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A GLOBAL REVIEW OF HUMAN RIGHTS:
EXAMINING THE STATE DEPARTMENT'S 2004 ANNUAL REPORT
SUBCOMMITTEE ON AFRICA, GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
MARCH 17, 2005
Serial No. 10935
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrinted for the use of the Committee on International Relations
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.house.gov/internationalrelations
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman
JAMES A. LEACH, Iowa
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey,
DAN BURTON, Indiana
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
PETER T. KING, New York
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
THOMAS G. TANCREDO, Colorado
RON PAUL, Texas
DARRELL ISSA, California
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
JO ANN DAVIS, Virginia
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
JERRY WELLER, Illinois
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMIKE PENCE, Indiana
THADDEUS G. McCOTTER, Michigan
KATHERINE HARRIS, Florida
JOE WILSON, South Carolina
JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas
J. GRESHAM BARRETT, South Carolina
CONNIE MACK, Florida
JEFF FORTENBERRY, Nebraska
MICHAEL McCAUL, Texas
TED POE, Texas
TOM LANTOS, California
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
BRAD SHERMAN, California
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
BARBARA LEE, California
JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCEARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
SHELLEY BERKLEY, Nevada
GRACE F. NAPOLITANO, California
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
DIANE E. WATSON, California
ADAM SMITH, Washington
BETTY McCOLLUM, Minnesota
BEN CHANDLER, Kentucky
DENNIS A. CARDOZA, California
THOMAS E. MOONEY, SR., Staff Director/General Counsel
ROBERT R. KING, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey, Chairman
THOMAS G. TANCREDO, Colorado
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas
JEFF FORTENBERRY, Nebraska
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California,
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
BARBARA LEE, California
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCBETTY McCOLLUM, Minnesota
BRAD SHERMAN, California
GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
DIANE E. WATSON, California
MARY M. NOONAN, Subcommittee Staff Director
NOELLE LUSANE, Democratic Professional Staff Member
LINDSEY M. PLUMLEY, Staff Associate
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable Michael G. Kozak, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State
Mr. Brian Steidle (former U.S. Marine Captain), Global Grassroots
Mr. Tom Malinowski, Washington Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch
Mr. Adotei Akwei, Campaign Director, Amnesty International
Mr. Daniel S. Mariaschin, Executive Vice President, B'nai B'rith International
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Vincuk Viacohrka, Chairman, Belarus Popular Front Party
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
The Honorable Christopher H. Smith, a Representative in Congress from the State of New Jersey, and Chairman, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations: Prepared statement
The Honorable Michael G. Kozak: Prepared statement
Mr. Brian Steidle: Prepared statement
Mr. Tom Malinowski: Prepared statement
Mr. Adotei Akwei: Prepared statement
Mr. Daniel S. Mariaschin: Prepared statement
Mr. Vincuk Viacohrka: Prepared statement
Response from the Honorable Michael G. Kozak to question submitted for the record by the Honorable Adam Smith, a Representative in Congress from the State of Washington
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Human Rights First Comments on 2004 State Department Country Reports
A GLOBAL REVIEW OF HUMAN RIGHTS:
EXAMINING THE STATE DEPARTMENT'S
2004 ANNUAL REPORT
THURSDAY, MARCH 17, 2005
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights
and International Operations,
Committee on International Relations,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 1:47 p.m. in room 2200, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey (Chairman of the Subcommittee), presiding.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. The Subcommittee will come to order. I am pleased to convene this hearing of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations. The Subcommittee today is not only reviewing the State Department's 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices; it is also examining the state of human rights around the world.
Let me begin by making some general observations about human rights. First, the very idea of human rights presupposes that certain rights are fundamental, universal, and inalienable. They are too important to be taken away or circumscribed by governments. The right to life, religion, speech, assembly, and due process are the pillars of a free, sane, and compassionate society.
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Second, the United States has a commitment to human rights that is unique in the history of the world. President Bush, in his State of the Union speech in January, reminded us that, and I quote:
''Our founders dedicated this country to the cause of human dignity, the rights of every person, and the possibilities of every life. This conviction leads us into the world to help the afflicted, defend the peace, and confound the designs of evil men.''
Human rights are indivisible, mutually reinforcing, and all inclusive. Human rights cannot be abridged on account of race, color, creed, gender, age, or condition of dependency. ''Inclusiveness'' means everyone, especially the inconvenient: The unborn child, the dissident, the believer in another religious tradition.
It is particularly disturbing that human rights concerns are often subordinated to other concerns, such as trade, cooperation on terrorism, immigration control, or selling military equipment, in the name of maintaining relations with countries of high importance to U.S. strategic goals. That misses the point. The most important U.S. interest is the promotion of freedom and democracy and decency. We are strong enough, and we are prosperous enough, that we have no need to accept blood money or to send refugees back to persecution or to seek out alliances among regimes that murder and torture their own people.
In my view, the Country Reports are among the most important work the Department of State does. They allow the United States an opportunity to bear witness, to reassert fundamental principles, and also to examine its own conscience about whether its foreign policy comports with these principles. Other annual reports, such as the Trafficking in Persons report, the Report on International Religious Freedom, and the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act, which I helped to pass last year, along with Tom Lantos and others, also shined a spotlight on specific human rights areas which warrant closer examination.
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There is a striking similarity between the ''black lists'' of all of these reports. Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Vietnam are all countries that engage in severe violations of religious freedom. Bangladesh, Burma, Cuba, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Guyana, North Korea, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Venezuela are all tier three countries whose Governments have made no significant efforts to satisfy the minimum standards to prevent the trafficking and the enslavement of people. It is no surprise that Secretary Rice's six outposts of tyrannyCuba, North Korea, Belarus, Iran, Burma, and Zimbabwealso dominate these lists.
This Congress, this Subcommittee will track the records of the worst offenders, the ''dirty dozen of human rights abusers,'' so to speak. Their names are among those I have just cited. We will hold hearings on their human rights records. We will enact legislation, engage the State Department, censure them at the United Nations, and implement other measures to effect positive change. The spotlight will be on their governments and on their records. The victims will not be forgotten.
This year's Country Reports, released by the State Department on February 28, 2004, document several important steps taken by governments around the world to respect and protect the fundamental human rights of their citizens. We have all heard about the historic elections in Afghanistan and Iraq where Governments are now in power because they have been chosen by their electorate. In Ukraine, the will of the people finally prevailed, and Ukraine's supreme court upheld the rule of law to elect a new President. There were also numerous other smaller, but nevertheless important, victories, such as the inclusion of human rights provisions in the new Constitution of Qatar, indictments of former high-level officials for corruption in Costa Rica and Gambia; and the indictment of Pinochet for crimes in the 1970s in Chile.
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Unfortunately, the news is not all good. The Country Reports also serve to confirm and document what we knew already, that the last year has not been a good one for the state of human rights around the world. Despite a declaration by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell in September 2004 that genocide had been committed against the people of Darfur, the Government and Government-supported militias continued their attacks on civilian targets. The militias and Government forces routinely, according to the State Department, killed, injured, and displaced civilians, intentionally attacking civilians, looting their possessions, and destroying their villages.
We are fortunate today to have as one of our witnesses Brian Steidle, a former U.S. Marine captain who was embedded for 6 months with the African Union forces in Darfur and who was an eyewitness to many of these atrocities.
The totalitarian Governments of China, North Korea, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, and Cuba all continued their persecution of political and religious dissidents, and in China, women are subjected to forced abortions and sterilizations.
I am particularly upset that the State Department this year has decided not to offer a resolution condemning China and their record on human rights at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which is now currently underway. According to its own report, the Chinese Government's human rights record remained poor, and the Government continued to commit numerous and serious abuses. Abuses include killing, torture, mistreatment of prisoners, and forced confessions. The State Department Human Rights Report went on to say that, in late 2004, the Chinese Government launched a new campaign against dissident writers, commentators, and religious activists.
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Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than in the deplorable case of Mao Hengfeng, a victim of a forced abortion whose ongoing attempts to receive justice have resulted in her sentencing to 18 months of hard labor, during which she has been tortured, denied vitally-needed medicine, and whose life is in danger today.
The torture does not stop with those who demand basic human rights and political freedoms. On the religious front, there is an ongoing, aggressive repression of those who want to practice their faith as they see fit. We see Falun Gong practitioners who are routinely rounded up, beaten and abused, including hundreds who have been tortured to death while held in captivity. According to the State Department, government repression of some unregistered religious groups increased, not decreased, in China during the past year. For instance, the report documents that Chinese officials beat and abused a number of Catholic priests and lay leaders during 2004.
As some of my colleagues may know, since 1979, there has been the one-child-per-family policy in the People's Republic of China. That policy says that if a second child happens to come along, he or she has to be aborted. Heavy fines are imposed upon the women, particularly. They call it ''social compensation fees.'' Sometimes these are 6 to 10 times the annual salaries of the parents, compelling them to abort. Who can pay 10 times the father's and mother's salarya husband and wife? It is absolutely ruinous, and it leads to a so-called ''voluntary abortion,'' which is anything but.
Forced abortion and forced sterilization are commonplace in China, and according to the State Department's 2003 report, one consequence of ''the country's birth-limitation policies'' is that 56 percent of the world's female suicides occur in China. This is five times the world average and translates, according to the State Department's report for that year, to about 500 suicides by women per day. Five hundred per day! This year, the language has been watered down to note that there exist ''especially high'' female suicide rates.
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Elsewhere in the world, dictatorships in Belarus and Burma were unsurprisingly similar in their repressive methods to control and maintain power. Security forces in both countries arbitrarily arrested and detained citizens for political reasons. Police abuse and torture of prisoners continued in Belarus, and, in Burma, abuses also included rape, beatings, forcible relocation of populations, and conscription of child soldiers.
Yesterday, I introduced a resolution urging the United States to offer a resolution on Belarus at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights and calling upon the Government of Belarus to cease its human rights violations. I look forward to hearing the testimony today of the Chairman of the Belarus Popular Front, who will be speaking momentarily.
In Africa, a continent this Subcommittee is particularly concerned with, human rights abuses are ''almost routine'' in places like the Great Lakes region, including the Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda, according to the U.S. State Department. Children are forcibly recruited and abducted into militia groups, rape is increasingly used as a weapon of war, and the region is home to one-fifth of the world's IDPs. The situation is not helped by actions such as the Rwandan Government's dismantling of leading human rights organizations as part of a campaign against ''divisionism.''
Perhaps even more alarming were the reports of serious human rights violations by governments with whom the United States enjoys a close relationship. While Saudi Arabia was for the first time designated a ''Country of Particular Concern,'' and I commend the Department for its courage in doing that, Saudi Arabia, because of its violations of freedom of religion, there were also credible reports of torture and the abuse of prisoners by security forces, arbitrary arrests, and restrictions of freedom of speech, assembly, and movement.
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The need for cooperation in the war on terror has also muted, at times, our concerns about the growing restrictions on democracy in Russia. The Country Reports' overly positive and generalized statements in the introduction and in lead sentences elsewhere downplay the violations and are weak with regard to governmental responsibility for serious human rights abuses in Russia.
In Indonesia, elections resulted in the transfer of power to an elected opposition leader. However, Indonesia's ad hoc trials on East Timor acquitted most militia leaders and Indonesian officers indicted by the U.N. for crimes against humanity in connection with the 1999 violence in East Timor and levied only minimal penalties against others, none of whom have spent 1 day in jail.
Rather than achieving accountability, the trials became a mechanism for impunity and were viewed as seriously flawed by most international observers. Many of those indicted for crimes against humanity in East Timor continue to maintain powerful positions, and the military continued its offensive in Aceh, attacking dozens of civilian targets, even after the tsunami devastated the region.
In conclusion, the biggest problem with the Country Reports is not the reporting itself but the uses to which this human rights reporting may or may not be put. It is a challenge. Human rights cannot be the work of one political officer in an Embassy who prepares the annual report once a year and then turns to other tasks. Rather, it must be the foundation on which our bilateral relationship is based.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary Kozak, I want to commend you and your colleagues for your exhaustive work on the 2004 Country Reports. As I stated earlier, this is one of the most important services the Department performs. The cornerstone of U.S. policy must be the promotion of American values, which really are universally-recognized values, which include the protection and advancement of fundamental human rights of people around the world. The moral character and depth of soul of any society, again, is measured not by its military might, technological prowess, athletic excellence, or GDP, but by how well it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members.
I would like to yield to my good friend and colleague, Don Payne, for any opening comment you might have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Smith follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY AND CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON AFRICA, GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS
The Subcommittee will come to order. I am pleased to convene this hearing of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations. The Subcommittee today is not only reviewing the State Department's 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices; it is also examining the state of human rights around the world.
Let me begin by making some general observations about human rights. First, the very idea of human rights presupposes that certain rights are fundamental, universal, and inalienable. They are too important to be taken away or circumscribed by governments. The right to life, religion, speech, assembly and due process are the pillars of a free, sane and compassionate society.
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Second, the United States has a commitment to human rights that is unique in the history of the world. President Bush in his State of the Union speech in January reminded us that ''Our founders dedicated this country to the cause of human dignity, the rights of every person, and the possibilities of every life. This conviction leads us into the world to help the afflicted, and defend the peace, and confound the designs of evil men.''
Human rights are indivisible, mutually reinforcing and all inclusive. Human rights cannot be abridged on account of race, color, creed, gender, age or condition of dependency. Inclusiveness means everyone, and perhaps especially the inconvenientthe unborn child, the dissident, the believer in another religious tradition.
It is particularly disturbing that human rights concerns are often subordinated to other concerns, such as trade, cooperation on terrorism, immigration control, or selling military equipment, in the name of maintaining relations with countries of high importance to U.S. strategic goals. This misses the point. The most important U.S. interest is the promotion of freedom and democracy and decency. We are strong enough, and we are prosperous enough that we have no need to accept blood money or to send refugees back to persecution or to seek our alliances among regimes that murder and torture their own people.
In my view, the Country Reports are among the most important work the Department of State does. They allow the United States an opportunity to bear witness, to reassert fundamental principles, and also to examine its own conscience about whether its foreign policy comports with these principles. Other annual reports, such as the Trafficking in Persons report, the report on International Religious Freedom, and the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act, which last year I helped to pass, also shine the spotlight on specific human rights areas which bear closer examination.
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There is a striking similarity between the ''black lists'' of all of these reports. Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Vietnam are all countries that engage in severe violations of religious freedom. Bangladesh, Burma, Cuba, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Guyana, North Korea, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Venezuela are all Tier III countries whose governments have made no significant efforts to satisfy the minimum standards to prevent the trafficking and enslavement of people. It is no surprise that Secretary Rice's six outposts of tyrannyCuba, North Korea, Belarus, Iran, Burma and Zimbabwealso dominate these lists.
This Congress, this Subcommittee will track the records of the worst offendersthe ''Dirty Dozen of Human Rights Abusers,'' so to speak. Their names are among those I have just cited. We will hold hearings on their human rights records. We will enact legislation, engage with the State Department, censure them at the United Nations, and implement other measures to effect positive change. The spotlight will be on their governments and their records. Their victims will not be forgotten.
This year's ''Country Reports,'' released by the State Department on February 28, 2004, document several important steps forward taken by governments around the world to respect and protect the fundamental human rights of their citizens. We have all heard about the historic elections in Afghanistan and Iraq where governments are now in power because they have been chosen by their electorate. In Ukraine, the will of the people finally prevailed and Ukraine's Supreme Court upheld the rule of law to elect a new President. And there were numerous other smaller but nevertheless important victories, such as the inclusion of human rights provisions in the new constitution of Qatar; indictments of former high-level officials for corruption in Costa Rica and the Gambia; and the indictment of Pinochet for crimes in the 1970s in Chile.
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Unfortunately, the news is not all good. The Country Reports also serve to confirm and document what we knew already, that the last year has not been a good one for the state of human rights in the world. Despite a declaration by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell in September of 2004 that genocide had been committed against the people of Darfur, government and government-supported militias known as ''janjaweed'' continued their attacks on civilian targets. Janjaweed and government forces routinely, according to the State Department, killed, injured and displaced civilians, intentionally attacking civilians, looting their possessions, and destroying their villages. We are fortunate today to have as one of our witnesses Brian Steidle, a former U.S. Marine captain, who was embedded for six month with African Union forces in Darfur and who was an eyewitness to many of these atrocities.
The totalitarian governments of China, North Korea, Vietnam, Turkmenistan and Cuba all continued their persecution of political and religious dissidents, and women in China continued to be subjected to forced abortions and forced sterilization.
I am particularly upset that the State Department this year has decided not to offer a resolution condemning China's record on human rights at the UN Commission on Human Rights. According to its own report, the Chinese government's human rights record remains poor, and the government continued to commit numerous and serious abuses. Abuses include killing, torture, mistreatment of prisoners, and forced confessions. The State Department Human Rights Report went on to say that in late 2004, the Chinese government launched a new campaign against dissident writers, commentators and religious activists.
Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than in the deplorable case of Mao Hengfeng, a victim of a forced abortion whose ongoing attempts to receive justice have resulted in her sentencing to 18 months of hard labor, during which she has been tortured, denied vitally-needed medicine, and whose life is in danger today. I chaired a hearing of the Committee on International Relations last December on this case and China's continuing abusive and coercive family planning policies. A leading activist in Shanghai, Mao's troubles with the Chinese government began in the late 1980s when, pregnant a second time, she petitioned her work unit for larger housing, which was refused. In the ensuing ten years, during which Mao has bravely fought the government through the Chinese courts, she has twice been confined to a psychiatric facility, been dismissed from her job for ''missing too many days of work,'' and arrested and sentenced to 18 months of re-education through labor (RTL) for ''disturbance of the peace.''
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In RTL, credible sources report that in August she was beaten, and that camp police have bound Mao's wrists and ankles with leather straps and pulled her limbs apart for a period of two days to force Mao to acknowledge wrongdoing. On November 19, she lost an appeal in a Shanghai court to receive welfare payments but was seen with blood-blisters and swelling around her wrists and ankles, indicating ongoing abuse. More recently, family members report she is being force-fed an unidentified medicine which turns her mouth black, that she is held for hours in restraints, and that she is incarcerated with two narcotics offenders who are reportedly free to abuse her. Her blood pressure is dangerously high, but she refuses to take medicine for fear of being given psychiatric drugs.
The torture does not stop with those who demand basic human rights and political freedoms. On the religious front there is ongoing aggressive repression of those who want to practice their faith as they see fit. We see Falun Gong practitioners who are routinely rounded up and beaten and abused, and hundreds have been tortured to death while held in captivity. According to the State Department government repression of some unregistered religious groups increased during the past year. For instance, the Report documents that Chinese officials beat and abused a number of Catholic priests and lay leaders during 2004.
As my colleagues know, since 1979 there has been the one-child per family policy. The policy says if the second child happens to come along, he or she has to be aborted. Heavy fines are imposed upon the women, particularly. They call it social compensation fees. Sometimes it is six times the annual salaries of the parents compelling them to abort that baby. Forced abortion and forced sterilization are commonplace in China. According to the State Department's 2003 report, one consequence of ''the country's birth limitation policies'' is that 56 percent of the world's female suicides occur in China, which is five times the world average and approximately 500 suicides by women per day. This year, that language has been watered down to note there exists an ''especially high'' female suicide rate.
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Elsewhere in the world, dictatorships in Belarus and Burma were unsurprisingly similar in their oppressive methods of control to maintain power. Security forces in both countries arbitrarily arrested and detained citizens for political reasons. Police abuse and torture of prisoners continued in Belarus, and in Burma, abuses also included rape, beatings, forcible relocation of populations, and conscription of child soldiers. Yesterday, I introduced a resolution urging the United States to offer a resolution on Belarus at the UN Commission on Human Rights and calling upon the Government of Belarus to cease its human rights violations. I look forward to hearing the testimony today of Vincuk Viachorka, Chairman of the Belarus Popular Front Party. Mr. Viachorka is a key leader in the Belarussian opposition who has refused to bend to the will of Lukashenko.
In Africa, a continent this Subcommittee is particularly concerned with, human rights abuses are ''almost routine'' in places like the Great Lakes region including the Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda, according to the State Department. Children are forcibly recruited and abducted into militia groups, rape is increasingly used as a weapon of war, and the region is home to one-fifth of the world's 25 million IDPs. The situation is not helped by actions such as the Rwandan government's dismantling of leading human rights organizations as part of a campaign against ''divisionism.''
Perhaps even more alarming were the reports of serious human rights violations by governments with which the United States enjoys a close relationship. While Saudi Arabia was for the first time designated a ''country of particular concern'' for its severe violations of religious freedom, there were also credible reports of torture and abuse of prisoners by security forces, arbitrary arrests, and restrictions of freedoms of speech, assembly, and movement.
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The need for cooperation in the war on terror has also muted our concerns about growing restrictions on democracy in Russia. The Country Report's overly positive and generalized statements in the introduction and in lead sentences elsewhere downplay the violations and are weak with regard to governmental responsibility for serious human rights abuses.
In Indonesia, elections resulted in the transfer of power to an elected opposition leader. However, Indonesia's ad hoc trials on East Timor acquitted most militia leaders and Indonesian officers indicted by the UN for crimes against humanity in connection with the 1999 violence, and levied only minimal penalties against others, none of whom has spent a day in jail. Rather than achieving accountability, the trials became a mechanism for impunity and were viewed as seriously flawed by most international observers. Many of those indicted for crimes against humanity in East Timor continue to maintain powerful positions, and the military continued its offensive in Aceh, attacking dozens of civilian targets even after the tsunami devastated the region. I am disturbed that given these circumstances, the State Department recently certified cooperation on the Papua killings to allow resumption of IMET military training.
Finally, I continue to oppose our growing trade and commercial ties with Vietnam, a one-party state run by the Communists which oppressively controls the ordinary lives of its citizens, rigidly represses political rights, and has been cited by the State Department for its severe violations of religious freedom. The country report on Vietnam documents that the government failed to issue a nationwide decree banning forced renunciations of faith, did not end the physical abuse of religious believers, continued to hold a significant number of religious prisoners, and refused to allow the re-opening and registration of hundreds of churches in the Central Highlands closed in 2001.
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In conclusion, the biggest problem with the Country Reports is not the reporting itself, but the uses to which this human rights reporting may or may not be put. Human Rights can not be the work of one political officer in the Embassy who prepares the annual report once a year and then turns to other tasks. Rather, it must be the foundation on which our bilateral relationship is based.
Secretary Kozak, I want to commend you and your colleagues for your exhaustive work on the 2004 Country Reports. As I stated earlier, this is one of the most important services the Department performs. The cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy must be the promotion of American values, which include the protection and advancement of fundamental human rights of people around the world. The moral character and depth of soul of any society will be measured not by its military might, technological prowess, athletic excellence or GDP, but by how well or how poorly it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members.
Mr. PAYNE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me commend you for calling this very important and timely hearing. It is always very interesting to hear the annual report of the State Department examining the previous year.
On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document should be used as a standard for the basic rights of people all around the world. Universal human rights include, for example, the right to freedom and equality, to not be held in slavery, to not be tortured or abused, the right to work, the right to education, and motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.
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I think it is important that we focus not only on the most obvious human rights violations, such as violence, physical abuse, torture, and others, but that we also understand and focus adequate attention on hunger, poverty, lack of access to health care, poor quality of education, unfair trade, and the impact of Western agricultural subsidies on developing countries, which create problems back in their own lands.
The World Food Program (WFP) estimates that when women, men, and children go hungry, their human rights, their basic rights to food, which is needed for mere survival, are violated. The worst locust invasion in 15 years has devastated the harvests in Mauritania, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in urgent need of food aid. WFP studies show that 6 out of 10 families in Mauritania's agro-pastoral zone will not have enough food to eat in 2005.
In the late 1990s, the rate of chronic hunger among people in the developing world increased by almost 4 million a year. In today's world, one out of eight people do not have enough food to live healthy, active lives, according to the WFP, therefore, making hunger and malnutrition the number one health risk globally, greater than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
So whether in Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, or Cambodia, hunger still remains an issue, an issue that we need to attack as a basic human rights issue. Among the Millennium Development Goals agreed to by the United Nations member states in 2001 for the 21st century, having the proportion of hungry people in the world reduced is the number one issue on the list. The United States is the largest donor to WFP, but I think we could, and should, be doing more to combat this global human rights problem which should not exist. There is enough food in the world for no one to go hungry.
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To do so, we need to focus more on supporting and facilitating agricultural production in the developing world, particularly in Africa. We need to ensure our policies do not infringe upon the ability of people in developing worlds to grow their own food, feed their families, send their children to school, or trade their products. That should be a part of our commitment to human rights.
If we adequately address the issue I just mentioned, we will find that the world will have fewer conflicts and less strife. As a matter of fact, if we can really go about truly alleviating poverty, I think many of the issues that we deal with in Committees like this will be alleviated and will be eliminated.
In order for human rights to thrive, governments around the world must take the Universal Declaration of Human Rights seriously and uphold its provisions. That means allowing people to assemble and have a say in their government. That means girls should have equal access to education as boys and should not be subjected to forms of repressions, such as female genital mutilation. Women should have the same rights as men, including access to employment at wages equal to those of men, and make their own decisions.
We have a long way to go in this world in order to fully live up to the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So I look forward to the witnesses' testimony. We will continue to try to urge governments to address all of these human rights abuses, whether it is in Darfur, where it is estimated 180,000 people have died in the last 18 months of hunger and disease and killings, and the problems go on and on, as we have heard the Chairman mention. So I look forward to hearing the testimony of Ambassador Kozak.
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Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you, Mr. Payne.
Mr. TANCREDO. No.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Ms. Lee?
Ms. LEE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me just thank you for this hearing, and I want to welcome our witnesses and just say a couple of things. I think it is very important that this hearing be conducted, and we continue to look at international human rights records, consider the inconsistencies, and adjust our foreign policies accordingly.
I would like to also mention this report, and I want all of the witnesses, if possible, to comment on it, that the People's Republic of China came out with as it relates to the human rights record of the United States. I would like to just ask our witnesses for their response to that report.
Very briefly, as I was going through it, Mr. Chairman, let me just say a couple of things that it points out. It says, ''Once again,'' and I raise this because we are the greatest democracy in the world, and we care about standards of human rights everywhere in terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and it disturbs me, quite frankly, when I read reports like this, and so I would like the witnesses to kind of clarify what they think and how we should respond. But this report says:
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''Once again, the United States has acted as the world human rights police by distorting and censoring in the reports the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions across the world, including China.''
They go on to say that:
''As usual, the United States, once again, has omitted its own longstanding malpractice and problems of human rights in the reports. The Chinese report touches on a number of subjects. It mainly draws from news stories readily available on the Internet relating domestic accounts of crime, gun violence, drug abuse, and prison abuse, to name a few. This report also points to inconsistencies in the enormous wealth that the United States has but the poverty, hunger, and homelessness that is prevalent. The report also observes that 40 years after the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech, the equal rights pursued by American Blacks and minority ethnic groups remain an unattainable dream today.
''Internationally, the Chinese report takes exceptions to the unilateral foreign policy of the United States in terms of military aggression, citing,'' and they cite in this report, ''a 2003 Human Rights Watch study on the use of cluster bombs in Iraq. The Chinese report also points out the questionable treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.''
Now, they are not the only ones pointing out these inconsistencies. Well-respected nongovernmental organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have also made similar claims that the United States is not living up to its name as the staunchest defender of global human rights. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International point to prolonged, secret detentions in the United States after the horrific September 11th attacks.
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They also report on the ill treatment and excessive use of force by United States law enforcement and the harsh sentencing policies that continue to burden our prisons. In fact, Human Rights Watch notes that prisons generally fail to provide safe and humane conditions of confinement or adequate rehabilitative services and programs for prisoners.
So, Mr. Chairman, whenever our human rights record is called into question, I do believe we must take a hard look at it and these reports in order to be credible in our attempts to ensure global human rights, and I would just ask for unanimous consent to insert this report into the record as we discuss global human rights. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
[The information referred to follows:]
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Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you. If I could, if the gentlewoman would yield, this is a hearing, but it is also a semi-debate. I think it would be worth noting, especially for the international press that are here, there is a responseit may not be perfectto some of those concerns. One is that we have a two-party system. Obviously, other parties can run, and that friction that a free-and-fair election generates, hopefully, gets to the truth, so where there is wrongdoing and culpability, it can be done away with or, at least, held to account.
We have an independent judiciary, a Justice Department where in every department there are IGs who look into any malfeasance, whether it be misappropriation of funds or wrongful doing. When the problems with Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo were discovered, Congressmen and Senators and others went into high gear to investigate, and while we are still not to the end of it, I, myself, offered a resolution at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly last year condemning all torture. The Convention Against Torture could not be more clear in its proscribing of torture in any way for any reason whatsoever, and we have convicted several people, including a man who was sentenced to 10 years in prison recently for committing atrocities against detainees.
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We have public advocates. We have, maybe most importantly, a free press. The press can come in here and do anything they want. Not so in China. As a matter of fact, today, there is an editorial in The New York Times, a Chinese journalist in peril, in which the Times opines how disturbed they are that Xaio Yan, because seemingly he broke a story, maybe or maybe notwe do not know if he was the one who helped write itthat Jiang Zemin was going to retire. For that, he has received a jail sentence and has been held. Now NGOs can operate freely.
One of the things we have tried to do with Cuba, for example, and I have done it several timesI have done it with Cuban interlocutors in Geneva, and I will do it everywhere, and I have tried to get into Cuba myself to get into the prisonsis to say, let the Red Cross in. The Red Cross has unfettered access to the United States and our prisons. They are wide open to them and public advocates and attorneys and the like. Not so with China and a lot of other dictatorships.
So, with all due respect, while we are far from perfect, we have safeguards and checks and balances. What is absent in these dictatorial regimes is anything that even comes close to being a check or a balance.
Ms. LEE. May I respond, Mr. Chairman? I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, on everything you said. However, I think that we also need to add to that the issue of looking at the real disparities in sentencing as it relates to African-American men, when you look at the health care disparities, the unemployment disparities in the African-American community, when you look at the fact that the infant mortality rate is much higher and that 35 million are living in poverty, and the poverty rates continue to grow, when you look at the homeless population in the wealthiest country in the world.
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I think that what you are saying is very important in terms of the political systems that are nondemocratic, but we have the greatest democracy in the world, and there is much work to be done, and I suggest to you that these human rights violations which the world, at least, is condemning us on, we need to address very fairly in a global sense, and I think that this Committee can be forthright in doing just that.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Mr. Smith?
Mr. SMITH OF WASHINGTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to testify. I am not a Member of this Subcommittee, so I appreciate your forbearance in letting me say a couple of words before we get started.
I just want to raise one important issue that is contained in the report, and that has to do with the death of Rachel Corrie. Her relatives are constituents of mine, and she was killed in Israel 2 years ago yesterday. As a matter of fact, actually, she was killed in the Gaza Strip by an Israeli bulldozer that was engaged in demolition there, and Rachel Corrie was part of a protest against that effort.
There are just a couple of specific issues I want to raise. First of all, I want to recognize Craig Corrie, Rachel's father, and Sarah Corrie Simpson, her sister, who are in the audience today, as well as other members of her family, and thank them for their forbearance on this issue. There are a couple of things I want to submit, but the bottomline, what the Corries want is a full and fair and open investigation of what happened, and they and I and many others do not feel that they have gotten that to this point, and there is a mention of this incident in the State Department report.
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One thing I am going to submit for the record is a letter from the Corrie family which details their concerns about the incident and about the lack of a thorough, credible, and transparent investigation.
And the other thing that I am going to submit for the record is a statement from Lawrence B. Wilkerson, who was the Chief of Staff of the U.S. State Department on June 11, 2004, responding to some of the concerns that the Corries had raised, and the key point in all of this is the contrast between that statement and what is in the Country Reports on Human Rights. The Country Reports on Human Rights describes the incident and says that ''the Corrie family believes that the investigation was not thorough, credible, and transparent and continue to pursue the case,'' and that is absolutely true, but it also leaves the impression that they are sort of on this lonely quest in which it is just their opinion. What Mr. Wilkerson said sort of makes it clear that that is not the case.
In a letter he sent to them, he said:
''Your ultimate question, however, is a valid one: Whether or not we review the report that was done by the Israeli military advocate general's office to have reflected an investigation that was 'thorough, credible, and transparent.' I can answer your question without equivocation. No, we do not consider it so.''
That was from our own State Department. In the interest of accuracy, that probably should have been reflected in the Country Reports to make it not appear that it was simply the Corries who felt this way.
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It is a legitimate issue to be raised, but like I said, overall, they want that thorough, credible investigation that they do not believe that they have gotten yet. From my investigation of it, I agree with them. If we could get it from the Israeli Government or the IDF, that would be fine.
Also, it is something that I think the U.S. State Department and Justice Department should take an interest in. If we have a citizen of our country who is killed in another country, and we do not feel it was adequately investigated, we certainly ought to be able to do that, particularly when we are talking about a country that we have such a close alliance with and such a positive relationship, and I do not want anyone on the panel to misunderstand. I am a very strong supporter of Israel, but this matter deserves to be investigated. We do not feel that it has been.
