SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOC50498 CC
VICTIMS OF RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION AROUND THE WORLD
SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
JUNE 16, 1998
Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCBENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York, Chairman
WILLIAM GOODLING, Pennsylvania
JAMES A. LEACH, Iowa
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska
CHRISTOPHER SMITH, New Jersey
DAN BURTON, Indiana
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
PETER T. KING, New York
JAY KIM, California
STEVEN J. CHABOT, Ohio
MARSHALL ''MARK'' SANFORD, South Carolina
MATT SALMON, Arizona
AMO HOUGHTON, New York
TOM CAMPBELL, California
JON FOX, Pennsylvania
JOHN McHUGH, New York
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina
ROY BLUNT, Missouri
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCRICHARD BURR, North Carolina
LEE HAMILTON, Indiana
SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut
TOM LANTOS, California
HOWARD BERMAN, California
GARY ACKERMAN, New York
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ, California
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
ROBERT ANDREWS, New Jersey
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
ALCEE L. HASTINGS, Florida
PAT DANNER, Missouri
EARL HILLIARD, Alabama
BRAD SHERMAN, California
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
STEVE ROTHMAN, New Jersey
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
BILL LUTHER, Minnesota
JIM DAVIS, Florida
LOIS CAPPS, California
RICHARD J. GARON, Chief of Staff
MICHAEL H. VAN DUSEN, Democratic Chief of Staff
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey, Chairman
WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
DAN BURTON, Indiana
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
PETER T. KING, New York
MATT SALMON, Arizona
LINDSEY O. GRAHAM, South Carolina
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
TOM LANTOS, California
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
EARL F. HILLIARD, Alabama
BRAD SHERMAN, California
GROVER JOSEPH REES, Subcommittee Staff Director and Chief Counsel
ROBERT R. KING, Democratic Professional Staff Member
DOUGLAS C. ANDERSON, Counsel
CATHERINE DUBOIS, Staff Associate
C O N T E N T S
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. Gyaltsen Wongmo, Tibetan Buddhist Nun
Mr. Parhat Yasin, relative of victim of religious persecution, Xinijan Uyghur Region, China
Ms. Ludvica Bukhsh, sister of the late Bishop John Joseph, Diocese of Sailabad, Pakistam
Dr. Eliezar Veguilla, Cuban religious leader and torture survivor
Dr. Firuz Kazemzadeh, Secretary for External Affairs, National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháis of the United States
Hon. Christopher H. Smith, a Representative in Congress from New Jersey and Chairman, Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights
Mr. Gyaltsen Wongmo
Mr. Parhat Yasin
Ms. Ludvica Bukhsh
Dr. Eliezar Veguilla
Dr. Firuz Kazemzadeh
Mr. Le Tan Buu
VICTIMS OF RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION AROUND THE WORLD
TUESDAY, JUNE 16, 1998
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights,
Committee on International Relations,
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCWashington, DC.
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m. in room 2200, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Christopher Smith (chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. SMITH. The Subcommittee will come to order.
Today's hearing of the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights is for the purpose of taking the testimony of five witnesses to religious persecution. These are not government officials or even analysts from nongovernmental organizations. Rather, they are people who have witnessed religious persecution firsthand, who have seen close friends or relatives imprisoned, tortured, even executed for their faith or who have suffered such horrors themselves.
This is the latest in the series of Subcommittee hearings focusing in whole or in part on persecution of religious believers. Other hearings have focused on worldwide anti-Semitism, on the persecution of Christians around the world, on the 1995 massacre of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica, on the enslavement of black Christians in the Sudan, and on the use of torture against religious believers and other prisoners of conscience.
We have heard from Palden Gyatso, a Tibetan Buddhist monk who displayed the instruments of torture used against him by his Chinese Communist jailers. We have heard from Hasan Nuhanovic, a Muslim who unsuccessfully begged the U.N. peacekeepers not to turn his mother, father and brother over to the murderous Bosnian Serb militia; from a Russian Jewish member of Parliament who observed, and I quote, ''anti-Semitism was the first industry to be privatized'' in post-Soviet Union Russia; from Karen refugees whose villages in Thailand were burned by the Burmese military dictatorship, which openly used their Christian religion as an excuse to conduct cross-border raids against them; and from Christian and Buddhists subjected to imprisonment and torture by the Communist governments of China and Vietnam.
