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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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this important resolution, and I thank both of my colleagues, the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) and the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos), for introducing this important resolution.
Despite recent sanctions put on Syria pursuant to the Syria Accountability Act by our government and warnings that the sanctions will continue until Syria ends their support for terrorism, Syria continues to play host to terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. We know Hamas took responsibility for the suicide bombings in Israel a couple of weeks ago, and yet Syria continues to harbor Hamas leaders. Despite claims that Syria is not an occupying force in Lebanon, recent reports indicate that Syria forced the Lebanese government to keep their hand-picked president in office for another term, basically violating the Constitution of Lebanon. So the fact of the matter is that Syria continues to interfere in Lebanese affairs and is, in fact, an occupying force.
Syria has committed a laundry list of human rights abuses not only in Lebanon but also against its own people. It has imprisoned hundreds of political prisoners without charges, including two journalists from Lebanon who wrote editorials against Syria's occupation.
Mr. Speaker, I have spoken on several occasions regarding Syria's systematic oppression of the Syrian Jewish community. Those Jews who remain in Syria, and there are very few, they nonetheless face constant terror and intimidation from Syria's secret police, nightly curfews and have been forced to carry special identification cards.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join with me in supporting this resolution. Syria has proven to be a destabilizing force in the Middle East, and it is critical that we urge the international community to take a stand on Syria's abysmal human rights record.
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