So I will submit those things for the record. I apologize. I have got other meetings I have to get to. We will also submit some questions, and, Ambassador, if you could respond to those, I would appreciate it, and, again, I thank the Chairman for giving me the time.
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Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you, Mr. Smith.
Mr. PAYNE. Just on the same vein, Mr. Chairman, yesterday, we had a hearing on Libya which was interrupted. I think the Ambassador did testify, but he had to leave, and I was going to raise some questions. It may be a part of your human rights. I have not had a chance to go through the report. Although I am pleased to see there are overtures to Libya to try to come outside of the community of nations where there seems to be an advocacy on the part of the leadership there to suspend nuclear manufacturing, and it indicated that it wants to become a productive country. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why the United States Government has not pursued compensation for the two U.S. GIs who were killed at the Labelle Discotheque in Berlin. They were two Black soldiers. This was a place that was known where African-American soldiers used to frequent. I met the father of one of the young men just several days ago.
But our Government has not even raised the question that the Libyan Government had paid the German Government for the deaths and injuries to Germans, and our Government will not pursue with Libya some kind of accommodation for the number of U.S. GIs and the two men who were killed at that discotheque. I cannot understand how it is not even an issue. And so I would appreciate it if you could look into that, and if we do have the reconvening of the Libya meeting, I will raise it again, but since you are here, and since this other issue was brought up, I thought I would raise that. Thank you very much.
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Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you, Mr. Payne.
Ms. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Chair, I think what the Ambassador is hearing is that many of us have constituents in our districts, and I have been approached by people in Minnesota who had a son who was murdered in Armenia, another country which, I believe, we have worked to have warm relationships with. And to this day, they feel that they do not have answers.
In our wanting to talk about human rights, I think, when we talk about other countries, people do want to know that we have open dialogue, that they can have questions answered, that our Embassies are treated with respect when investigating these deaths. And, Mr. Chair, I think maybe I would be interested for the Committee, at some point, to receive something from the State Department as to what the protocol is and how many reports like this we have in our congressional districts around the country where we are waiting to hear answers, whether they are allies of ours or emerging friends, so to speak, as we purport to be with Libya now, and get a handle on this because I would bet if we all started talking to each other, we all have instances of this in our districts, and we might perceive this not to be a problem one at a time, but when you put it all together, if there are countries that start appearing on the list frequently, we might want to address it. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. I would like to welcome our very distinguished first witness, Ambassador Michael Kozak, the Acting Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. He was appointed to the position of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in September 2003. From August 1, 2004, as I said, he is the Acting Assistant.
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A career civil servant, Michael Kozak was named U.S. Ambassador to Belarus in 2000. He served as Chief of the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Cuba from 1996 to 1999 and Special Negotiator for Haiti from 1993 to 1996. From 1988 to 1991, he was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs and Principal Deputy Legal Adviser from 1984 to 1988. During the 1970s, Ambassador Kozak was Assistant U.S. Negotiator for the Panama Canal Treaties under Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter, and he participated in the multilateral efforts to mediate the end to the Nicaraguan civil war in 1978 to 1979.
A very distinguished member of the U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Kozak, welcome, and we look forward to your testimony.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MICHAEL G. KOZAK, ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY, BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Mr. KOZAK. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you very much. I did register the various comments, and I will try to address some of them either during or at the end of my testimony. Where there is a question about the status of a case, we will undertake to get answers back to the Committee.
Again, I want to say, it is an honor and a pleasure to represent the Department at this hearing on the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004. Each year, this Committee has held a hearing to spotlight the release of this report and, in doing so, has elevated worldwide attention to democracy and other human rights. Each year, the Country Reports hearing has been a source of encouragement and hope to those around the world who long for liberty. Your dedication is appreciated, and you are to be commended for the steadfast support for our democracy around the world.
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The Country Reports represent the year-long efforts of hundreds of State Department employees. Our officers regularly go to great lengths, sometimes under dangerous conditions, to investigate reports of human rights abuses, monitor electoral processes, and come to the aid of individuals at risk. Our staff works closely with citizens, human rights defenders, foreign governments, NGOs, and community leaders to identify, investigate, and verify information.
I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank everyone involved in producing this report. I particularly want to thank the officers of our Office of Country Reports and Asylum Affairs, headed by Nadia Tangor, who is here with me today, and others in the Bureau of Human Rights, Democracy and Labor. We take seriously our responsibility to report accurately and carefully in these reports.
The Country Reports for 2004 covers 196 countries, ranging from the stoutest defenders to the worst violators of human rights. This year, we increased our coverage of anti-Semitism, disabilities, and corruption. Also, beginning with this report, all country-specific sections will be translated each year for each country where English is not the predominant language. We will also translate other human rights reports in a similar manner, for example, the International Religious Freedom Report, the Trafficking in Persons Report, and so on. So the main report will appear on the State Department Web page, and then the reports in the languages of the countries concerned will appear on our Embassy Web sites.
In 2002, the U.S. adopted a new National Security Strategy based on the principle that promoting economic and political freedom and respect for human dignity are not only the right things to do but are essential to the national security of the United States.
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In his second inaugural address, President Bush elaborated:
''Survival of liberty in our land depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom for the whole world. . . . So it is the policy of the United States to seek and to support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. . . . Our goal is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.''
In 2004, the U.S. worked with many international partners in many countries to expand freedom. Where concerns centered on the rights of people to choose their own governments, dramatic developments focused global attention on their struggles and landmark achievements.
As was mentioned earlier by the Chairman's statement, following the removal of the Taliban regime, the people of Afghanistan have worked to reduce terrorism; improve security; bridge ethnic, religious, and tribal divides; and craft a Constitution faithful to their values and universal human rights principles. The international community responded to their efforts by helping to register voters across a geographically-scattered, largely illiterate population, to educate cadres of Afghan election workers and political participants in the conduct of elections and campaigns, and by joining with Afghan forces to provide security during the election cycle.
In Ukraine, the Presidential campaign was marred by Government pressure on opposition candidates and by widespread violations. Government officials engaged in fraud and manipulations in the first two rounds of voting. The Government censored the media, sparking a ''journalist rebellion,'' and then popular demonstrations against electoral fraud and the official results swelled into an ''Orange Revolution.'' I chose the color of my tie today (orange) not by coincidence, it is the campaign color associated with Opposition Leader Victor Yushchenko.
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So we really felt that there were major improvements in Ukraine, where not only were people rebelling in the streets, but the supreme court and members of their parliament stood up and were counted as well. We all saw the result, which was a third re-vote of the runoff in the election, and a victory by Mr. Yushchenko.
In Iraq, I think we all saw the drama there as people braved not only threats but actual shelling by terrorists who were trying to intimidate them for exercising their right to vote, and people turned out in great numbers and took back their country. Today, we are seeing the seating of the elected assembly of Iraq, a big first step on their path toward institutionalizing democracy.
So we think events like these show the increased prospects for peace and provide a solid ground for self-government and for improvement of human rights. But despite these successes, we have got other areas where human rights practices have eroded. One example is in Venezuela where respect for human rights remains poor and where we have seen increased interference with the judiciary by the executive branch and efforts to suppress independent media.
Sudan's human rights record remained extremely poor, as was mentioned. In addition to the Country Reports, we did a special report done by our Bureau where we sent people out into the field, working with NGOs, and did a systematic set of interviews. It was that report that led to Secretary Powell's conclusion that genocide was occurring.
We provided our data to the Commission of Inquiry that the United Nations formed, on a motion to the Security Council, again led by the United States. They came to the conclusion that there were crimes against humanity being committed, and we are working very hard there to try to get further action from the U.N. Security Council to try to deter further attacks on the civilian population by the Government and their militias and to try to move back into a more positive light, as we have seen with the North-South Agreement in Sudan.
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North Korea remains one of the world's most repressive and brutal regimes, with an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 political prisoners, and horrific conditions.
In Belarus, police abuse and occasional torture of prisoners and detainees continued. I have been to court in Belarus and seen Mr. Stakevich, who is in the next panel, put on trial for peaceful political demonstration. Mr. Labedka continues to have injuries from being beaten for doing nothing other than a peaceful protest following the rigged elections and referendums there earlier this year. We continue in that country to have the problem of political opponents of the President and journalists being ''disappeared''kidnapped, taken away, and killed, essentially. A report done by the Parliamentary Council of Europe, which set up an investigative panel to look into this, concluded that high Government officials were the people responsible. The Government responded, first, by placing the main suspect as prosecutor general of the country, and now he has been elevated to head of the Presidential administration.
In Burma, the junta ruled by decree and did not adhere to human rights standards and did not even abide by their own constitutional provisions. This is another horrific situation, as you indicated.
We remain deeply concerned about China's poor human rights record. Chinese citizens who openly expressed dissenting political views were harassed, detained, imprisoned, particularly in a campaign late in the year against writers, religious activists, dissidents, and petitioners. China's coercive, birth-limitation regime remains a major human rights concern. The suffering of Civil Activist Mao Hengfeng, about which I testified in December 2004, is illustrative of these abuses. We understand her treatment may have improved since that hearing, and we believe, in part, at least, it is because of the increased international attention on her case. We commend Members of Congress who provided that opportunity.
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Others who are guilty only of peaceful political dissent and peaceful practice of their religious beliefs, including Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims, have suffered similar forms of repression, as have Falun Gong, the underground Protestant community, and Catholics faithful to the Vatican.
Now, early this year, the Chinese Government took steps to provide some relief to those serving sentences for political activities. You mentioned our position on the resolution in Geneva, Mr. Chairman. We have always taken the position with the Chinese that whether or not we run a resolution in Geneva in a given year would depend on what concrete steps they took to improve the overall very poor human rights situation of its citizens.
Over the past decade, we have urged the Chinese to take a number of steps to reform specific aspects of their system and to improve the situation of people who are in prison, often unjustly, in our view. We have also urged steps to reduce the number of cases in which people are harassed or detained for conducting what we would consider normal, peaceful activities.
During the past half-year, the President, Secretary, and other State Department officials, both here and in Beijing, have been engaged with the Chinese about the poor human rights record and the need for structural reform and prisoner releases, and this has resulted in some steps. I do not want to overblow it because, as you mentioned, and as the report documents, the overall human rights situation in China remains poor. There has been a lot of backsliding. But what we have seen is, earlier in the year, the Chinese Government took steps to provide relief to people who were serving sentences for political activities, some of which are now out of the criminal code, the so-called ''counterrevolutionary crimes,'' and then ones that are current in the code, ''state-security crimes.''
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For many years, China interpreted their own laws as excluding those prisoners from the opportunity to petition for a commutation of sentence or for parole. In a significant shift, China has now committed itself to applying the same criteria for sentence reduction and parole to such security prisoners as they apply to common prisoners. By the way, normally about a third of common prisoners get out early by applying these rules.
We have seen some concrete progress in this already. China announced in February that it had granted sentence reduction or parole for a total of 58 individuals, including Tibetans and Uighurs who had been jailed on the so-called ''security crimes,'' and in other cases that were still under review. Of these 58 individuals, 17 were actually released from prison last year. One of them, Liu Jing Sheng, a democracy and labor activist whose case we have for years included in our Country Reports and our lists of prisoners of concern, was released in November 2004. Mr. Liu was involved both in the 1979 Democracy Wall movement and in the 1989 Beijing Spring, along with Wei Jeng Chang.
Also, according to the Tibet Information Network, two Tibetan nuns, one of them still a teenager when she was jailed, were released in July of last year.
Many more prisoners of conscience remain in detention, and we will continue our work to win them their freedom. As President Bush stated in his inaugural speech:
''America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any other human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.''
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Now, basically, this element of what the Chinese have done is a gift that keeps on giving. Not only have certain people been released; others who are in jail now or might be in the future will have increased opportunities to reduce their sentences. That is not an excuse for them being in jail in the first place, but it is a concrete step in the right direction of getting them out.
In addition, on Tuesday, the Chinese announced for the first time that parents providing religious education to minors is not a punishable offense. You would think that that would not be a punishable offense, to begin with, but for some years people have been harassed for providing religious education to their children. Now they have made a public statement that is on the Web that, as of Tuesday, that will no longer be the case.
Further, they have invited, for the period May 23 through June 4, the Special Rapporteur on Torture of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, on his terms of reference. This is a matter that we have been seeking since 1995. So we now have a precise date, precise terms of reference. Again, it is not just the symbolic value of the visit. The Special Rapporteur on Torture's practice is to go into prisons and other detention facilities, and to make specific recommendations so we will have benchmarks for further improvements for the treatment of prisoners.
China also announced on Tuesday that an office of the International Committee of the Red Cross would open in Beijing by the middle of this year. They have issued an invitation to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance. They already hosted, in November 2004, the Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary Detention.
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On March 1, they issued new regulations on religious activities, many of which are of questionable value but one of which is of slight utility. They have made clear to us that if people have their friends and family in to worship in their homes, they do not have to have this registered as a church, and that they will be able to do that without harassment. They have again invited the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to visit.
They have already agreed on a date. They had a previous date for the High Commissioner of Human Rights to come. She was not able to, but they have agreed on a new date for that.
And then, finally, as of early this morning, our time, they released Rebiya Kadeer, who has been one of the longest-serving prisoners of conscience in China. She is someone of great concern to all of us and, I know, she has been of concern to Members of the Committee. She was arrested allegedly for passing State secrets because she gave newspaper articles to someoneabsolutely incredible. She was on her way to meet with U.S. congressional staff when she was arrested. So we are very pleased that she is out. She will be arriving in the United States this evening.
But let me be clear. Her release, by itself, is not enough. Much as we welcome it, it is one step. The totality of all of the other steps I mentioned are progress. But we are still very concerned about the other prisoners who are in prison. We are hoping some of these steps will help to alleviate their condition, to some extent, but we have got to keep the pressure on. Again, we commend the Committee Members. The Chairman actually produced a resolution calling for statements in Geneva, and I think that helped in the effort to get some movement on the part of the Chinese.
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So we are going to stick with the effort to get further progress there. Again, I want to be clear. While we recognize that these steps were positive, and clearly to the people concerned are very useful, they do not change the overall situation in China. The Secretary, when she is there, is going to have a few things to say about the human rights situation, and also we will continue to speak out on the subject elsewhere.
I will submit for the record, my remarks which are long and touch on Colombia, where there has been some progress but is still a horrendous situation, and Cuba, which is one near and dear to my heart. Tomorrow is the second anniversary of the crackdown on 75 leading dissidents who were put in jail, many of whom I know personally. I also would not want to forget people who were in jail even before that, like Dr. Biscet. He is a real nemesis because he blew the whistle on them killing people born with birth defects in order to say that they were dead at birth and, therefore, would not count in the child-mortality statistics. Bureaucracy at its finest.
Egypt is another one that we highlighted in the report this year. Happily, we have seen now some slight hints of movement on the part of the Egyptian authorities since the time the report was written. The continuation of the emergency law and torture of prisoners and so on is documented in the report.
I am just going to turn in the rest of this, Mr. Chairman. I can come back and hit some of the comments that were made in the opening remarks because many of them were very good.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you for your call for attention to Belarus. By the way, we will be introducing, with the European Union, a resolution on Belarus at the U.N. Human Rights Commission. We are also introducing a resolution on Cuba ourselves. We are looking forward to co-sponsoring and supporting resolutions on Burma and North Korea. Those are run by the European Union, but we will be strongly supporting them.
I mentioned an effort to downplay the situation in Russia. I would say there was no effort. I hope it did not come out that way because the situation there has gotten worse, not better, and that is what should be reflected. I think you have seen the President and the Secretary speaking out on that.
Mr. Payne mentioned the Universal Declaration, which is the foundation for all of this. People tend to make a distinction between human rights and democracy, and yet when you look in the Universal Declaration, it covers everything. It has economic rights, it has the right to vote, it has freedom of speech, freedom of association. We need to look at all of those. It is not part; it is all together, including the situation on food and so on. I will leave it to my friend, Andrew Natzios, to expand on what we have been doing to try to alleviate the famine that you rightly mention is brewing in Africa, with the locusts and so on. More needs to be done.
Ms. Lee mentioned the Chinese report on the United States, and I am not surprised that they accuse of us distorting and censoring others. But when they accuse us of omitting a report on ourselves, they are absolutely accurate, and we do that deliberately. For us to try to write a report on the United States would be like an investigative journalist trying to write a report on his own family's finances. It might even be accurate, but it would not be credible. So we do not do it, but we welcome scrutiny by others, including the Chinese report, which I even actually managed to wade through once or twice in my career.
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In our report you get lots of data about countries that are not necessarily the worst countries. Our reports on many countries that are pretty good are very long because they have open societies. You can get data. But most of the data in the Chinese report comes from the FBI Web site, actually, and you see this in many other places. In closed societies it is hard to get information; in open societies, it is easy.
But with respect to a number of the allegations the Chinese have raised, I would associate myself with the Chairman's comments. I would also note, on the situation of prisoners in Iraq, during last year's session in Geneva the High Commissioner of Human Rights decided that he wanted to do an investigation of Iraq and treatment of prisoners there. We said, great, we welcome it.
CPA invited them to come visit. As it turned out, they chose not to actually visit in Iraq, for their own reasons of time and safety or something. But they did interview people in Jordan. They prepared a report. They sent it to us, and we followed up on the elements of the report that could be followed up on. Some allegations were so generalized, you could not. But we went back to the Defense Department, and we fed them information. So, basically, we tried to react to that report the way we would like to see others react to ours.
As the Chairman said, nobody is perfect, and we are certainly not; you need scrutiny. The same with the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty reports. It does not mean we necessarily accept everything that is in there as being accurate, but it is there to be followed up on, and if we want to contest it. We are going to have to come out with facts and rebuttals, not just with denunciations of someone doing a report.
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Mr. Smith, who explained he had to leave us, had mentioned the Rachel Corrie case, which is something that I am familiar with. First, obviously, we have tremendous sympathy for the family regarding the tragic loss of their daughter. I want to make clear, though, the relationship between this report and what the State Department does overall in cases of this kind, or other cases. As you will note going through this report, there are all kinds of incidents described in here about which the U.S. has said a lot, done a lot, sometimes privately, sometimes publicly, sometimes with press statements, and sometimes with legislation passed by the Congress. We do not describe in this report what we did about something. So if we describe the situation in Belarus, we do not say, ''and the United States passed the Belarus Democracy Act and put on these sanctions.'' We do not write that we made a statement at a press conference, or something like that. So what I want to be clear is that we are not saying that only the family had concerns about the process in Israel and that we were disassociating from that. The statements that were made by Mr. Wilkerson have been made by other State Department officials and by our Ambassador to the Israeli Government. Those statements stand absolutely valid; there is no walking back from them. So I would just want to put on the record the way we write these reports. It should not be interpreted as saying that because we do not mention what we have done about something that means we are taking back what we have said or done about it.
On Mr. Payne's question about Libya, I will have to ask my colleagues who have been working on it and get to it.
Ms. McCollum, I wanted to say there are a lot of cases involving American citizens abroad that tend not to be featured so much in this report because we have a separate branch of the State Department, the Office of Citizen Services of our Consular Affairs Bureau, that is specifically tasked with following up and trying to assist Americans who have problems of various kinds, whether they get arrested overseas or in cases where they are the victims of crime, or worse. We do organize and go in and push for investigations and so on.
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The limitation is, of course, that even in a friendly country, we cannot conduct an investigation ourselves in someone else's country. We have to appeal, pressure, whatever, the Government to do that. And then there is also the use of the legal system of that country, and there we also do try to assist American citizens in pursuing their rights through those systems. But my colleague, Maura Harty, I am sure, can give you a long list of cases and cases where we have not been satisfied with the results to date.
But, Mr. Chairman, thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Kozak follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MICHAEL G. KOZAK, ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY, BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Chairman Smith, Mr. Payne, and Members of the Subcommittee, it is both an honor and a pleasure to represent the Department of State at this hearing to mark the submission to Congress of the Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2004. Each year, this Committee has faithfully held a hearing to spotlight the release of this report, and in so doing this committee has elevated worldwide attention to democracy and other human rights. Each year, the Country Report hearing has been a source of encouragement and hope to those around the world who long for liberty. Your dedication is appreciated, and you are to be commended for your steadfast support for democracy and other human rights.
The Country Report represents the year-long efforts of hundreds of Department employees. Our officers regularly go to great lengths, under trying and sometimes dangerous conditions, to investigate reports of human rights abuses, monitor electoral processes, and come to the aid of individuals at risk. Our staff works closely with local citizens, human rights defenders, foreign governments, NGOs, and community leaders to identify, investigate, and verify information. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank everyone involved in producing this report. I would especially like to thank officers in the Office of Country Reports and Asylum Affairs and others in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. The officers of the Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Bureau take seriously our responsibility to report accurately and carefully in these reports.
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The 2004 Country Report covers 196 countries, ranging from the stoutest defenders to the worst violators of human rights. This year, we increased our coverage on anti-Semitism, disabilities and corruption. Also, beginning with the 2004 Country Report, all country specific sections of the Country Reports will be translated into primary languages for each country around the globe where English is not the predominant language. We will also translate other human rights reports in a similar manner. In addition, U.S. Embassies will be posting translations on their web pages. Reports are also available on the Department Web Page at www.state.gov.
In 2002, the U.S. adopted a new National Security Strategy based on the principle that promoting political and economic freedom and respect for human dignity are not only the right things to do, but are essential to the national security of the U.S. In his second Inaugural Address, President Bush elaborated:
''The survival of liberty in our land depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world. . . . So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.''
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In 2004, the U.S. and our international partners worked with many countries to expand freedom. Where concerns centered on the rights of the people to choose their own governments, dramatic developments focused global attention on their struggles and landmark achievements.
Since the removal of the Taliban regime, the people of Afghanistan have worked to reduce terrorism and improve security; to bridge traditional ethnic, religious, and tribal divides; to craft a constitution faithful to their values and universal human rights principles; to extend fundamental rights to women and minorities; and to open their society to political competition and freedom of expression. The international community responded by helping to register voters across a geographically scattered, largely illiterate population, by educating cadres of Afghan election workers and political participants in the conduct of elections and campaigns, and by joining with Afghan forces to provide security during pre-election preparations and the actual voting. In the presidential election, 18 candidates vied for the votes. Despite threats and attacks before the vote and serious logistical challenges, more than 8 million Afghansincluding more than 3.2 million womencast ballots to chose their leader in a truly democratic election for the first time.
In Ukraine, the presidential election campaign was marred by government pressure on opposition candidates and by widespread violations. Government officials engaged in fraud and manipulation in both the first and second round of voting. The Government censored the media, sparking a ''journalist rebellion.'' Popular demonstrations against electoral fraud and the official results swelled into an ''Orange Revolution,'' the campaign color associated with opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, who was widely believed to have won. Respect for the rule of law and human rights took a decided turn for the better when the country's Supreme Court invalidated the runoff, vindicating the observations and reports of many domestic and international monitors. In the court-mandated revote, the people selected Yushchenko. International observers noted the improvements in media coverage, increase in transparency of the voting process, decrease in government pressure to support a particular candidate, and fewer disruptions at the polls. Yushchenko expressed strong commitment to democracy, the rule of law, and observance of human rights.
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In Iraq, people faced difficult tasks as they prepared for democratic elections, while the severity and ubiquity of terrorist attacks expanded the challenges. First, the Iraqi Governing Council achieved consensus on a framework and timeline for Iraq's democratic transition. The Transitional Administrative Law clearly defined procedures by which Iraq's citizens would be able to choose their own authorities and construct their own constitutional order. The approval of the Transitional Administrative Law paved the way for the restoration of Iraiqi sovereignty and the appointment of the Iraqi Interim Government. In the summer of 2004, with the assistance of the UN and other international advisors, the Iraqi Interim Government established the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq which developed registration and voting regulations and procedures for Iraq's election. The National Conference convened and elected a 100-member Interim Iraqi National Council. On January 30, 2005, brave Iraqis cast their votes in elections for the Transitional National Assembly, the first step in the formation of an Iraqi Transitional Government. According to the Transitional Administrative Law, the Transitional National Assembly will draft a constitution that is to be ratified by October 2005, and new elections are to be held under that constitution by December 2005.
We believe events like these increase the prospect for peace, provide solid ground for self-government and create momentum for the improvement of human rights. Progress will not be easy or rapid. Despite these successes, these reports show that human rights practices have eroded in some areas. One example is Venezuela where respect for human rights remained poor, despite the Government victory in an August referendum to recall President Chavez. Since the August recall referendum, a disturbing range of Venezuelan policies and actions reflect an increasingly authoritarian regime that is headed in a negative and undemocratic direction. The executive branch of the Venezuelan Government has established its control over the judicial branch and has increased its interference in the administration of justice. Independent NGOs were targeted for prosecution by the Government and have been subjected to intimidation by government supporters. The government-controlled legislature enacted laws that have eroded freedom of the press making criticism of the government a criminal offense. The Venezuelan Government has reduced the economic freedom of its people by expropriating private property and by undermining the rule of law in commercial matters as well.
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Developments and experiences in certain countries stand out, due not only to the intensity of the human rights problems, but also to our involvement with the victims and their governments during 2004.
Sudan's human rights record remained extremely poor as it continued deliberately to kill its own citizens and to restrict freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion and movement. It arrested and harassed those who exercised these rights. At year's end, there were more than 1.5 million Internally Displaced Persons in Darfur, and another 213,000 civilians who had fled into Chad. Approximately 70,000 people reportedly died as a result of violence and forced displacement. Despite Sudan's repeated commitments to refrain from further violence in Darfur, atrocities continued. Government regular forces and government-supported militias, Jinjaweed, routinely attacked civilian villages, looted possessions and destroyed villages, sometimes under cover of military aerial support. In September, the State Department concluded: ''Genocide has been committed in Darfur and the Government of Sudan and Jinjaweed bear responsibility that genocide may still be occurring.'' Government forces along with Jinjaweed militia routinely killed, raped, injured, and displaced civilians. They destroyed clinics and dwellings intentionally during offensive operations. Year-end developments in negotiations provided hope for peace and an improvement of human rights practices in other areas of Sudan. We saw significant movement on the preliminary accords between the Government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement Army (SPLM/A). On January 9, 2005 the Government of Sudan and the SPLM signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement ending over two decades of civil war.
North Korea remains one of the world's most repressive and brutal regimes. An estimated 150,000200,000 persons are believed to be political prisoners, and defectors report that many prisoners have died from torture, starvation, disease, exposure, or a combination of causes. The regime also subjects its citizens to rigid controls.
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In Belarus, police abuse and occasional torture of prisoners and detainees continued. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained citizens for political reasons and individuals were sued and sentenced to jail terms for such political crimes as ''defamation'' of state officials, often interpreted to include criticism of their policies. The Government persisted in discounting credible reports regarding the role of government officials in the disappearances of a journalist and well-known opposition political figures, and failed to conduct full, transparent investigations into these disappearances. The Government appointed Viktor Sheiman, linked to disappearances by a Council of Europe report, as Head of the Presidential Administration, perpetuating a climate of abuse with impunity.
In Burma, the Junta ruled by decree and did not adhere to any constitutional provisions providing any fundamental rights. Security forces carried out extrajudicial killings. Disappearances continued, and security forces raped, tortured, beat, and otherwise abused prisoners, detainees and civilians in ethnic minority regions of the country. Arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detention were frequent. Security forces also regularly infringed on citizens' privacy, forcibly relocated populations, used forced labor and conscripted child soldiers.
We remain deeply concerned about China's poor human rights record. Chinese citizens who openly expressed dissenting political views were harassed, detained, or imprisoned, particularly in a campaign late in the year against writers, religious activists, dissidents, and petitioners. China's coercive birth limitation regime remains a major human rights concern. The suffering of civil activist Mao Hengfeng, about which I testified in December 2004, is illustrative of these abuses. We understand her treatment may have improved since the hearing because of the international attention focused on her case. Others who are guilty only of peaceful political dissent and the peaceful practice of their religious beliefs, including Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims, have suffered similar forms of repression as have the Falun Gong, the underground Protestant community and Catholics faithful to the Vatican.
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But there are some hopeful signs in the overall picture for human rights. Early this year, the Chinese government took steps to provide relief to those still serving sentences for political activities that have been removed from China's Criminal Code. For many years, China apparently interpreted its law to provide few if any opportunities for sentence reduction or parole to such security prisoners. In a significant systemic shift, China now is committed to applying the same criteria for sentence reduction and parole to such prisoners as apply to common criminals. In early February, China granted sentence reduction or parole for a total of 58 individuals, including Tibetans and Uighurs who had been jailed for these so-called security crimes, and other cases are under review. According to the Tibet Information Network, two Tibetan nunsone of them still a teenager when she was jailedwere released in July 2004. Many more prisoners of conscience remain in detention and we will continue our work to win their freedom. As President Bush stated in his inaugural speech, ''America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies. We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people.'' On Tuesday, the Chinese announced for the first time that they do not have a problem with parents providing religious education for their minor children under 18; this is a statement that we sought for years. The Chinese have also stated that they expect the International Commission of the Red Cross will establish a local office in Beijing by mid-year.
Colombia demobilized approximately 3,000 fighters from the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. Hundreds of municipal officials returned to their towns after the government established a permanent police presence in every urban center in the country. As a result, rates for homicides, kidnappings, and other violent crimes decreased. Still, serious problems remain, as terrorist organizations of both the right and left, financed by drug money, continue to target innocent civilians and to bribe or intimidate and even kill prosecutors, investigators and judges.
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In Cuba, Fidel Castro added another year to his record as the world's longest serving dictator. The Government rejected all democratic processes and continued its intimidation of pro-democracy activists, dissidents, journalists and others seeking to exercise their basic human rights. The majority of the 75 dissidents sentenced to long jail terms in 2003, and others such as Dr. Elias Biscet who were imprisoned even before that massive crackdown, remained incarcerated despite international protests. In addition, the authorities arrested 22 additional human rights activists and sentenced them for acts such as ''contempt for authority'' and ''dangerousness.'' Addressing abuses in Cuba continued to be a priority for the U.S.
In Egypt, the 1981 Emergency Law, extended in February 2003 for an additional 3 years, restricted many basic rights. The security forces continued to mistreat and torture prisoners, which resulted in at least 10 reported deaths in custody. Arbitrary arrest and detention and prolonged pretrial detention remained serious problems.
Although there have been some significant positive developments in Georgia and Ukraine, political developments in Eurasia remain a serious concern. Governments of the region are drawing the wrong lessons from Ukraine and Georgia and attempting to stifle civil society by harassing democracy NGOs. Progress continues to be measured largely in terms of civil society development. More and more NGOs, opposition parties, and citizens are willing to organize and advocate for government accountability. In Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, opposition parties are unable to register. In Uzbekistan, torture has long been routine in prisons, pretrial facilities, and local police and security service precincts. Members of security forces responsible for documented abuses were rarely punished. However, the Government took some notable steps in 2004 to deter torture and establish police accountability. It created preliminary procedures within some divisions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for investigating and disciplining officers for human rights abuses and allowed NGO access to its prisons and to train prison guards in human rights practices. The Government also cooperated with international forensic experts in investigations of deaths in custody in which torture had been alleged.
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The Great Lakes region of Central Africa has been plagued by civil war, large-scale inter-ethnic violence, and massive human rights abuses with the continuing presence of armed groups and militia. These groups compete with one another for strategic and natural resources and inhabit an environment of shifting alliances. Among the most notorious groups is the Ex-FAR Interahamwe who have taken sanctuary in the Eastern Congo region after the 1994 Rwandan genocide in the eastern Congo. The Ex-FAR Interahamwe or the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), continues to attack and kill civilians in the DRC as well as to pose a threat to the regional stability of Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. There are also armed groups in the region who oppose the governments and peace process in Uganda and Burundi. While prospects for peace in the region are promising, armed militias continue to commit human rights abuses. Children, the primary victims, are abducted, forcefully recruited and turned into soldiers. Some of the governments have made progress in demobilizing child soldiers in their ranks. Some militia groups are predominantly comprised of children. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable, as rape increasingly is used as a weapon of war. The U.S. is actively facilitating Tripartite talks between the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda.
In Haiti, political turmoil was compounded by violence between pro- and anti-Aristide factions. Aristide had deliberately and systematically undermined and corrupted the police force, preferring to exercise authority through loyal gangs. When the leaders of one large gang turned against him, and other gangs and members of the former military took advantage of that situation, he found himself without government institutions capable of maintaining order. The crisis culminated when Aristide submitted his resignation and left the country. Despite the presence of UN peacekeeping forces, the constitutionally-established Interim Government was hampered by the weakness of governmental security and justice institutions. Pro-Aristide partisans launched a campaign of destabilization and violence known as ''Operation Baghdad'' in the fall, which included kidnapping, decapitation and burning of police officers and civilians, indiscriminate shootings, and the destruction of public and private property. Violence prevented normal operation of schools, markets, the seaport, and the justice system in Port-au-Prince for several weeks.
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The human rights situation in Iran deteriorated and the regime was responsible for numerous killings, including executions following trials that lacked due process. There were numerous reports that security forces tortured prisoners and detainees. There were arbitrary arrests, extended incommunicado detention, poor and overcrowded prisons, lack of access to counsel, punishment by the lash, and violation of personal privacy. In February 2004, democratic forces in Iran were foiled by a rigged parliamentary election process. The Guardian Council ruled approximately 2,500 of the over 8,000 prospective candidates ineligible to run, thereby consolidating gains by their supporters and further repressing the rights of individuals to choose their own leaders.