Today's witnesses include a Catholic, a Protestant, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Bahái, all with compelling and recent evidence that religious persecution is not a problem that will go away if we pretend it is not there.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In their prepared testimony, several of today's witnesses make clear that the United States should continue to press for an end to religious persecution abroad. This is important, because the Clinton Administration and some business people who oppose the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act have suggested that by publicly demanding an end to the mistreatment of these people, we are more likely to hurt them than to help them.
Personally, I believe it may be true in the short run that if the totalitarian dictatorship used to being coddled by the U.S. Government will react with anger when we suddenly insist that they behave in a civilized fashion. This is true whether the issue is religious persecution, nuclear proliferation, or anything else.
In the long run, however, these governments will act in their own self-interest. If we send a strong and consistent message that the economic and other benefits of a close relationship with the United States can be expected to flow to a government if and only if that government treats its own people decently, we are likely to save lives and promote freedom in the long run. This message has already been sent by an overwhelming 375 to 41 House vote in favor of the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act. I hope that the Senate passage and a Presidential signature will soon follow.
Whatever we do to other governments that persecute religious believers, it is also important that the United States put its own house in order. One way we can do this is to monitor and to improve our treatment of refugees with special reference to religious refugees.
Unfortunately, in recent years the U.S. commitment to refugees, both the amount we spend on protection overseas and the number of refugees we admit to the United States, has declined sharply. In the last 4 years, our State Department has asked for and has gotten a raise for every single year. Yet the only major account in which the Department has not asked for an increase is the refugee account.
The Administration's fiscal year 1999 budget request for refugees is $63 million lower than the amount we spent in fiscal year 1995. The number of refugees in the United States has gone down from 130,000 to 75,000 in only 4 years. These declining resettlement rates encourage first-asylum countries to forcibly repatriate refugees to countries where they face serious danger. For instance, in recent years we have seen Tibetan Buddhists forced back from Nepal into the hands of the Chinese Communists, Iranian Christians and Baháis back to Iran from Turkey. We need to reverse that trend and restore the American tradition of safe haven for the oppressed. In the words of President Ronald Reagan, the United States can and must be a shining city on a hill.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Finally I want to address those critics who suggest that by paying special attention to religious persecution we somehow diminish the importance of those who have suffered persecution for other reasons. Nothing could be further from the truth, and it is no accident that those in Congress who have been the strongest in their support of persecuted believers have also stood up for the rights of those who have suffered for their race because of their nationality or political opinions.
I do want to suggest, though, that religious persecution is deserving of special attention because totalitarian governments often come down harder on religious believers than anyone else. This is because nothing threatens such regimes more than faith. In the modern world, in which the rhetoric of culture relativism and moral equivalence is so often used to make the difference between totalitarianism and freedom seem just like a matter of opinion, the strongest foundation for the absolute and individual nature of human rights is the belief that these rights are not bestowed by governments or international organizations, but by God. And people who are secure in their relationship with God are not easily intimidated.
I will never forget once at a hearing of our Full Committee asking Shevardnadze how he endured all of those years in Perm Camp 35 and elsewhere in the gulag system; and he said, without blinking an eye, he meditated on the Psalms night and day. Others, Christians, Pastor Wurmbrand, Pastor Couchee from Romania said identical things. It was the scripture and their thought and their belief about God that got them through such difficult situations.
So we must remind ourselves and then we must remind our government that human rights policy is not just a subset of trade policy and refugee protection. It is not just an inconvenient branch of immigration policy. The protection of refugees, the fight for human rights around the world, are about recognizing that good and evil really do exist in the world. They are also about recognizing that we are our brothers' and our sisters' keepers. If we recognize these truths, we can build a coalition to preserve and strengthen U.S. policies designed to protect our witnesses today and to protect all others who are persecuted because of their religion, race, nationality or political beliefs and to restore these policies to the place that they deserve as a top priority of U.S. foreign policy.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to now ask our very distinguished panel of witnesses if they would present their testimony to the Subcommittee.
Let me begin, first of all, with Gyaltsen Wongmo, a Tibetan Buddhist nun who fled her home in 1985 in search of religious freedom. She currently lives in retreat.
Our second witness today will be Parhat Yasin, a Muslim leader and refugee from China, formerly from East Turkestan. In July of last year, his 23-year-old brother-in-law was executed by the Chinese Government for participating in a religious demonstration.
Ludvica Bukhsh is a Christian from Pakistan, a relative of the late Bishop John Joseph. She worked to support the civil rights of religious minorities in Pakistan before leaving that country with her family in 1994.
