Resolution on the Persecution of the Christians around the world, in relation to the killing of students in Kenya by terror group Al-Shabaab

Marietje

This Resolution was adopted by the European Parliament on 30 April 2015.

European Parliament resolution of 30 April 2015 on the persecution of Christians around the world, in relation to the killing of students in Kenya by terror group Al-Shabaab (2015/2661(RSP)) The European Parliament, –    having regard to its previous resolutions on Kenya, –    having regard to the second revised Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000 (‘the Cotonou Agreement’), in particular Articles 8, 11 and 26 thereof, –    having regard to the statements of the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, of 23 November 2014 on the massacre of 28 civilian travellers, and of 3 April 2015 on the Garissa University butchery, –    having regard to the press statement issued by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) at its 497th meeting, held on 9 April 2015, on the terrorist attack perpetrated in Garissa, Kenya, –    having regard to the raid by the Kenyan Air Forces on Al-Shabaab training camps in Somalia in response to the carnage at Garissa University, –    having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, –    having regard to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief of 1981, –    having regard to the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, –    having regard to the EU Guidelines on International Humanitarian Law, –    having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure, A.    whereas the latest terrorist attack in Garissa, Kenya, targeted young people, education and, therefore, the future of the country; whereas young people represent promise and peace, and are the future upholders of the country’s development; whereas education is vital for the fight against violent extremism and fundamentalism; B.    whereas the number of attacks on religious minorities, in particular Christians, around the world has risen tremendously in recent months; whereas Christians are being slaughtered, beaten and arrested every day, mostly in some parts of the Arab world by jihadist terrorists; C.    whereas Christians are the most persecuted religious group; whereas extremism and persecution of this nature is emerging as a significant factor in the growing phenomenon of mass migration; whereas according to data the number of Christians killed every year is more than 150 000; D.    whereas on 15 February 2015 ISIS/ Da’esh beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya; E.    whereas the attackers in Garissa intentionally targeted non-Muslims and singled out Christians in order to brutally execute them; whereas Al-Shabaab has been openly and publicly claiming to wage a war against Christians in the region; F.    whereas protecting the rights of children and young people, and reinforcing skills, education and innovation, is essential in order to enhance their economic, social and cultural opportunities and to enhance the country’s development; G.    whereas Al-Shabaab has regularly targeted students, schools and other education facilities; whereas, inter alia, in December 2009 a suicide bomber killed 19 people at a graduation ceremony for medical students in Mogadishu, Somalia, and in October 2011 the terrorist group claimed responsibility for a bombing which killed 70, including students awaiting exam results at the Somali Ministry of Education, also in Mogadishu; H.    whereas on 25 March 2015 at least 15 people lost their lives in an attack perpetrated by Al Shabaab in a Mogadishu hotel, and whereas Yusuf Mohamed Ismail Bari-Bari, Somalia’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, was among those killed in the attack; I.    whereas Kenya has been facing an increased number of attacks targeting civilians since October 2011, when its troops entered southern Somalia to take part in a coordinated operation with the Somalian military against an Al-Shabaab-controlled area after the terrorist group took four hostages; J.    whereas since November 2011 Kenyan troops have been part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), established on 19 January 2007 by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council and authorised on 20 February 2007 by the UN Security Council (resolution 1744 (2007)), which has recently given the AU the green light to continue its mission until 30 November 2015 (resolution 2182 (2014)); K.    whereas one of the main contributors to the fight against terrorist group Al-Shabaab has been the Ethiopian army, as well as, to a lesser extent, the Ugandan army; L.    whereas Al-Shabaab has formed links with other Islamist groups in Africa, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb; M.    whereas the terrorist group Al-Shabaab regularly bombs and kills mostly civilians in Somalia, as well as in neighbouring countries, for instance in Kampala, Uganda, in July 2010, and a great deal more often in Kenya, where only the large-scale actions have gained international attention but smaller attacks have been a steady feature; N.    whereas Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the raids conducted in July 2014 on the villages of Hindi, Gamba, Lamu and Tana River on the Kenyan coast, in which more than 100 people were executed, and for two attacks in Mandela county in late 2014, in which 64 people were killed; O.    whereas after the terrorist attack on Garissa University the Kenyan Government threatened the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) with closure of the Dadaab refugee camp within three months; whereas the UNHCR has warned that this would have ‘extreme humanitarian and practical consequences’; whereas the UN Refugee Convention prohibits the forcing of refugees back to areas where their life or freedom is threatened; P.    whereas the African Standby Force (ASF) is not yet operational, and whereas the EU has stated its willingness to support African peacekeeping capabilities as part of its Security Strategy for Africa; Q.    whereas according to Article 11 of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, ‘activities in the field of peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution shall in particular include support for balancing political, economic, social and cultural opportunities among all segments of society, for strengthening the democratic legitimacy and effectiveness of governance, for establishing effective mechanisms for the peaceful conciliation of group interests, [...] for bridging dividing lines among different segments of society as well as support for an active and organised civil society’; 1.    Condemns in the strongest terms the deliberate terrorist attack perpetrated by Al-Shabaab on 2 April 2015 in Garissa, in which it assassinated 147 young, innocent university students and injured 79 others; condemns forcefully all violations of human rights, especially when people are killed on the basis of their religion, beliefs or ethnic origin; 2.    Condemns once more the raids conducted by Al-Shabaab during the summer of 2014 on several coastal Kenyan villages, including Mpeketoni, where 50 people were executed; condemns vigorously the foray in the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi on 24 September 2013, where 67 dead bodies were discovered; condemns the Al-Shabaab attack of 25 March 2015 in Mogadishu, in which Ambassador Yusuf Mohamed Ismail Bari-Bari, Somalia’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, lost his life; 3.    