In Russia, a shift to the appointment and confirmation by regional legislatures, instead of direct election, of regional governors strengthened the power of the executive branch. Greater restrictions on the media, a compliant Duma (Parliament), shortcomings in recent national elections, law enforcement corruption, and political pressure on the judiciary also raised concerns about the erosion of government accountability. Racially motivated violence and discrimination increased, despite considerable legislative prohibitions. Authorities failed to investigate actions against minorities while subjecting them to more frequent document checks, targeting them for deportation from urban centers, and fining them in excess of permissible penalties or detaining them more frequently. Government institutions intended to protect human rights were relatively weak. The September attack on a school in Beslan and other attacks on Russian civilians, including two airliner bombings and a bombing of a Moscow subway, underscored the extent to which terrorists in the North Caucasus continue to demonstrate little respect for human rights. Unfortunately, the Russian authorities have often responded in kind. There were also credible reports of serious violations by government forces, including politically motivated disappearances and unlawful killings by government forces, and individuals seeking accountability for these abuses continued to be targeted.
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Saudi Arabia remains an extremely closed, non-democratic society. Freedom of religion does not exist. The Government rigidly mandates religious conformity and failed to take responsibility for the propagation of religious intolerance and incitement to violence at home and abroad. However, there were positive developments in a few areas, including a government-sponsored conference on women's rights and obligations, and the formation of the first formal human rights organization permitted in the Kingdom. The Government issued an executive by-law entitling some long-term residents to apply for citizenship. By year's end, voter and candidate registration, albeit only for men, was well advanced for municipal elections. The record of human rights abuses still far exceeds advances. There were credible reports of abuse of prisoners by some security forces, arbitrary arrests, and incommunicado detention. The religious police continued to intimidate, abuse, and detain citizens and foreigners. Most trials were closed, and defendants usually appeared before judges without legal counsel. Security forces arrested and detained reformers. The Government continued to restrict freedoms of speech and press, assembly, association and movement, and there were reports that the Government infringed on individuals' privacy rights. Violence and discrimination against women, violence against children, discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, and strict limitations on workers' rights continued. .
In Syria, widespread use of torture resulted in at least 8 deaths. Arbitrary arrest and detention, prolonged pre-trial detention, fundamentally unfair trials in the security courts, and deteriorating prison conditions persisted. Security services conducted mass arrests of Kurds. Security forces in Hassakeh Province opened fire on a crowd at a soccer match after clashes between Arab and Kurdish fans erupted. In the days of rioting that followed, dozens were killed, as many as 2,000 Kurds were detained, and nearly 300 Kurds remained in custody and were awaiting trial at year's end.
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Vietnam continued to restrict freedom of religion and religious organizations, other than those approved by the State and freedom of expression. The Government failed to issue a nationwide decree banning forced renunciations of faith, did not end the physical abuse of religious believers, and continued to hold a significant number of religious prisoners. Although it permitted the re-opening of some churches closed in the Central Highlands in 2001, it did not allow the re-opening and registration of hundreds of others. Following CPC designation, some improvements in religious freedom were evident. Some religious leaders expressed cautious optimism about a new ordinance on religion that the Government released in November, and in December, the Evangelical Church of Vietnam North (ECVN) held its first National Congress in 20 years and named a new, independent leadership board. Several democracy advocates remained in prison for the peaceful expression of political views.
Zimbabwe conducted a concerted campaign of violence, repression, and intimidation marked by disregard for human rights, the rule of law, and the welfare of citizens. Torture is used against political opponents and human rights advocates. War veterans, youth brigades, and police officers act with brutality against political enemies. President Mugabe and his regime continue to target other institutions of government, including the judiciary and police. Judges have been harassed into submission or resignation and replaced by Mugabe's cronies. The news media have been restricted and suppressed, with offending journalists arrested and beaten. Land seizures continue to be used as a tool for political and social oppression, and opponents of these destructive policies were subject to violent reprisals.
Mr. Chairman, I have included in my remarks today summaries from the 2004 Country Report for those countries typically of interest to Congress. I would also like to note that in less than two weeks we will be transmitting to the Congress our annual report concerning the strategy the U.S. is following to promote democracy and other human rights in the countries with the most serious human rights problems. I hope we will have further opportunities to discuss how best to pursue our common objectives in testimony concerning that report. We hope that the Country Reports serve as an indicator of the progress made and as a guide for the challenges ahead. Thank you, again. I am prepared to take your questions.
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Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. I appreciate your willingness to answer questions raised in opening statements.
Regrettably, we have a vote on the Floor which will be followed soon thereafter by another vote, but we will try to reconvene after this vote and just work our way through. I apologize for the delay, and thank you for your patience and for your fine answers.
Mr. KOZAK. Thank you.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. We stand in recess.
[Whereupon, at 2:47 p.m., a brief recess was taken.]
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. The Subcommittee will come to order.
The April or Easter crackdown from just a couple of years ago continues to be a very serious violation of human rights by the Vietnamese Government, and then if you look at their religious law, which went into effect just a few months ago, it is riddled with old, hard-line, Stalinist-type, catch-all phrases with boundaries that anyone can easily cross with regard to their belief or their expression of their religious faith and find themselves being incarcerated and worse, tortured.
So my first question is on Vietnam. They are a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) country. What do you think we ought to be doing with regards to Vietnam on human rights and especially on the Montiyard, which have been very cruelly dealt with?
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Mr. KOZAK. Well, first, as you mentioned, Mr. Chairman, Vietnam was designated for the first time this year as a Country of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act. As you know, that has consequences downstream. One of them is that there is a provision in there to try to negotiate a resolution. John Hanford, our Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, has been working very hard on that. I just met with him yesterday on the matter.
So, basically, we are trying to get some of those things that you just mentioned rectified or mitigated. I hope John will be in a position to give you a progress report in the very near future.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. You know, when we wrote that lawand Frank Wolf certainly was the prime sponsor of that legislation when it went through our Committee, that and the trafficking law, which I was the sponsor ofwe wanted to make sure there was a way of making things whole. In the end, we do not want penalties or sanctions, although they should fall when a country continues an egregious practice, but if there is a way of getting or obtaining genuine progress, certainly that was the intent of the legislation. So perhaps we should have John here soon, Ambassador Hanford, to give some insights on that.
Mr. KOZAK. I think that is a very good way of looking at these things. It is a tool to be used to try to achieve progress. That was the way we saw the situation with China as well. We used the tool of the Human Rights Commission resolution to accomplish something. That was the calculation. As you say, you could always differ on exactly what the cost benefit is, but the goal is identical.
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Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Knowing you, I know there is good faith.
Mr. KOZAK. Thank you.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. I would also point out, and I think, again, not to belabor the point, but on the trafficking legislation or the law, several of our best friendsSouth Korea, Greece, Turkey, and Israelwere all on tier three, subject to sanctions, but got off tier three when they moved rather aggressively to enact new laws and to enforce existing statutes and to protect women from trafficking. So I would agree with you.
On Cuba, obviously, there will be a resolution, as you said, that we will be tabling in Geneva. I saw the foreign minister of Cuba in the press recently boasting that Latin countries would not be supporting our efforts, and my hope is that a full-court press will be made, especially, as you pointed out, with people like Dr. Oscar Biscet and others languishing in prison because they spoke truth to power. It is an outrage, and to think that they would be able to escape the scrutiny that they so richly deserve is also very troubling.
Mr. KOZAK. I think the Cuban foreign minister's statement is one of wishful thinking on his behalf, rather than a statement of fact. We have been out already, consulting. As you know, this is a matter of extremely high concern for the President and everybody on down, so ''full-court press'' is the right word. It is not a question of pressing people. People throughout this region know what the situation in Cuba is. We have had very good support for bringing it to light from countries in the region in past years and would anticipate it again this year. But also, in other parts of the world, we need to get people to pay attention to what goes on in Cuba. It is really horrendous.
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Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. You mentioned Dr. Oscar Biscet and one of the reasons why he received the long prison sentence that he did. Could you elaborate on that, if you would, because I remember when we held a hearing on Ilean Gonzales, one of the Members of our Committee had talking points, if you will, that talked about how infant mortality rates were so low? There is a reason for it. When you do eugenic abortions because a child may have Down Syndrome, you get an outcome of healthier children, but that is because they have been destroyed prior to birth.
Mr. KOZAK. Or in the Cuban case, you destroy them immediately upon birth and put them down as a stillborn child. I believe the last time he was jailed it was not for that, rather it was his activism on that topic that got him thrown out of the hospital and into the community that has tried to bring about more freedom in Cuba. He is very committed to peaceful demonstrations. I visited one time when he was conducting a hunger strike for 40 days, 1 day for, at that time, each year of the revolution. Now we are up to 45 or 46 years of one man, one rule, not even one vote in that case; he never even bothered to have a vote. But that was, indeed, what motivated him in the first place to become an activist for freedom in his own country.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Let me just ask you, on the Congo, and, I think, the untold story on the revelations within the United Nations peacekeeping deployment of horrific behavior, including rape of 13- and 14-year-olds by U.N. peacekeepers; the impetus for that actually came from the United States Government and from our mission. We had a hearing on this just a few weeks ago, and we had a representative from the United Nations, Jane Holl Lute, who I do believe is a very dedicated person who wants to weed out this deplorable activity on the part of the U.N. peacekeepers, and Kim Holmes testified at that hearing as well.
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Could you speak to the issue of the Congo? First, the hopes and expectations that the U.N. peacekeepers will adhere to the Blue Helmet Code of Conduct and that there will be some enforcement of it and, secondly, the situation itself, which, in a way, gets obscured by misdeeds by the U.N. when we have two civil wars and a very large loss of life and all kinds of human rights abuses occurring.
Mr. KOZAK. Let me hit the scandal first. We have been pleased that the U.N. hierarchy is now taking this seriously and starting to bring people to account.
I think you run into the problems, too, though, of applicable law and so on. You have a peacekeeping force in one of these countries. They are not really there under the local law, so they are not going to be brought in, and maybe this is why people feel that they can behave that way. Obviously, their own military need to use their version of the Uniform Code of Justice to bring them to account.
So I think it still remains to be seen just how the U.N. loops that all together, but, at least, they are taking disciplinary measures against not only people who were obviously culpable but people who had supervisory responsibility and failed to detect or act on these types of abuses.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Could you identify yourself, please?
Ms. PEKKINEN. I am Jennifer Pekkinen, and I am the Senior Editor for Africa in the Country Reports.
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Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Have a seat, please.
Ms. PEKKINEN. Well, the situation in the Congo is obviously a huge concern. We report extensively in the report about all of the violations committed on many sides. We report on several examples regarding the peacekeeper issue in the report this year. The transition is moving forward. There has been some progress toward ending the war. There are still a lot of difficulties, but there is some progress.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Let me ask you, if I could, and maybe you want to respond as well, to the issue, obviously, in Sudan, both Darfur and, of course, the ongoing
Mr. KOZAK. I want to know a little better myself.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Yes, I know you would.
Mr. KOZAK. Darfur remains one of the most acute, egregious human rights violations going on in the world today.
As we mentioned in the testimony, we went out and did interviews of people in the refugee camps. This was done very systematically. We worked out a questionnaire with professionals so that we did random samples and interviewed people. What came across consistently was, unlike what had been thought before, this was not a case of Government not just reining in militias; virtually every attack was preceded by Sudanese Air Force strafing runs on villages. And, in most cases, you had regular army troops coming in in trucks, and then you might have militias coming in and molesting people. But it is clearly part of a deliberate Government policy; it is not just lack of control over local groups or something.
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So that was a big factor in the decision-making that the Secretary made. Now, given that both Secretary Powell and the Secretary-General of the U.N., and the Special Representative, Mr. Pronk, had gone out and talked to the Government in Khartoum. They have given assurances over and over again that they were taking measures to put an end to this kind of activity. Assurances are one thing; practice is another. We have seen no cessation or diminishment of their attacks on their own citizens, so it is a really bad situation.
And as I mentioned, what we are trying to do about it is to get sufficient votes in the Security Council of the U.N. to impose some sanctions on government personnel who are behind these kinds of things or responsible in one way or another. We are working also with other members of the Security Council on trying to find a formula for accountability, as you may have seen in the debate. Many agree that there needs to be an international court. But then, what kind of international court becomes an issue. But that is under active work.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Well, if it is not at the ICC, why not do something like what David Crane did so well in Sierra Leone? Where not only did they prosecute, but they now leave a working physical plant and juris and judges that understand more, rather than less, the rule of law and what needs to be done to hold that kind of behavior
Mr. KOZAK. Exactly. We very much think that is a very good model as to how to go forward.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. If you do not mind me asking, is there a problem in the Security Council with any particular nation with regard to the Sudan and Darfur?
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Mr. KOZAK. I would defer on that to Assistant Secretary Kim Holmes and others who are closer to the actual kind of vote-counting side of it, but there is no consensus yet on the passage of additional sanctions. There is also this issue of trying to find consensus on accountability mechanisms. Again, I will defer to Kim to give you the really sort of up-to-date, blow-by-blow. But there are problems on both fronts.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Let me ask you, with regards to the Belarus Democracy Act and the ongoing problems in Belarus, you know, a friend of mine, Mr. Labiedzka, was recently attacked when he was protesting. The concern is that I know Europe cares, but we have not done enough, I do not think, to build civil society and to promote those institutions that could make the difference, as we saw with the Orange Revolution. There was a lot of work for years that led to that very positive outcome.
And I noticed in the President's submission, the amount of money for the Belarus Democracy Act type of activities is far below what we envisioned. We were hoping for something on the order of $20 million, and it is $7 million or less. I am hoping that we can work to ratchet that up, but would appreciate any support you can provide from the Administration to say, ''Wait a minute. We need to get that higher.'' I did ask this question of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she appeared on the budget, and I hope that we will realize that every dollar spent to strengthen civil society, free media, and the forces of democracy will pay off really well.
Mr. KOZAK. I could not agree with you more, Mr. Chairman, and I think that view is widely shared within the Administration. The problems we get into, of course, is within the overall foreign-assistance budget. There are a lot of earmarks and so on, so the amount of money that you actually have that you can shift around to do these kinds of useful work is limited, and people make judgments. But we believe that additional funding is certainly warranted, will be usefully used, not wasted away, and that the capacity that is being developed in Belarus to do more in the areas you mentioned is there. It needs our support. It also needs support from others.
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One of the dilemmas in the world these days is that Europe, for example, provides a fair amount of assistance in emerging countries, but their whole system is based on the assumption that the Government in power is going to be helpful. In a place like Belarus where the Government has blocked them doing their work, that is a further constraint, that we do not end up with the conjoining of assistance that we are providing. That is not to minimize a lot of the individual European countries. Party institutes and so on have been helpful there, but there is a constraint on them as well.
Anyway, we are working very hard on it with our Belarusan colleagues. We met yesterday with senior people in the Department, and I know there is a lot of interest there, too.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. I appreciate that, especially given your ambassadorship. I was the prime sponsor of the Belarus Democracy Act, and when the President signed that legislation, the statement he made was outstanding. Now we need to back it up with money.
Mr. KOZAK. Put our money where the President's mouth is, yes.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. We need to put our money where our mouth is. It gave me and, I am sure, the true democrats in Belarus a real jolt of hope and a sense that real help is on the way. I would hate to disappoint and frustrate them.
Mr. KOZAK. Well, we will keep working, and we will work with you as well, because you have been a champion on this topic. We really appreciate it.
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Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. You mentioned that the U.N. torture rapporteur will be making a visit to China. Have you seen the terms of reference? Are we satisfied that that rapporteur will have unfettered access to wherever he wants to go?
Mr. KOZAK. It is our understanding. Obviously, it is his job to decide what his terms of reference are, but my understanding of the terms of reference, and this had been one of the disputes in the past, was that the Special Rapporteur was saying he really needs to have unfettered access, and there had been efforts to limit the statement. The clear statement that was made was we are inviting him on his terms of reference.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Are we confident that he will have a sufficient number of prisoners lists. Mrs. Mao, Bishop Chiuthere are so many people throughout China.
Mr. KOZAK. He will have whatever information we have, and, hopefully, that from others as well. I know Kevin Moley, our representative in Geneva, who I think you know
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Yes.
Mr. KOZAK [continuing]. Has been in touch with the Special Rapporteur and offered all of the help we can provide. So, to us, this is a good development. We need to follow up on it in the ways you suggest to be sure that we get the expected payoff from the visit in terms of an improved situation for the people there.
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Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Can I just ask you, on Zimbabwe, with the upcoming elections, what your sense is? Obviously, Zimbabwe has had egregious human rights abuses due to the fact that so many people have been killedthe opposition leaders, the White farmers. President Mugabe has not, obviously, comported himself to the universal standards on human rights. What is your sense on this upcoming election?
Mr. KOZAK. Just to give you a sense, one of my old friends was our Ambassador in Zimbabwe when I was in Belarus. We used to e-mail each other about whose guy was doing the most damage to the democratic process that week, and it was a real close contest between the two of them. So I would not anticipate anything approximating a fair-and-free-election condition. There have been no new positive developments in the last week.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Let me ask you, on the new Global Anti-Semitism Review Act and the report that was submitted, would you care to comment briefly on that because we do have a representative from B'nai B'rith who will be presenting testimony. I just had the opportunity to read it. It is very strong, as it should be, and one of the points that Mr. Mariaschin makes in his testimony, and I quote him:
''The two State Department reports reveal clear indications that anti-Semitic literature in media coverage is a common feature in the Arab and Muslim world, as well as in European countries with large Arab and Muslim populations. In Europe, these communities have immediate and regular access to Arabic language cable TV networks, like Al-Jazeera, print publications and Internet sites, all of which offer, predictably, one-sided, inflammatory coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict . . .''
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and then it goes on with the stereotypes.
We had a hearing on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe and heard from Chiransky, a minister in the Israeli Government, who himself was a political prisoner, and he showed a video that I will never forget on blood libel in which these actors purporting to be Jewish men were killing this young Christian boy named Joseph, as they called him, to make matzo mixed with blood. It was disgusting in the extreme, but as he pointed out, this is common fare, and these kinds of big lies perpetuate the hatred of Jews. And now that that is spreading throughout Europe, and virtually anyone can watch this in France and elsewhere by way of satellite television, it perpetuates a very cruel, like I said, stereotype that is absolutely untrue about Jews.
Remember the old ''South Pacific'' song, ''You've Got To Be Taught''? Young people at very young ages are being taught to hate.
I add to that, if you could, the textbook issue. I know UNESCO is trying to make an effort to work on textbooks where the anti-Semitic perspective is done away with. We had a hearing last year in which we heard from a man from Saudi Arabia who brought in textbooks that were being promoted in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, and he read from them, and they were just filled with hatred toward Christians and Jews and anybody without a more radicalized Muslim belief. We are never going to get at this terrorism issue, as it shows itself, I do not think, or these other acts of anti-Semitism and the like until we get at what is causing that, and it seems it is being taught. Could you respond?
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. KOZAK. Everything you mention is of great concern. In Europe, over the last few yearsthanks to the work of many Members here, including yourself, and folks like Steve Minikes, our Ambassador to the OSCEthere has been increasing attention and creation of mechanisms within the European structures, particularly within the OSCE structure. Efforts have been focused on getting governments to pay attention to this, to try to find ways to combat anti-Semitism. There is always the balance between free speech and hate speech and hate education. We feel that there is some progress being made in Europe on trying to get a handle on this and restrict it.
In the Middle East, much less extensive efforts. We have had discussions with the Saudi Government, for example. They have acknowledged that there is a problem and undertaken to start reining in some of these most egregious textbooks and so on. We are waiting to see the results.
I am hoping we will get a boost out of this because of the recent legislation establishing a Special Envoy for Anti-Semitism. The Secretary has decided to locate that office in our Bureau. I was pleased at that decision, and we are moving now toward the administrative side of getting office space, getting positions allocated, and, obviously, getting a Special Envoy appointed. But I think once we have got that, we can start to work more methodically with some of those governments in the region.
The Arab satellite TVs are a real conundrum. They do influence people all over the place. On one side, you want to back up the idea of free press; on the other side, you end up with some really horrendous, anti-Semitic remarks, anti-U.S., totally distorted facts about news that is going on on the ground. We have tried recently, though, to engage directly with them to try get our own side of the story aired. I appeared on Al-Jazeera not too long ago to talk about the Human Rights Report, and a friend of mine in Jeddah said that they actually showed it in Saudi Arabia.
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So maybe little by little, we will get a handle on it, but it is a very serious problem, and you are absolutely right. Kids are taught from a young age that these are the facts about the way the world operates, and these are the people who are behind it and the people you should hate and that the heroes are people who strap bombs around usually not themselves, around some innocent kid, and send them off to blow themselves up and kill. Somehow the leaders of these organizations never seem to put the bombs on themselves. They find some 18-year-old, or younger, and send them off to blow themselves up.
But I guess I would also indicate that maybe one of the greatest hopes is the movement toward democracy in the Middle East right now. The reason these kinds of stations and activities can flourish is the kinds of regimes you have in power there. Hopefully we can start to see changes in Lebanon, and a little glimmer in Egyptwe will have to see how that pans out. Even in Saudi Arabia itself, in the fact that they had municipal elections. ''Municipal.'' They still appointed a good deal of the people to those governments. They restricted the elections only to men, not to women. But the fact was there was an election is a new phenomenon there.
So I get the sense, after Iraq, things are rolling. The Palestinian Authority had elections and are starting to move forward. It is going to be a question of the chicken and the egg: Are we successful in stopping all of this kind of hate speech first, or will there be governments that are responsive to their own people in place and thereby take some of the steam out of that hate doctrine?
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. On India, I know the Members are deeply concerned about widespread human rights violations in the State of Gujarat. The Gujarat Chief Minister Modi has implemented numerous policies, including an anti-conversion law which requires State approval in order for an individual to change his or her religion, that violate the Indian Constitution and the most fundamental human rights of the Indian people. Could you tell us what actions the State Department has taken to condemn the actions of Chief Modi and to assist those in India who are fighting against this human rights abuse?
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Mr. KOZAK. In the report itself we outline the abusive situation in Gujarat, including the religious-conversion law. We have spoken out on that as well, as has our Embassy. My sense is that there are other consequences provided for in our law that people out there will have to take into account. I want to emphasize that the concerns you have just expressed are ones that we share completely and our perception of the situation in that state.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Has the North Korea Human Rights Act had any impact with regards to the human rights situation there?
Mr. KOZAK. Well, again, it is the lag time that you find with anything. Congress passes legislation, and then we have to set up positions and all that, but we are moving along on two fronts. One, the North Korea Human Rights Act provides for a Special Envoy to carry out our diplomacy. We have got the office establishedagain, it will be in the DRL Bureau. We are moving to what I hope will very soon be an announcement of a very distinguished individual to serve in that capacity. So within the not-too-distant future, we should start to have staff in place to really pick up and galvanize that whole effort.
On the other side, the act provided $2 million, and the appropriators had indicated that, for this year at least, that money should go to Freedom House for the conduct of a conference. The money is being administered in our Bureau. Freedom House has put forward a proposal for a series of conferences that will build up to a big, international conference on North Korea. So, again, the results will come down the stream, but steps are underway, in accord with the act. That would not have been possible were it not for the passage of that legislation.
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Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. As you know, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have probably the worst records on human rights in the religious freedom area of the entire 55 countries of the OSCE. Obviously, you work with Ambassador Hanford in terms of working through the data and trying to come to conclusions. I, for one, have written in the past to the Department suggesting they ought to be CPC countries. What is your sense on that?
Mr. KOZAK. You are right. The record is very bad in both. I was out in Uzbekistan 3 or 4 months ago. I toured around and I talked to a lot of people, both in Tashkant and in the Farigana Valley.
What I found was sort of a mixed bag. On the democracy front, not good. Despite everyone's appealsand the Embassy there has been working very hard on thisno one who was not a Government candidate managed to get registered for the elections.
On the torture front, what the Uzbeks seem to mix up is, they do have a problem with extreme terrorist groups who engage in violent activity in the name of Islam, but they extrapolate from that and say anyone who is a devout Muslim could be a terrorist and needs to be treated like one, which is where they lose us.
We are trying to work to change it. Where we have seen some success has been on the torture front. They had the most absolutely egregious cases of torture. There was a report a year ago, when we were reporting on the previous year, that they had boiled people to death in the course of torturing themjust really horrendous stuff.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The good news I found was that the Government had actually started to make some change on that. They were starting to prosecute police and prison custodians for abusing prisoners, for engaging in torture. When I got out in the field, I found some of the local police authorities were cooperating now with human rights defenders. When they arrest somebody, they call up lawyers and say, ''Please get over here and talk to this guy as your client so that I do not get accused of torturing him.'' This is a good response, and I was happy to see that.
So, again, I do not want to overblow this. They have still got a terrible problem of abuse of people in custody and so on, but we have seen some improvement in that area. But I cannot report any improvement on the democracy front, or on their attitude toward religion generally. Our Embassy there is very dedicated on this. I commend what they are trying to do. They spend half of their time on human rights issues. That is about what they should be doing.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Let me just ask you, on the Convention Against Torture, the United States is required to submit a report on that. Is that something we are planning on doing soon?
Mr. KOZAK. Yes, sir, and we are overdue, as are many other countries. This was something, actually, that the Legal Adviser's Office, our Bureau, and the IO Bureau have been working on very hard.
I might expand it beyond the Convention on Torture. We will be submitting a report, I think, within the next couple of months. Then there will be a hearing on it, which is the way that the Convention on Torture works. There is also a report coming along on the ICCPR, where we were very overdue.
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But I might just use this occasion to get on record. We had a tremendous problem of unanswered responses to Special Rapporteurs from the U.N. Human Rights Commission and others, not because people were hostile toward them, not because people were cavalier about our obligations under CAP, but simply because if you leave it to the people who are trying to do the day-to-day work there, the urgent always takes precedent over the important.
So what we did was gather up some money from our different Bureaus and hire a retired officer, a very good one, to be the sparkplug for preparing this report. He has got no other duties but to do these reports, and so, finally, it is getting done. Also, the IO Bureau got a very fine young officer in, and she has worked her way through all of the backlog. I think we are getting pretty close to current now in all of our responses. So we have tried to get our record on these topics up where we would like to see others to be.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Let me just ask you, if I could, on Indonesia. I recently was in Aceh as part of a delegation looking at the tsunami-ravaged area there, Sri Lanka and Puket, and one part that really concerned me was that some of the generals, and, in one case, one of the generals who was part of the relief effort in Aceh had been an indicted war criminal in the 1999 Isti Maurice killings. The ad hoc trial had acquitted himsurprise, surpriseand I raised it, and it went over like a lead balloon, I think, with the foreign minister. For us in the international community who try to take human rights seriously and say that those who commit atrocities need to be held to account, this is poor management, to say the least, and this man should be behind bars, based on what we see.
The report itself describes the convictions and acquittal on appeal of the defendants in the ad hoc trials in neutral terms, and it is a criticism that Human Rights First has levied. How do you respond to that?
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Mr. KOZAK. First, we share the view that people who engage in abuses should be behind bars. They certainly should not be still in uniform. We have not seen the kind of performance in Indonesia, and in some other countries as well. It is an interesting phenomenon where you see countries like Indonesia that are starting to move forward on the democracy front. Colombia is another one I would put in this category, where you are starting to see positive actions and so on on the part of the Government, but you have got crimes that were committed in the past where entrenched military, and perhaps sometimes in conjunction with corruption of judges and prosecutors and so on, get people off. Sometimes the ability of the new executive to do something about that is limited. We have to keep pushing for it, though, even as we recognize that they may have limits in their own ability to effectuate changes.
But I think there is maybe a distinction that you can make between cases where people have been acquitted, even in a proceeding that we do not think is adequate, and I do not want to comment on every particular case. I cannot say this guy was guilty, or this guy was innocent, but the proceedings we have seen in Indonesia were not, in general, the kind of proceedings that would bring about justice, in our view. But even in those cases where somebody has gotten off, they have got no business being in the military. The very least the executive can do is get them dismissed so that they do not have the capacity to repeat their sins.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. I regret that there is another vote on the Floor. I was hoping some of my colleagues would return. I am sure they have questions, but if you could, we will submit questions to you, if you would not mind getting back to us, because I have another dozen or so myself. I would greatly appreciate it.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. KOZAK. I would be delighted.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. And I want to say clearly for the record, I deeply appreciate your service. I think you are the consummate professional. You believe deeply in human rights and you have proven it, and I, for one, as Chairman of this Subcommittee, want to thank you so much for your service.
Mr. KOZAK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I deeply appreciate that. As you can tell, I am kind of choked up by your comments, but, likewise, it has been always just an honor and a pleasure to work with you and your staff. Again, you can see when the commitment is really there. I think we have managed to accomplish a few things together, so thank you.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you.
Unfortunately, there is a vote on, and the hearing will be adjourned until immediately after that vote when we will bring up the second panel. I apologize to them for that delay. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
[Whereupon, at 3:44 p.m., a brief recess was taken.]
Mr. TANCREDO [presiding]. Mr. Smith will be back momentarily, and we will do a little tag-team match here on the votes.
I really want to thank you, Mr. Ambassador, because I know that you have been here for some time and answered a lot of questions. There are a couple of things I did want to bring out that I am told were not brought out during the original questioning, and that is, first of all, the issue of the Dhalits in India.
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It is something that has been growing, I think, concerns certainly have been growing dramatically in the last couple of years, attempts by the Dhalits to convert to other religions, both Christian and Buddhist, have been met with anticonversion laws in India.
I understand that they apply and have resulted in other things which you have already talked about, but I want to know specifically what you know about, and what you think about what we should say and do with regard to the Dhalits, the untouchables, the caste that is right now looking for support from the rest of the world in their attempt toif they can extricate themselves from the religious constraints that they are operating under and become something else, it changes their whole life. It is not just moving from religion to religion; it is moving essentially out of the caste system for them. So should we be giving them some aid? What is the position of the Administration, and what do you think we should be talking about in terms of the report?
Mr. KOZAK. Well, it is a serious concern. These anticonversion laws anywhere are a serious concern but particularly where you have the effect that you are mentioning. The caste system is supposed to be banned in India, but, in societal terms, it is not. I know, John Hanford, in our International Religious Freedom Office, has been looking into this very carefully, and I think I will let him speak to it since he is the one who has been carrying on the conversations. Let me just make it clear that it is a matter of real concern, and it is something that John will turn his attention to.
Mr. TANCREDO. Is it mentioned in the report? And I am sorry, I do not know if it is mentioned in the report or not.
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Mr. KOZAK. The anticonversion laws are mentioned.
Mr. TANCREDO. But nothing specific to the Dhalits?
Mr. KOZAK. I will have to go back and look. I have to admit that this report is 5,000 pages long, and some of it, I just did not internalize, but
Mr. TANCREDO. I did not either.
Mr. KOZAK. So please understand. Let me try to get you a more precise answer on that, Mr. Tancredo.
[The information referred to follows:]
Mr. TANCREDO. I sincerely appreciate it because when we talk about human rights abuses in any country, but especially in India, this, in my mind, anyway, comes to the top of the pack. We are talking about 350 million people, I believe. Among them, there are many millions who have been, of course, treated shabbily just because of who they are, not just because they are trying to change religions. But their position in Indian society, it seems to me, is something that we should address and do so in the context of your report.
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The other thing, I wondered if there was any concern expressed or any mention in terms of the way in which Sindis are treated in Pakistan. Sind is a province of Pakistan, but it is one, I think, that recently is witnessing a lot of human rights abuses, I think, at the hands of the Government of Pakistan, and I just wondered, again, if there is anything mentioned about them. The Sind is, as I say, a province.
Mr. KOZAK. We lost the people from the country office who wrote this thing.
Mr. TANCREDO. They were smart. They got out of here.
Mr. KOZAK. They got out of here before I did.
Mr. TANCREDO. [Laughter.] All right.
Mr. KOZAK. I will have to see. I know, in Pakistan, generally, we documented some really serious human rights problems.
Mr. TANCREDO. Right. I bring these up because they have also, in the past, sort of fallen through the cracks. We have not seen anything mentioned about them, but I think that there is reason for us to look at it a little more carefully and to look at their claims of abuse, especially in terms of the Human Rights Report, so I will just ask you to do that, if you would.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. KOZAK. Okay. And we will keep a focus on that for future years to be sure that it is properly addressed.
Mr. TANCREDO. I have no other questions. I did want to just make an observation, and, I am sorry, my colleagues are not here yet, especially Ms. Lee, who brought up the issue of a report published by Communist China, sort of saying, ''Oh, yeah? Well, look at what you are doing'' type of thing. I would be happy to take a report from a country like that seriously when, in fact, you recognize that there are millions of people throughout the world who are fleeing to that country, that there are folks being packed inside of containers, trying to sneak into China for a better life. Then I will be willing to listen.
In fact, you know, really, Mr. Ambassador, I am willing to listen to any country that can show me that they actually offer to the world what the West offers, what, at least, the United States offers. If you raise all of the gates all over the world, where do people flee to? There is only one place, really. I just do not know that many people who have fled from the United States to any other country in the world, looking for a better life. Now, they may be fleeing for other reasons, but not looking for ''a better life, a greater opportunity.''