Eliezer Veguilla is a medical doctor from Cuba, arrested in 1994 for his activities as a Christian leader and Evangelist. He was subjected to harsh imprisonment and psychological torture by the Cuban Government. He and his family were forced to leave Cuba in 1995.
And, finally, Firuz Kazemzadeh is the Secretary for External Affairs of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháis of the United States, a professor emeritus of history at Yale University and the author of numerous books and articles. He is a noted expert on the religious repression of the Baha'is in Iran.
Mr. SMITH. If you could begin.
Ms. DECHEN. I am Ama Lobsang Dechen, translating testimony of Gyaltsen Wongmo. We are from India. All of our friends are behind us sitting in a row. Her English is not very good, so I am going to be reading on behalf of her.
STATEMENT OF GYALTSEN WONGMO, TIBETAN BUDDHIST NUN
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. WONGMO. [The following testimony was delivered through an interpreter.] Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Committee, for the chance to speak about the facts of religious persecution in Tibet.
My name is Gyaltsen Wongmo. I am a Tibetan Buddhist nun, originally from Tsangu nunnery in Lhasa, Tibet. I now live in India where approximately 1,000 of my sisters have found refuge. We are women who wish to live, work and study in accordance with the tenets of spiritual commitment. Our stories are in many ways alike.
Tibetans are a deeply devout people, and the Buddhist religion forms a significant part of our lives and our identity. Two of my uncles were monks from the great monasteries surrounding Lhasa. One was a Drepung lama and the other a Sera lama. By the time I was born in 1964, the Chinese had already dynamited their monasteries into rubble, and my uncles were serving long sentences in prisons simply because they were high lamas. Both were given 21-year sentences, one uncle at age 16, the other at the age of 19. They were young men who grew old and sick in prison.
As a little girl, I remember that all Tibetans were forbidden even to recite Om Mani Padme Hum, our most basic prayer which evokes the compassion for all beings and expresses the underlying principles of our faith. Neither could we offer butter lamps, as is our custom, or say pujas for the dead. Sometimes we would hide our butter lamps in buckets, but it was very dangerous.
I remember that when I was very small, my grandmother was tortured often, in front of many people during the local public meetings. Her teeth were knocked out, and a large part of her ear was torn off. The Chinese authorities tortured her because she was the mother of a high lama.
Although my family suffered greatly, it was the case of every family that someone had been taken away to the prison, tortured or killed by the Chinese. At that time, the authorities killed many dogs. They forced my grandmother to kill her dog. Had she not done so, they would have accused her of exercising her Buddhist faith which seeks to show compassion and respect for all sentient beings, which they considered a crime.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When I was 19 years old, in 1983, my own root lama, or principal teacher, was released from prison. It was he who advised me to become a nun. At that time, many girls wanted to join a nunnery. Communist policies were destroying our religious heritage, and we felt the need to save our traditions and to find refuge in spiritual practice. While the Chinese authorities claimed that we were free to practice our religion, we were not allowed to take vows from our lamas. So wethree nuns and 80 monkshad to receive our vows from our lama in complete secrecy in his house. Had the lama been caught by the authorities, he would have been imprisoned and tortured.
The Chinese authorities permitted only 15 nuns at our nunnery, and we were never free of their control. Our first work was to repair our main prayer hall, which the authorities had been using for public and Committee meetings. There were no rooms to live, as they had been given over by the Chinese to serve as apartments for lay people. Any donations we received from the people were taken by the Chinese. During this time, I stayed with my uncle; and during the days I did prostrations in Lhasa, but other nuns had to earn money to rent living space by serving as common laborers.
Of course, we had little time to pray and meditate. We had no way to study, and no way to take our vows. We also knew that, at any time, the Chinese could change their policies and our nunnery could be disbanded. So in order to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama and receive his blessing, I escaped Tibet for India in 1985, leaving my parents and three sisters behind.
In India, our nunneries are poor and overcrowded, but we have freedom to study Buddhist philosophy from high lamas and receive teachings every year from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. However, I feel very sad all the time thinking of all of my Dharma sisters and brothers who are suffering from Chinese repression. Because of this, I have joined in peace marches to tell the people of the world that Tibetans need help.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I did a peace march last year in India, 745 miles, and this year marched from Portland, Oregon, to Vancouver, British Columbia, a distance of 360 miles. I marched not because I hate Chinese, I feel no hatred for them, but because I wanted to tell the world about the terrible situation in Tibet.