Expresses its condolences to the families of the victims and to the people and Government of the Republic of Kenya; stands by the people of Kenya in the face of these despicable acts of aggression; 4.    Recalls that freedom of religion is a fundamental right, and strongly condemns any violence or discrimination on the basis of religion; 5.    Condemns the recent attacks on Christian communities in various countries, notably with regard to the throwing overboard of 12 Christians during a recent crossing from Libya and the massacre of 30 Ethiopian Christians on 19 April 2015, and expresses its solidarity with the families of the victims; 6.    Expresses its grave concern over the abuse of religion by the perpetrators of terrorist acts in several areas of the world, and its deep concern at the proliferation of episodes of intolerance, repression and violence directed against Christians, particularly in some parts of the Arab world; denounces the instrumentalisation of religion in various conflicts; condemns the increasing number of attacks on churches around the world, notably the attack that killed 14 people in Pakistan on 15 March 2015; strongly condemns the incarceration, disappearance, torture, enslavement and public execution of Christians in North Korea; confirms and supports the inalienable right of all religious and ethnic minorities living in Iraq and Syria, including Christians, to continue to live in their historical and traditional homelands in conditions of dignity, equality and safety; notes that for centuries members of different religious groups coexisted peacefully in the region; 7.    Urges the EU institutions to comply with their obligation under Article 17 TFEU to maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with churches and with religious, philosophical and non- confessional organisations, in order to ensure that the issue of the persecution of Christian communities and other religious communities is an EU priority; 8.    Condemns the use of an ancient law (‘dhimmi pact’) by ISIS/Da’esh in Syria and Iraq to extort from Christians by religious tax obligations and restrictions under the threat of death; 9.    Reaffirms its solidarity with all Christians persecuted in different parts of Africa, with special regard to recent atrocities in Libya, Nigeria and Sudan; 10.    Condemns and rejects any misinterpretation of the message of Islam to create a violent, cruel, totalitarian, oppressive and expansive ideology legitimising the extermination of Christian minorities; urges Muslim leaders to fully condemn all terrorist attacks, including those targeting religious communities and minorities, and in particular Christians; 11.    Calls for a thorough, prompt, impartial and effective investigation to be carried out in order to identify those responsible and bring the perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice; 12.    Acknowledges that the real answer must be organised around coordinated actions with other African countries, and calls on the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Council to address security and terrorist threats in this regional area in cooperation with the African Union, in support of its crucial efforts to fight Al-Shabaab through AMISOM; urges the European Union to strongly support the implementation of continental and regional mechanisms for conflict management, mainly the African Standby Force (ASF); 13.    Calls on the Kenyan Government to take responsibility and to address both the violence of Al Shabaab and its root causes; deems that security can only be achieved if divisions within Kenya’s political and civil societies and regional imbalances in development are properly addressed; considers regrettable the belated response of the police forces; in particular, urges the government to refrain from using the terrorist attacks as a pretext for cracking down on civil liberties; calls on the Kenyan authorities to base their strategy for combating terrorism on the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights; insists on the need for democratic and judicial oversight of counter-terrorism policies; 14.    Urges the Kenyan authorities to ensure that any division between faiths, together with the drawing of parallels between the Muslim community and Al-Shabaab, is prevented, and to take all measures to ensure that the unity of the country is preserved for the good of its social and economic growth and stability and the dignity and human rights of its people; invites the Kenyan Government, opposition leaders and religious faith leaders to address historical grievances of marginalisation, regional divides within the country and institutional discrimination, and to ensure that counter-terrorism operations target only the perpetrators and not wider ethnic and faith communities; 15.    Reminds the European External Action Service and the Member States of their commitment, under the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy adopted in June 2012, to ensure that human rights are raised in all forms of counter-terrorism dialogue with third countries; 16.    Calls for the EU to implement a military training mission programme in Kenya and to provide modern equipment, collaborating with and training Kenya’s military and police forces to fight terrorism and prevent the expansion of Al-Shabaab; 17.    Urges the Kenyan Government to make every effort to conform to the rule of law, human rights, democratic principles and fundamental freedoms, and calls for the EU to lead its international partner in this direction, and to pull together a financial contribution to enhance existing governance programmes, in order to ensure national security and bring peace and stability to the country and the region; insists that the spiralling violence of Al-Shabaab must be addressed in conjunction with neighbouring countries; asks the EU to provide all the necessary financial, logistical and expert support in this regard, including the possibility of recourse to the African Peace Facility and EU crisis management tools; 18.    Calls on the Kenyan security forces to ensure lawful responses to counter the terrorist threat; calls on the Kenyan Government to ensure the security and protection of the refugee camps in its territory, in accordance with international law; 19.    Stresses that international terrorism is financed by illegal money-laundering, ransoms, extortion, drug trafficking and corruption; calls on the Commission and the Member States to enhance cooperation with third countries on sharing intelligence relating to money laundering and the financing of terrorism; 20.    Reiterates its support for all initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue and mutual respect between religious and other communities; calls on all religious authorities to promote tolerance and to take initiatives against hatred and violent and extremist radicalisation; 21.    Denounces the targeting of educational institutions and premises for terrorist attacks, as a means of undermining the education and dignity of all citizens as well as causing mistrust and division between communities; recalls the abduction and disappearance of Christian girls in the Nigerian town of Chibok by the jihadist terror group Boko Haram in 2014, which attracted worldwide condemnation; 22.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government of Kenya, the institutions of the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the United Nations Secretary-General, the United Nations General Assembly and the Co-Chairs of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.