It all happens the other way, and that is something that we should not be ashamed to admit, and it is something that I think we have every right to hold up as a reason for us to be able to prepare a report like this and not care one twit what the Communist Chinese think about it, for what it is worth. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
Mr. KOZAK. Thank you very much.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. TANCREDO. Thank you. I appreciate it, and we will let you go now.
Mr. KOZAK. Thank you.
Mr. TANCREDO. Let us go ahead and start.
Mr. TANCREDO. I want to wait until the Chairman gets back here so he can try to pronounce all of these names and not slaughter them, as I am afraid I might.
At any rate, let me go ahead and introduce the panel. First, Captain Brian Steidle, and, by the way, it is good to see you again, Captain. I was over in Senator Brownback's office when you did the briefing, and it was very, very compelling stuff, so I think you are all going to be, I think, quite moved by this.
Captain Steidle graduated with a Bachelor's from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1999 and then received a commission to the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantry officer. He served with the U.S. Marine Corps until the end of 2003 as captain.
In 2004, Captain Steidle accepted a contract position with the Joint Military Commission in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, working on the North-South cease-fire, and worked his way up from a team leader to a senior operations officer. Captain Steidle was then invited to serve in Darfur as an unarmed military observer and U.S. representative with the African Union. After witnessing villages burned to the ground, hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians, and the results of violent atrocities, Captain Steidle joined his sister, Gretchen Steidle Wallace, founder of Global Grassroots, a nonprofit organization, to lead a social movement to raise public awareness about the atrocities in Sudan and seek international support for the African Union in stopping the violence.
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Mr. Tom Malinowski. Mr. Malinowski has been Washington Advocate Director for Human Rights Watch since April 2001, responsible for the organization's overall advocacy effort with the United States Government. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, he was a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Foreign Policy Speechwriting at the National Security Council.
From 1994 to 1998, he was a speechwriter for Secretaries of State Christopher and Albright and a member of the State Department's policy-planning staff. He has also worked with the Ford Foundation and as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Patrick Daniel Moynihan. He holds a degree in political science from the University of California at Berkeley and is an Oxford University member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He appears frequently as a radio and television and op-ed commentator on human rights policies worldwide.
Adotei Akwei. Mr. Akwei is the Director of Amnesty International USA's Campaigns Unit, a division of Amnesty responsible for the design of strategically sound, results-oriented, and effective programs. Prior to being appointed campaign director, Mr. Akwei served for 10 years as Advocacy Director for Africa. In that position, Mr. Akwei helped to implement the U.S. Government's component of Amnesty campaigns. In 1999, he received the Washington Peacemaker Award from American University for his work promoting human rights values to university students.
On December 10, 2001, he received the 2001 Human Rights Award from the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area. In 2003, Mr. Akwei was accepted as a Visiting Fellow by the Carr Human Rights Center at Harvard University and by the National Endowment for Democracy. Mr. Akwei has a Master's Degree in Government, specializing in international relations, from the School of Government, the College of William and Mary. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the State University of New York, College at Purchase.
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Daniel S. Mariaschin. Mr. Mariaschin is the Executive Vice President of B'nai B'rith International. As the organization's top executive officer, he directs and supervises B'nai B'rith programs, activities, and staff in over 50 countries where B'nai B'rith is organized. Mr. Mariaschin serves in the dual capacity as Director of B'nai B'rith's Center for Human Rights and Public Policy. In this position, he is a spokesman for B'nai B'rith, interpreting its policies to a variety of audiences, including Congress and the media, with the responsibility for coordinating its programs and policies on issues of concern to the Jewish community.
Prior to joining B'nai B'rith, Mr. Mariaschin served as Director of Communications and Principal Spokesman for Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Jr., during this 19871988 Presidential campaign. Mr. Mariaschin has spent nearly all of his professional life working on behalf of Jewish organizations.
Now, this one, help me again here. Mr. Vincuk Viacohrka. Mr. Viacohrka has served as Chairman of the Belarus Popular Front Party [BPFP], and Belarus Popular Front Revival since 1999. His public policy involvement dates back to the late 1970s, when he became a founding member of the Underground Youth Antitotalitarian and Pro-Independence Movement.
Mr. Viacohrka participated in the creation of the Confederation of Belarusan Associations, the first nationwide democratic organization, in 1987, and was one of the BPF's founders a year later. From 1995 to 1999, he was BPF's Vice Chairman and also the Chairman of Sopolsnuk, a civil society center.
Mr. Viacohrka has been detained and arrested by the authorities for his political activities many times. Welcome to you all, and my apologies for the way I tried to pronounce the names. I hope I came close.
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STATEMENT OF MR. BRIAN STEIDLE (FORMER U.S. MARINE CAPTAIN), GLOBAL GRASSROOTS
Mr. STEIDLE. Thank you for the opportunity to come here and speak about my experiences. Instead of reading through my statement, sir, I would like to just make a summary of the statement on my experiences in Sudan.
First, I spent the last 6 months in Sudan, in the Darfur region of Sudan, a total of 13 months in Sudan. After getting out of the Marine Corps, I went there in the beginning of 20032004 and just returned there in February 2005. While I was there, I was part of an African Union monitoring team based in Nyalin, South Darfur, and we would conduct investigations of violations of the cease-fire agreement.
Every day, we would go out on patrols, and we would see burnt villages. Twenty thousand have been burned to the ground. We would see men, women, and children who had been killed for no reason besides the fact that they were African. We would conduct interviews with women who had been gang raped when they went to collect firewood. We would see evidence of torture, people who had their ears cut off, eyes gouged out, men who had been castrated and left to bleed.
And after serving there for 6 months, I felt that it was important that I come back here and try to spread the word about what I had seen so that the world can see what is happening. And I come before you today to speak about the three most important issues, one being the fact that this is ongoing, right now. Today, as we sit here in this room, people are dying in Darfur. The magnitude of this issuehundreds of thousands of people, and possibly now 2 million people, have been displaced from Darfur.
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The second one being the fact that this is a Government-sponsored, military operation. This is not a tribal conflict. This is not an issue between a family and a family or a village and a village. This is a Government-sponsored, military operation that is backing the Arab militias, or the ''Janjaweed.''
And, three, the fact that this can be stopped. I think, with the number of suggestions I would like to make, I think that this can be stopped, and I have some specific examples on what the African Union has done there on the ground to actually stop it.
So, to elaborate a little bit about the Government-sponsoredthey use helicopter gunships. Only the Government has those, not the Janjaweed, not the tribal families. They attack the villages together, the Janjaweed and the Government forces. Many, many examplesI will just be brief.
The things that can be done to stop this: I believe that a weapons sanction against the Government of Sudan will deter them from continuing to supply the Janjaweed with weapons and ammunition to fight these civilians; two, a no-fly zone over the Darfur region so that the Government not only stops attacking the villages with helicopter gunships but stops terrorizing the people with their Antanov aircraft and their helicopter gunships, even if they do not fire. People live in fear. And I think that more support to the African Union is needed on all levels, not just monetary level but logistics, communications, and assistance in getting an expanded mandate, whoever is responsible for that. Instead of having them on the ground and the protection force there for the purpose of protecting the monitors, they need 25,000 to 50,000 people on the ground to protect every village, every IDP camp. Open up the roads for humanitarian access.
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So my three points being that it is ongoing today and the magnitude of it; the fact that this is a Government-sponsored, military operation, and I have evidence of that; and that it can be stopped if the world pulls together and puts their differences aside and works together to stop this.
So, with your permission, I would like to go through some pictures here. I have made some copies of some of them. I do warn the audience that some of these are rather graphic.
This is what happens after the Government of Sudan comes in and drives the people out. This is an Arab Janjaweed militia. It has just begun burning this village of Umzaefa.
This one here, sir, we were told by the Janjaweed chief that he had 15 animals stolen from him, and so he went out and burned 15 villages, and this was one of the unknown villages that was burned that day. This is the result of the burning. This is the village of Labado, which housed 20,000 people.
This was one of the first pictures I took in Sudan. Her name was Mihad Hameed. She is 1 year old. When her village of Valiet was attacked, her mother had her around her waist, tied in fabric, as they often do. She was running from the Government when her child was shot.
This is approximately a 3- to 4-year-old child who had been apparently smashed in the face with the butt end of a rifle. This village of Hamada was surrounded by the Janjaweed and Government, attacked with gunships, and 107 civilians lost their lives this day. There were no rebels anywhere around.
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The same village. Lots of evidence of sexual assault, not only among the women but also among the men. This individual had apparently been sexually assaulted and then executed with a shot to the back of the head. Sometimes, the members, as I mentioned before, have been castrated. This gentleman here had been castrated and just left to bleed.
This here, I do not recall the name of the village, but the members hereit is kind of hard to see in the photographhave had their ears cut off and their eyes plucked out. I do not know whether that was an interrogation process or just brutal torture, but we see this often.
This is a machete wound. The Janjaweed attacked this village, the village of Hamada, and this is actually in our dining facility. We were able to evacuate some of the members, even though it is not in the mandate of the African Union, but we were able to do the right thing and evacuate a number of people, and this was in our dining facility that we turned into a triage ward.
The village of Amikasar. This individual had been hit in the head, a direct shot, by a rocket from a helicopter gunship.
It is common practice for the Janjaweed to lock people in their huts and pull the door shut before they burn the huts down, and this is the result.
Evidence of Government support: A helicopter gunship flying over the village of Labado after just recently firing. This village, as I mentioned before and showed the photograph, is no longer there. They deny that they use these. Here is a closer-up picture of one. We can see the Sudanese flag on the tail.
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Impacts from the rockets that they use on these villages and the shrapnel from the rockets that fired from the gunship.
And this is flashettes, a flashette rocket. Each gunship carries about four rocket pods, each rocket pod, about 20 rockets; and in each rocket, about 500 of these little flashettes, which is a small nail. It comes out like a shotgun round, and it is not used against military targets. It is not used against trucks or buildings. This is used only against people, to kill or to maim people, and they use this almost exclusively.
Military position outside the village of Labado.
A Government of Sudan soldier looting stores after they attack a village and drive the civilian population out. All of the loot is collected by the Janjaweed as a form of payment.
A Sudanese soldier burning food stores in the village after driving everyone out.
This is the IDP camp of Algier, on the outskirts of Nyala. After the people are displaced by the Government, they are put in these IDP camps, as you can see in the background. They then come in and move them out and forcefully displace them, either back to villages or other IDP camps. On this day, we were tear-gassed taking these pictures because they did not want us to see what was going on.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. TANCREDO. I am sorry. You say they used tear gas on you?
Mr. STEIDLE. They used tear gas on us, yes, sir.
So, sir, I appeal to you and to the international community and anyone that will listen to me to let us, at least, step in here and help these people out. Thank you very much, sir.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Steidle follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MR. BRIAN STEIDLE (FORMER U.S. MARINE CAPTAIN), GLOBAL GRASSROOTS
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.
Three of the most important points that I wish to make today include:
(1) the atrocities resulting in millions displaced and hundreds of thousands killed are ongoing today and must be addressed urgently before thousands more die;
(2) these crimes against humanity result from a Government of Sudan-sponsored military operation that is systematically eliminating the black African population from all of Darfur;
(3) this conflict can be resolved through weapons sanctions, a no-fly zone throughout Darfur and greater international support and an expanded mandate for the African Union (AU).
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC First, I offer some quick background. I grew up living around the world as the son of a naval officer, now retired Admiral. I graduated with a B.S. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University in 1999 and received a commission in the US Marine Corps as an infantry officer. I completed my service with the USMC at the end of 2003 as a Captain. In January 2004 I accepted a contract position with the Joint Military Commission in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan working on the North-South cease fire, now peace agreement. Within seven months I worked my way up from a Team Leader to the Senior Operations Officer. In September 2004, I was then invited to serve in Darfur as an unarmed military observer and U.S. representative with the African Union. I was one of only three Americans serving with a coalition of African countries monitoring the cease fire between the two African rebel groups and the Government of Sudan of Sudan. My military observer team was made up of representatives from the two rebel groups, the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Government of Sudan of Sudan, a Chadian mediator, a Team Leader and Assistant Team Leaders from the member countries of the African Union and either an EU or US representative. Our mission was to report back on the violations of the cease fire agreement, such as an attack on villages, troop movements and military operations. I was armed only with a pen and my reports were my ammunition. After six months, my conscience would no longer allow me to stand by without taking further action, and I became convinced that I could be more effective by bringing the story of what I witnessed to the world. I returned in early February 2005.
Atrocities of the most hideous nature are occurring today in Darfur. Every day we saw villages of up to 20,000 inhabitants burned to the ground with nothing left but ash frames. In my team's area of operation, which was South Darfur, I estimate that nearly 75 percent of the villages had been decimated by the beginning of February. We witnessed scores of dead bodies providing evidence of torturearms bound, ears cut off, eyes plucked out, males castrated and left to bleed to death, children beaten to a pulp, people locked in their huts before being burned alive, and apparent executions. We would interview women who had been gang raped during attacks and others that had been raped in their huts within the confines of the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps. Many children had been killed or violently injured and many others ended up missing never to be seen again.
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This February apparently saw a decrease in the overall violence in Darfur. However, December 2004 and January 2005 represented some of the most violent months of the entire conflict. These occurred after a similarly quiet lull in November. I do not believe the current calm may necessarily be an indication that the conflict is ending.
I have clear evidence that the atrocities committed in Darfur are the direct result of a Government of Sudan of Sudan military operation in collaboration with the ''Janjaweed'' Arab militias. To begin, Government of Sudan officials and Arab militias come together in coordination to attack a village. Before these attacks occur, the cell phone systems are shut down by the Government of Sudan so that villagers cannot warn each other. Helicopter gunships support the Arab militias on the ground by firing anti-personnel rockets at civilian targets. These rockets contain flashettes, or small nails with a stabilizing fin on the back. Each gunship contains four rocket pods, each rocket pod contains about twenty rockets and each rocket contains about 500 of these flashettes. These flashettes are used only to kill or maim people on the ground. Flashette wounds look like shot-gun wounds. One small child, I remember, looked as if his back had been shredded. We were able to get him to a hospital, but we did not expect him to live.
On many occasions, when we would attempt to go investigate one of these attacks, we would find that the fuel for our helicopters was unavailable. We would receive many explanations from the Sudanese fuel companyfrom ''we are out of fuel'' to ''our fuel pumps are broken''. At the same time, the Government of Sudan helicopters continued to fly and attack villages with no shortage of their own fuel.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have personally witnessed on many occasions Arab militias and Government of Sudan soldiers looting stores and huts, then setting these structures on fire. It is well known the Government of Sudan allows the Arab militias to keep the loot as a form of payment for their assistance in the attacks.
Those villagers that were able to escape alive, flocked to IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps, where they would scrounge for sticks and plastic bags to construct shelter from the sun and wind. In even these desperate situations, the Government of Sudan would not give up its mission. The Government of Sudan was also responsible for the bulldozing of a number of these IDP camps. The Government of Sudan would first announce the need to relocate an IDP camp and assess the population of displaced people, often grossly underestimating the need. A new camp would be built by the international aid organizations, and then the Government of Sudan would forcibly relocate the population, leaving hundreds to thousands without shelter. They would bulldoze or drive over the camps with trucks, often without notice in the middle of the night, then gather up the remaining debris to burn.
The difference between the Government of Sudan and the rebel groups is that, for the majority of the time, the rebel groups target military and police positions, while the Government of Sudan targets civilians. The purpose of the rebel attacks are to gain ammunition, weapons, logistical stores and to show the Government of Sudan that they are still a force with which to be reckoned. I believe that one of the purposes of the Government of Sudan attacks is to kill or drive the African tribes from Darfur.
I believe this conflict can be resolved through international support for the AU. More specifically, I believe weapons sanctions and a no-fly zone throughout Darfur are critical. I have witnessed the effectiveness of the AU and believe they can stop the conflict with more support. After a violent attack on the town of Labado (pop. 20,000), a Government of Sudan General told us that his mission was to continue clearing the route all the way to Khartoum, several hundred kilometers away. The next village in line was the village of Muhajeryia, with a population near 40,000. The AU was able to place 35 soldiers into Muhajeryia to protect civilian contractors establishing a base camp for future deployment. This alone was able to deter the Government of Sudan of Sudan with a force of a few thousand soldiers and Janjaweed from attacking. Then the AU was able to deploy 70 more soldiers from the protection force and ten military observers to the burnt village of Labado. Within one week, approximately 3000 people returned to rebuild. In addition, the AU was able to negotiate and have the Government of Sudan of Sudan withdraw their troops from the area.
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The AU can secure and protect all villages in Darfur with the following support:
a) an expanded mandate to protect civilians and ensure secure routes for humanitarian aid access,
b) advanced logistics and communication support,
c) an increase in protection force troops in the tens of thousands on the ground.
We cannot fail the men, women and children of Darfur. We must stop the ongoing genocide.
Mr. TANCREDO. Thank you, Mr. Steidle. Even though this is the second time I have seen it, I am still overwhelmed by it. You know, it is one thing to know all of these things happened there. We talk about it here often. It is quite another to see it and to hear a firsthand observer, as you are. We will get back to you with more questions.
We will go to Mr. Malinowski now.
STATEMENT OF MR. TOM MALINOWSKI, WASHINGTON ADVOCACY DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Mr. MALINOWSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for inviting me to testify. I will skip 90 percent of my testimony, which goes over a number of the countries in the Human Rights Report, and just focus on what I think are two big issues that ought to trouble us in reading these reports, and the first is where we just left off, with Captain Steidle's very moving presentation, and that is Darfur.
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If you read the description of Darfur in the State Department reports, I think the one thing that struck me was that it is exactly the same as last year's report. Nothing has changed. We have made a lot of promises about ''no more Rwandas,'' but we are not keeping those promises right now.
It occurred to me to compare the lethargic response of the world to what is happening in Darfur to the response to the tsunami. Somehow, when nature kills people, we do not hesitate; when governments kill people, we throw up our hands and say, ''It is all so complicated, nothing can be done.'' The truth is, a lot can be done right now to help the millions of people in Darfur who are still alive. The key lies in placing a military force on the ground with the size and the authority to protect civilians, to do more than just bear witness and take pictures, as you so courageously did, and stopping these aerial bombardments and imposing sanctions and ensuring that those responsible are prosecuted as quickly as possible.
Now, the U.N. Security Council, as we speak, is debating a resolution on Darfur that, frankly, does not do the job. It does not call for the AU force to be increased or to protect civilians. It endorses a no-fly zone that is purely consensual. It does not resolve the issue of justice and accountability.
Now, there are lots of excuses for this, including opposition from China and Russia. That just means the United States needs to make Darfur a higher priority than it has been with key allies, as well as with Russia and China. Unless the President and the State Department make the maximum effort, the apathy and opposition of others will not be a sufficient excuse.
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Now, the United States, I think, has done more than any other country in the world to respond to this crisis in Darfur, but there is one issue, frankly, where it is the United States right now, I am afraid, that is obstructing swift action, and that is this issue of justice and accountability for the killing.
This is very urgent and consequential, Mr. Chairman, for once there is an international court that is investigating these crimes, Sudanese officials are going to be looking over their shoulders with a strong incentive to avoid crimes that are going to call attention to themselves. The sooner we get this process started, the more lives we can save.
Right now, as a practical matter, there is only one institution that can move immediately to investigate and prosecute Sudanese officials, and that is the ICC. Now, I understand the Bush Administration's concerns about the ICC and those of many Members of Congress, and I understand their alternative of setting up a brand-new tribunal based in Tanzania to deal with that concern. The problem is, it would take at least a year to recruit the judges, the prosecutors, and staff to get that new tribunal going.
You asked, Mr. Chairman, about the Sierra Leone court, which is a wonderful model. It took a year and a half to set up the Sierra Leone court, and that was okay because the Sierra Leone crisis was largely over at the time. This is ongoing. We need to save lives now, and I am afraid that delay is going to cost lives.
A Darfur-only tribunal is also going to cost, by the State Department's own estimation, half a billion dollars over the next 5 years. That is half a billion dollars for what I believe is a superfluous court that could be spent to provide aid to these people, to help the AU put troops on the groundnot a good use of funds.
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The ICC, on the other hand, has the capacity to begin investigating and prosecuting right now. It has the support of virtually every member of the Security Council, including the African members, and the United States could support using this instrument consistent with the general objections that it has expressed about the ICC because this would be a Security Council referral, and we have never, as a country, objected to that mechanism of using the ICC.
So I would strongly argue that we should have this debate about the ICC later and do what is best for Darfur now, and I would ask you, Mr. Chairman, to weigh in with the Administration on this issue because it really is about saving lives.
The second big, troubling issue that I think is raised by these reports that I wanted to raise with you today is that the reports, in many respects, call into question some of the practices in which the United States, sadly, itself, has recently engaged. One of those practices is the so-called ''extraordinary rendition'' of terror suspects to countries that routinely torture prisoners.
Now, these State Department reports say that in countries to which detainees have been renderedcountries like Syria, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabiathe most gruesome forms of torture, from electric shock to pulling out fingernails to rape and asphyxiation, are standard operating procedure. This is what the U.S. Government knows about what happens in these countries.
So how can we justify delivering prisoners into the hands of these regimes? The President was asked this question yesterday, and he said that the practice is okay because these countries have promised us that they will not torture the people we send. Now, does anyone here think that we should believe such unenforceable promises from regimes like Syria and Saudi Arabia? It is a bit to me like trusting unverifiable promises from North Korea or Iran on nuclear weapons. We would not do that, and yet we do it in this case, something that I believe is either willfully naive or terribly cynical.
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As it is, we have strong evidence that several of these countries, including Syria and Egypt, have already violated the assurances they have given to the United States in these cases. Even those involved in the process privately acknowledge that the promises are worthless. As one Arab diplomat said to The Washington Post in an article today, ''It would be stupid to keep track of rendered prisoners because then you would know what's going on.''
Now, how can our Government speak with authority about the evil of torture in countries like Egypt and Syria, which I know President Bush genuinely is committed to ending, when it knowingly makes deals with the worst elements of those regimes to send people to the very dungeons in which they torture prisoners? The practice diminishes America, and it is not necessary to protect our security. After all, I would say it is pretty naive to trust the reliability of intelligence obtained in Syrian or Uzbek torture chambers by intelligence services in those countries that have their own agendas that they are trying to promote.
The Administration must stop this practice, Mr. Chairman, and if it does not, I believe the Congress should. Now, this week, the House already took one very positive step in voting to prohibit the expenditure of funds for any purpose that contravenes the torture convention, as rendition to torture clearly does, and I thank you both for your support for that provision. But I urge the Congress to support legislation that would explicitly forbid this practice and, in that sense, to be the safeguard, Mr. Chairman, that you spoke about in your exchange with Ms. Lee earlier today.
The basic point here is, we need the moral clarity that these reports provide, but we also need the moral authority that the United States has when it leads the struggle for human rights by example. Both are equally important. Thank you.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Malinowski follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MR. TOM MALINOWSKI, WASHINGTON ADVOCACY DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Thank you Mr. Chairman for inviting me to testify.
This year's State Department human rights reports live up to the tradition of candid and comprehensive reporting the Department has established over the years. The reports fairly describe human rights violations committed by America's allies and adversaries alike. They are so honest, in fact, that they describe as abuses of human rights a number of practices in which the United States itself has recently engaged, a subject I will return to in a moment. Ambassador Kozak and his team deserve credit for a job well done.
This annual exercise in truth telling serves a very useful purpose. By publishing these reports, the United States makes it harder for repressive governments to deny the indefensible reality of their behavior, and thus encourages them to alter that reality. The annual human rights reports also help to keep the State Department and the U.S. government as a whole more honest in dealing with abusive governments around the world. American diplomats can still argue that engaging the governments of countries like China or Uzbekistan or Egypt may be important to the national interest, despite their miserable human rights practices. But they cannot deny the brutality of those practices, or pretend that mere engagement is improving matters, if the State Department's own human rights reports state otherwise.
In addition to showing us what is happening inside individual countries, the reports also help us to see larger trends in the struggle for liberty and human rights around the world. They show us the hopeful victory of democracy in Ukraine, for example. But they also show how repressive governments elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, including Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and increasingly Russia itself are cracking down on dissent to avoid becoming the next Ukraine. They show how the Iraqi and Palestinian elections have encouraged demands for reform throughout the Arab world, but also how leaders in the region are pushing against the tide. They show the front edge of freedom and the backlash against it.
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Every word and paragraph and chapter in these reports represents a challenge for the U.S. government. For it is obviously not enough for the State Department merely to describe once a year the injustices it sees around the world. The ultimate test of the human rights reports lies in what happens after the day they are published. How is the administration using their findings the other 364 days of the year? Is it applying the tools Congress has given it to combat the problems described in the reports? Is respect for human rights truly a consequential issue in America's bilateral relationships with governments that abuse human rights? When it becomes an issue, is the administration applying the right strategies and doing so aggressively enough? And is the United States leading the struggle for human rights by example, applying to itself the standards by which it judges others in these reports?
With those questions in mind, let me briefly mention a few countries where human rights abuses pose particularly great challenges for the United States right now (a list that will be illustrative but far from exhaustive). And then I would like to say a bit more about two issues raised by these reports that I believe ought to trouble us the most.
This year's State Department report makes clear that China remains a country where the most fundamental freedoms are denied. In Xinjiang, the government has engaged in a sweeping crackdown on Uighur religious expression, cultural traditions and social institutions, as well as systematic torture and executions. Regulations on March 1 of this year consolidate controls on religious belief and expression throughout the country, tightening requirements for any group hoping to register as a legal religious institution. China's court system continues to use coerced confessions, and political interference with judicial decisions is common. Chinese authorities have continued to tighten their control over the media and the internet, to discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS, and to limit the rights of the people of Tibet. We welcome the announced release of Uighur dissident Rebiya Kadir. But this does not represent fundamental change in China, or even a signal that a commitment to change may be present. It is simply the hostage diplomacy that always precedes possible action against China at the UN Human Rights Commission. For that reason, I strongly disagree with the administration's decision not to press a China resolution at the Commission this year. And I hope that these issues will remain front and center when Secretary Rice visits China this week and in every high level dialogue between the United States and China.
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For several years, Nepal has been ravaged by a civil war fought between government forces and Maoist insurgents. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of civilians have been killed by both sides. Nepal now has the highest rate of disappearances of any country in the world. On February 1st of this year, Nepal's King and the Nepalese Army seized absolute power and imposed a state of emergency, suspending freedom of expression and assembly, and arresting opposition leaders, journalists, and human rights activists. The King launched the coup ostensibly to strengthen Nepal's fight against the Maoist insurgents; in fact, the coup will almost certainly weaken that struggle. It increases the likelihood that the Nepali army will fight the insurgency with indiscriminate force that further alienates the country's rural population and makes impossible a unified front of Nepali political factions against the Maoists. The Bush administration has condemned the coup and urged a restoration of democracy in Nepal. But surprisingly, it has not reacted as forcefully as the United Kingdom or even India, both of which, unlike the United States, have suspended military aid to Nepal. The United States should get in step with India and the UK and suspend military assistance until the King takes real steps to restore democratic freedoms. It should also mobilize donors to suspend budget support for the Nepali government, and back a Nepal resolution at the UN Commission on Human Rights. Swift action is needed both for the sake of the Nepali people's human rights and their interest in ending the Maoist threat.
As the State Department reports make clear, the situation in Burma has worsened. Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest. More than a thousand political prisoners languish in jail (and while the government has released a few in the last year, it has arrested even more). The Burmese government has ended its cooperation with the International Labor Organization on forced labor. The Burmese military continues its campaign of ethnic cleansing in isolated areas of the country, a campaign that merits international investigation to determine if prosecutable war crimes and crimes against humanity are occurring as well as responsibility for those crimes. The only good news about Burma, and it is a significant piece of good news, comes from its region. A number of Burma's neighbors, including Singapore and the Philippines, have expressed increasing frustration with the Burmese government's refusal to reform. The criticism is led by elected parliamentarians from the ASEAN countries, who well reflect the values of the people of the region and their desire to see genuine change in Burma. The United States must remain firm in its demand for the restoration of human rights in Burma. The Congress should renew sanctions imposed last year against Burma. The administration should urge more proactive leadership on Burma from the United Nations and America's European allies.
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In the past few years, Uzbekistan has come under increasing pressure from the international community, including the United States, to improve its human rights record. Little progress has been made. The Uzbek government continues to imprison thousands of people for the peaceful exercise of their religious and political beliefs. Torture remains systematic in Uzbek prisons. There is no free media. Independent political parties cannot legally operate. Dissidents are persecuted and harassed; some, in an eerie echo of Soviet repression, are committed to psychiatric institutions. Uzbekistan has been a key U.S. partner in the war on terrorism and a host to U.S. military bases. Last August, the Bush administration suspended military aid to Uzbekistan over its human rights record. But shortly thereafter, General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, traveled to Uzbekistan, where he announced a new aid program equal to the one the administration suspended, and publicly criticized his own administration's decision to suspend aid. Since then, the Uzbek government has become increasingly resistant to U.S. demands for reform. The Bush administration is sending Uzbekistan mixed messages that undermine both its human rights and its security agenda. All elements of the U.S. government, including the Pentagon, must start to speak with a single voice in Uzbekistan.
The people of Turkmenistan are suffering from the increasingly bizarre, arbitrary, and potentially deadly policies of their president, Saparmurat Niazov, who has sought to exercise absolute power over their lives. His government tolerates no opposition or criticism and crushes critical thinking. He has instituted a perverse cult of personality that increasingly dominates public life and the education system. In the name of building the Turkmen nation, he has banned opera, ballet, circus, and the philharmonic orchestra. Libraries in rural areas are being shut down. And last month, Niazov announced that all hospitals outside the capitol of Ashgabat would also be closed. ''If people are sick,'' Niazov reportedly said, ''they can come to Ashgabat.'' Turkmenistan is an outpost of tyranny that also suffers from obscurityPresident Bush and Secretary Rice never mention it, though it clearly belongs in the same category as North Korea as a country that stifles the freedoms that make normal human life possible. The United States is even considering not supporting a resolution at this year's UN Human Rights Commission on Turkmenistan. The spotlight on Turkmenistan should be growing brighter, not dimmer.
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The largest human rights crisis in Europe remains the war in Chechnya. This is the only place on the continent where civilians are killed and disappeared on a daily basis as a result of armed conflict. As the State Department reports make clear, the situation is not ''normalizing,'' despite statements to the contrary from Russian officials. Chechens believed to be linked to rebels committed a serious of horrendous attacks on civilians, including the massacre of hundreds of school children in Beslan. Russian and pro-Russian Chechen forces continued to arbitrarily detain, extort, and execute civilians. Meanwhile, the Russian government continued its crackdown on independent media and civil society throughout Russia. The progress Russia has made towards democracy in the last decade is in serious jeopardy. During his trip to Europe, President Bush called on world leaders to make democracy a central issue in their engagement with the Russian government. But in his public appearance with Russian President Putin in Slovakia, President Bush did not confront the Russian leader, and instead appeared to take at face value Putin's assertion that he was committed to democracy.
The Egyptian government is under great pressure to begin political reforms, in large part from its own people, but also from the example of the Iraqi elections and the Bush administration's efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East. But the State Department reports illustrate just how far Egypt has to go. Emergency rule in Egypt continues, with massive arbitrary arrests, routine torture, stifling restrictions on non-governmental organizations, persecution of persons engaging in consensual homosexual conduct, and discrimination against women. Recent political reforms announced by President Mubarak do not go nearly far enough to guarantee a fair presidential election. Opposition leader Ayman Nour was recently released from prison due in part to strong protests by the United States, but still faces harassment and possible prosecution. The Bush administration deserves credit for beginning to press Egypt to open its society, but should not rush to claim credit for success before that is merited. It will take a much more persistent and consistent effort to move Egypt in the right direction.
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Perhaps the most troubling part of these reports, Mr. Chairman, is the description of continuing human rights abuses in the Darfur region of Sudan. There is nothing inaccurate about the description itself. On the contrary: What should make us angry is that the description of massive atrocities committed against civilians in Darfur is absolutely true, and absolutely unchanged from the report the State Department issued last year.
We have known for more than a year what is happening in Darfur. For more than a year, the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militias it supports have been killing civilians in Darfur or pushing them from their homes. For more than a year, the Sudanese air force has been bombing villages in Darfur to support this brutal campaign. For more than a year, we have been saying that Darfur should not become another Rwanda. Speeches are given; resolutions are passed; promises are made. And yet, the violence continues. The most the world has been able to muster for the people of Darfur is a small force of only 2,000 troops sent by the African Union, who have a mandate to observe crimes, but not to stop them. The kinds of sanctions that might convince the government of Sudan to change course have not been imposed. The UN Security Council has not even managed to ban arms shipments to Khartoum. Meanwhile, probably over 100,000 civilians have died as a direct result of the Sudanese government's actions. Almost 2 million people have been internally displaced.
Compare the world's lethargic response to what the United States has called genocide in Darfur to its immediate response to the Tsunami disaster in Asia. Somehow, when nature kills people, we do not hesitate to come to their aid. When governments kill people, we throw up our hands in despair and say it's all too complicated; nothing can be done. And then, ten years later, we attend solemn ceremonies of remembrance, express regret, and promise that next time, the lessons will be learned and people will be saved.