Even though I knew how bad the situation was in Tibet, I went home in 1992. I visited my nunnery and found that only one nun among my old friends was still there. The others had been expelled or fled to India. There were many new nuns, although there was still no opportunity to learn from elders.
Tibetan Buddhism is about developing the mind. It is impossible to develop the mind without teachings. In my old nunnery, there was not even an understanding of what vows could be taken. Instead of being allowed to study and receive teachings, the nuns were required to attend work meetings and perform manual labor run by the government and party authorities.
I live now in retreat in the mountains near Dharamsala. Many new nuns continue to come from Tibet, many of them victims of severe punishment and torture in search of peace and solace with their sisters. Many of them have been expelled from their nunneries because they refuse to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama and accept the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama.
Since last year, the people of Tibet have not been allowed to have any portraits of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which causes them great pain, for he is both the spiritual as well as the political leader. Others have fled Tibet in fear of imprisonment and torture. For those of us who have escaped, the process of healing the spirit and body is slow, and our memories of Tibet are always with us.
The Chinese teach us that religion is poison. Their plan for Tibet is the destruction of the Tibetan Buddhist culture. Because we Tibetans believe the law of Karma, we try to do something to stop the cycle of bad effect. So I raise my voice on behalf of the just cause of Tibet and ask you to continue your support for the negotiated settlement.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you for the great privilege of addressing you today.
Mr. SMITH. I thank you very much, Gyaltsen Wongmo.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Wongmo appears in the appendix.]
Mr. SMITH. First of all, let me just say that, like many others, I was with you and met you yesterday at the rally on behalf of Tibet. And, hopefully, you can drawboth of you and others who have witnessed and endured so muchsome inspiration from the fact that there is recognition of the plight of Tibetan Buddhism, monks and nuns, and that there is a growing awareness. I think, hopefully, it will build to a crescendo over the next several weeks and months of stern opposition, coupled with real policy on the behalf of the U.S. Government and other governments that are democracies.
I think this past weekend was truly a rallying point, and more people are aware now than there were last week about the hideous behavior by the Chinese Government.
I don't know how many people saw the Chinese Ambassador to the United States last week make the outrageous remark that those of us who are raising the flag of human rights and trying to promote common decency in China and in Tibet are somehow looking for someone to bash, that with the cold war over and the USSR no longer one of the egregious violators of human rights on the world stage, that somehow we need to find somebody else, that this is just a misguided attempt by Congress and interested human rights activists to focus on China and Tibet. Nothing, absolutely nothing could be further from the truth.
As a matter of fact, our Subcommittee will ask the Ambassador to China if he would like to come and meet our Subcommittee in open hearing and give an account for China's human rights abuses. He and other Chinese leadersand certainly the people in this country who try to mitigate the outrageous behaviortry to put it in a positive light. We will offer a seat at the table for the Chinese Government officials to give us an account; and, hopefully, they will come forward in the next couple of weeks and do so.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We made a similar effort in outreach when the Defense Minister Chi Haotian came and made the outrageous statement that no one died at Tinananmen Square. Unlike the tyranny that went on each and every day in Tibet with few and almost no witnesses, all of the major media were there watching, filming, chronicling the abuse of the People's Liberation Army as they killed and beat those who were seeking democracy in the People's Republic of China.
And still Chi Haotian had the audacity to come to this country. He got a 19-gun salute and a red carpet treatment afforded to him by the Clinton Administration, which boggles the mind. But then he made the statement that no one died at Tinananmen Square. That is parallel to those who said there was no Holocaust.
And, thankfully, you bear witness to the holocaust and the genocide that is occurring in Tibet, and it is about time we all are further enlightened and motivated to take more effective action. So the invitation goes out to the Chinese Ambassador after his foolish statement that we are just looking for someone to bash.
Our Subcommittee, my colleagues in Congress, Democrat and Republican, we stand with the oppressed, not the oppressor. And the oppressor is the Chinese Government, given the genocide that they are perpetrating upon the people of Tibet.
So, again, I hope this past weekend gave you at least some hope and inspiration that more know. And hopefully knowledge is power, and people will take that knowledge and use it wisely to mitigate and, God willing, end these abuses.
So thank you very much for your great testimony and for your bearing witness today.
I would just like to say there is a Vietnamese Buddhist scholar. We had contacted him and had asked him to testify, and thankfully he is here. I was unsure whether or not he would be able to make it.
