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tions to present and secure support for a United Na
tions Security Council Resolution classifying Leb
anon as a “captive country” and calling for the im
mediate release of all Lebanese detainees in Syria
(4) the President should freeze all assets in the
United States belonging to Lebanese Government of
ficials who are found to support and aid the occupa
(6) it should be the policy of the United States
the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative
•HCON 32 IH
Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN. The two resolutions come amidst developments with respect to both countries that will have a profound impact on the current situation in the Middle East. These two measures seek to place the United States in a supportive role, one that sides with the people of Syria and Lebanon who are struggling to free themselves from the same oppressor, the terrorist regime in Damascus.
The first resolution, House Concurrent Resolution 18, addresses the gross violations of human rights committed by the Syrian regime. The regime 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.
According to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released by the Department of State on Monday of this week, the Government of Syria continues to commit numerous serious abuses and remains with a poor record on human rights. Any activity by human rights activists and organizations are stifled and activists are sentenced to lengthy prison terms, tortured, or forced into exile only to be harassed and intimidated in exile as well.
Domestic human rights groups cannot exist legally. According to the recent World Report by Human Rights Watch, the dictatorship of Syria strictly limits freedom of expression, association, and assembly, and treats ethnic minority Kurds as second-class citizens.
The Government has a long record of arbitrary arrests, systematic torture, and prolonged detention of suspects and grossly unfair trials. Women face discrimination and they have little means of redress when they become victims of rape or domestic violence.
However, Syria's deplorable human rights record is not limited to its immediate borders. The repressive apparatus also extends into neighboring Lebanon, which has been a captive nation for 25 years. Hundreds of free-thinking Lebanese civilians are believed to have been killed or “disappeared” by Syrian occupation forces throughout the years.
H. Con. Res. 32 designates Lebanon as a captive nation and supports the people of Lebanon in their struggle to restore their nation's sovereignty. For too long, Lebanon has been denied its independence by the regime in Damascus, a regime which has imposed its will upon the Lebanese people through electoral intimidation, political persecution, assassination of opposition leaders, and brutal military force.
Those who have observed the history of Lebanon see through Syria's facade and realize that the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri is a clear attempt by Syria to intimidate the Lebanese opposition and those who publicly oppose the continued Syrian occupation of Lebanon.
This continued occupation is in contravention of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, most recently UNSCR 1559, as well as United States laws such as the Syrian Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, which I was proud to co-author with Congressman Eliot Engel.
The protests which have followed the Valentine's Day bombing in Beirut have been a cry for help, as well as an immediate demand from a united and diverse Lebanese opposition for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon and for the Lebanese Government accomplices to resign. As we saw on
Monday of this week, the latter demand has begun to be fulfilled. The streets of Beirut have been filled for weeks with tens of thousands of Muslims, Druze, and Christians whose anger and grief over the brutal tactics of the Syrian occupiers and their Lebanese collaborators have galvanized them into action into a coordinated effort to reclaim Lebanon's sovereignty.
House Concurrent Resolution 32 calls for the President to instruct the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations to present and secure support for a Security Council resolution classifying Lebanon as a captive nation. It calls for the President, pursuant to existing law, to freeze all assets in the United States belonging to Lebanese Government officials who are found to be in support of and aiding Syria's occupation of Lebanon.
And finally, it calls for the United States' policy to include support for independent human rights and pro-democracy advocates in Lebanon and the full restoration of sovereign democratic rule in Lebanon.
More needs to be done to support and assist the Syrian and Lebanese people in their struggle to free themselves from the shackles of Syrian tyranny. House Concurrent Resolution 32, which designates Lebanon as a captive nation and House Concurrent Resolution 18, relating to the Syrian regime's deplorable record of oppression, both in Lebanon and at home, begins to address the issues that strike at the core of the Lebanese people's cry for help.
The resolutions are noncontroversial. The amendments in the nature of a substitute are minor edits and additions to update the resolution to reflect recent developments in both countries. And I want to thank my Ranking Member, Mr. Ackerman, for his input and cooperation for both of these items.
Accordingly we will consider them en bloc. And without objection, the two resolutions will be favorably reported to the Full Committee and the amendments which the Members have before them will be deemed adopted.
[The en bloc resolutions referred to follow:]
AMENDMENT IN THE NATURE OF A SUBSTITUTE
TO H. CON. RES. 18
OFFERED BY Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN
Strike the preamble and insert the following:
Whereas the Syrian Arab Republic is governed by an authori
tarian regime which continues to commit serious human rights abuses, including the use of torture and arbitrary arrest and detention;
Whereas the Department of State's Country Reports on
Human Rights Practices for 2004 states that Syria's “human rights record remained poor, and the Government continued to commit numerous, serious abuses", the government "significantly restricts freedom of speech and of the press”, “freedom of assembly does not exist under the law”, and “the Government restricted freedom of association";
Whereas Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and
regardless of frontiers."'; Whereas Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association."';
Whereas Syria's September 2001 press law permits the gov
ernment to arbitrarily deny or revoke publishing licenses for vague reasons and compels media to submit all material to government censors;