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The truth is, a great deal can be done right now to help the millions of people in Darfur who are still alive and who still hold out hope of returning to their homes in peace. The key lies in placing a military force on the ground with the size and authority to protect civilians, in stopping aerial bombardment by the Sudanese air force, in imposing sanctions on the perpetrators until the price they pay for continuing atrocities is greater than the perceived benefit, and in ensuring that that those responsible are prosecuted for their crimes as quickly and credibly as possible.
The U.N. Security Council is now debating a resolution that, frankly, does far too little. The draft resolution does not call for the AU force in Darfur to be increased or to protect civilians. It imposes targeted sanctions on government officials and militia leaders responsible for the violence, but only for acts committed after the passage of the resolution, not for the crimes that have already claimed so many lives. It endorses a purely consensual no-fly zone, without providing for any military enforcement or even active monitoring of Sudanese air force flights in Darfur. It does not resolve the issue of how perpetrators of atrocities in Darfur should be prosecuted.
There are plenty of excuses for the weaknesses of this draft resolution. The Bush administration, which, to its great credit, would like tougher action on Sudan, will say that China and Russia are blocking it at the Security Council. That may be partly true. But that just means the United States needs to make Darfur a higher priority in its engagement with key allies as well as with Russia and China. Darfur was not prominent on President Bush's agenda during his trip to Europe and it does not appear to be high on Secretary Rice's agenda during her trip to China this week. Unless the President and the State Department make the maximum effort, the apathy and opposition of others will not be a sufficient excuse for weak action.
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Moreover, there is one issue on which the United States is obstructing swift action by the international community. That is the issue of justice for those responsible for the killing in Darfur.
Justice is a moral imperative in Darfur. It is also a practical imperative. Justice is one of the most effective targeted sanctions we can apply to the Sudanese leadership. For once leaders are indicted by an international court, they will not be able to travel without fear of arrest; they will find it much harder to move their money around outside Sudan or to have any dealings with other governments. Indictment, therefore, would be the practical equivalent of a travel ban or asset freeze, but unlike those measures, it never expires; it remains in place at least until its targets stand trial. An effective process of accountability could also deter further violence. The more seriously officials in Khartoum take the prospect of prosecution by an international court, the more likely the are to refrain from further killing to avoid calling the court's attention to themselves. Lives can be saved, therefore, if such a process can be started swiftly. Lives may be lost if there is delay. Right now, there is only one institution in the world that can move immediately to investigate, indict, and prosecute Sudanese officials. That institution is the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hagueso long as Sudan is referred to it by the UN Security Council (since Sudan is not a party to the ICC treaty, this court can only prosecute crimes committed there with a Security Council referral).
As you know, the Bush administration has profound concerns about the ICC. It has proposed as an alternative the creation of a brand new international court for Darfur, to be housed alongside the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. The problem with this alternative is that, based on past experience with such courts, it would take at least a year to recruit the judges, prosecutors, and staff needed to establish a new Darfur Tribunal. In the meantime, the Sudanese government could continue its killing spree without an existing international court looking over its shoulders. It could take the time to burn documents, kill off witnesses, clean up mass graves. This delay will cost lives. It will make the ultimate task of prosecuting the killers harder.
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Creating a new court for Darfur would also cost, by the State Department's estimation, about $100 million a year for the next five years. Because most U.S. allies are already assessed to support the ICC, none are likely to contribute a penny for a new tribunal. Realistically, the United States would have to bear the entire cost. That means the Congress would have to be prepared to allocate half a billion dollars over the next few years simply to avoid having to use the ICC in Darfurhalf a billion dollars for a superfluous court that could instead be used to equip peacekeepers to protect civilians in Darfur, or to buy food and medicine for desperate refugees. In addition, a Darfur-only court would expire after several years, as all ad-hoc, single issue tribunals eventually do. This means that the killers in Khartoum could wait it out.
The ICC, on the other hand, has the capacity to begin investigating and prosecuting and deterring crimes in Darfur right now. The ICC is a permanent courtit cannot be outlasted by indicted Sudanese officials; if they hide, it will be pursuing them till the day they die. It is fully funded by other nations. What's more, the United States could support employing the ICC consistent with its general objections to this court, because the ICC would be acting in this case in the manner the United States has consistently said it could supportvia a referral from the UN Security Council, where the United States has a veto.
Wherever one stands on the merits of U.S. participation in the ICC, this court is clearly the best option for saving lives in Darfur. And in a moment of crisis such as this, that should be our only consideration. The State Department has argued that its alternative is better because it would empower Africans to settle this problem in an African-based court. But the African members of the Security Council have made clear that they themselves would prefer Darfur to be handled by the ICC. Twelve of fifteen Security Council members support using the ICC; none have endorsed the administration's alternative. The administration's reluctance to accept an ICC referral, therefore, is holding up a resolution that could bring some help to the people of Darfur. Were the administration open to compromise on this issue, it would be in a much better position to win its allies' support for an even stronger resolution, with real sanctions and a more effective peacekeeping force. My understanding is that discussions are underway on a deal that would let ICC referral go forward. I urge all members of the Committee to encourage the administration to seek such an outcome as quickly as possible.
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Mr. Chairman, a second troubling issue raised by the human rights reports is the one I alluded to at the startthe reports call into question practices in which the United States itself has engaged since September 11th. One of those practices is the so called ''extraordinary rendition'' of terror suspects to countries that routinely torture prisoners. Consider what the State Department reports say about some of the countries to which the United States renders terror suspects. They say that torture is used ''frequently'' by security services in Syria, including methods such as electrical shocks, pulling out fingernails, forcing objects into the rectum, beating, hyperextending the spine, and using a backwards bending chair to asphyxiate the victim or fracture the victim's spine. They say that in Egypt, ''a systematic pattern of torture by security services exists,'' including beating victims with fists, whips and metal rods, electrical shocks, and sexual assaults. They say that authorities in Uzbekistan ''routinely tortured, beat, and otherwise mistreated detainees to obtain confessions'' using suffocation, electric shock, rape, and beating. These reports make clear that the Bush administration knows perfectly well what goes on in the prisons of countries to which it sends terror suspects. It knows perfectly well that torture is standard operating procedure in these places and that anyone delivered to the custody of their security services is likely to be tortured. So how does the administration defend this practice? It says that it doesn't send anyone to a place like Syria or Egypt unless Syria or Egypt promises not to torture that person. If anyone here today thinks we should believe such unenforceable promises from countries that systematically torture people, please let me know.
As it is, we have strong evidence that several of these countries, including Syria and Egypt, have already violated the assurances they have given the United States in these cases. And those involved in the process privately acknowledge the assurances are worthless. As one Arab diplomat quoted in the Washington Post today said: ''It would be stupid to keep track of [rendered prisoners] because then you would know what's going on. It's really more like don't ask, don't tell.'' An American official quoted in the same story said: ''They say they are not abusing [rendered prisoners], and that satisfied the legal requirement, but we all know they do.''
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How can our government speak with authority about the evil of torture in countries like Egypt and Syria and Uzbekistan when it knowingly making deals with the worst elements of those regimes to send people to the very dungeons where they torture prisoners? This practice diminishes America, Mr. Chairman. And it does not strengthen America's securityfor one would have to be truly naive to trust the reliability of intelligence obtained in Syrian or Uzbek torture chambers by intelligence services that have their own agendas to promote. The administration must stop this practice. If it does not, the Congress should. The House already took one step in this direction earlier this week when it voted to prohibit the expenditure of funds for any purpose that contravenes the Torture Convention (as rendition to torture clearly does). I urge the Congress to support legislation that explicitly forbids this practice.
A similar problem highlighted by the State Department reports relates to the methods that the United States has used to interrogate suspects in American custody. In chapter after chapter of these reports, the State Department candidly describes some of these methods as torture. The chapter on North Korea, for example, condemns as torture methods of interrogation such as ''prolonged periods of exposure''; ''humiliations such as public nakedness;'' ''being forced to kneel or sit immobilized for long periods;'' and ''being forced to stand-up and sit-down to the point of collapse'' (practices referred to in the U.S. military as ''stress positions.'') The chapter on Libya condemns as torture the use of dogs to threaten detainees. The chapter on Iran condemns as torture ''prolonged solitary confinement with sensory deprivation,'' ''long confinement in contorted positions,'' and ''sleep deprivation.'' The chapter on Tunisia condemns as torture ''submersion of the head in water'' (which is often referred to as ''waterboarding.'') All these methods have at one point or another been approved by administration officials, including Secretary Rumsfeld, for use on detainees in Guantanamo, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in CIA custody around the world, where they clearly contributed to abuses that have done great harm to America's standing in the world. When they are used in places like Libya and North Korea, the State Department agrees that they are torture. Yet their use by the Pentagon and CIA has never been repudiated by the administration; no one has acknowledged that it was wrong; no one has pledged that it will not be tolerated again.
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Once again, the Congress must do what the Executive Branch apparently will not. The Congress should establish clear standards for interrogating detainees that are consistent with the laws and treaties of the United States. The best way to do that is to mandate compliance with the standard that has guided America's armed forces successfully in the past, the standard that reflects the armed forces finest valuesthe standard contained in the U.S. Army's Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation. The fundamental point is that we need the moral clarity that is provided by these State Department human rights reports and by the efforts of the President and the State Department to condemn human rights abuses throughout the year. But the United States needs to project more than moral clarityit must maintain moral authority to promote a more humane and democratic world. That requires consistent leadership abroad and a sterling example at home.
Mr. TANCREDO. Thank you. Mr. Akwei?
STATEMENT OF MR. ADOTEI AKWEI, CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Mr. AKWEI. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. I would like to say that it is a pleasure to be back again working with such longtime comrades and champions in the fight for human rights. I am also going to try to limit my presentation, really, to two issues: The first, looking at the status of women's rights in Africa, which is one of the things that the State Department reports truly highlight in great detail and, for Amnesty International, represents one of the greatest deprioritized human rights epidemics, and that is the violence against women; and the second would be to just talk a little bit about the other major conflict zone in Africa, which is, of course, as you mentioned, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes.
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Very briefly, the reasons for talking about women's rights and, in particular, gender-based violence is, first of all, because of the statistics that measure discrimination inflicted upon women, either in conflict or post-conflict situations and even within their families and the communities. For example, in conflicts in Liberia, Rwanda, Burundi, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Darfur, the victims have been as young as 8 and as old as 80. They have been raped and mutilated in the open, in front of their families and their communities.
At the same time, women throughout Africa face violence in nonconflict situations that are discriminatory and are either ignored by their societies or, in some cases, even condoned by them. For example, in North Africa, Amnesty estimates that as many as 6,000 women suffer genital mutilation every day and that possibly as many as 135 million women have undergone this practice. In other regions, the failure of corrupt, inactive justice systems impacts all citizens; however, women face additional hurdles in terms of official inaction or indifference, combined with an unwillingness to prioritize gender-related, human rights concerns by other sectors of society and traditional allies in human rights work.
Millions of African women, like others around the world, face cultures and practices that stigmatize women, who, let us remember, are the victims when they raise cases of domestic abuse or rape. The State Department reports underscore how prevalent violence is amongst women in Africa by exposing the fundamental inability or unwillingness to address it by the political or justice systems. These same failures of the rule of lawequal protection and respect for the rights of women and accountabilityare, not surprisingly, usually present when other human rights issues are being discussed. To effectively stop those human rights abuses, we must prioritize ending violence against women as well.
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If that were not reason enough to highlight this issue, then one must also consider the link between gender-based violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS. As you know, at the moment, Africa holds the largest number of persons infected with the disease. African women constitute 58 percent of this population and are four times more likely to contract HIV from males than vice versa.
Violence against women is both a cause and a consequence of a woman's infection with HIV. Violence, especially coerced sex, increases a woman's vulnerability to becoming infected with HIV infection. Violence and fear limit a woman's ability to negotiate safe sexual behavior, even in a consensual encounter. When one adds the impact of conflict to health care systems that are already in ruins, the impact of gender-based violence and the spread of AIDS becomes starkly clear.
Amnesty International has launched a campaign called the Stop Violence Against Women Campaign, and we hope to be working with Members of the Committee and Congress to try to highlight these issues and to try to get the governments in the countries where these issues are so serious to seriously prioritize them.
I would now like to talk very briefly about the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Unlike Darfur where, I think, it is safe to say that the situation there has not just not improved but has probably deepened, given that we now actually have an African Union force there on the ground, and the abuses are still happening, the situation in the DRC is off the radar and certainly appears to be more intractable.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We certainly have progressed, in terms of the Government of national unity having survived yet another year. You have an increased MONUC force. Despite major problems and the need for reform and strengthening, it is on the ground, and you also continue to have continuing growth in terms of civil society activities. That has not changed the security situation for the general Congolese person outside of Kinchasa.
The violence that I referred to and which was documented in Mr. Steidle's presentation is endemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congothe use of child soldiers, the abuses and violence committed by the warlords and by militiasand the issue of accountability is so far off the radar that we are truly talking about how do you stabilize and implement even one set of rules for the whole country?
So the situation there, I think, the reports underscore, is of a serious priority and impacts many different countries, and until you actually resolve it there, you are going to continue to have all of the abuses that I have just mentioned, in addition to transits of conflict diamonds, of weapons, and of other natural resources, not to mention instability within the whole region.
There are, of course, other parts of Africa that are not in conflict, and those, I think, are areas where the United States must pay much greater attention. Just as Tom mentioned, the need for sticking to principles in terms of interaction with countries that are human rights abusers, the United States has to become a little bit more serious in terms of strategic partners, such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Uganda, and their respect for the rule of law and human rights. It is not good enough that they are key allies in the war on terror when they are, in fact, committing abuses that equate abuses of a terrorist organization on their own citizens.
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In particular, in Nigeria, you continue to have a disregard for the rule of law by the executive branch. You have vigilante violence in the Niger Delta, and you have a failure to prosecute abuses by the security forces. These are ongoing. They have been in the State Department report for the last 5 or 6 years, probably from the period under General Sani Abacha, and we still have no progress in terms of resolving those.
The same concerns that we saw last year with Eritrea remain today in this year's report, and, in fact, some of the prisoners-of-conscience cases that Members of Congress have been working on, we only do not have any new information; we have a complete disregard by the Eritrean Government, and I would like to mention Aster Yohannes and Fesshaye Yonhannes, who we have seen letters generated on by many of you. The Eritrean Government just denies any legitimacy of their prisoner-of-conscience status.
The same concerns, in terms of the rule of law and accountability, also remain with Ethiopia and also with Uganda, and, of course, the crisis in northern Uganda, which, I know, is of personal interest to Congressman Payne. I would just end by saying that it is important that the security of the civilians in northern Uganda be a priority, and this would involve putting more pressure on the Sudanese Government to stop offering safe haven to the LRA, to turn over weapons caches that the LRA has hidden in Sudan, and, of course, to put pressure on the Ugandan Government to seriously commit itself to a peace process as opposed to trying, after 18 years of futility, to resolve the situation by a military solution. And I will stop there.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Akwei follows:]
Page 117 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPREPARED STATEMENT OF MR. ADOTEI AKWEI,(see footnote 1) Campaign Director, Amnesty International
Amnesty International appreciates the opportunity to testify and provide an oral statement focused on Africa for this hearing and requests the opportunity to submit an expanded and revised statement for the record that will focus globally and provide Amnesty International's overall assessment with regards the Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004.
It is both an honor and a pleasure to be working again with members who have been steadfast champions and allies in the effort to promote human rights globally and in particular to highlight and address the challenges facing Africa.
First Amnesty International commends the State Department for issuing a report that is generally strong and factual in character. This year's report continues the trend of improvement year by year. In particular AI welcomes the coverage on issues such as Honor Killings and on the treatment of persons who are gay, lesbian or bi-sexual. We reiterate our call to the State Department to expand coverage to include rights issues linked to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, abuses related to corporate actions and lack of accountability, and country performances on access to housing, food, and medical services.
Mr. Chairman I would like to frame my comments by first highlighting broader issues that face the continent and then looking at development in the past year in a select set of countries.
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I. CASE FOR PRIORITIZING WOMEN'S RIGHTS
I would like to start off by looking in particular the state of women's rights in Africa. I do this for several reasons. First the statistics measuring discrimination and gender-based violence inflicted upon women, either in conflict and post conflict situations or within their families and communities, is staggering. For example in conflicts Liberia, Rwanda, Burundi, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur Sudan girls as young a 8 and women as old as 80 have been raped and mutilated in the open, in front of their families and communities.
At the same time, women throughout Africa face acts of violence in non-conflict situations that are discriminatory and are either ignored by their societies or in some cases condoned by them. In North Africa AI estimates that as many as 6,000 women suffer genital mutilation every day and that possibly 135 million girls have undergone this practice. In other regions the failure of corrupt, inactive justice systems impact all citizens however women face additional hurdles in terms of official inaction or indifference combined with an unwillingness to prioritize gender related human rights concerns by other sectors of society. Millions of African women, like others around the world, face cultures and practices that stigmatize womenwho let us remember, are the victims, when they raise cases of domestic abuse and rape. The DOS reports underscore how prevalent violence against women is in Africa, by exposing the fundamental inability or unwillingness of the respective political and justices systems to address this issue or prioritize it. These same failures of the rule of law, equal protection and respect for the rights of men and women and accountability are, not surprisingly, usually present when the other human rights concerns are being discussed. To most effectively stop human rights abuses in general our efforts here must prioritize ending violence against women as well.
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If this were not reason enough to highlight this issue then one must also consider the link-between gender-based violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS. As you know at the moment Africa holds the largest number of persons infected with the disease. African women constitute 58% of this population and are 4 times more likely to contract HIV from males than vice versa. Violence against women is both a cause and a consequence of a woman's infection with HIV. Violence, especially coerced sex increases a woman's vulnerability to becoming infected with HIV infection. Violence and fear also limit a woman's ability to negotiate safe sexual behavior even in a consensual encounter. When one adds the impact of conflict to healthcare system that is already in ruins, the impact of gender-based violence on the spread of AIDS becomes starkly clear.
Mr. Chairman, in the year since the last DOS report as published the level of human suffering in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Northern Uganda, and Cote d'Ivoire has not improved and in Sudan, in particular Darfur the situation worsened. In all of these conflicts women and girls can no longer be described as collateral damage, they are the targets of the violence. In Darfur one of the most disturbing of the war crimes committed in Darfur has been the violence against thousands of women and girls who have been and continue to be deliberately and systematically targeted by opposing forces for extrajudicial execution, rape, assault, harassment and mutilation. Women in camps for the internally displaced continue to be attacked and raped by the very people who forced them out of their homes in the first place further, in many cases by they are also being attacked by Sudanese security forces who claim to be there to protect the. Even after these women have survived rape or assault, in some cases multiple times, they face intimidation, harassment. Legal obstacles in getting action on their cases as well as a lack of resources to help them address their medical needs or, as the Sudanese authorities call it their ''illegal pregnancies'' The DOS report documents that the targets have been as young as 8 and as old as 80.
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Similar abuses are also documented in detail in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the conflict between the Central government and regional militias continues to create suffering for Congolese women despite a government of national unity and the presence of international peacekeepers. Armed groups continued to use rape as a weapon of war, exacerbating the incidence of rape and other forms of violence against women and girls, which include forced labor and sexual slavery. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that between October 2003 and February of 2003, 5,000 women were raped in South Kivu Province alone. That is an average of 40 per day. While that level of violence has subsided somewhat, violence against women continues to be endemic and impunityonly a handful of cases have ever been brought to trialremains the law of the land. This behavior continued during the last year with armed groups using rape as a tool of war with impunity.
Even in the areas of relative security, Congolese women face major challenges. The DOS report states that ''that domestic violence, including rape, was common, police rarely intervened in domestic disputes and rapists were very rarely prosecuted. That there were no laws prohibiting spousal abuse or assault and that it remains commonplace for family members to instruct a rape victim to keep quiet about the incident, even to health care professionals, to save the reputation of the victim and her family. Further, the DRC's active and energetic press that survived Mobutu rarely reported incidents of violence against women or children.''
The law does not prohibit the practice of FGM and the government initiative to help end the practice was under funded and understaffed. The DOS report also refers allegations of official involvement in trafficking prostitution and child prostitution during the last year
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AI also is concerned that complacence to the plight of women to a secondary role in society contributes to encourages their oppression. Married women were required by law to obtain their husband's permission before engaging in routine legal transactions, such as selling or renting real estate, opening a bank account, accepting employment, or applying for a passport. The law permits a woman to inherit her husband's property, to control her own property, and to receive a property settlement in the event of divorce; however, in practice, women often were denied these rights, which in some cases was consistent with traditional law. Widows are commonly were stripped of all possessionsas well as their dependent childrenby the deceased husband's family. Human rights groups and church organizations worked to combat this custom, but there was little government intervention or legal recourse available.
Similar concerns also apply to Uganda where women have been particularly hurt by the conflict in Northern Uganda. There were reports of trafficking in women, girls, and babies during the year. Rape remained widespread and common. Thousands of women and girls were victims of abduction and rape by rebel forces. There also were reports that women were raped by the UPDF. Unlike in previous years, there were no reports that the SPLA forcibly recruited Sudanese refugees in the north for service in their forces.
Despite Uganda despite a parliament with a broad representation of women, laws that prohibit assault, battery, and rape, there were no laws that specifically protected women from spousal abuse. Many law enforcement officials continued to view wife beating as a husband's prerogative and rarely intervened in cases of domestic violence. Women remained more likely to sue for divorce than to file rape or assault charges against their husbands. A 2003 HRW report concluded that married women were particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection as a result of forced sex in marriage by husbands with multiple partners or wives. The report identified numerous social and legal obstacles to women's ability to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS infection in abusive relationships.
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The DOS report also documents how traditional and widespread societal discrimination against women continued, especially in rural areas where many customary laws discriminate. Many customary laws discriminate against women in the areas of adoption, marriage, divorce, and inheritance. In many areas, women could not own or inherit property or retain custody of their children under local customary law. Traditional divorce law in many areas requires women to meet stricter evidentiary standards than men to prove adultery. There was no law against FGM, but the Government, women's groups, and international organizations continued programs to combat the practice through education. These programs, which received some support from local leaders, emphasized close cooperation with traditional authority figures and peer counseling. Significant press attention to these ongoing efforts brought public attention to the problem during the year.
Trafficking in Persons is another area of grave concern in Uganda. The law does not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons; however, it prohibits trafficking-related offenses. The penalty for the procurement of women for purposes of prostitution or detention with sexual intent is up to 7 years' imprisonment; the penalty for trading in slaves is up to 10 years' imprisonment. A range of sentences up to the death penalty can be imposed for defilement, when adults engage in sex with minors. Forced labor is a misdemeanor. There were reports that persons were trafficked to, from, or within the country. During the year, persons were arrested for trafficking-related offenses; however, none reportedly were convicted.
In Nigeria, domestic violence and discrimination against women remained widespread. Female genital mutilation (FGM) remained widely practiced in some parts of the country, and child abuse and child prostitution were common. Further, the use of Shari'a courts increased the likelihood that women would face discrimination based differing weight placed on a women's testimony in the case of rape. Further these courts have sentenced women and men to harsh punishments including amputations and death by stoning; although there were no reports of any sentences actually being carried out during the year.
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In Ethiopia, women continue to face domestic violence, including wife beating and marital rape. There are no laws targeting domestic violence or sexual harassment. The DOS report states that while Ethiopian women ''had recourse to the police and the courts, societal norms and limited infrastructure prevented many women from seeking legal redress, particularly in rural areas. Social practices obstructed investigations and prosecutions in rape cases, and many women were not aware of their rights under the law'' The DOS report goes on to add that it is estimated that every year over 1,000 women are raped in Addis Ababa. During the year, rape sentences were handed down in line with the 10 to 15 years prescribed by law however, the problem persists. On a positive note, the government established a court to try cases of sexual abuse against women and children. .
Women and girls in parts of the Ethiopia continue to face abduction as a form of marriage despite it being illegal and the government's attempts to stop the practice. Forced sexual relationships often accompanied most marriages by abduction, and according to the report women often were physically abused during the abduction. Many of those girls married under these circumstances were as young as 7, despite the legal marriage age of 18. According to the report, in cases of marriage by abduction, the perpetrator was not punished if the victim agreed to marry him (unless the marriage was annulled); even after a perpetrator was convicted, the sentence was commuted if the victim married him.
FGM remained a serious challenge during the year. According to the findings of a government national baseline survey released in 2003 on harmful traditional practices, 90 percent of women undergo one of four forms of FGMcircumcision, clitoridectomy, excision, and infibulation. The National Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices also reported that, harmful practices against women, including FGM, abduction, and early marriage have declined from over 90 percent to 73 percent since 1992.
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The Constitution and the penal code prohibit bodily injury. They do not specifically outlaw FGM. According the to report the Government continued to update the penal code during the year as well as working to discourage the practice of FGM through education in public schools and through broader mass media campaigns. The Government also took action against persons who were involved in operations such as arresting individuals who requested the procedure for women as well as people who performed the operations.
Despite Constitutional provisions stating that all persons are equal before the law and a Family Law bill that removes numerous cultural practices that discriminate against women effective protection for women remains elusive due to a lack of mechanisms to enforce the laws and the fact that regional councils retain the authority to determine family law for their respective regions.
According to the DOS report during the past year discrimination against women Ethiopia was most acute in rural areas, where 85 percent of the population lived. Legal codes recognize the husband as the legal head of the family and the sole guardian of children over 5 years old, do not view domestic violence as enough justification to obtain a divorce and had only limited juridical recognition of common law marriage. According to the report ''Irrespective of the number of years the marriage existed, the number of children raised, and joint property, the woman was entitled to only 3 months' financial support if the common law relationship ended. A husband had no obligation to provide financial assistance to his family and, as a result, women and children sometimes were abandoned when there was a problem in the marriage. The law states that any property owned before marriage belongs to the spouse that had it. Any property gained during marriage is shared equally by the husband and wife. Thus a widow is entitled to her 50 percent share of property gained during the marriage; however, a wife does not have inheritance right to her deceased husband's share.'' Women also faced continued discrimination in terms of access to leasing of land
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While all land belonged to the Government and although women could obtain government leases to land, through a Government policy to provide equal access to land for women, this policy rarely was enforced in rural communities. According to the Ethiopian women's groups in nearly all regions women do not have access to land. They cannot inherit land, and the only way for them to gain access to land was via marriage. However, when the husband dies, other family members often take the land from the wife.''
II. HUMAN RIGHTS DEVELOPMENTS IN THE LAST YEAR
Mr. Chairman, I would now like to briefly review some of the developments in Africa documented by the DOS reports, starting with the situation in conflict areas. In the year since the last DOS report as published the level of human suffering in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Northern Uganda, and Cote d'Ivoire has not improved and in Sudan, in particular Darfur the situation worsened. In all of these conflicts women and girls can no longer be described as collateral damage, they are the targets of the violence
In Darfur the United Nations recently concluded that at least 180,000 people have died as a result of the conflict between the Sudanese government and two rebel groups the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Army. Over 2.2 million have been impacted with 1.8 million being internally displaced and 213,000 in refugee camps in Chad. This violence has happened even with the presence of a Ceasefire Monitoring Force from the African Union, the very courageous work of international relief agencies at last count, nearly half a dozen UN Security Council resolutions and a surprisingly high level of attention from the international media and general public. We must and can do more.
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Democratic Republic of the Congo
The human rights record in areas under marginal government control remained extremely poor, and armed groups continued to commit numerous, serious abuses, particularly in North and South Kivu, Maniema, northern Katanga, and Ituri District in Orientale Province. Political freedom increased slightly during the year. Armed groups committed numerous, serious abuses with impunity against civilians, including deliberate large-scale killings, the burning of villages, kidnappings, torture, rape, cannibalism, mutilation, looting, and extortion. Arbitrary arrest and detention continued to be problems. Armed groups severely restricted freedoms of speech, the press, assembly, and movement. Respect for religious freedom improved. Fighting in the Kivus and Ituri District of Orientale Province continued to result in large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Armed groups attacked local and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and killed MONUC peacekeepers. Rape, violence against women and girls, and forced labor, including sexual slavery, were severe problems. Child labor, including the forced recruitment and use of child soldiers, was a serious problem. Trafficking remained a problem. Discrimination continued against indigenous Pygmies and Congolese Tutsis from South Kivu, known as Banyamulenge.
The reporting for Northern Uganda sufficiently recounts the ensuing human rights abuses resulting from the conflict between the Lord's Resistance Army and the Ugandan government in Northern Uganda. This conflict has now reached its 18th year, has continued to destabilize Uganda. In the last year President Museveni has asked the ICC to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of abuses committed during the conflict but at the same time has failed to protect persons in camps for the internally displaced while insisting that the LRA would soon be defeated militarily After 18 years of military initiatives, 20,000 child abductions and thousands of lives it is more than time to seek alternatives options to a military resolution of the conflict. Further given the lack of accountability for abuses by the Ugandan military and allied militia in the neighboring DRC, it is far from clear that supporting a military resolution will be the best use of assistance from the United States.
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The women have been particularly hurt by the conflict. To prioritize their strife and to raise their voices at a national platform so that communities in Northern Ugandan, in particular the children and women receive the support and empowerment that is key to their prosperity. There were reports of trafficking in women, girls, and babies during the year. Acts of rape remain common. Thousands of women and girls were victims of abduction and rape by rebel forces. There also were reports that women were raped by the UPDF. Unlike in previous years, there were no reports that the SPLA forcibly recruited Sudanese refugees in the north for service in their forces.
The conflict between the Lord's Resistance Army and the Ugandan government in Northern Uganda is now in its 18th year. In the last year President Museveni has asked the ICC to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of abuses committed during the conflict but at the same time has failed to protect persons in camps for the internally displaced while insisting that the LRA would soon be defeated militarily After 18 years of military initiatives, more than 20,000 child abductions and thousands of lives it is more than time to seek alternatives options to a military resolution of the conflict. Further given the lack of accountability for abuses by the Ugandan military and allied militia in the neighboring DRC it is far from clear that supporting a military resolution will be the best use of assistance from the United States.
President Robert Mugabe and continued the systematic dismantling of what little was left of the facAE9ade of the rule of law and democracy in Zimbabwe. In fact with the exception of individual specifics on what new acts of repression inflicted by the government the DOS report entry for Zimbabwe was depressingly similar to the one from the year before and the one before that; legislation further restricting NGOs and information were enacted, efforts to organize by the MDM were blocked or disrupted. The 2004 DOS report notes that in the last twelve months the government ''used intimidation and violence to maintain political power.'' Including ''a systematic, government-sanctioned campaign of violence targeting supporters and perceived supporters of the opposition continued during the year. During the year security forces committed extrajudicial killings. Allies of the government continued to occupy commercial farms, and in some cases killed, abducted, tortured, intimidated, raped, or threatened farm occupants. The 2004 report details incidents where the security forces, government-sanctioned youth militias, and ruling party supporters tortured, raped, and abused persons perceived to be associated with the opposition, resulting in the deaths of some persons. There were arbitrary arrests and detentions and in addition to further enshrining impunity for government officials and their supporters.
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The Government continued to restrict freedom of speech and of the press, academic freedom, freedom of assembly, movement and the right of association for political organizations. In particular NGOs and members of civil society were attacked and arrested. The government also continued to churn out repressive legislation such as the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Act, which allows the police to hold persons suspected of committing economic crimes for up to 4 weeks without bail.
The DOS report also continues to paint a grim picture in Ethiopia. During the last year the security forces committed unlawful killings in addition to beating, torturing and mistreating detainees. Persons were arbitrarily arrested and detained, particularly those suspected of sympathizing with or being members of the Oromo Liberation Front. The DOS report states that'' Thousands of suspects remained in detention without charge, and lengthy pretrial detention continued to be a problem''. The report found that freedom of the press remained restricted; despite fewer journalists being arrested, detained or punished for writing articles critical of the Government and freedom of assembly was restricted, particularly for members of opposition political parties; as was freedom f association. The report mentioned that during the last year tolerance of nongovernmental organization (NGO) in particular the registration process for NGOs continued to improve.
The last 12 months saw little to no improvement in terms of the human rights situation in Eritrea, leaving the government's record poor. The DOS report noted that security forces were responsible for unlawful killings, arbitrary arrest and detention; numerous reports of torture and physical beatings of prisoners, particularly during interrogations, and the severe mistreatment of army deserters and draft evaders. At this point I would like to point out that over a dozen prisoners of conscience, many whose cases have been taken up during the year by members of Congress and this Committee remain in incommunicado detention including Aster Yohannes and Fesshaye Yohannes and others.
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The Government used special courts that limited due process and severely restricted freedom of speech and press, and restricted freedom of assembly, movement, association and religion (for religious groups not approved by the Government), Human rights groups were not allowed to operate in the country and access to Eritrea for international NGO remained proscribed with the exception of the Red Cross. Violence and societal discrimination against women continued to be problems, and female genital mutilation (FGM) remained widespread despite government efforts to discourage the practice.
