CONDEMNING TERRORIST ATTACKS AGAINST RUSSIAN FEDERATION -- (House of Representatives - September 13, 2004)
Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 760) condemning the series of terrorist attacks against the Russian Federation that occurred in late August and early September 2004.
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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me thank and commend the gentleman from California (Chairman ROYCE) for his authorship of this very important and necessary resolution, and I am very pleased to join as a co-sponsor of H. Res. 760; and I join in the chorus of the Americans who stand in solidarity with the Russian people in their grief for those who have been murdered by terrorist actions. No words can adequately express the shock and sorrow that we feel at the events in Beslan. Our hearts go out to the people of Beslan as they bury their children and their neighbors. They have our deepest sympathy, and they have our prayers. Our hearts go out to the wounded and disabled, especially the young, who will bear the scars of terrorism for the rest of their lives.
This resolution properly deplores the terrorist attacks against Russia and expresses condolences to the families of the victims. Their grief is our grief. Their anger is our anger. Their loss is our loss.
Mr. Speaker, there is ample reason to criticize Russia's military operations in Chechnya. I continue to believe that Moscow's strategy in that tortured region has been brutal, ill-advised, and self-defeating. As chairman of the Helsinki Commission, I have met numerous times with Russian leaders to protest their policy in Chechnya and have held a number of hearings, including with people like Elena Bonner, to protest what is going on there.
But let me make it very clear that there is no justification, no justification whatsoever, for the bloody violence that was perpetrated by cowardly terrorists who use innocent children to achieve political ends. If the terrorists thought they were helping the people of Chechnya by killing innocent people in North Ossetia, they were tragically in error. The people of Chechnya seek a respite from war. They and many in Russia want a just peace, not more carnage. Slaughtering children and traumatizing many more betrays the cause of peace.
Mr. Speaker, I trust this resolution reflects not only the sentiments of this House but also of millions of Americans that we represent. We mourn the tragic loss, the wanton loss of innocent lives.
And again I want to commend my colleagues, especially the gentleman from California (Mr. Royce); the gentleman from Illinois (Chairman Hyde); and the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos), ranking member, for their leadership on this important resolution.
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