His name is Le Tan Buu. He is a former senator of the Republic of the Vietnam National Assembly. He spent 13 years in Communist prison, in concentration camps; and he will be representing the HPC Council of Elders Overseas, a Buddhist organization. And if he could take his place at the witness table at this point, and we will proceed to our next witness.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Mr. Yasin, the Muslim Uyghur.
STATEMENT OF PARHAT YASIN, RELATIVE OF VICTIM OF RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION
Mr. YASIN. [The following testimony was delivered through an interpreter.] Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, Members of Congress, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Parhat Yasin. I am a Uyghur from the Uyghur city of Ghulja, where people are being oppressed and killed and our religious freedom is being abused under a colonial rule by the Chinese Communist Government since 1949. I am here today to testify about religious persecution that happened to a young member of my family last year in my homeland. Chinese authority always tried all the means to cover up the tragic massacre event, which is unknown to anyone outside of the Uyghur city.
In the last few years, the Chinese Government intensified their cultural genesis in Eastern Turkestan. Musk is destroyed, Muskesco is banned and closed and even prohibited our people to celebrate our Ramadan festivals. Young people feel hopeless and drugs, alcoholism becomes part of their life. Therefore, there are increased religious educational activities among our young people in order to keep them away from drug and alcohol abuse.
There are more and more young people that have committed themselves to God. However, the Chinese Government controls our religions and prohibited people from practicing religion. In February, 1997, there was a peaceful demonstration carried out by Uyghur youths in my hometown Ghulja seeking for religious freedom and demanding human rights and racial equality. The Chinese Government again treated these peaceful demonstrators with another bloody oppression.
The people who participated in the demonstration and those who were relatives of the participants were all arrested. The government claims there were only a few people who were injured. But I know that more than 100 people were killed, about 200 people were injured, and so many people were arrested.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Today, I would like to introduce my friend, Mr. Erkin Mamut. He is here and he is a victim of the Chinese Government's genesis of our culture and abuse of our religion. Thank you.
And so many people were arrested. Soon after that massacre event, among the Uyghur prisoners, 57 young Uyghurs were secretly frozen to death and another 27 people were publicly persecuted. Following the massacre event, the Chinese Government imposed the marital law in the entire Ghulja valley and many other major cities of eastern Turkestan. Military troops and polices started arresting thousands of Uyghur men, women and even children with the separatist and counterrevolutionary charges.
My brother-in-law was one of those who were arrested and executed after that demonstration for religious freedom. My close friends, Ghappar Talet, Abduhelil Mijit, Abliz Mijit, Kasim Hajim, Eisa Yusuf, Shawket and Tursun Mehmet, were all arrested for educating young people to believe in God; and nobody knows where they are kept or whether they are dead or alive now. It saddens me greatly whenever I think about my brother-in-law and my friends who are unjustly executed.
My brother-in-law was only 23 years old when he was executed on July 22nd, 1997. In the morning of that day, a policeman came to his parents' house. The policeman told his parents and his relatives that he will be brought to an open court at 8 a.m. and be executed at 10 a.m. They will be given only 5 minutes' time to see my brother-in-law prior to his execution.
His parents were shocked and could not dare to say a word because anybody who expressed discontent with the government's wrongdoing or who was against such governmental inhuman behavior received nothing but merciless oppression. With great courage they went to the prison to bid farewell to their son. What they heard from their son was, please, don't be sad. I am going to die because I have believed in God and sought justice for my people. I have no regret, because God, the Lord, is in my heart.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC They were given only a few minutes, and long before they finished what they wanted to say, two policemen dragged their son into his prison cell. After his execution, his parents wanted to take his body back home, but the government refused. What kind of government treats their citizens like this?
Clearly, our Uyghurs are not treated like Chinese citizens. It is impossible for people, especially the ones who live with dignity, value justice and always seeks happiness for others to tolerate such oppression. Chinese Government has been hiding from the outside world, their colonial rule being exercised over entire eastern Turkestan people and what they had done to them. They always use ''terrorists, separatists and counterrevolutionary'' charges against peaceful demonstrators to hide their merciless oppression.
I ask the world community to stop the Chinese Government from doing wrongful things. If what the Chinese Government has been doing was right and if those Uyghur young demonstrators were indeed terrorists, then why did the Chinese Government not open their courts' doors to the public and allow the world community to see and judge if what they are doing is legal?
