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Expressing Grave Concern of Congress Regarding Continuing Gross Violations of Human Rights and Civil Liberties of Syrian People...

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Location: Washington, DC


EXPRESSING GRAVE CONCERN OF CONGRESS REGARDING CONTINUING GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES OF SYRIAN PEOPLE BY GOVERNMENT OF SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC -- (House of Representatives - September 13, 2004)

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 363) expressing the grave concern of Congress regarding the continuing gross violations of human rights and civil liberties of the Syrian people by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, as amended.

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GENERAL LEAVE

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on H. Con. Res. 363, the concurrent resolution now under consideration.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentlewoman from Florida?

There was no objection.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. I want to thank the leadership and the chairman and the ranking member of the Committee on International Relations, the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos), for bringing House Concurrent Resolution 363 to the floor today. This important resolution expresses the grave concern of Congress regarding the continuing gross violations of human rights and civil liberties by the Syrian dictatorship.

The Syrian regime is one that not only supports and facilitates terrorist attacks against innocent civilians throughout the world, but also engages in a widespread campaign of terror against its own people. Throughout this year, Syria's tyrannical regime has intensified its crackdown against Syrian Kurds and pro-democracy forces inside the country. The arrest and the detention in the last few months of Syrian peaceful demonstrators clamoring for the right to exercise their fundamental liberties is but the latest example of the brutal regime of the dictatorship in Damascus.

International human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and others, have reported that the security forces of Syria are targeting emerging Syrian human rights organizations, as well as their attorneys, in an apparent attempt to intimidate those organizations into submission and silence.

Unfortunately, the gross violations of human rights are not limited to Syria's immediate borders. The repressive apparatus also extends into neighboring Lebanon, which Syria continues to occupy, making Lebanon a captive nation.

This fact was recently acknowledged by the international community through the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559, calling on all foreign troops to withdraw without delay from Lebanon and to stop meddling in the country's November elections. Hundreds of Lebanese civilians are believed to have been killed or disappeared by Syrian occupation forces or its secret police.

House Concurrent Resolution 363 details and condemns the persistent repression of our Syrian and Lebanese brothers and sisters at the hands of the terrorist regime in Syria. It articulates our support for Syria's human rights and pro-democracy activists and calls on free and democratic nations to take a unified stance and condemn the deplorable and heinous human rights record of the Syrian dictatorship. It expresses congressional support for the people of Syria in their daily struggle for freedom, for respect for human rights and civil liberties, for democratic self-governance, and for the establishment of the rule of law.

House Concurrent Resolution 363 further encourages the President and the Secretary of State to reach out to dissidents and to the nonviolent democratic opposition in Syria. It calls for the United States to assist them in their efforts to help bring freedom to Syria so that they can achieve the ultimate goal of a democratic form of government in Syria that is truly responsive to the needs of its people and has permanently abandoned any support for terrorism and the development of deadly unconventional weapons.

The people of Syria and the dissidents, such as the chairman of the Committees For the Defense of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in Syria, need our support. Upon being temporarily released from jail last month, this human rights activist said: "I will persist. I will never retreat. And I will continue to exert more pressure for democratic initiatives."

My colleagues, we cannot stand idly by and allow the Syrian regime to continue these deplorable practices. We too must maintain the pressure on this pariah state. And so, accordingly, I ask my colleagues to support this important resolution.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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