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Ms. BLOOMER. Whereas Rabiya Kadeer, a prominent ethnic
Mr. SMITH. Without objection, the resolution is considered as having been read and is open to amendment at any point.
[The bill appears in the appendix.]
Mr. SMITH. I would like to recognize myself for 5 minutes in support of the resolution. Then I will yield to my good friends, Mr. Bereuter and Mr. Gejdenson, and would ask unanimous consent that Mr. Gilman's comments be made a part of the record.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gilman appears in the appendix.]
Mr. SMITH. S. Con. Res. 81, already passed by the Senate last month, introduced by Senator Roth, expresses the sense of Congress that the People's Republic of China should immediately release Rabiya Kadeer, her son and her secretary and should allow them to move to the United States if they so desire.
I am pleased to note that yesterday the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights reported this resolution favorably. As I noted a moment ago, so did Mr. Bereuter's subcommittee.
Rabiya Kadeer, a prominent Muslim businesswoman from Xinjiang Province, China, was detained by Chinese security forces along with her son and her secretary in August of last year. She was on her way to meet with a visiting congressional staff delegation. She was held incommunicado for months, and in March of this year was sentenced to 8 years in prison for, “illegally giving state information across the border.” Her crime was sending local newspaper clippings to her husband in the United States.
Ms. Kadeer's husband, Sidik Haji, a Uighur political activist, has been granted asylum here in the United States and has participated in Radio Free Asia broadcasts into the PRC.
Ms. Kadeer's imprisonment is the latest and most serious attempt by the Beijing regime to silence her husband by persecuting the family members who still reside in the PRC. The Chinese Government had prevented Ms. Kadeer from leaving China by confiscating her passport many months beforehand.
On March 2 of this year, Rabiya Kadeer's daughter appeared before my subcommittee and provided compelling testimony about the plight of her mother and about the PRC's brutal repression of the Uighur Muslim population in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
The latest State Department country report on human rights practices in China also confirms that crackdown and describes police killing and summary executions of the Uighurs and tighter restrictions on Muslim religious practice.
S. Con. Res. 81 demands the immediate release of Mrs. Kadeer, her son and her secretary. I am hopeful it will have the support of this Committee.
I yield to Mr. Bereuter, the Chairman of the Subcommittee.
Mr. BEREUTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I ask unanimous consent that my entire statement be made a part of the record.
Mr. SMITH. Without objection, so ordered. [The prepared statement of Mr. Bereuter appears in the appendix.]
Mr. BEREUTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I will just summarize a couple of additional points, since you have covered it very well.
This resolution was introduced by the senior Senator from Delaware, Senator William Roth. As mentioned, the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific marked it up on June 27.
Given the history of Rabiya Kadeer, I would just say the congressional staff that she met with were actually meeting under the auspices of a mutual education and cultural exchange program of the U.S. Information Agency. She was sentenced to 8 years in prison for the crime of “illegally giving state information across the border.” Her son was sent to a labor camp for 2 years last November for supporting Uighur separatism, and her secretary was recently sentenced to 3 years in labor camp.
In Rabiya's case, the so-called state information appears to have consisted essentially and only of a collection of publicly available Chinese newspaper articles and speeches and a list of prisoners. As the resolution notes, the case appears to constitute a very clear violation of the international covenant on civil and political rights.
The Chinese Government's action in this case has been reprehensible and must be reversed. This resolution makes clear the strong sense of Congress that Mrs. Kadeer should be immediately released and allowed to join her family in the United States.
I know our colleague, Mr. Lantos, who spoke out forcefully on this subject in the Subcommittee, points out that this is one of many cases, but this one is particularly notorious since it also involved an action against her after she had recently met with congressional staff. I urge my colleagues to support the resolution.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Bereuter.
Mr. GEJDENSON. Mr. Chairman, I commend you, Mr. Bereuter and others for supporting this legislation.
The actions by the Chinese Government can only be equal to those of Joseph Stalin and other tyrants in history. To think that the Chinese Government is so shaky that it is threatened by one woman sending newspapers to her husband in the United States is a pretty frightening commentary on the Chinese; and as we continue the policy now through several administrations of engagement, it has to lead one to question whether this engagement does have any positive indications for the future of Chinese human rights and democracy. Mr. SMITH. Is there any further debate on the resolution?
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of this resolution. Let me say that the case itself is important because every individual on this planet whose rights are being violated and who is being tortured and lives in these kinds of conditions of repression is important.
Mrs. Kadeer-hopefully, this resolution will help her individually, but, more than that, it draws attention to an area of China that most people forget about, East Turkistan. East Turkistan has many more people than Tibet. Yet everybody knows the repression that is going on in Tibet. Yes, there is genocide going on in Tibet, but people forget that this same type of malevolence and repression What is significant about East Turkistan is that the people of that area are Muslims. In Tibet, of course, they represent a different type of religion than is experienced and is representative in the rest of China, but, in East Turkistan, where we have a large Muslim population, you find this same type of repression.
There is a message there for us. There are some lessons to be learned, that the Communist Chinese regime finds that the way that people worship God is a threat to the regime. People who ask for freedom, people who ask to be treated decently, and people who ask that their government be controlled by standards of a rule of law, all of those, yes, are threats to any tyrannical regime, but what kind of regime is it?
Again, this goes right back to the Stalinist days, that you have a government that is fearful of the way that people worship God. In this case the Muslims of East Turkistan are as repressed as the people of Tibet. We should put them on our same list in terms of our thoughts and our prayers and our concern.
In expressing this resolution, expressing our condemnation of the way that Mrs. Kadeer has been treated, let us make sure that the Communists in Beijing understand that they have made a mistake in the way they are treating Mrs. Kadeer because it draws attention to their fundamental policies that are unacceptable.
