RELATING TO THE LIBERATION OF THE IRAQI PEOPLE AND THE VALIANT SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES AND COALITION FORCES -- (House of Representatives - March 17, 2004)
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 561, I call up the resolution (H. Res. 557) relating to the liberation of the Iraqi people and the valiant service of the United States Armed Forces and Coalition forces, and ask for its immediate consideration.
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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. I thank the gentleman from Illinois for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, as a political refugee from a brutal, sadistic regime, I know of the terrible crimes that dictators commit against their own people. Yet after talking to survivors of Saddam Hussein's regime and speaking with the teams who uncovered Iraq's mass graves, I was left speechless in the face of such atrocities. The Iraqi dictatorship indiscriminately slaughtered Iraqis but the women were among the most vulnerable. The notorious Fedayeen beheaded women in public, dumping their severed heads at their families' doorsteps. According to the September 2001 report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur, at least 130 Iraqi women were beheaded between June 2000 and April 2001, in just 1 year. The regime used widespread rape to extract confessions from detainees and would intimidate members of the opposition by sending them videotapes of the rapes of their female relatives. At times, family members were forced to watch those tapes.
However, Saddam Hussein's legacy of terror knew no boundaries. Even small children were not spared the butchery as evident from the tiny skeletons found in mass graves throughout Iraq. In 1998, the evidence of the Iraqi regime's threatening behavior continued to mount and we as Members of the United States Congress in a unified manner overwhelmingly approved the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, calling for the regime of Saddam Hussein to be removed from power and replaced with a democratic government. By 2003 after 6 more years of Saddam's oppression, the death toll had reached frightening proportions. The U.S. could not watch idly and do nothing. As a Nation which stands for freedom, democracy and human rights, we were compelled to act. Today as a result of the President's resolve in Iraq and the courageous dedicated service of our troops, the Iraqi people are free.
As Iraq's new female minister of Municipalities and Public Works said last week to us: "On April 9, 2003, Iraqis were offered the opportunity to begin to dream their future." To determine if going to war in Iraq and liberating the Iraqi people was the right decision, just ask Dr. Khuzai, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council and National Council on Women.
After being prisoners in their own country for 35 years, she told us: "For the Iraqi women, the morale is so high that you can't understand it unless you go and see. All the Iraqis are very grateful to Mr. Bush and to the U.S. for liberating us from the dictatorship regime. We will be grateful forever."
Today, the United States is helping Iraqi women reintegrate themselves into Iraqi society and, indeed, the outside world.
Toward this end, the administration has embarked on the Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative to train Iraqi women in the skills and practices of democratic public life. It has also established the U.S.-Iraqi Women's Network, helping to mobilize the private sector.
This is just the beginning. We will have a better, safer world for the Iraqi people, especially for the Iraqi women, and for all.