In the case of Nigeria, the DOS report states clearly that the Government's human rights record remained poor, and that security forces continued to commit serious abuses such as extrajudicial killings and the use of excessive force. During the year under review, the police and army regularly beat protesters, criminal suspects, detainees, and convicted prisoners and committed torture although the DOS report indicates that there were fewer reports then in previous years. The rule of law did not advance during the year, with impunity, the questionable interpretations of the law by Shari'a courts, and arbitrary arrest and detention being a problem.
During the year the Government occasionally restricted freedom of speech and press and limited freedom of assembly. Inter-communal violence in particular but no limited to the Niger Delta continued.
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Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, I will end my review by noting that despite all of these issues the year in review in Africa also held major advances in terms of human rights, there was the deployment of the African Union Ceasefire monitors in Darfur, representing a fundamental shift limiting national sovereignty in defense of human rights. The AU also forcefully responded to violations of the ceasefire by the Ivorian government and worked with the international community to impose an arms embargo. There were the continuing operations of the Special Court in Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. As I mentioned earlier, the efforts of the Ethiopian government over the last year to end the practice of FGM were also laudable. But much more needs to be done because as the DOS reports illustrate what we are doing is simply not enough. We can and must do better.
Until the culture of impunity is shattered and clear disincentives for abusive behavior be it against women, children or men are established, in all of these conflicts, effort to secure peace, security and the protection of human rights will be reduced to running from one fire to another. At the same time more can and must be done to try and address the medical needs of the survivors. We can do this by increasing our support for efforts to provide medical care for all of those impacted by these conflicts but in particular for survivors of gender based violence and by encouraging government in Africa to challenge and end cultural taboos stigmatizing victims, in too many cases the mothers and the babies born of these rapes, by the very communities that should be helping them. Current restrictions on US funding for health care services has caused some desperately needed services to close, denying urgent care to many.
Page 131 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Members of the Committee, these limited examples of the issues facing women in these African countries are, sadly, replicated all too often in other countries around the world, including here in the United States. As a result of this AI has launched a multi-year campaign focused on stopping violence against women that we hope Congress and the Administration will work on with us. Among the initiatives we hope to use to end this epidemic of violence will be working for US ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and domestically, reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. These standards will help convey the message that violence and discrimination against women are unacceptable and that wherever it happenswhether in Nigeria, Ethiopia or here in the United Stateswe will stand with local women and men to fight it and we will work to bring governments to the same position. We must also make such behavior have real consequences, be it in the form of prosecuting those who commit acts of gender based violence in front of the International Criminal Court or linking the possible provisions of security assistance to aggressive and measurable actions taken to end violence against women. Finally we must also increase our support of efforts to help the survivors of this violence as they seek to rebuild their lives. The United States should and must lead by example in the fight to end gender-based violence against women and promote and protect human rights internationally. The DOS report provides a critical diagnostic tool. Congress and the Administration must now provide the political will and resources to make a difference.
Recommendations for Darfur/Sudan
The United States should
press for extending the UN arms embargo to include the government of Sudan
Page 132 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC urge the African Union Cease-fire monitoring force to protect civilians and supporting this more proactive mandate logistically, financially and politically.
bring the perpetrators of the abuses in this crisis to justice by allowing the case of Darfur to be referred to the International Criminal Court. As the only government to have officially declared abuses in Darfur to constitute genocide, opposing and obstructing the use of the very mechanism created to help prevent future genocides is puzzling, disappointing and undermining to the entire human rights system that the United States helped create.
Ensure that human rights, in particular issues of gender based violence be prioritized by the international community in the larger on-going peace process between the Khartoum government and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement.
Ensure that the Sudanese women must have a genuine and central role in the peace and reconciliation process in Sudan.
Recommendations for Northern Uganda
The United States should
press the Government of Sudan to end safe harbor for the LRA and turn over LRA leadership who are implicated in the commission of human rights abuses;
Press the Government of Sudan to identify and help destroy secret LRA weapons caches.
Page 133 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Press the government of Uganda to improve protection of civilians in particular children who remain at risk of forcible recruitment by the LRA.
Urge the Ugandan government to prioritize it's commitment to the peace process as well as on the involvement of women in the peace process.
Link future security assistance to the Ugandan government's performance vis a vis transparency within the security forces and on human rights issues.
Recommendations for the DRC
The US Government should
Ensure that perpetrators of human rights violations, in particular gender-based violations are held accountable by international as well as domestic mechanisms of justice.
Increase support for efforts to provide material and therapeutic services for survivors of gender-based violence in addition to general medical support.
Work with the government, civil society and societal leaders to address and end discrimination and stigmatization of survivors of gender based violence.
Recommendations for Ethiopia and Eritrea
The US Government should
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Link future security assistance to improved respect and protection for human rights by both governments.
Encourage and support the initiatives by the Ethiopian government and Ethiopian civil society to end the practice of FGM and societal discrimination against women.
Challenge and press the government of Eritrea to release all prisoners of conscience including Fessahaye Yohannes and Aster Yohannes.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY [presiding]. Thank you so much for your testimony.
STATEMENT OF MR. DANIEL S. MARIASCHIN, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, B'NAI B'RITH INTERNATIONAL
Mr. MARIASCHIN. Mr. Chairman, I have a full written statement with attachments which I have submitted for the record.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Without objection, your statement, with attachments, and all statements and any attachments you would like will all be made a part of the record.
Page 135 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MARIASCHIN. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for the privilege of addressing this hearing on behalf of B'nai B'rith International and its more than 110,000 members and supporters. Your role and that of your colleagues on the International Relations Committee and on the U.S. Helsinki Commission has been invaluable to the global effort to promote human rights. You have helped guide U.S. policy in this area and have fostered international cooperation, both in the struggle to expand human rights generally and, in particular, in the effort to combat anti-Semitism, which will be the topic of my remarks today.
I would also like to acknowledge the dedicated work of Assistant Secretary of State Michael Kozak, whose Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor has compiled the State Department's 2004 Human Rights Report. Two months ago, Assistant Secretary Kozak's Bureau also produced the Report on Global Anti-Semitism, consistent with the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004, another initiative for which you deserve great credit, Mr. Chairman. The work of Ambassador Ed O'Donnell, who has focused on anti-Semitism and Holocaust-related issues since 2003, has also been essential to this concerted effort.
As a member of the U.S. delegation to the OSCE's Vienna conference on anti-Semitism in 2003 and as an adviser to the U.S. delegation at the Berlin anti-Semitism conference last year, I am encouraged by what I feel to be the many positive developments that have resulted from these OSCE-sponsored gatherings. I hope that the followup conference in Cordoba, Spain, this June will prove similarly productive.
What we have seen in Europe over the past decade has been a series of meetings, the adoption of legislation, and the creation of commissions and committees on Holocaust-era restitution issues, but nothing so coordinated or prioritized regarding anti-Semitism has been attempted.
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Compounding the problem has been the ''blinders-on'' view of many European leaders about the demonization of Israel and Zionism, which has become a pernicious and regularly accepted form of modern-day anti-Semitism. Rather than characterize, for example, the comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany or violent acts against Jews and Jewish communal properties as outright anti-Semitism, the initial reaction of some leaders to these acts was dismissive, with many ascribing such incidents or portrayals as ''legitimate criticism'' of Israel or as ''pranks'' of disaffected youth. This was especially true when such acts were carried out by individuals from the growing Arab and Muslim communities in countries like Belgium and France.
It was, therefore, of particular note that the historic Berlin Declaration, which provided a blueprint for combating hate crimes against Jewish individuals and institutions, specifically addressed the growing problem of anti-Semitic attacks being committed by opponents of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians. The passage stating that ''international developments or political issues, including those in Israel or elsewhere in the Middle East, never justify anti-Semitism'' should be a wake-up call to those who try to justify hate crimes with politics.
But despite these decidedly positive developments, some of the data presented in the State Department's 2004 Human Rights Report reveal a disturbing increase in anti-Semitic activity in certain countries.
In France, where the problem has been most acute over the past 5 years, authorities recorded a rise of more than 50 percent in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2004 compared to 2003, bringing the total number of acts in the most recent year to 950. However, the report also noted about France:
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''Authorities vigorously condemned anti-Semitism, increased security at Jewish institutions, investigated all attacks, and arrested and prosecuted perpetrators when there was sufficient evidence.''
Furthermore, in December, the State Council banned the transmission in France of al-Manarthis was an issue which, Mr. Chairman, you raised earlier with Secretary Kozaka Lebanese Hezbollah satellite channel which aired an anti-Semitic television series during Ramadan in 2003.
In the United Kingdom, where London Mayor Ken Livingstone recently compared a Jewish journalist to a ''German war criminal'' and a ''concentration camp guard,'' the country experienced a similarly significant increase in anti-Semitic violence. According to the State Department's recent report, the number of acts in Great Britain ballooned from 163 in 2003, to 310 in 2004. Incidents targeting Jews also increased in Belgium last year.
In Russia, according to the report, ''while the number of anti-Semitic incidents remained roughly stable in 2003, the nature of the attacks had become more violent.'' And while Russian officials, including President Putin, have condemned anti-Semitic activity and prosecuted some offenders, some local and regional officials have minimized the extent of the problem by dismissing anti-Semitic violence as simple ''hooliganism.''
One particularly disturbing episode occurred in Russia earlier this year, when more than 500 public figures, including 30 members of the Duma, signed a flagrantly anti-Semitic letter calling for a ban on Judaism and Jewish institutions. The fiery missive, from which the Russian foreign ministry has publicly distanced itself, called Jews anti-Christian and accused them of performing ritual murders.
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Both the Human Rights Report and the earlier Anti-Semitism Report cited a finding by B'nai B'rith Canada's League for Human Rights that anti-Semitic incidents north of the U.S. border had increased significantly in 2004. However, the State Department reported no increase in anti-Semitic activity in Argentina, which is home to Latin America's largest Jewish community and which, I might add, is also where the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was bombed 13 years ago today. Argentina's Jewish organizations have reported their ongoing concern about incidents and threats, especially against the backdrop of the unresolved investigations into the 1992 bombing, which I just cited, and the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish social welfare building in Buenos Aires.
With the advent of last year's Berlin conference, the demonization of Israel has now been broached in an international forum, but the parameters of the problem still have not been defined. European leaders will need to summon the political will and courage to acknowledge the dangers of anti-Israel hatred and to act forcefully against it. This means recognizing that anti-Israel sentiment is growing fastest among Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East and in Europe, a realization that, until now, European officials have not been swift to achieve.
The two State Department reports reveal clear indications that anti-Semitic literature and media coverage is a common feature in the Arab and Muslim world, as well as in European countries with large Arab and Muslim populations, and you referenced this earlier in your question to the Assistant Secretary.
In Europe, these communities have immediate and regular access to Arabic-language cable TV networks like Al-Jazeera, print publications, and Internet sites, all of which offer predictably one-sided, inflammatory coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict. These outlets employ primitive Jewish stereotypes in service of their anti-Zionist message, often borrowing symbols and motifs from Nazi propaganda so as to evoke the virulent anti-Semitism of Der Sturmer.
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Thus, one sees images of Jews as ghoulish, even satanic, caricatures with misshapen noses, festooned with dollar signs or carrying money bags, and of Israelis bearing swastikas or drinking the blood of children. As attachments to my written testimony, I have included several recent editorial cartoons from the Middle East and Europe that are representative of this trend. Meanwhile, Arabic editions of Mein Kampf sell briskly in London and other European capitals.
In Iran, where an Olympic athlete was lavishly praised by his Government for avoiding his obligation to compete against an Israeli opponent last summer, a viciously anti-Semitic series called Zahra's Blue Eyes began airing on national TV less than 3 months ago. Filmed in Farsi and dubbed into Arabic, the series depicts Israeli doctors posing as United Nations medical workers whose true purpose is to harvest body organs from Palestinian children.
In Egypt and Syria, anti-Semitic and virulently anti-Israel content abounds in the press. The Egyptian Government maintains that it has advised journalists and cartoonists to avoid anti-Semitic themes, but anti-Semitism is nonetheless found in both the State-sponsored and opposition media. Meanwhile, Syrian textbooks not only contain rabid, anti-Semitic material; they teach children that Zionism is more egregious than Nazism, that Israel's very existence is intolerable, and that the Jewish State must be destroyed.
Mr. Chairman, European leaders attending opening ceremonies at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, the new museum building in Jerusalem, just yesterday, vowed to fight the rising anti-Semitism in their countries. In a moving display, leaders, such as German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and others promised to be vigilant against the world's oldest and most resilient social pathology.
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But as the evidence in the two recent State Department reports indicates, much work remains to be done in this regard. The incidents and statistics detailed in the 2004 Human Rights Report and the Report on Global Anti-Semitism, some of which I have cited in my remarks today, are painful reminders of the urgency of the problem we continue to face.
As we gauge our progress in the struggle against anti-Semitism, let us draw reassurance from the positive atmosphere of the Berlin conference and the promise of the Cordoba conference, but let us also commit ourselves to sustaining the forward momentum of these gatherings. Sixty years after the Holocaust and nearly 5 years after the start of the current rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, let us embrace one of the central messages of the Berlin conference, that complacency and passivity in the face of anti-Semitism can no longer be tolerated. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Mariaschin follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MR. DANIEL S. MARIASCHIN, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, B'NAI B'RITH INTERNATIONAL
I would like to thank you for the privilege of addressing this hearing on behalf of B'nai B'rith International and its more than 110,000 members and supporters.
Your role, and that of your colleagues on the International Relations Committee and on the U.S. Helsinki Commission, has been invaluable to the global effort to promote human rights. You have helped guide U.S. policy in this area and have fostered international cooperation both in the struggle to expand human rights generally, and in particular, in the effort to combat anti-Semitism, which will be the topic of my remarks today. I would also like to acknowledge the dedicated work of Assistant Secretary of State Michael Kozak, whose Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor has compiled the State Department's 2004 Human Rights Report. Two months ago, Assistant Secretary Kozak's bureau also produced the Report on Global Anti-Semitism, consistent with the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004another initiative for which you deserve great credit, Mr. Chairman. The work of Ambassador Ed O'Donnell, who has focused on anti-Semitism and Holocaust-related issues since 2003, has also been essential to this concerted effort.
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As a member of the U.S. delegation to the OSCE's Vienna conference on anti-Semitism in 2003, and as an advisor to the U.S. delegation at the Berlin anti-Semitism conference last year, I am encouraged by what I feel to be the many positive developments that have resulted from these OSCE-sponsored gatherings. I hope that the follow-up conference in Cordoba, Spain this June will prove similarly productive.
The Berlin conference was long overdue. With the exception of the Vienna meeting the year before, and a brief seminar on the subject hosted by the European Union earlier in 2004both of which helped place anti-Semitism on the world ''radar screen''no collective body since 1945 has met to discuss, and act, on hate crimes committed against Jews.
What we have seen in Europe over the past decade has been a series of meetings, the adoption of legislation, and the creation of commissions and committees on Holocaust-era restitution issues. But nothing so coordinated or prioritized regarding anti-Semitism has been attempted.
Compounding the problem has been the ''blinders-on'' view of many European leaders about the demonization of Israel and Zionism, which has become a perniciousand regularly-acceptedform of modern-day anti-Semitism. Rather than characterize, for example, the comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany, or violent acts against Jews and Jewish communal properties as outright anti-Semitism, the initial reaction of some leaders to these acts was dismissive, with many ascribing such incidents or portrayals as ''legitimate criticism'' of Israel, or as the ''pranks'' of disaffected youth. This was especially true when such acts were carried out by individuals from the growing Arab and Muslim communities in countries like France and Belgium.
Page 142 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
It was therefore of particular note that the historic Berlin Declaration, which provided a blueprint for combating hate crimes against Jewish individuals and institutions, specifically addressed the growing problem of anti-Semitic attacks being committed by opponents of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians. The passage stating that ''international developments or political issues, including those in Israel or elsewhere in the Middle East, never justify anti-Semitism'' should be a wake-up call to those who try to justify hate crimes with politics.
But despite these decidedly positive developments, some of the data presented in the State Department's 2004 Human Rights Report reveal a disturbing increase in anti-Semitic activity in certain countries.
In France, where the problem has been most acute over the past five years, authorities recorded a rise of more than 50 percent in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2004 compared to 2003, bringing the total number of acts in the most recent year to 950. However, the report also noted about France, ''Authorities vigorously condemned anti-Semitism, increased security at Jewish institutions, investigated all attacks, and arrested and prosecuted perpetrators when there was sufficient evidence.'' Furthermore, in December the State Council banned the transmission in France of al-Manar, a Lebanese Hezbollah satellite channel which aired an anti-Semitic television series during Ramadan in 2003.
In the United Kingdom, where London Mayor Ken Livingstone recently compared a Jewish journalist to a ''German war criminal'' and a ''concentration camp guard,'' the country experienced a similarly significant increase in anti-Semitic violence. According to the State Department's recent report, the number of acts in Great Britain ballooned from 163 in 2003 to 310 in 2004. Incidents targeting Jews also increased in Belgium last year.
Page 143 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In Russia, according to the report, ''while the number of anti-Semitic incidents remained roughly stable [in 2003], the nature of the attacks had become more violent.'' And while Russian officials, including President Putin, have condemned anti-Semitic activity and prosecuted some offenders, some local and regional officials have minimized the extent of the problem by dismissing anti-Semitic violence as simple ''hooliganism.''
One particularly disturbing episode occurred in Russia earlier this year, when more than 500 public figures, including 30 members of the Duma, signed a flagrantly anti-Semitic letter calling for a ban on Judaism and Jewish institutions. The fiery missive, from which the Russian Foreign Ministry has publicly distanced itself, called Jews anti-Christian and accused them of performing ritual murders.
Both the recent human rights report and the earlier anti-Semitism report cited a finding by B'nai B'rith Canada's League for Human Rights that anti-Semitic incidents north of the U.S. border had significantly increased in 2004. However, the State Department reported no increase in anti-Semitic activity in Argentina, which is home to Latin America's largest Jewish community, and which is also where the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was bombed 13 years ago today. Argentina's Jewish organizations have reported their ongoing concern about attacks and threats, though, despite the government's attempts to combat anti-Semitism.
With the advent of last year's Berlin conference, the demonization of Israel has now been broached in an international forum, but the parameters of the problem have still not been defined. European leaders will need to summon the political will and courage to acknowledge the dangers of anti-Israel hatred and to act forcefully against it. This means recognizing that anti-Israel sentiment is growing fastest among Arabs and Muslims, in the Middle East and in Europea realization that, until now, European officials have not been swift to achieve.
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The two State Department reports reveal clear indications that anti-Semitic literature and media coverage is a common feature in the Arab and Muslim world, as well as in European countries with large Arab and Muslim populations. In Europe, these communities have immediate and regular access to Arabic-language cable TV networks like Al Jazeera; print publications; and Internet sites, all of which offer predictably one-sided, inflammatory coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict. These outlets employ primitive Jewish stereotypes in service of their anti-Zionist message, often borrowing symbols and motifs from Nazi propaganda so as to evoke the virulent anti-Semitism of Der Sturmer. Thus, one sees images of Jews as ghoulish, even satanic, caricatures with misshapen noses, festooned with dollar signs or carrying money-bags, and of Israelis bearing swastikas or drinking the blood of children. (As attachments to my written testimony, I have included several recent editorial cartoons from the Middle East and Europe that are representative of this trend.) Meanwhile, Arabic editions of Mein Kampf sell briskly in London and other European capitals.
In Iran, where an Olympic athlete was lavishly praised by his government for avoiding his obligation to compete against an Israeli opponent last summer, a viciously anti-Semitic series called Zahra's Blue Eyes began airing on national TV less than three months ago. Filmed in Farsi and dubbed into Arabic, the series depicts Israeli doctors posing as United Nations medical workers whose true purpose is to harvest bodily organs from Palestinian children. In Egypt and Syria, anti-Semitic and virulently anti-Israel content abounds in the press. The Egyptian government maintains that it has advised journalists and cartoonists to avoid anti-Semitic themes, but anti-Semitism is nonetheless found in both the state-sponsored and opposition media. Meanwhile, Syrian school textbooks not only contain rabid anti-Semitic material; they teach children that Zionism is more egregious than Nazism, that Israel's very existence is intolerable, and that the Jewish state must be destroyed.
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Another major issue at the Berlin conference was the matter of how best to monitor acts of anti-Semitism, Europe-wide. While the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) serves as the OSCE's own monitoring arm, it has only recently begun to carry out any kind of systematic process of gathering accurate data on anti-Semitic acts in the OSCE member-states. For there to be a coordinated approach to combating the phenomenon, one needs to have factual information on what is happening, and where.
ODIHR's involvement in this effort is indispensable, and it must be provided with the necessary funding to implement this information- and data-gathering process. And yet, even on this question, some member-states initially balked, citing budgetary concerns or doubts as to whether national governments could demand such information from provinces or states.
To capitalize upon the progress made at the Berlin conference, OSCE member-states should actively carry out their own recommendations. Some of these proposals include an informal exchange of ''best practices'' between nations; government support for anti-hate programs; assistance in facilitating the prosecution of anti-Semitic crimes; and the promotion of academic exchange and educational programs.
Furthermore, as we look forward to the Cordoba conference this June, there must be ongoing work in the areas of legislation; law enforcement; education; media; and general monitoring of anti-Semitic hate crimes. Progress in these spheres will require a continuation of the collaborative effort of friendly countries and NGOs in order for the promise of Berlin to be realized in a serious way. Education ministers and justice ministers, for example, should regularly meet in multilateral forums to develop an ongoing form of cooperation on matters related to anti-Semitism and hate crimes. Governments should actively support the important work of the International Task Force on Holocaust Education. And as OSCE member-states create legislation, they should call on the experience of NGOsmany of whom met the day before the opening of the Berlin OSCE plenary and agreed on their own highly detailed proposal to combat anti-Semitismto assist them in this effort.
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Another action the OSCE could take to elevate the problem of anti-Semitism on the organization's agenda, now that a special representative has been appointed to deal with the issue, would be to extend his term, which is currently scheduled to expire on December 31. German parliamentarian Gert Weisskirchen, who has been appointed by and is working closely with the OSCE chair, should have the prestige, the profile, and the resourceson an ongoing basisto bring the OSCE's influence to bear in addressing the problem.
Mr. Chairman, European leaders attending opening ceremonies at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem just yesterday vowed to fight the rising anti-Semitism in their countries. In a moving display, leaders such as German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin promised to be vigilant against the world's oldest and most resilient social pathology. But as the evidence in the two recent State Department reports indicates, much work remains to be done in this regard. The incidents and statistics detailed in the 2004 Human Rights Report and the Report on Global Anti-Semitism, some of which I have cited in my remarks today, are painful reminders of the urgency of the problem we continue to face.
As we gauge our progress in the struggle against anti-Semitism, let us draw reassurance from the positive atmosphere of the Berlin conference and the promise of the Cordoba conference, but let us also commit ourselves to sustaining the forward momentum of these gatherings. Sixty years after the Holocaust, and nearly five years after the start of the current rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, let us embrace one of the central messages of the Berlin conference: that complacency and passivity in the face of anti-Semitism can no longer be tolerated.
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Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you very much, Mr. Mariaschin. Thank you. I would just note for the record that you were very helpful in establishing the Berlin and, before that, the Vienna conferences as well, and I do appreciate the good work and leadership you provide.
Our next witness, Mr. Viacohrka.
STATEMENT OF MR. VINCUK VIACOHRKA, CHAIRMAN, BELARUS POPULAR FRONT PARTY
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Mr. VIACOHRKA. Thank you. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am grateful for the attention this Committee, as well as the Helsinki Commission, has focused on the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus and for your personal involvement in passing the Belarus Democracy Act. It is important that Members of Congress recognize that the lack of political freedom in Belarus is an important piece of the overall lack of human rights there.
The recently released United States State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices paints a bleak picture of the human rights situation in my country. I am here today to personally attest to this. If anything, the situation is getting worse by the day. Let me mention only recent facts.
Just last week, we received reports that Michail Marynic, one of the opposition leaders, suffered a stroke after being unjustly detained by the KGB. Marynic sits in prison, accused of stealing United States Government computers, despite the fact that the United States Embassy has stated that the computers are being loaned to him and have not been stolen. He was moved to a prison outside of the capital and was then denied access to needed medicine and suffered a stroke. Unfortunately, this mistreatment is all too familiar in Belarus. Viktar Hancar, Anatol Krasouski, Jury Zacharanka, and Dzmitry Zavadksi all suffered fates far worse than Marynic.
After the 2004 parliamentary elections, which were assessed as fraudulent by the majority of international observing missions, numerous party activists, including party leaders in attendance today, Anatol Labiedzka and Mikalaj Statkievic, suffered severely for their protestations during the most recent elections. Mr. Labiedzka was severely beaten; Statkievic and Youth Leader Paval Sieviaryniec, as well present here, were imprisoned.
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Simply claiming that the elections were fraudulent is dangerous in my country. During the elections, I participated in a press conference with two other party leaders present here, Mr. Labiedzka and Mr. Siarhiej Kalakin, where the examples of electoral fraud were detailed. As a result of this press conference, the criminal case of libel against Lukashenko is now prosecuted.
The people of Belarus suffer from the lack of economic freedom and fair legislation. Recently, small vendors carried out acts of civil disobedience throughout Belarus, including strikes and meetings, protesting against a double taxation. Now, Anatol Sumcanka, the leader of their association, is falsely accused of assaulting his prison cellmate and is expecting a long-term imprisonment. Four leaders of vendors' actions and political activists in Hrodna City and one in Recyca were sentenced for administrative terms. This one in Recyca is sentenced to spend his term in a very cold cell where the ice is now on the floor.
Let me remind the Subcommittee that in Hrodna City, two people, Valery Levanieuski and Alaksandar Vasiljeu, have already spent years in prison for libel against the President. Ironically, Constitution Day, March 15th, was marked by a new series of arbitrary arrests. Young activists tried to carry out a mock funeral for democracy, commemorating the holiday. They were immediately arrested before the peaceful protest and immediately sentenced to prison.
The structures of civil society are consistently destroyed by the regime. After closure of dozens of pro-democratic NGOs and labor unions, the Government has focused its attention on the political parties. It leads to the counseling of the registration of democratic political parties in Belarus.
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I fully agree with an assessment of the situation with media in Belarus made by the United States deputy representative to the OSCE Permanent Council, Paul Jones. After closure of 25 media outlets during the last year, it is impossible for the majority of Belarusan people to obtain independent information about their own country and the outside world. Meanwhile, Mr. Lukashenko has launched his satellite TV for Russia, Ukraine, and Baltic States with anti-Western, anti-American, totalitarian propaganda. This means that the existence of alternative information space, including printed media, radio from abroad, and satellite TV, becomes a priority for the democratization of Belarus.
It is not only the political rights that are violated in my country. The same is true with regards to educational, cultural, and linguistic rights, all of which are violated according to the ideology of a Soviet-style cult of personality. The only high-profile high school with instruction in the Belarusan language in Minsk, Humanities Lyceum, was closed by the Government a year ago. The pupils continue their activities in the underground. After protesting in Minsk's central square with posters stating, ''We want to study in our native language,'' they were detained and beaten by the special police for their actions.
As for freedom of belief, only the Russian Orthodox Church enjoys full support from the State, despite the history of traditional multi-confessionalism in Belarus. Numerous Protestant beliefs, as well as Belarusan Autocephalous Orthodox Church, claim they are deprived of equal rights. Additionally, the authorities have a record of anti-Semitism with the destruction of an historical synagogue in the center of Minsk and of a Jewish cemetery in Hrodna. No excuse from the Government for this.
Page 151 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Over the past year, numerous actions and statements have been made by the United States Government that have energized our movement. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Belarus an ''outpost of tyranny.'' Speaking to a crowd of thousands in Bratislava, President Bush stated that ''the people of Belarus will someday proudly belong to the family of democracies.''
We are grateful for these statements; however, more needs to be done. The Belarus Democracy Act needs concrete instruments to fulfill its purpose. The unanimous position on Belarus by the United States and the European Union should be followed by practical steps. Lukashenko is reaching out to corrupt regimes in Iran and Libya for support. Russian President Putin has made it clear that keeping Lukashenko in place is a priority. Simply put, Belarus marks the final regime that Putin can rely upon. He will do all in his power to keep it this way.
However, the situation is not hopeless. Ukraine's Orange Revolution had a profound impact on the people of Belarus. Lukashenko, too, was influenced by the revolution. In fact, he recently issued a decree granting himself the right to directly order Internal Forces to use arms.
However, according to an exit poll conducted by the International Republican Institute and the Gallup Organization 3 months ago, Mr. Lukashenko only received 48 percent of the vote on his referendum to change the Constitution and only 39 percent for his personal support. While he ultimately chose to ignore the results of the voting, the democracy movement was buoyed by the results of the exit poll.
Building on this, our coalition has expanded to include more parties and more NGOs. We have drafted a detailed democratic plan to select a candidate for the Presidential elections next year. We understand that any success of democracy in Belarus, the last dark spot on the map of Central Eastern Europe, depends on our unity.
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Mr. Chairman, I understand that my time before you today is limited. I am available to answer any questions, and, once again, I thank you for the opportunity to appear here today. I would like to submit my written testimony to the Subcommittee. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Viacohrka follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MR. VINCUK VIACAE5OHRKA, CHAIRMAN, BELARUS POPULAR FRONT PARTY
Congressman Smith, Members of the Subcommittee, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am grateful for the attention this committee has focused on the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus and for your involvement in passing the Belarus Democracy Act. It is important that Members of Congress recognize that the lack of political freedom in Belarus is an important piece of the overall lack of human rights in Belarus. The Members of the House International Relations Committee have taken the lead in doing this.
The recently released United States Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices paints a bleak picture of the human rights situation in Belarus. I am here today to personally attest to this. If anything, the situation is getting worse by the day. Just last week, we received reports that Michail MarynicAE5 suffered a stroke due to the lack of medical attention he received while being unjustly detained by the KGB.
Michail MarynicAE5's story is but one of the many struggles facing the leaders of the Belarus democracy movement. MarynicAE5 sits in prison, accused of stealing United States Government computers, despite the fact that the United States Embassy has stated that the computers are being loaned to MarynicAE5 and have not been stolen. He was moved out to a prison about 100 kilometers outside of the capital and was then denied access to needed medicine and suffered a stroke.
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Unfortunately, this mistreatment is all too familiar in Belarus. Viktar HancAE5ar, Anatol Krasouski, Jury Zacharanka, and Dzmitry Zavadskiall suffered fates far worse than MarynicAE5.
After the 2004 parliamentary elections, which were assessed as fraudulent by the majority of international observing missions, numerous party activists, including two party leaders in attendance today, Anatol Labiedzka and Mikalaj Statkievic, suffered severely for their actions during the most recent elections. Mr. Labiedzka was severely beaten; Statkievic and youth leader Paval Sieviaryniec were imprisoned.
Simply claiming that the elections were fraudulent is dangerous in my country. After the elections, I participated in a press conference with two other party leaders present here, Mr. Labiedzka and Mr. Siarhiej Kalakin, where we detailed examples of electoral fraud by the Belarusian authorities. As a result of this press conference, we have now been accused of libel against Lukashenko.
Recently, small vendors carried acts of civil disobedience throughout Belarus, including strikes and meetings, protesting against a double taxation. Now, Anatol SAE5umcAE5anka, the leader of their association ''Perspektyva,'' is falsely accused of assaulting his prison cellmate and is expecting a long-term imprisonment. Leaders of vendors' actions and political activists in Hrodna (Horadnia city), namely Vadzim Sarancukou, Zmicier Ivanouski, Mikola Lemianouski, and journalist Andrej Pacobut were sentenced for administrative terms, as well as Leanid Nievar in RecAE5yca city. Let me remind the Subcommittee, that in Hrodna, two peopleValery Levanieuski and Alaksandar Vasiljeuare already in prison for libel against the president.
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Ironically, Constitution Day, March 15, was marked by a series of arbitrary arrests. Young activists Zmicier DasAE5kievicAE5 and Artur FinkievicAE5 tried to carry out a mock funeral for democracy commemorating the holiday''Funeral of the Constitution''. The authorities learned of their planned protest and they were arrested before the protest and immediately sentenced to prison.
The structures of civil society are consistently destroyed by the regime. After closure of dozens of pro-democratic NGOs, the government has focused its attention on the political parties. The Labour Party was just eliminated by a decision made by the Supreme Court, which is controlled by Lukashenko, and now the local cells of other parties are losing their official registration.
I fully agree with an assessment of the situation with media in Belarus made by U.S. Deputy Representative to the OSCE Council Paul W. Jones. After closure of 25 media outlets during the last year, it is impossible for the majority of Belarusian people to obtain independent information about their own country and the outside world.
It is not only the political rights that are violated in my country. The same is true with regards to educational, cultural, and linguistic rights, all of which are violated according to the ideology of a Soviet-style cult of personality. The only high-profile high school with instruction in Belarusian in MinskHumanities Lyceumwas closed by the government a year ago. Despite the closure, the pupils continue their activities in the undergroundtrying to defend their rights on the First School Day holiday by protesting in Minsk's central square with posters stating, ''We want to study in our native language.'' They were detained and beaten by the special police for their actions.