One last lesson we should draw, and this is a lesson of history. When you have regimes that just so blatantly and arrogantly violate such rights as freedom of religion and freedom of speech and the freedoms that we have here represented with the arrest of Mrs. Kadeer, those regimes are threats to the security of the people of the world, not just threats to the human rights of their own population.
I know that we debate Communist China over and over again, we debate the issue of human rights over and over again, but I would hope that people understand that, if we start compromising on issues of human rights, in the end our own security, because of that immorality, that amorality on the part of our decisionmakers, will come back to hurt this country. Whether it was Japan or Nazi Germany or any of the other tyrannical forces in the past, Joseph Stalin, etc., it does great damage to ignore this human rights component and to pretend that a brutal regime is not as brutal as it is.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership. I certainly support this amendment.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much, Mr. Rohrabacher.
I would certainly strongly support your amendment. I give you credit for bringing these issues to our attention. I don't think there is any shyness on this Committee about condemning, like the gentleman was saying, issues. I think we have a responsibility to bring the matters forth so that we all are aware of situations that maybe Mr. Rohrabacher knows more about, but to bring it to the light of the Committee and then we would move on it. I certainly support the gentleman from New Jersey.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much.
If there is no further debate, the previous question is ordered. The gentleman from Nebraska, Mr. Bereuter, is recognized to offer a motion.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Chairman, I move that the Chairman be requested to seek consideration of the pending resolution on the suspension calendar.
Mr. SMITH. The question is on the motion of the gentleman from Nebraska. As many as are in favor of the motion will say aye. As many as are opposed, say no.
The ayes have it. The motion is agreed to. Further proceedings on this measure are postponed. H. CON. RES. 348-CONDEMNING THE USE OF CHILDREN AS SOLDIERS
Mr. SMITH. We will now proceed to H. Con. Res. 348, relating to the use of children in combat. The Chair lays the resolution before the Committee.
Ms. BLOOMER. H. Con. Res. 348, a resolution expressing condemnation of the use of children as soldiers and expressing the belief that the United States should support and, where possible, lead efforts to end this abuse of human rights.
Mr. SMITH. This resolution was considered by the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, marked up and reported with an amendment in the nature of a substitute reflected in the document labeled committee print which is now before the Members. Without objection, the subcommittee recommended amendment in the nature of a substitute shall be considered as an original text for the purpose of amendment, and the clerk will read the preamble and the text of the subcommittee recommendation in that order.
Ms. BLOOMER. Whereas in the year 2000
Mr. SMITH. Without objection, the subcommittee recommendation is considered as having been read and is now open for amendment at any point.
[The original and amended bills appear in the appendix.)
Mr. SMITH. I would like to recognize myself to give some opening comments, for such time as I may consume.
As one of the sponsors of H. Con. Res. 348, which was introduced by our friend, John Lewis of Georgia, earlier this month, this resolution condemns the use of child soldiers and urges that the United States support and lead the international effort to abolish this brutal abuse of children.
Yesterday our subcommittee, as I pointed out, marked up this resolution favorably; and we made some minor changes that were unanimously accepted.
The use of child soldiers is widespread and heartbreaking. According to responsible estimates, there are approximately 300,000 minors participating in armed conflicts around the world this year. Many of these children are kidnapped or coerced into service and are exposed both to the dangers of combat and to the hazardous living conditions that permanently impair their physical health. Their mental health as well is permanently shattered in many instances.
At a hearing before my subcommittee that we had last Congress, Sister Mary Rose Atuu described the work she does among the children of Northern Uganda. In that region, children are grossly abused by the so-called Lords Resistance Army, a violent rebel force supported by the Government of Sudan. The LRA kidnaps young children and transforms them into LRA fighters through coercion and brainwashing. Little boys are turned into torturers, rapists, and executioners. Young girls are forced to become concubines for militia leaders.
In order to break the wills of the children it steals, the LRA forces them to commit unspeakable atrocities, sometimes making them kill their own parents and young siblings. If they escape the clutches of their military captors, these broken kids require longterm rehabilitation that is frequently not available to them.
Similar atrocities take place in other parts of the world, such as in Sierra Leone, as well as in Sri Lanka.
It is on an encouraging note the nations of the world have begun to address these crimes against children. In January, a U.N. working group, comprised of representatives from 80 countries, including the United States, reached consensus on an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child regarding the use of child soldiers. Most notably, this protocol will raise the international minimal age for conscription and direct participation in armed conflict to the age of 18.
On May 25, the U.N. General Assembly unanimously adopted the optional protocol.
H. Con. Res. 348 puts the Congress on record as condemning the use of child soldiers. It also encourages the United States to support the optional protocol as a welcome first step toward ending this brutalization of children.
With the consent of my Democratic colleagues and the author of the resolution, I offered a minor amendment, simply indicating that I was very supportive of that effort yesterday when we marked up the bill.
I would at this point ask if any other Members have comments they would like to say on the resolution.
I recognize the gentleman from Connecticut.
Mr. GEJDENSON. I agree with all your statements. There are about 300,000 children out there fighting, some as young as 5 years old. It is something that we need to address. I commend your efforts.
Mr. SMITH. Without objection, Mr. Gilman's statement will be made a part of the record.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gilman appears in the appendix.]
Mr. SMITH. The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized for an amendment.
Mr. PAYNE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would certainly like to commend you and Mr. Lewis and myself as a cosponsor. I think this is an issue that really has to be more seriously looked at. The question of the numbers—the Ranking Member just mentioned 300,000 young people being used as children soldiers—the fact that they are coerced, they are threatened, they are brutalized, and then psychologically they are ill-prepared to be returned back into society.