But the Fascist Chinese Government cannot do that. If they do, the world will find out who they really are. They don't want the outside world to know why those Uyghur youths held that peaceful demonstration. They don't want to show the public the torture that they conducted on those Uyghur demonstrators.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you seek justice and freedom and if you are willing to provide help to those who are being oppressed by a Fascist Government under a colonial rule, please listen to the cry of our Uyghurs and give them a helpful hand.
Mr. President, you are going to make your state visit soon, so here we sincerely wish that, when you step on the red carpet in the Tinananmen Square, please bear in mind all our innocent people's blood. Thank you very much.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Mr. Yasin, thank you for your moving testimony.
Previously when I had seen that videotape that was provided to us on the mistreatment of the Uyghurs, I know I was moved. It is one thing to read about it. It is another to see the videotape copy of the repression. And your testimony today I think helps brings further scrutiny and light to this terrible repression of the Uyghurs. And, hopefully, President Clinton will hear, and will include a representation on behalf of the Uyghurs in his dialog with the Chinese leaders.
So thank you very much for your moving testimony.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Yasin appears in the appendix.]
Mr. SMITH. I would like to now ask Mrs. Bukhsh
Ms. BUKHSH. Ludvica Bukhsh.
Mr. SMITH. OK. If you could please address the Subcommittee.
STATEMENT OF LUDVICA BUKHSH, SISTER OF THE LATE BISHOP JOHN JOSEPH
Ms. BUKHSH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and respected Members, for inviting me to testify at this hearing.
I am a relative of Bishop John Joseph. Bishop John Joseph sacrificed his life on May 6th, last month, in protest against the blasphemy laws and the persecution of minorities in Pakistan.
My family had to flee from Pakistan in 1994 as the fundamental Muslims wanted to kill my husband, who had converted from Islam to Jesus Christ. He was once tied to the signal on the cherry crossing on the road. They stoned him. They wanted to kill him. He was saved, only by a miracle. Our house was ransacked, attacked by a mob of more than 300 people with all sorts of assault weapons. My husband had to stay for 2 years underground. We had no information of his death or life.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is much more to add. I will continue later.
In the words of my son who was then 10 years old, we were forced to leave our motherland. Our faith there they could not stand. They wanted us to renounce our God and accept theirs as our own. This could not be, so we had to flee, leaving behind our land, our home.
I am a victim of a society where religious persecution is progressing without any check. Left unattended, it will soon eliminate the Christians and other minorities in that part of the world. Another Holocaust is in the making.
I will restrict these few minutes to a brief summary of the systematic and organized persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan. Detailed information is available in the written testimony provided.
Pakistan laws are derived from the penal code established by the British more than 100 years before the creation of Pakistan. The purpose of these laws was to curb provocation to religious violence and protect the religious feelings of all citizens. These laws applied equally to all sects, groups and religions existing in the subcontinent at that time.
It is ironic that the same laws have now been amended to such an extent that they are now playing a major role in promoting hatred, vengeance, discrimination and persecution among the citizens of Pakistan.
Different governments, in their zeal to Islamize the entire Pakistani society, have turned a blind eye to the fundamental rights of their citizens. Their passion has led to serious abuse against the religious minorities. The rights of the minorities have been eroded step by step.
Assurances provided by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Father of the nation, that Pakistan would not be a theocratic state, that the state will not discriminate between cast or creed and that all will be equal citizens have been flouted.
Written assurances to the Christians by Zulfiqar-Ali-Bhutto, the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, that nationalization of Christian schools, colleges and hospitals will not harm the Christian community, that the Christian character of these institutions will be maintained, have not been kept. Christians suffered enormously and forcibly, made to go into illiteracy.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The assurances that the blasphemy laws are not meant against Christians, assurances that the separate electorate will not harm the minorities were never fulfilled. Very subtly the minorities were marginalized and cut off from the mainstream.
For the past 2 decades, the minorities have been threatened by some well planned, deliberate moves of the ruling authorities. Christians have been progressively deprived of their basic human rights. They have been reduced to the status of second-class citizens. Laws have been implemented which discriminate against them on the basis of religion.
The inception of Islamization and implementation of Islamic laws started an era of injustice, discrimination and persecution of the religion minorities.
To further complicate an already strained situation, the court adopted the Law of Evidence in 1984. Under this, the evidence of one male Muslim is worth the testimony of two Muslim women or two non-Muslim men. Along with this, Hadood ordinance was passed at the same time.
According to Hadood Ordinance, a woman complaining of rape is required to provide four male Muslim witnesses to prove her innocence. Otherwise, she can be convicted of adultery. The Islamic punishment for adultery is stoning.