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As for freedom of belief, only the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) enjoys full support from the state, despite the history of traditional multi-confessionalism in Belarus. Numerous Protestant beliefs, as well as Belarusan Autocephalous Orthododox Church, claim they are deprived of equal rights with the ROC. Additionally, the authorities have a record of anti-Semitism with the destruction of a historical synagogue in Minsk and of a Jewish cemetery in Hrodna.
However, the situation is not hopeless. I am in Washington this week with a delegation of Belarusan pro-democracy leaders who are present here and may confirm my words. We are visiting key members of the Administration, House, and Senate, as well as NGOs to shed light on the current situation as well as articulate our plan for the 2006 presidential elections.
Despite being not so large in size, Belarus is important. As the final dictatorship in Europe, bringing democracy to Belarus marks the final step in fully restoring democracy on the continent. Until Belarus is democratic, Europe is not safe; so long as a corrupt regime is in place anywhere inside the continent, Europe is not safe.
However, too many people see the situation in Belarus as one that is too difficult. They are wrong. The democratic opposition is united and ready to campaign, despite real personal risks, to advance the democratic cause in Belarus. We are putting aside our personal aspirations to run the country in the interest of ensuring that a democratic leader is elected in Belarus.
Over the past year, numerous actions and statements have been made by the United States Government that have energized our movement. As I acknowledged earlier, the House and Senate passed the Belarus Democracy Act, a very important piece of legislation to those involved in bringing democracy to Belarus. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Belarus an ''outpost of tyranny'' in her confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Speaking to a crowd of thousands in Bratislava, President Bush stated that, ''the people of Belarus will someday proudly belong to the country of democracies. Eventually, the call of liberty comes to every mind and every soul.''
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We are grateful for these statements. However, more needs to be done. The Belarus Democracy Act needs concrete instruments to fulfill its purpose. Lukashenka is reaching out to corrupt regimes in Iran and Libya for support. Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it clear that keeping Lukashenka in place is a priority. Simply put, Belarus marks the final regime that Putin can rely upon. He will do all in his power to keep it that way.
The European Parliament recently recognized Belarus as the last dictatorship in Europe. There are several concrete steps that Europe, together with the U.S., can take to promote democracy in Belarus. Unlike Ukraine, which had Channel 5, Belarus has no independent television or radio stations. I would like to see the Europeans assist Belarus in immediately supporting the still existing independent printed media, and in setting up additional independent media sources, like TV and FM/AM radio, to counter the state-run media, which is the only news that the people of Belarus have access to.
Much in the same way that political parties of different ideologies have united behind a common strategy to compete in the 2006 elections, the international community must unite. This is even more important in light of the recent success by our brothers in Ukraine. More so than the Rose Revolution in Georgia, Ukraine's Orange Revolution had a profound impact on the people of Belarus. Lukashenka, too, was influenced by the revolution. In fact, he recently issued a decree granting himself the right to directly order Internal Forces to use arms.
For the parliamentary elections in 2004, the Five Plus Coalition came together with a common platform for a group of six pro-democracy parties and non-partisan activist organizations. We achieved significant success in the 2004 election. According to an exit poll conducted by the International Republican Institute and the Gallup organization, Mr. Lukashenka only received 48 percent of the vote on his referendum to change the constitution to allow him to seek a third term in office. While he ultimately choose to ignore the results of the voting, the democracy movement was buoyed by results of the exit poll.
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Building on this, our coalition has expanded to include more parties and more NGOs. Four additional political organizations from the European Coalition have joined together with the parties and organizations in Five Plus to form a coalition for 2006. We have drafted a detailed, democratic plan to select a candidate for the presidential elections. We understand that any electoral success depends on our unity, and we will all campaign for this candidate.
Mr. Chairman, I understand that my time before you today is limited. I am available to answer any questions that the committee has for me. And once again, I thank you for the opportunity to appear here today.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Mr. Viacohrka, thank you so much for your testimony and for the bravery that you have exhibited throughout these many years in speaking out for democracy and human rights in Belarus and for being here. Your presence here today sends a clear and unmistakable message about not only what is going on on the ground in Belarus but the fact that there is a strong group of individuals who are very strong-willed and full of passion who are speaking out against the abuses.
We will do everything we can, and your point about how more needs to be done and that the Belarus Democracy Act needs to fulfill its promise, and that is to provide those necessary resources, you heard our Ambassador earlier today testify, and I can assure you, we will work very hard on this Committee to make sure that those resources are there. It is a matter of when and not ''if'' that democracy does break out in Belarus, and the sooner, the better, obviously.
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I do have a couple of questions, and then I will yield to my good friend and colleague, Mr. Payne. If you want to respond any further, your time is not limited. If you have more to say, we want to hear it.
I would like to ask Mr. Akwei: One of the things that we are trying to do is to figure out what more needs to be done with regards to Sudan and many other countries where there are ongoing problems. Mr. Tancredo, to my right, as you know, was the leader on the Sudan Peace Act, and one of the provisions he had in that piece of legislation that all of us, at least those of us who thought that it was a very useful tool, was to allow for the delisting of those companies that are aiding and abetting the killing fields in Sudan.
In particular, Mr. Payne and I wrote and admonished our own States to divest themselves of Talisman Oil, which was obviously providing petrodollars to keep the killing fields going in Sudan. And, of course, the legislation that Mr. Tancredo was offering had that provision in there, but, regrettably, it was taken out, and it was against his will, my will, and many others people's will who wanted that in there.
My question would be: Do you think that is something we should reenergize in terms of a useful tool, because not only would companies like Talisman Oil but the company that is based in China would also find itself being denied access to capital from United States markets as a result if they were, indeed, delisted.
Also, if I could, you mentioned Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Uganda, that it is not good enough, because they are good, key allies, that we cease boldly speaking truth to power. My question would be: Are the Country Reports of Human Rights Practices accurate as it relates to those three countries since we have a good relationship with each? It is important that these reports be as accurate as possible.
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Let me ask you, Mr. Malinowski, with regards to the rapporteur on torture, and you have spoken to so many countries, and time does not permit to go into every one of them, but you heard earlier, and I know you know, that there will be a rapporteur on torture deployed to China. It has been my experience that sometimes the rapporteurs do an outstanding job; other times, they exchange letters and really get very little accomplished. Have you had access to any of the terms of reference that he might be using to ensure that he has an access to the prisons in China so he can go anywhere he wants to go and do a report that is real and not half a loaf?
On Burma, I am glad you raised that, and I wanted to raise that earlier, but time did not permit it. Is there anything else you might want to speak to on Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi and the ethnic cleansing that you speak about in your testimony?
Just finally, and we will get to a second round if your time permits it, but, Mr. Mariaschin, the Cordoba conference is upcoming; what are your hopes and expectations there? As you know, there is an effort now underway to train the trainers, for police to train USAID. We think it will be a fully-funded effort to make sure that police understand.
You spoke to it in your testimony that, very often, acts of anti-Semitism are mischaracterized, and if Nathan Chiransky said anything, he said it very clearly in Berlin, that chronicling the abuse is the beginning of rectifying it, and if the people do not know what they are looking at, if the police arrive at a synagogue, and swastikas are all over it, and they say ''hooliganism'' or some other characterization, they have missed by a mile what is actually happening there.
Page 160 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I will never forget, in BerlinI will say this to the panel and especially to Mr. Mariaschinwhen we were at the Berlin conference, the head rabbi of Berlin said, ''It is not the way it looks here.'' He goes:
''A few years ago, I could wear my yarmulke, I could travel on public transportation without any fear. Now I take a taxi because I am not sure what is going to come my way because things have changed so dramatically in Berlin.''
Mr. Akwei, if you could begin.
Mr. AKWEI. Sure. As you know, our organization has never taken a position on economic sanctions, not just because of internal policies, but I think that Mr. Tancredo's efforts and Mr. Payne's and all of the efforts to maximize pursuing the Sudanese Government are the only way forward.
I think that the Government, its allies, and, unfortunately, I would also argue, even some members of the African Union need to make a decision as to whether they are for the people of Darfur and Sudan or whether they are for the Government of Sudan, and that seems to be our big stumbling block at this point. They have deployed troops on the ground. These troops are supposed to protect the monitors. Some of them are doing an outstanding job, but then you also get reports that they do not want a referral to an international court. They do not want a mechanism, and, in some cases, you hear reports that they would like to have a mechanism in Sudan itself to try the atrocities in Darfur.
So I think that, in some cases, some of these hard discussions about putting your money where your mouth is in terms of wanting assistance, wanting investment, and accountability on human rights have to be taken to these African governments, even as we support them and improve the work that they are doing in terms of actual peacekeeping on the ground in Sudan.
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In terms of the accuracy of the reports, I think, absolutely, they are accurate. That is the real tragedy. As Tom said, you look at the detail, and you have seen it the year before, and there is no change, and it makes you wonder what happens with the reports. The gap between what the report says is happening and the political will to increase pressure or to raise difficult issues seems to be widening, and, in particular, there are concerns about copycat or worse versions of legislation allegedly designed to combat terrorist organizations by governments that are abusive, even to begin with, and that is extremely alarming.
So I think that, yes, in particular, in those countries, we found no shading or gray areas, but the problem is, is there going to be follow-up?
Mr. MALINOWSKI. Thanks. You asked about the torture rapporteur, and as you said, some rapporteurs are better or stronger than others. The torture rapporteur is fantasticforceful, fearlessand has done fantastic work in places like Uzbekistan, for example, and demands proper terms of reference, including access to everyone.
Now, Mr. Kozak said today that China has agreed to allow the torture rapporteur in based on his terms of reference. I assume that is good news. I would like to see the details, obviously, before rendering more of a judgment, and that is a very useful step because he will go in, if he, indeed, can, and find what we all know he will find and leave behind a series of very precise, specific, hard-hitting recommendations, which we will then be able to use with the Chinese Government and say, this is not just the United States demanding these things but an agent of the United Nations, which is important for legitimacy.
Page 162 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On Burma, very little good news. Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest, as do, well, more than 1,000 political prisoners, not under house arrest but in prison, subject to torture. A few releases over the last year, but many more arrests than releases. As you mentioned, an ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing by the Burmese military against ethnic minority people in the outlying areas of the country, which we have been watching and observing and denouncing for many years.
I really do believe it is time to start investigating properly with the aim of actually holding specific Burmese officials and military officers accountable in, hopefully, someday the International Court. We have not gone that route, in part, because Aung San Suu Kyi has been so focused on reconciliation, and God bless her. But I think the time has come to really begin seriously putting that on the table, and if the Burmese Government wants to avoid it, well, they, you know, had better deal with Aung San Suu Kyi, who may be the only person who can ultimately save them from that kind of accountability.
Perhaps the only good news on Burma is that there is increasing activism in the region, which is always a good thing to hear, particularly from members of parliament in other ASEAN countriesthe Philippines, Indonesia, and so forthand that is something that I would encourage you all, as American parliamentarians, to engage in: To work with newly-elected, increasingly democratic parliaments in the region in Southeast Asia to try to bring more pressure to bear on their Governments to put more pressure on the Burmese Government. Thank you.
Mr. MARIASCHIN. Before addressing the Cordoba meeting itself, Mr. Chairman, I would just like to make a couple of comments about OSCE itself. The Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, ODIHR, as its known by its acronym, is the monitoring mechanism, as you know, for the OSCE, and it has only recently begun to carry out any kind of systematic process of gathering data on anti-Semitic acts in the OSCE member states. And it is important that before we can begin to really assess how deep the problem goes, that that monitoring get moving.
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Funding is an important part of that. There are some funding problems, and, frankly, there are countries who have been dragging their feet on this issue by raising budgetary concerns and over whether or not this monitoring could be able to demand information from provinces or from member states. But the will is there, the mandate has been set, and we need to move ODIHR to gather this information.
Secondly, as was referenced by Secretary Kozak, the OSCE now has a special representative dealing with anti-Semitism, also one dealing with Islamaphobia and one dealing with Christianaphobia. The term for the special representative, and the one who handles anti-Semitism is a member of the German Parliament, Gert Weisskirchen, who really is topnotch, one of the best, I think, appointments that could possibly be made for handling this. But his term expires December 31st, and it is important that this term be extended so that Gert and the others can work with the Chair in office to accomplish the important monitoring mechanism that they have.
As far as Cordoba is concerned, there were people who did not want to have, and countries that did not want to have, a Vienna conference, and then, as you know, they did not want to have a Berlin conference. Now, we have the third conference, and we see the merit and the value in meeting annually, frankly, to assess exactly what is being done to grapple with these problems and to deal with anti-Semitism.
So, for Cordoba, we look for discussions on best practices regarding legislation; law enforcement training, which you have referenced; education; the media; and general monitoring of anti-Semitic hate crimes. And we would like to see specifics about how education ministers and justice ministers, for example, could regularly meet in multilateral forums and develop an ongoing form of cooperation on those specific areas where their interests and their influence can be brought to bear.
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Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you. Mr. Payne?
Mr. PAYNE. Thank you very much. I have a question that maybe Mr. Akwei might be able to address. I have heard very little in OSCE or in European countries in general, and I am not sure whether this is your area or not, or anyone else who might want to commentI have been following the reports of the increase in anti-Semitism in Europe, and the issues have been brought up, and there is acknowledgement of it and work toward it.
I have heard, in several European countries, that there is an increase in sort of racism in general, difficulty in Africans getting housing and proper protection under the law. Belgium has a large, new population. In England, there has been tension in the prisons, several deaths by the police system they use, the choke lock or something, that they have had several deaths in the prisons.
And I wonder if OSCE or anybody is paying any attention toand even in Ireland, and they have been doing great with the tremendous growth, but the African immigrants in Ireland are having an extremely difficult time with immigration authorities. That is in Ireland, not in the North of Ireland.
I have had some discussions with some of my friends in the North of Ireland who also are very disturbed at what they see happening in Ireland with Africans and Caribbeans trying to get into Ireland because they say, well, we have been fighting injustice from Protestants and the Brits all of these years, and to see our people using discrimination against another group, some of the ones that are being really criticized, the Sinn Fein people, were discussing their disapproval of what is happening in Ireland. As you know, they have been sort of persona non grata because of what happened there, although I think we are making a mistake if we isolate the organization, and I think that dialogue is very important and that an incident is a setback, but you do not throw out the baby with the bath water.
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But, anyway, on that, have you heard any discussion, or has Amnesty International been taking any surveys, or has there been any kind of reporting done on that, to your knowledge?
Mr. AKWEI. I will be honest. I can go back and find out for you. I, myself, do not have that knowledge. I know that we do work on asylum issues and treatment of African immigrants, and I am sure that I can get you information, and I promise I will do that.
Mr. PAYNE. Thank you very much.
On the DRC, unfortunately, I missed most of your testimony on Darfur and all of yours, but you are the gentleman that took the photographs that Senator Brownback had, and you are also showing your photographs tomorrow at the Holocaust Museum.
Let me commend you for the work that you have done, and Senator Corazine also spoke to me yesterday about the fact that the photos and what you have testified and have shown were really worth a thousand words and that we may want to see if we can get you to come up to New Jersey at some point.
But let me ask a question about the DRC and its elections. Anyone can try to answer that. The elections are due in June. I do not feel that the country is ready for elections in June. In the accord, it said that if it is not ready, there should be a 6-month reevaluation at two 6-month triggers, and I do not like to delay things. But there is a group that is coming around that has been advocating having the elections in June. I think that Tesakaty's party, evidently they might feel they have more going, so let us get them over with; he might win.
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I just think that if you have elections that are flawed, you just set the clock back, and the DRC has been in turmoil ever since they murdered Patrice Lamumba, and to push an election in 3 months, rather than maybe 18 months from now, would be foolish, in my opinion. What is your opinion about whether the country is ready for elections 2 months from now?
Mr. AKWEI. Again, I want to be clear. We usually do not take a position on elections, but we do talk about conditions for elections because they are directly linked to fundamental civil liberties and human rights, and, like you, I would have to say that the conditions do not exist. In all honesty, the parties that ''will be contesting the election'' are limited to the capital.
Mr. PAYNE. That is right.
Mr. AKWEI. The rest of the country is, at best, loosely affiliated based on personal allegiances. I think that it would probably behoove interested governments to really focus more on reestablishing some kind of accountability and connectivity in the country as opposed to working on a poll that is going to happen in 3 months, and as you said, that could easily not only inflame competition in the center and thereby lose the ground that has been gained over the last few years, but that could also basically just continue this disintegration that is happening.
So I think, yes, in terms of conditions, it would be very hard to see free-and-fair elections in 3 months in the DRC.
Page 167 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PAYNE. Finally, on Darfur, as you know, Congressman Tancredo and I, and Mr. Smith, we pushed for capital market sanctions before, and we have been discussing attempting to do that again. We had it passed, but there was pressure from the Wall Street types that say, ''Well, you cannot do that.'' Now, I know that Amnesty International does not advocate sanctions and all.
As a matter of fact, I was very disturbed, but I got a little better news today from my brother, who is an assemblyman in the State of New Jersey, that legislation passed that the State of New Jersey has about $5 billion invested in companies that do business in Sudan, and although it is restricted in the United States, companies that do business in New Jersey do business in Sudan, although they may not specifically be United States companies. And so his legislation was to then have those companies divest from Sudan, just invest the money somewhere else, because this is pension money from workers in New Jersey. His pension is being used to support the Government of Sudan.
There is $100 billion in oil, and I started a move with the state legislatures, and with the bill that he has passed, we sent it around to a number of States, and Illinois and California are looking at it and New York State. However, the treasurer of New Jersey, a week ago, was saying that he really did not think that the State should take money out of profit-making investments, but I think there has been a change because some of the photos and things that my brother brought forth to some of the authorities in New Jersey, I understand the bill may be posted next week.
What do you think, either one of you, who are not necessarily bound by the bylaws of the institution on sanctions? We have tried everything else, and the Government just seems to continue to look the other way.
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What do you think about, secondly, the PRC, the People's Republic of China, being on the Security Council, having the veto threat, and Russia, both of them dealing with oil? Petro China is, as you know, the biggest. They even had Chinese troops in Sudan during the time of the North-South fighting. And Talisman; as Congressman Smith said, we have forced the government of New Jersey to finally divest, but then it was picked up. Talisman moved out, and the oil was turned over to Malaysia and the PRC, and they continue to try to keep any strong resolution from the Security Council, although our Nation has its normal trade relation and balance-of-trade deficit, so, you know, that is another issue another day.
But how can China sit around and make billions of dollars off of the United States and then sit there at the Security Council and say, ''We are not going to allow anyone to do anything because we sit on the Security Council and have this vote that we can veto''?
But, anyway, if I could hear some of your feelings on what else can be done because the Government of Sudan is just one of the most nongovernment governments I have ever seen, and the photos of bombing their people with the Antanovs and then strafing them with fighter planes and then having the Janjaweed come on camels and kill and rape and maim, and our Government and the governments of the worldit was very difficult even to get the Europeans to decide that they would even be involved. We went to the meeting in Scotlandremember, Mr. Tancredo?and it was like Nero was fiddling while Rome was burning. They did not know what was going on. Is it really that bad? We have seen a little change, but what about economic sanctions and those things, either one of you?
Page 169 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MALINOWSKI. Economic sanctions, yes, absolutely. Capital markets; I am not an expert in the practicalities of how that would work, but, in principle, if there is a way to raise the cost to Chinese companies of doing business with the Sudanese Government, 100-percent yes. There is not much more beyond that that the United States can do that it has not already done.
There are, obviously, sanctions that the U.N. Security Council can impose beyond that, that European countries can impose beyond that. We still do not have an arms embargo, an effective arms embargo, which is just pathetic after all that has happened. We could impose internationally-targeted sanctions on Sudanese officials, banning their travel, seizing any assets they may have overseas, sanctions that, I think, would be quite effective.
And then, of course, there is accountability and prosecution, which, I think, is the ultimate sanction. We often think of it as sort of a principled thing to, you know, satisfy the victims. It is actually a very practical measure that targets the perpetrators in very real ways.
You mentioned China, which is, of course, a problem in the Security Council. It is a problem, I think, that can be dealt with. Secretary Rice is traveling to China right now. I would like to know how high up on her agenda with the Chinese Government the situation is. I am not confident that it is the first thing in her talking points. You know, we have to be realistic about these things, but when an Administration has declared genocide, I do think that one, a reasonable person, can then ask that it be at the top of the talking points in dealing with a permanent member of the Security Council.
Page 170 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC At the end of the day, though, I do not think the Chinese will veto a resolution, and we have talked to diplomats at the U.N. every day, more than once, about this, and there is a complicated game being played. I think, at the end of the day, if we push them hard, if we work our allies the right way, we can get a resolution that the Chinese will not veto. In fact, I am a little more worried right now about a United States veto than a Chinese veto because of this dispute over the ICC. That is real.
Mr. PAYNE. It is very unfortunate. I would like to see the ICC move forward, but that is a policy decision above my influence. Yes?
Mr. STEIDLE. I think that economic sanctions would be a tremendously good idea. I think, though, that the first thing that needs to happen is the fighting needs to stop, and that is what we need to concentrate on. Let us worry about punishment of the people, and let us worry about whether the U.N. wants to call this genocide or not. Let us separate the issues.
I do not like to put the issues together. I think that the people that have done these things need to be held accountable. They absolutely need to be held accountable, whatever way that is, but what needs to happen first is it needs to stop. Since we have been in this room, more than 50 people in Darfur have died. That is how serious this is, and it has got to stop. Economic sanctions, I think, would be a great way to convince the Government of Sudan to stop it.
Mr. PAYNE. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Page 171 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Yes. You raised earlier the point about the OSCE and racism. We have had conferences at the ministerial level in September 2003 and September 2004. There have been conferences on racism, xenophobia, and discrimination. J.C. Watts led the delegation on one of those. So your point is well taken, and we are, in that organization, trying to get the countries to address the issue of racism in their respective lands, so thank you for raising that.
Mr. TANCREDO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As I sit here today and listen to both the testimony of the Ambassador and these fine gentlemen, the thought keeps running through my mindI think it was Russo who said at one time''Men are born free, and everywhere they are in chains,'' and you think to yourself about the degree to which the President has been able to articulate this philosophy, this idea, that there is a desire for freedom all over the world. It is an innate human desire. Boundaries of countries or cultures really do not influence it, and as I sit here and look at this table, I am impressed by the fact that it is a true statement. There is that innate human desire, and yet it is so difficult in so many places to actually achieve. That is the perplexing dilemma of the human race and none we are going to solve today, of course.
I just want to commend you all, and really the purpose of my stating all of that is that I want to commend you all for trying and for doing what you do to bring about a change in the human condition and the breaking of those chains. Our challenge here, and it is a frustrating one because Mr. Steidle says, you know, let us put things in proper order in Darfur, for instance, and stop the killing now. Well, okay, absolutely. There is not a soul here, not a soul in this room, and not a soul in the Capitol; no one here would disagree with that, yet it is so hard to actually accomplish this task. It is just sometimes so frustrating and so overwhelmingly difficult for us all.
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Let me ask you, the claim, specifically, Mr. Akwei and Mr. Malinowski, actually, anybody who wants to answer it, but I would think that the three of you would have the insight: The claim on the part of the Government is that theyI have heard this voicedthat they really have nothing to do with the Janjaweed. We know, of course, that that is not true. We saw the slides. We saw the helicopters. We know the Antanovs fly.
I guess what I am wondering is: Do they have control? I know the Government is involved with doing this, but what if tomorrow they said, ''Okay. We want to stop them.'' Can they? Are they now in a situation where they may have lost control of this thing that they prompted, they started, they funded, they armed, because the killing in Darfur is not based on some sort of property disputes or even economic? It is a racial issue. It is Arab Muslim against Black Muslim. That is the situation in Darfur. People are being killed because they are Black. There are implications, of course, and other things happening, but it is a racial war, and one wonders whether or not, if the Government says tomorrow, ''Okay, everybody, cool it. Janjaweed, cool it,'' will it happen, do you think?
Mr. STEIDLE. Sir, I know that they have not total control over the Janjaweed. There are going to be groups, there are going to be elements, that do not listen to the Government, but the majority of the Janjaweed, at least the ones that they have equipped, armedthere are other groups, other small factions that act more like bandits that they call in on mercenary missions and pay them money, but the majority of them are controlled directly by the security agencies within the military units, and I believe that they can rein them in, and I believe that they can control them, for the most part. There will always be banditry groups that are out there, but once they rein them in, then they can worry about prosecuting the banditry.
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Mr. TANCREDO. I agree completely. Mr. Akwei?
Mr. AKWEI. Two things. Obviously, I also agree with the assessment of the control of the bulk of the militias.
The second is that even if it were not the case, these African governments have made a commitment under this new African Union charter to allow, in theory, an intervention on behalf of African people. We are still stuck in this governmental niceties type of relationship that we do not do it except with the consent of the Sudanese Government, and the Sudanese Government does not have the moral authority in this case to say, ''We will take care of this,'' even when they know they cannot. And that is what we need to get to change within the leadership of the AU.
Mr. TANCREDO. Yes.
Mr. AKWEI. The second issue, in terms of the defining of the conflict, racial elements, yes. It is a part of it.
Mr. TANCREDO. When they are being raped and being told that the purpose of the rape is to produce lighter-skinned babies you have to think that race has something to do with it.
Mr. AKWEI. It does, but it is not the only driving thing. I think, in many cases, the racial element of it, the structure may have existed in the Darfur region itself, but then the Government, by making use of those militias and the power structure, has aggravated it. And so Mr. Steidle's point about the Government-sponsored-type campaign is very important to be identified and given the same weight as the existing racial tensions that are now playing themselves out in this kind of ugliness.
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Mr. TANCREDO. Yes.
Mr. PAYNE. You are right, and, you know, the devastation, even as one-and-a-quarter million people went over into Chad, to the camps on the eastern part of Chad, other problems are being created in Chad now. I have been there twice in the last 6 or 7 months, and the water is going to dry up in that region in about another year. Now, the people who already live there are now saying, ''Well, what is going to happen to us?'' You have got a million people on their land, and now the tensions start to grow between refugee people, and the people of Government. The President is concerned because, as you know, African countries have cross-border ethnic groups, and this election is coming up, and there is a group that feels he is not doing enough since these people who are being persecuted are from his own ethnic group. And that is why he is allowing them to come in, even though it is having a degradative [sic] effect on the ecology. Of course, it is very fragile up there in that region that these camps are in.
And so, as Mr. Steidle mentioned, you know, people die every day. It is unbelievable, and I agree with you that the AU, unfortunately, this started when the organization started, and, I think, if this were 5 years from now, they would have in place strong practices, best practices. I think that they are starting a new organization and have this tremendous challenge there with Muslim countries.
With Algeria, just because they are Muslim, they were voting against Darfur, our resolutions in Russia, because they are interested in oil. And they do not want to see an oil sanction because what happened with Chechnya, where they have been treating the Chechnyans wrong for all of this time. Unfortunately, the Chechnyans have turned and used terror against children, which, I think, set their cause back because it has been similar to what happened in Northern Ireland with the killing of this Catholic by some Catholics. It has kind of set back a movement.
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These things happen, and I have visited the AU three times in the last 6 months to talk to their leadership about having a sufficient number of troops, having a plan, getting the logistics going again, trying to change the mandate. And so we will continue to try to work with the AU. They mean well, but like I said, it is such a fragile beginning, and I think they are totally overwhelmed.
Mr. AKWEI. I think Tom mentioned a point: The U.S., I think, has created an incredible precedent by declaring this genocide. The U.S. officials have gone very far also, but they need to go that final step of basically dealing with this emergency-type situation. In other words, we need to have Presidential level, Secretary of State level-type interventions with the AU. If this is how important it is, and if we really believe this term to be that important, that is the only acceptable type of energy and nothing less.
Mr. PAYNE. I could not agree with you more. Thank you.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. On that point, I would just remind my colleagues, Don Payne and I tried very hard during the Rwandan massacres to get the word ''genocide,'' to get the Administration then to be, at least, a little bit proactive, and, you recall, they could not utter the word. Not only was our policy feckless and ineffective; we could not even say the word ''genocide'' when 800,000 people were slaughtered.
Mr. TANCREDO. I wanted to ask Mr. Viacohrka something about the situation in Belarus. You know, our hands are tied in so many ways, and I would like to ask you to be as specific and clear as possible about exactly what the United States unilaterally could do, if anything, to change the situation there. In fact, we have been trying to figure that out here quite a bit.
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I wish there were ways that we could act in lieu of something like the World Court and the ICC. If we do not want that, then I sometimes wonder why we cannot act unilaterally to go ahead and indict these people ourselves for war crimes. There is a precedent, after all. Israel did it after the second world war and brought people back and tried them and executed them. It is a different world, and I know all of the kinds of problems we would run into. But what can the United States do unilaterally, do you think, Mr. Viacohrka, in regard to Belarus? What actions can we take in this Congress to change the situation for you and those others who have suffered?
Mr. VIACOHRKA. Thank you for the question. First of all, we do appreciate the consistent and value-based position of the United States and all of the international bodies where the United States participates. The OSCE was a very effective floor for this position of the United States, despite the fact that OSCE sometimes was too weak an instrument to promote democracy in problem countries.
We suppose it is very important to continue the synchronization of policies between the United States and the European Union, and the last resolution of the EU, I suppose, is a result of these consistent efforts to synchronize both the words in which the situation in Belarus is described and concrete steps.
As for instruments, the Belarus Democracy Act provides a couple of effective steps to isolate the regime itself, Lukashenko and his clique, not the country. This is a very important division line, to isolate Lukashenko and not the people, not the country. There are effective means provided by the media like following the accounts of Mr. Lukashenko and so on.
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I must stress that, according to the statement made by the finance minister of Belarus, no ruble acquired from the weapons trade comes to the State budget; it comes from somewhere else. So this is a recognition of the fact that the weapons trade exists, and it does not contribute to the country's welfare.
The Belarus Democracy Act provides other measures like assistance in the creation of alternative information space for the Belarus people. I do hope our people are ready for democracy. They are eager to see changes, and, as it was in Ukraine half a year ago, a few people in Ukraine made forecasts that something like it happened could happen at all. But the information channels were prepared, and the democratic job in regions throughout the country was supported. That is a kind of example for us as well, and this is a hint of what needs to be done for the changes in Belarus. We are convinced that without a democratic Belarus, the stability in our region is not finally done. The Central Eastern European region cannot be described as democratic without Belarus.
Mr. TANCREDO. Thank you, sir.
Mr. PAYNE. You mentioned Ukraine. I happen to have spent Christmas week in Iraq and Afghanistan. We left Christmas night, which happened to be the eve of the election in Ukraine, and had a chance to be around at the pre-election, and then, on election day, monitored, went to a number of polling sites, and it was really very inspiring to see the turnout. This was their fourth election, I think, in 2 months, and people were still very anxious. But then the evening after the polls closed, to see the tens of thousands of people out in the square where, you know, once democracy started to catch hold, the people really were determined that it was irreversible. They were going to have a fair-and-free election, and we sort of evaluated the election the next day and came up with our feeling that it was fair and free.
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But the point is, I think that once a movement gets going, people see that one person can really get things moving in the right direction, and so I hope that even in Uzbekistan where they are strugglingI had some opportunities to stay therethey have some good leadership that, with encouragement, I think, from the Europeans and from the United States, I think that we can see a transformation from the former Warsaw Pact countries and see democracy flourish in those countries. Thank you.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. I know it is late, and you have been so patient with your time and generous with it. I do have a couple of additional questions, and then we will submit some for the record.
I think, Mr. Malinowski, you made a very compelling point about the importance of timeliness in getting this referred to a competent court of jurisdiction, justice and accountability, as you pointed out, and I think your point about how it would take at least a year to construct the Sierra Leone type of court is a very good point, and your point about the referral to the Security Council, likewise, covers one of the objections that the Administration has.
I will try and do my level best because I think, while the ICC has some flaws, in my view, there are a number of ongoing atrocities that I personally would like to refer to it, not to mention Cuba, what has gone in China and other places certainly are crimes, heinous crimes, so your point, I think, is very well taken.
I would like you, if you could, to give us any evidence you might have about how many detaineesor, at least, a numberhave been sent to third countries, either now or for the record. I think that would be very helpful because that is a serious problem that we need to confront in our own backyard in terms of our performance.
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Mr. Akwei, if you could respond. You mentioned how several of usI think you raised that pointhave raised individual cases vis-a-vis Eritrea. I raised the case of Fesshaye Yonhannes, a woman who got pre-cleared, if you will, by the Embassy right here, the Eritrean Embassy, and I talked to the Eritrean Ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, who promised me he would look into it. A year later, as far as I know, nothing has happened, and here is a mother who went over with the precondition that nothing would happen to her, and then the Government, you know, picked her up.
And, Mr. Malinowski, you might want to speak to the issue of Rachel Corrie, which was raised earlier, if your organization has done any reporting on her tragic death and whether or not the Israeli Government and the United States Government has done what it ought to do to investigate that very tragic passing.
And if I could, on Ireland, it being St. Patrick's Day, and the fact that just yesterday, Mr. Payne and I held a very long but, I think, very insightful hearing on the ongoing problems of Patrick Fanoogan and we had Geraldine Fanoogan as our lead witness, and she spoke to the fact that, 16 years later, the issue of collusion remains unsettled, and now the Government of the U.K. is poised to pass an inquiries bill which will probably make that inquiry impossible.
