2015-03-03 10:01:00

UN, EU organizations must act jointly to protect Christians - Lavrov

*** ISIS crimes against Christians bear all hallmarks of genocide

Geneva, March 3, Interfax - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called on international organizations, including the United Nations, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Council of Europe (CoE), to pay attention to the problem of Christians' persecution.

"We welcome the efforts of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) which has already held a conference on countering Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and is preparing another one, on Chistianophobia. We are calling for more attention to be paid to these issues by the UN, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, including in the framework of the Dialogue of Civilizations," the minister said at a high-level meeting in Geneva, which focused on the protection of Christians.

The UN Human Rights Council should make its contribution to the cause as well, Lavrov added.

Hopefully, the current high-level event in Geneva, on the problem of persecuted Christians, will be "an important stage in mobilizing collective efforts of the global community to protect the rights of believers and religious values," the minister said.

The crimes perpetrated by the Islamic State and other extremist groups against Christians in the Middle East bear "all the hallmarks of genocide as per the 1948 Convention," Lavrov said.

"Whole cities, like Mosul, for example, have effectively lost their traditional Christian presence altogether. On the lands of the Caliphate, jihadists are committing atrocities: Christians, including their clergymen, get killed, burnt alive, sold into slavery, robbed, ousted from their home lands and taken hostage," the minister said.

The situation has been particularly dramatic in Syria, he said.

"This country ran a unique model of peaceful, mutually-respectful co-existence of various religious communities. As a result of condoning the extremist forces, which were used in the fight against Bashar al-Assad's regime, this system is now being ruined," the Russian foreign minister said.