," Arsuaga said.

Along with CitizenGO, Bishop Joseph Danlami Bagobiri of Nigeria and Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo were among the relgious leaders who were present. Jeanbart said that they are afraid that ISIS/Daesh wants not only to take their lives away, it also want to take their country and the place where the Church was born.

"There are two kinds of genocide, human genocide and Church genocide," he said. "The Church of the first Christians is now collapsing."

The petition was part of #WeAreN2016, a three-day international conference on religious freedom held in New York from April 28 to 30.