These laws combined opened Pandora's box. Sexual harassment of Christian females, such as kidnaping, abduction, raping and gang raping have become everyday events.
No government to date has taken any measures to stop the injustices born of the abuse of blasphemy laws, the tyranny these laws are inflicting on individuals and the divisions and bitterness they are creating in the society.
Blasphemy cases are tried in an atmosphere of extreme aggression and intimidation created by the local religious groups. Members of these groups throng the courts inside and out, chanting religious slogans, stirring up public sentiment, freely exhibiting guns, uzis, knives, daggers, sticks and demanding the death of the accused.
In this volatile atmosphere, it is impossible for the judges to remain impartial. No lawyer is willing to defend the accused. The judges react emotionally to these cases, and their brazen disregard of established evidentiary standards in handing down convictions and sentences reveal a strong religious bias. What is worse, it is legally required that the judge of a blasphemy case must be a Muslim. It is evident that the accused never has a fair trial.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For example, Judge Talib Hussain, during the trial of a blasphemy case of Gul Masih(Masih means Christian; it is not a last name)after declaring two out of three eyewitnesses hostile, based his verdict of death sentence on the sole testimony of the complainant. In his opinion of the case, Judge Talib Hussain stated: ''Sajjad Hussain, persecution witness is a young man of 21 years, student of 4 years with a beard and outlook of being a true Muslim and I have no reason to disbelieve him.''
Once someone is accused of blasphemy, even if the higher courts acquit him, the accused has no safety in Pakistan as the public, considering it a religious obligation, takes it upon themselves to kill him with their own hands. Anyone who kills an alleged blasphemer is treated like a hero. The police are very reluctant to register a case against the killer. In fact, they treat him with respect, kissing his hands and praising him for being a devout follower of Islam.
Religious parties and influential people see to it that he is not punished. If arrested by chance, he is easily released. Lawyers offer their services free of cost to defend him. The entire case is quickly concluded.
On the other hand, in the case of accused blasphemers, one man accused of blasphemy was poisoned in prison and killed. Another was beaten up so badly by the police that almost all his bones were broken. He died in police custody. While yet another was stabbed in the police station in front of the police. While yet another was beaten up in front of his school staff, stabbed to death and no one intervened.
The list goes on and on. No one, no one to date has been convicted or sentenced for killing an alleged blasphemer. The government not only condones these instances, rather, directly or indirectly, supports them.
For example, lately, a representative of the ruling Muslim League and son of the late Zia-Ul-Haq, Mr. Ejaz-Ul-Haq, representing the government at a conference along with 30 other religious Muslim groups in Pakistan declared: ''Even if Bill Clinton and the entire world tries to pressurize us, we will not repeal or amend the blasphemy laws.''
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC They further declared that Moslems within and outside Pakistan would punish a blasphemer with their own hands if the courts acquit them.
Another minister of the same ruling party said about the situation that developed after the death of Bishop John Joseph that ''It is a conspiracy of the Christians and Jews against Pakistan.''
Many participants of a procession mourning the death of Bishop John Joseph have been arrested under the blasphemy laws as a roadside billboard, allegedly having a Koranic verse on it, fell down while the procession was passing by.
In the past month alone, 600 Christians, participants of a peaceful procession, were arrested by the religious-biased police for vague, concocted reasons.
Recently in Karachi, two policeman opened fire on a group of Christians standing outside a church. Four Christians died on the spot, including a young child of 8 years. To date, no case has been registered against the police.
In February 1997, among others, a village of 2,000 Christian families was burned to ashes by a mob of 40,000 Moslems assisted by the local police. The world did not hear of it.
In May, just last month, while Christians of Faisalabad were attending the last rites of their beloved Bishop, Moslems burned down an adjacent Christian neighborhood. The police came after 2 hours and, instead of trying to disperse the mob, they started teargassing and firing on the Christian locality. What a great help.
During such barbaric mob attacks, Christian women are dragged naked through the streets. Women and girls are gang raped. Children and men brutally beaten, left with broken bones and other severe injuries. Houses are looted. Properties, vehicles and other material possessions completely ruined, burned and destroyed. Who is arrested, tried or sentenced? No one. No one. Because they are not Christians, because they are not a minority.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There are too many atrocities to mention here. The time is limited.
All this is happening in the name of Islamization. Let the government bring about Islamization in a way where there is no corruption, no bribery, complete honesty, where in the name of religion the poor and powerless minorities will not be discriminated against, marginalized, oppressed and persecuted. The minorities would surely not object to this.