Without objection, I would like to include in the record a letter from the Honorable Peter Cory, the eminent jurist who was picked by the Blair Government and the Verdia Hearn Government to determine whether or not a public inquiry was justified. He has saidand he has been very, very severe and, I think, accurate in his criticismthat a public inquiry, under the new law that may be passed shortly by the British Parliament, will make such an inquiry impossible.
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[The information referred to follows:]
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. As a matter of fact, he calls it an ''intolerable, Alice-in-Wonderland situation'' because the ministers will have the ability to set terms of reference, to tell the justice of the commission what they can do and what they cannot do. That would be like having members of the President's Cabinet investigate themselves and say it is an absolute, impartial inquiry. It looks like a farce in the making. If you might want to speak to that, I would appreciate that. And I do have other questions, but for the sake of time, we will defer and submit them for the record.
Mr. MALINOWSKI. Sure. Thank you. First of all, I appreciate your comments on Darfur. Maybe we should talk more with your office about the complexities at the Security Council of that situation. We very much appreciate any help that you can offer.
On rendition and the numbers, of course, nobody knowswell, somebody knows, but we do not know. I would imagine it is dozens or maybe low hundreds, but that is speculation. But we can send you what information we do have based on what has been admitted publicly, and that gives us, I think, a picture of the totals and, more importantly, the kinds of countries that people are being sent to.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Do you have any confidence that the report of the Convention Against Torture, that the Ambassador spoke of earlier, will include information on those?
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Mr. MALINOWSKI. I have confidence that it will include a vague statement that the commitments are being met by virtue of the fact that the United States receives assurances from these countries, which the State Department will argue is sufficient, which we would argue is just not sufficient when it is Syria or Saudi Arabia.
On Rachel Corrie, I do not believe that we have investigated the case ourselves, but we are aware of it. We agree that the Israeli investigation was insufficient. We have also done extensive work on this larger issue of home demolitions where we found, regrettably, that there has been quite a high degree of indiscriminate violence that has been harmful to human rights and also harmful to Israel's legitimate security interests. We can get you more details on that and any more details we may have on Rachel's case as well. Thank you.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Mr. Akwei?
Mr. AKWEI. I will definitely want to get you the most recent updates on thebut I can tell you now [off mike] that she was a spy, and she had not done that yet. I will also provide you the names of the others who have also been in detention for about 2 years who are also part of a larger group of thousands of local prisoners that we do know [off mike]. So I will direct them to do that.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. I appreciate that.
Would anybody else like to add anything before we close?
Page 182 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PAYNE. Just on the Northern Ireland situation, you know, we were trying to get the Pat Fanoogan going, but also, Rosemary Nelson's case is going to be sort of similar to that. And I had the opportunity to visit the late Rosemary Nelson's husband 6 or 7 months ago in Northern Ireland, and, you know, the authorities have never even interviewed him yet on circumstances surrounding the death.
Like I said, the incidents that happened in the north of Ireland with Sinn Fein and the IRA and all; by the authorities, RUC, not moving rapidly enough and doing the right thing, one of the problems is that there is the lack of confidence in the policing up there, and that is why people do not go to the authorities to say, ''I want to give you evidence,'' and so forth, because the RUC has been so anti-Republican that they have this sort of blue code of silence, so to speak. And so if the authorities can see that if they can do something serious with the Patton Commission Report and other things to truly open up policing, then I think some of this long history of silence and cooperation with the police as their enemy will break down, and it will be better for everyone there.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. We have held 10 hearings on policing in Northern Ireland. We had Rosemary Nelson, as you might recall, as one of our witnesses, and she told us, right from the witness table, ''The RUC is going to kill me.'' Six months later, her car was blown up. We remembered the sixth anniversary of that just 2 days ago.
So it is very tragic, and, hopefully, that sense of impunity that was rampant within the RUC is being changed. Hugh Ward, who is now the chief constable, is a professional policeman and, I think, very much committed to the rule of law and, hopefully, the proper enforcement of the laws of Northern Ireland.
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I, again, want to thank our very distinguished witnesses for your wise counsel and insights, and your testimonies help us and help the whole Congress make, hopefully, informed decisions going forward. The hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 5:39 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
RESPONSE FROM THE HONORABLE MICHAEL G. KOZAK, ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY, BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, TO QUESTION SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD BY THE HONORABLE ADAM SMITH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF WASHINGTON
To your knowledge, has the U.S. government requested of the Israeli government that the U.S. be allowed to conduct either its own investigation, or a joint U.S.-Israeli investigation, into Rachel Corrie's death? If not, why not, considering State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence B. Wilkerson's statement that the Israeli investigation was not 'thorough, credible, and transparent'?
Page 184 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The death of Rachel Corrie in Gaza on March 16, 2003 was truly a tragedy. In response, President Bush raised Ms. Corrie's death with Prime Minister Sharon immediately after the incident, and received assurances that a thorough and transparent investigation would be undertaken by the Government of Israel. The investigatory results that have been shared with us by Israel were not entirely satisfactory, and we have pressed for additional information. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer followed up on several occasions with Prime Minister Sharon and other senior Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, while then-Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns raised the issue with Israeli representatives both in Washington and in Israel. The Corrie family has maintained continued contact with the State Department since Rachel Corrie's death, and is currently in the process of pursuing legal remedies through Israel's court system.
We do not believe that pursuing an independent U.S. investigation into the circumstances of Rachel Corrie's death would be fruitful. As we have explained to the Corries, there is no basis under U.S. law upon which U.S. law enforcement entities would have authority to conduct such an investigation. Equally if not more significantly, the consent and cooperation of the Israeli authorities would be essential, and we have no reason to believe that the Israeli authorities would be more forthcoming than they have been in response to our diplomatic efforts to date.
HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST COMMENTS ON 2004 STATE DEPARTMENT COUNTRY REPORTS
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Human Rights First appreciates the opportunity to provide this assessment of the State Department's 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. We look forward to a continued dialogue on this important subject and related issues.
The State Department's 2004 Country Reports represent a significant contribution to the monitoring of human rights worldwide. Most of the 196 country reports are detailed and comprehensive, and reflect the diligent work of numerous officials serving in U.S. embassies and the Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in monitoring both individual cases and broader human rights conditions throughout the year.
Based on over a quarter century of monitoring and reporting on human rights conditions, and analyzing the Department's annual reports, and on a close examination of several of this year's country reports (focused critiques of the chapters on Russia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Uzbekistan are included below), we highlight below two general concerns that we see as increasing in recent years, as well as two concerns specific to the content of this year's reports.
A. GENERAL CONCERNS
1. The use of the reports in determining foreign policy
As the quality of the reports has improved, the question of how they relate to the process of policy formulation within the State Department and the executive branch as a whole has come into sharper focus. For example, the contrast between the picture of the Indonesian military as a source of widespread human rights abuses set out in the report on that country contrasts sharply with the decision to restore the U.S. training program there. Similarly, the concerns in the Russia report were only partially raised at the recent Bush-Putin summit in Bratislava.
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The question of the role of human rights in foreign policy is both broad and complex, but any consideration of the reports should consider their importance as a tool to guide and influence U.S. foreign policy. Too often, even when the reports are detailed and accurate, they appear to be largely fenced off from U.S. policy toward the country in question.
2. Challenges to U.S. Credibility
In recent years concerns have grown regarding the credibility of the United States as a human rights monitor and a champion of international human rights protection. While once this was the province of only the United States' most vocal critics, such as Cuba and China, this year several U.S. allies joined the chorus accusing the United States of hypocrisy, particularly citing incidents of torture by U.S. forces in Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
While we have little appetite for criticism directed at the United States from governments that are among the world's leading human rights abusers, Human Rights First shares the concern that U.S. credibility as a global leader in human rights promotion and protection is being undermined by this country's own human rights violations and failure to hold those responsible for instigating, consenting to, or acquiescing in torture and other serious violations. The proper response must not be to reduce the United States' commitment to monitoring of and reporting on human rights abroad, and to naming and criticizing violators, but to promptly and effectively address the United States' own human rights record and diminished leadership position on this issue.
With particular respect to this problem of reduced U.S. credibility, while the impact of U.S. policies is specifically excluded from the consideration of country conditions in the main body of the report, the Introduction leads with a strong affirmation of the U.S. government's policy ''to champion aspirations for human rights and build democracy.'' The clear intention is to associate that policy with positive developments in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iraq, and elsewhere.
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If the Country Reports are to be used as a vehicle for presenting the positive impact of U.S. policies in promoting human rights and democracy, their credibility would be enhanced if there also was mention of the revelations about the involvement of U.S. forces in serious violations of human rightsand the consequences for global efforts to promote respect for human rights.
B. SPECIFIC CONCERNS WITH THE 2004 COUNTRY REPORTS
Despite improvements in both the reporting guidelines and their execution over the past two years, Human Rights First has two particular concerns regarding the substance of this year's reports.
1. The Whole is Less than the Sum of the Parts
The cataloguing of facts in the reports, while important, too often lacks the complementary analysis or summation necessary to identify systemic problems. For example, the decline in human rights observance in Thailand can be inferred by the facts presented but is nowhere evident in the general country description. Descriptions of individual cases, such as the death or ''disappearance'' of a human rights defender, often lack the context necessary to understand that each is part of a trend or tied to a much more systemic problem, such as police impunity or an ineffective legal framework.
In some cases the concern in this regard is not just a lack of analysis, but a tendency to sum up evidence of systemic problems or trends in language that does not seem warranted based on the facts presented in the report itself. Those who skim the report or rely mainly on the Introduction are likely to come away with a misleading picture of the human rights conditions in a given country despite the careful cataloguing of specific incidents and cases. For example, the two paragraph discussion of Saudi Arabia in the introduction leads off with the statement that there were ''positive developments'' followed by a very weak list of supposed advances, like a ''government sponsored conference on women's rights' taking up an entire paragraph. Only in the second paragraph does the reader learn of the serious human rights violations that remain widespread in the Kingdom.
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Moreover, too often, particularly in reports on countries of high importance to U.S. strategic goals, conclusions concerning the overall human rights situation bear little relation to the details of abuses catalogued. Practices that together represent patterns of gross and persistent violations of human rights frequently are described only in isolation. The disconnect between the country reports and actual U.S. policy is in turn facilitated to the extent that coverage even of extremely abusive situations rarely describes these as representing patterns of gross and persistent violations of human rights.
2. The Reports Often Fail to Link Specific Incidents to Broader Trends
Even where there is clear evidence of abuse or even prior statements on a particular matter by State Department officials, some reports describe incidents without assessing either their veracity or their human rights implications. While acknowledging the degree of uncertainty that attaches to many cases, the reports risk contributing to a lost opportunity to establish a clearer factual record and in so doing help fight impunity.
Taken together, these tendencies can mask the true human rights conditions of a country. This phenomenon deserves particularly close monitoring in areas in which the United States has cooperated with a country, such as in the development of antiterrorism laws or trials of alleged terrorists, or where human rights conditions may impact key policy outcomes, such as a decision to resume military ties.
C. ANALYSIS OF SPECIFIC COUNTRIES
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The chapter on Indonesia is detailed and comprehensive, and its opening paragraphs clearly state the significant human rights problems facing the nation. The report includes important, if brief, acknowledgments of often-overlooked issues such as land conflicts, military businesses, and clashes between the military and the police.
As in years past, in places the strength of the report is undermined by problems of both structure and voice. The report describes some events in judgment-free language not wholly warranted by the facts or even commensurate with past statements by U.S. government officials. The language on the anti-terrorism law is particularly uncritical, as are several sections with special relevance to U.S.-Indonesian relations: the ad hoc trials of those implicated in serious violations of human rights in East Timor and the killing of two Americans in Papua. The discussion of human rights defenders omits some salient facts, as do the references to the tsunami. Because the disaster occurred at the very end of the reporting period, presumably issues connected to the relief effort will be covered in next year's report.
Despite a detailed description of the rules of detention under the Code of Criminal Procedure, there is no explanation of the expansion of the scope of detention powers under the 2003 anti-terrorism law. None of the human rights concerns raised by Indonesian civil society are noted, such as an overly broad definition of terrorism and the use of uncorroborated intelligence reports as a basis to detain suspects. The report also notes that the law was used against negotiators from the Free Aceh Movement but does not critique or otherwise evaluate this practice.
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There are descriptions of successful prosecutions of terrorist suspects, which are in fact one of Indonesia's achievements in 2004. However, other than a mention of an alleged torture victim it does not describe allegations of the arbitrary arrest and detention of Muslim activists under the provisions of the anti-terrorism law. It also does not mention the allegations of torture and coerced confessions made by those charged with involvement in terrorist bombings. The language from the 2002 report asserting the support of human rights lawyers for the law has been removed, but so has 2003 language describing domestic criticism of the law's application against Muslim activists and GAM negotiators.
There is also no mention of an armed forces law passed in late 2004 that retains the military's territorial role down to the local level and returns to the practice of members of the military simultaneously serving in some key civilian posts, a setback in the struggle to place the military more fully under the civilian control.
The Ad Hoc Trials and Timika Killings
The report's language is somewhat vague on two issues closely linked to U.S.-Indonesian military ties: the ad hoc trials on East Timor and the killing of two Americans and one Indonesian near the Freeport MacMoRan mine in Timika in the province of Papua. Progress on the first is required to remove restrictions imposed by Congress on lethal arms transfers and Foreign Military Financing. The Secretary of State recently certified cooperation with the FBI on the Timika killings to allow resumption of the military training program known as IMET.
The report describes the convictions and acquittal on appeal of the defendants in the ad hoc trials on East Timor held in Jakarta in neutral terms. It does not describe the extensive flaws throughout the process, from weak indictments to intimidation in the courtroom. Rather than achieving accountability, the trials became a mechanism for impunity.
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State Department officials, including the outgoing ambassador, have previously expressed disappointment in the trials. After an appeals court overturned several convictions in August 2004, a spokesman noted that the State Department was ''dismayed'' and ''profoundly disappointed,'' adding, ''We think that the overall process was seriously flawed and lacked credibility.''(see footnote 2) The 2003 country report, commenting on the conviction of only four police defendants, noted, ''The tribunal's performance reinforced the impression that impunity would continue for soldiers and police who committed human rights abuses.'' Now that even those convictions have been overturned, the report does not comment on the implications for accountability in Indonesia.
The 2004 report also notes that ''As a possible alternative to a [United Nations] Commission of Experts, the Governments of Indonesia and East Timor agreed in December to form a bilateral Truth and Friendship Commission to address accountability.'' It is not clear from this sentence whether the view that the bilateral commission might serve as an alternative to the U.N. mechanism comes from the Indonesian and Timorese governments or from the State Department itself. Even if it is only the former (a recent State Department expressed support for both processes) it is important to describe the significant flaws in the terms of reference of the proposed bilateral commission, which are consistently advantageous to the perpetrators of human rights abuses at the expense of their victims.
The report is also somewhat vague on the 2002 Freeport killings of three teachers, including two Americans. Following the guidelines, it refers only to indictment by a ''foreign court'' (not mentioning it was a U.S. court) and uncritically describes the suspect Antonius Wamang as an OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, or Free Papua Movement) guerilla. The report does not note the possible involvement by the military in the killings, despite earlier statements to that effect by the Indonesian police and U.S. government officials. Wamang himself has said of the Indonesian army that he was in ''a business relationship with them for purchasing ammunition.''
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Human Rights Defenders
The report includes numerous incidents of attacks on human rights defenders in recent years, and also notes failure to achieve accountability in most of these incidents. However there are a few gaps in the discussion under ''Section 4: Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights'' and in relevant paragraphs on disappearances and killings.
Possibly because of reporting guidelines on deaths outside the country's borders, the report states that no human rights defenders were killed this year. However, one of Indonesia's most famous defenders, Munir, was poisoned in September while flying to Amsterdam on the Indonesian national airline Garuda. Elsewhere the report does describe the killing and notes that ''the incident was under investigation at year's end.'' (In March 2005 evidence mounted that airline staff was involved in the death, and a pilot rumored to have ties to the State Intelligence Agency has been named a suspect.)
The report describes the army's successful libel suit against the human rights group ELSHAM but does not mention other libel suits against activists, including the prominent human rights lawyer Hendardi, by the head of the intelligence service, Hendropriyono. The US$1 million suit was filed after Hendardi accused the intelligence chief of harassing activists instead of catching terrorists. It was withdrawn late in the year, but only after officials had threatened to confiscate Hendardi's house to cover potential damages. (Hendropriyono stepped down during the transition to the new administration).
Page 193 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While the report discusses the expulsion of Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group, it does not mention that just prior to that act, in May 2004, intelligence chief Hendropriyono told the House of Representatives that 20 local and foreign NGOs were a threat to security in the run-up to the July 5 presidential elections. He warned that the country might need to return to ''old measures'' against people who ''sell out their country.'' Taken together, these additional incidents helped create an increasingly threatening climate for human rights defenders.
Military Operations in Papua
While noting the higher incidence of rights abuses in conflict areas, identified primarily as Aceh and Papua, the report is silent on a new round of military operations in the Central Highlands region of Papua. The report does note: ''In Papua Province, the Government continued to conduct operations against rebels of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), and OPM rebels continued their operations against military units.'' This description masks the overwhelming imbalance in the two forces, and more significantly overlooks the fears of local rights organizations over a new round of operations that began in August 2004 and continued through the end of the year. Local NGOs cited direct attacks on civilians leading to widespread displacement.(see footnote 3) After a priest named Elisa Tabuni was shot and killed by Indonesian troops on September 14, several thousand residents fled their villages. There were reports of dire living conditions contributing to an unknown number of deaths. While information from the remote region is difficult to obtain or confirm, this makes it that much more important to include in the annual report.
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Definitions used in drafting the country reports may lead to statements confusing to the reader. Similar to the statement on the killing of human rights defenders described above, the report states that ''There were no reports of political detainees.'' However, several categories of prisoners described in the report, such as nonviolent Acehnese activists or those held for ''insulting the president'' or ''spreading hatred against the government'' were clearly imprisoned for political reasons. Amnesty International noted in May of 2004 that there were at least 58 prisoners of conscience sentenced since 1998, including ten that were currently imprisoned and seven more facing trial.
The report itself notes the use of these charges. It is possible the statement means no new prisoners, but this is also called into question by such as cases as the Acehnese environmentalist Bestari Raden sentenced to two years and a half years in prison in October 2004 and two Papuans, Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage arrested in late 2004 for joining a peaceful flag-raising ceremony in Abepura, Papua on December 1, 2004. They were later charged with rebellion and ''spreading hatred'' towards the state.(see footnote 4) The report should clarify its definitions and avoid misleading declarations that seem to clear the government in question of an important category of human rights abuse.
The Impact of the Tsunami
Because the tsunami happened at the very end of the year, on December 26and its full impact was not known until well into 2005it is not surprising that the disaster is mentioned only briefly in the 2004 report. The human rights aspects of the disaster, including the role of the military in aid coordination and the treatment of internally displaced people, will be an important topic in next year's report. However, in the description of unfair trials held in Aceh that led to the imprisonment of several activists and suspected GAM members, the report should have mentioned that many died in several coastal prisons when the tsunami hit, including several mentioned by name in the report.
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The report also states that both the Free Aceh Movement and the Indonesian military declared a unilateral ceasefire after the tsunami. However, the armed forces did not at first declare a ceasefire and in fact claims it has killed more than 200 rebels since the tsunami, although these figures were met with skepticism by many observers.
The 2004 report on Thailand is largely accurate and well-researched. It describes the lack of progress in cases from past years and also identifies several new and worrying trends, such as the use of deadly force in the southern states, libel suits to attack critics, and internet censorship.
However, due in part to the atomized structure of the report, it does not provide a clear, overall picture of the decline in the human rights situation in Thailand in 2004, or of the some of the systemic problems Thailand faces, including torture and attacks on civil society. This decline can be inferred from the facts presented, but are not made clear in the report. As in past years, the report is reluctant to assign blame in some cases.
Overlooking Declining Respect for Human Rights
The 2003 report had noted, ''The Government's human rights record worsened with regard to extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests. There was a significant increase in killings of criminal suspects.'' This assessment was largely due to the killings of suspected drug traffickers in the context of the ''war on drugs'' declared by the Prime Minister.
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While these killings largely subsided in 2004, there were many new violations that undermine the assertion that ''the Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens''including:
Violence in the south surged on all sides, as more than 500 people were killed by unknown gunmen and some 200 people were killed by government forces, most of them in two incidents.
Civil society came under attack as well, with at least one human rights defender killed and another disappeared. Threats and intimidation against the press were on the rise, and as noted in the report, even members of the official National Human Rights Commission received death threats for its reporting on the violence in the south.
Based on these developments, several local and international organizations noted a decline in the human rights environment in 2004. However, this trend does not come through adequately in the tone and substance of the report.
Failure to Identify Systemic Problems
As with past reports the whole is often less than the sum of its parts. As noted in the introductory comments above, the cataloguing of facts, while important, lacks the analysis or summation necessary to identify systemic problems.
One of these failures is particularly clear in the discussion of human rights defenders under Sections 4 (Governmental Attitude regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights) and in the descriptions of disappearances and killings. While noting the death of Charoen Wataksorn and the disappearance of Somchai Neelaphaijit, the report does not mention that 18 human rights defenders have been killed or disappeared since Thaksin Shinawatra became prime minister. In the March 2004 report of her mission to Thailand (which is not mentioned in the State Department report) the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders expressed alarm over statements by government officials attacking NGOs, and human rights advocates in particular.
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The report also notes incorrectly that the suspects in Somchai's disappearance, all policemen, were charged with kidnapping, when in fact they face lesser charges of gang robbery and coercion. The distinction is tied to a systemic problem: a loophole in Thai law precludes more serious charges in the absence of a body, making the prosecution of forced disappearances extremely difficult. The report does not note that efforts by Somchai's wife and colleagues to have the investigation transferred from the police to the Department of Special Investigations have been unsuccessful, and that cooperation by the police and Prime Minister's office with a Thai Senate inquiry has been poor.
The Somchai case illustrates another worrying phenomenon, accusations that human rights defenders, and especially Muslim lawyers, are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. Somchai was told shortly before he disappeared that he was on a ''terrorist blacklist'' for his work representing suspected militants and terrorists.
A second example of the failure to identify systemic problems is in the observation that ''some members of the police occasionally tortured'' people in custody. But several organizations have identified torture in custody as a pervasive problem. The report does note elsewhere that there are significant problems with respect to police impunity, which encourages widespread rights violations in custody. In one place the language has improved in this regard, noting that security forces (rather than ''elements'' of the police, as in 2003) ''continued to use excessive, lethal force against criminal suspects and committed or were connected to numerous extrajudicial, arbitrary, and unlawful killings.''
A third example is in the discussion of the press. The report states that ''Journalists generally were free to comment on government activities without fear of official reprisal.'' But at the same time it details a list of reprisals, including warning letters from the Police Special Branch. Furthermore, the libel suit filed by the private corporation owned by the Prime Minister is not clearly unofficial. The report notes all of these measures and one view of their impact on press freedom:
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According to some members of the Thai Journalists Association, the Government used various means to increase control over the media, including direct control through ownership, the threat of withdrawing financial support and advertisements, constraints on the flow of information, and direct pressure on critical journalists and activists.
But the report subsumes them all under a fairly broad conception of self-censorship. But when sparked by direct and indirect warnings from police or other officials, in a context where journalists have been killed in the past, some of these measures may approach actual censorship. The report also fails to mention direct government efforts to prevent the release and distribution of DVDs with footage of the demonstration and arrests at Tak Bai that preceded 78 deaths in custody. Interestingly, unlike previous years, the launch of the State Department report in Bangkok was closed to the press.
A fourth example is that in the discussion of the violence in the south there is also no mention of the fact that the government declared martial law in the southern states at the start of 2004, a declaration that enables widespread detentions. In the same incident in which 78 protestors died of suffocation, more than a thousand civilians were detained under martial law provisions.
Finally, Burmese victims are mentioned in nearly every section, but there is not a comprehensive picture of the increasingly precarious position of Burmese activists and refugees in Thailand.
Reluctance to Assign Blame
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As in previous years the report is reluctant to clearly assign responsibility. For example the section on the extrajudicial executions of some 1,300 suspected drug dealers in 2003 notes:
The Government maintained that the deaths were the result of disputes between those involved in the drug trade. Local and international human rights groups, including the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), disputed this claim and called for thorough investigations of all extrajudicial killings.''
But rather than just describing two opposing views, the 2003 report more clearly assigns blame to the government in its voice and in the presentation of evidence, such as statements by the Prime Minister and directives to create ''blacklists'' and eliminate the names on those lists.
While the report does note a rise in deadly force in the southern states, the statement that ''Separatist violence in the extreme southern region of the country resulted in the deaths of more than 180 persons at the hands of security forces'' seems to absolve the Thai security forces of much of the blame for these deaths. While many of the estimated 500 killings may have been caused by militants, most of the 180 deaths cited are a product of significant missteps by the security forces. As described in the report, 78 of those who died were unarmed protesters who died of suffocation while stacked horizontally in trucks. In the other major incident about 100 men and boys armed mainly with machetes were killed by security forces said to have advance knowledge of the attack. These cases are extremely important, as the deaths are thought to have further inflamed the violence.
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There is no human rights critique of either the terms of the Anti-terrorism law passed in 2003 or concerning its implementation by the Thai government.
The introductory paragraphs of the country report on Russia correctly state that the human rights record there is poor in certain areas and worsened in several others since 2003. However, the tone of the report is generally weak with regard to governmental responsibility for serious human rights abuses. Whereas the report clearly attributes some abuses to criminals or rebels, in most cases, government actions are described merely as ''reports of government involvement'' although credible sources have provided information about government involvement. Given the report's description of corruption and lack of independence of the judiciary, threats and attacks on witnesses to abuses and attacks on human rights lawyers, the failure to clearly attribute responsibility to the government is particularly disappointing.
The report makes overly positive generalized statements in the introduction and in several lead sentences, although it often does present adequately detailed information about specific human rights abuses. The impact of this presentation is to downplay violations. Nevertheless, the cataloguing of abuses is in there, even if examples are sometimes deeply buried in the text.
An example of this involves the description of the use of the armed forces against peaceful demonstrators. The report states in general terms that ''in contrast to previous years, there were no reports of beating of peaceful protestors.'' However, further along the report states that on June 1, 2004, members of the Federal Guard Service attacked a correspondent for a daily newspaper while dispersing a rally near the Cabinet headquarters.
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The description of the judiciary's independence in the introduction, stating that ''the judiciary continued to show greater independence in non politicized cases,'' is more positive than what is indicated by specific instances of political pressure on the judiciary, described later. The report mentions the undue influence of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in judicial proceedings and other examples of executive control over the judiciary. Attacks on defense lawyers and witnesses also undermine independent judicial proceedings.
The report similarly misrepresents the government's attitude toward nongovernmental organizations, stating that they are ''permitted without hindrance'' to criticize the government. On the contrary, organizations that are critical of the government face obstacles to their legal registration, attacks on their members, arrests, as well as other measures to harass or intimidate them. Registration problems, receiving passing mention only, have actually been a fairly serious means for harassing defenders. Furthermore, patterns of attacks on and arrests of human rights workers over the past two to three years should be taken into account when characterizing the government's attitude toward non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in 2004.
The report states that local officials arrested people who were publicly discussing their religious and political views, but downplays the significance of these arrests because the individuals were released after a short time. The report should not imply, however, that these arrests are insignificant as routine arrests amount to serious harassment, and torture and other forms of mistreatment can occur even during a short stay in government custody.
Another category of violations against NGOs are prosecutions under security-related laws. The introduction mentions that restrictions on NGOs were ''in part for security reasons,'' but does not clarify what exactly the security concerns were, nor does it point out that charges against NGOs on security grounds were proven to be unjustified and a means for harassment. The human rights group Chechen Committee for National Salvation (CCNS) was prosecuted under the law ''On Countering Extremist Activities'' for publishing press releases critical of the government. This incident is described under the freedom of speech section of the report, though it could be characterized as abuse of the judicial system, prosecution under false pretexts, or other categories of abuse. Regardless, it is a key example of the hindrances that NGOs face in today's Russia, and an oversight that this incident is not characterized as such in the relevant section of the report.
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Reliance on counterterrorism as a pretext to mask unjustifiable human rights abuses is a serious and growing problem in Russia, and one that should have been more clearly identified and described as such in the report.
The report leaves out discussion of the government's affirmative responsibility to investigate attacks committed by unknown assailants so that its citizens will be protected. For example, the report states that leaders of NGOs received death threats from nationalist organizations, but it does not indicate whether the government took any steps to investigate the abuses or to ensure the protection of human rights workers in the future. While the report described attacks on complainants to the European Court for Human Rights, it did not address what is being done to investigate their deaths.
Furthermore, while the introduction mentions, for the first time, official harassment of those who seek accountability for human rights abuses in Chechnya and Ingushetia, it does not go a step further to assess what the government is doing, or failing to do, to assure the safety of human rights defenders. The report highlights the case against Mikhail Trepashkin as a cause for concern and the killing of Nikolay Girenko. However, the report does not explain that no independent investigation into the murder of Girenko is taking place.
The report names Igor Sutyagin a political prisoner and mentions that some organizations have characterized other individuals as such. The report fails to draw attention to the political nature of the arrest and detention of other individuals who could fit the definition of a political prisoner, such as Trepashkin, whose prosecution appears to arise from his investigation into the circumstances of the devastating apartment building bombings in Moscow in 1999, and Mikhail Khodorkovskiy. However, in discussing the right of citizens to change their government, the report indicates that the arrest of Khodorkovskiy was ''widely believed'' to be in retaliation for financial support he provided to opposition political parties. Also in that section, during the discussion of the elimination of direct gubernatorial elections, the report discusses Khodorkovskiy's arrest as ''the most recent of a number of politically motivated moves.''
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In short, the report presents evidence leading to conclusions of serious politically motivated detentions, but is unwilling to label such individuals political prisoners. Doing so would contribute to an understanding of the weight of the control of the executive upon the judiciary.
Overall, the country report on Uzbekistan does an effective job of covering the range of human rights abuses in the country. The tone and language of the report are strong. It accurately reflects changes in regulations placing increased governmental pressure on domestic and international nongovernmental organizations operating in Uzbekistan.
However, there remains a notable inconsistency between general statements claiming improvements in areas of human rights abuses and the specific examples of abuses raised throughout. The introduction refers to ''important steps'' taken by the government to address torture and establish police accountability. However, these measures are described as the creation of ''preliminary procedures'' in ''some divisions'' of the Ministry of Internal Affairschanges which hardly merit noting in the report, let alone describing as important.
In fact, the report makes clear that torture in prisonslike suspension of detainees in boiling waterand abuses by policeincluding arbitrary arrest and detentionare widespread and systematic. The report also states without qualification that incidents of brutality by police and prison officials go uninvestigated and are not prosecuted. Therefore, it is unclear to which ''important steps'' the introduction could be referring.
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Furthermore, the effectiveness of any measures to address torture and police accountability which may have been instituted must be evaluated with skepticism when the government's overall human rights record worsened during 2004. The increased oppression of human rights defenders is a sign that any measures the government may have taken are purely cosmetic.
Another shortcoming of the report is that some positive statements do not take into consideration official measures to obstruct investigations into government misconduct. The introduction to the report states that ''unlike past years, there were no credible reports of persons dying in custody as a result of torture.'' This positive statement should reflect government pressure to quickly bury those who die in custody as well as the difficulty in ascertaining the cause of death of many prisoners due to the lack of forensic examiners independent of the government.
The report plays down government responsibility for deaths that take place while individuals are in government custody. The report states that ''police and security force negligence likely contributed to the deaths of at least four persons.'' The term negligence is too weak to describe the inhumane conditions of confinement and the absence of proper medical care for detainees which directly led to the deaths of many detainees. Extremely poor prison conditions were common, and in some cases prisoners were allowed to suffer from curable diseases such as tuberculosis or from infections which were fatal because the government did not provide treatment.
The report describes the arrest and detention of hundreds of observant Muslims immediately after the March and April 2004 terrorist attacks in the section relating to arbitrary arrest and detention, but seems to justify the arrests as necessary for ''national security reasons.'' The report explains that arrests were based on a list of people previously convicted of extremism and later amnestied, but omits available
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information that many of those harassed and arrested were simply religious Muslims with no connection to groups implicated in terrorism. It also omits mention of credible reports that many of those who were ultimately convicted were forced to make confessions while being tortured by government officials.
(Footnote 1 return)
This testimony was completed with the help of Mulenga Trish Katyoka
(Footnote 2 return)
''US 'dismayed' at E Timor tribunal,'' BBC, August 10, 2004, available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3550390.stm.
(Footnote 3 return)
''Konferensi Pers Bersama, ELSHAM Papua, LBH Papua, Kontras Papua, Dewan Adat Papua, Gereja, dan Mahasiswa , Hentikan Upaya Pemberlakuan Darurat Sipil dan Militer di Papua,'' November 17, 2004. http://www.geocities.com/elshamnewsservice/ENS2004/ENS171104HentikanUpayaPemberlakuanDaruratSipildanMiliter.htm
(Footnote 4 return)
Amnesty International, ''Case sheet: The Jayapura Flag-raisers,'' February 1, 2005. http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGASA210042005?open&of=ENGIDN