When states build walls between people, they create prisons in which the human spirit is crushed. The Christians and other minorities are determined to save Pakistan and democracy. The authoritarianism, fundamentalism, sectarianism and theocracy shall no longer be tolerated. The door of the United Nations is open. It is possible this door could be knocked on very soon.
America, you are the flag bearer of peace and human rights. You have been entrusted with this responsibility by God. Please do not hesitate to help the helpless and oppressed minorities.
The sacrifice of Bishop John Joseph and the others who have died for this cause is a beacon for us. A death of grace and glory is worth more than a lifetime as a poor, powerless and helpless minority. Thank you.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much for your excellent testimony.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Bukhsh appears in the appendix.]
Mr. SMITH. I would just advise other Members of the Subcommittee who will be looking at this record, I appreciated it when Bishop John Joseph died and you immediately got on the phone and contacted us and underscored the need to get the story of what is happening in Pakistan out. We have had hearings on the abuse of child labor in Pakistan, the soccer balls being produced, for example, by young children in circumstances often very detrimental to their health. We have had some testimony on the abuse of the blasphemy laws.
And what you are appealing for is tolerance, simple tolerance, unmitigated tolerance that if one chooses to practice his or her faith or to change faiths, that the full weight of a totalitarian state should not be brought to bear against that person, even if the state masquerades as a democracy in some quarters.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I thank you for your testimony, and we will have some questions later on, but I do thank you very much for that.
Ms. BUKHSH. Thank you.
Mr. SMITH. For our next witness we have Dr. Veguilla, who is a medical doctor from Havana, Cuba. If he could present his testimony at this point.
STATEMENT OF DR. ELIEZER VEGUILLA, CUBAN RELIGIOUS LEADER AND TORTURE SURVIVOR
Dr. VEGUILLA. [The following testimony was delivered through an interpreter.] Mr. Chairman and all the Members of the Subcommittee, it is a privilege for me to be here this morning to offer my testimony, lending my voice to those who are voiceless, to men, women and children who through all the years have suffered a totalitarian dictatorship, a dictatorship that has been characterized for violations of the most fundamental human rights, and particularly in persecuting Christian churches and all of their diversity, discrimination, blackmailing, penetration, imprisonment, and killings.
From a very early age I suffered some of these efforts by the regime. I remember those moments when I felt that perhaps God had left Cuba. My father, along with 48 other Christian pastors, was imprisoned. Many young people were sent to concentration camps. Many were executed, and thousands disappeared in the high seas. Many were expelled from our land. Today we suffer in exile.
I was 7 years old when I began to learn all these things. All of them had a great impact on my life, and I do not stop from wishing freedom for my country, for my country to learn the truth. And that was the crime, to wish that my people who I would become acquainted with, would know Christ.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In 1994, I went to prison with the charge of being an enemy agent, specifically a CIA agent. According to the secret police, I was one of the CIA agents responsible for destabilizing the country. And I was also charged with trying to harm the Cuban nation by distributing enemy propaganda. I was also charged with rebellion and sabotage with explosives.
Those were the charges, and they constantly asked me to plead guilty. When I failed to acknowledge my guilt, they tortured me. I endured both psychological and physical torture, not only against me but also upon my family. Very long interrogations without any rest. I was in prison in very dark cells or cells with very strong lights, cells that were either extremely hot or extremely cold. I suffered beatings by other prisoners.
I was threatened with a death sentence by execution. I was tied up by my feet, and was introduced in a hall full of excrement. And they kept shouting: ''Tell us that God does not exist.''
I was threatened with being put together with wild animals. The colonel, one of the chiefs at the Villa Marista headquarters in Havana, took me to the basement of this building and through a small hole, showed me a big black bear. The bear was very upset, and he was running around loose. He told me that unless I would plead guilty, they would put me in this room with the bear. I could not believe what was happening.
A few hours later, they, in fact, put me together with this bear. Fortunately, at that time the bear was tied up.
The whole exercise was an intimidation effort. They thought I was crazy because I began to praise God, and I began to pray to my God, and I was singing, and I stayed there several hours. I will never be able to forget what happened.
It was later that they took me to a small room where there were two men that were yelling, ''They are going to kill us.'' And I said, ''I came here to die.'' I thought I was going to die. Then they took one of these men away. I heard the bullets and the cries. Then they took me away. There was a pole, there was blood around it, and there were the impacts of the bullets on the wall, and there were soldiers with their rifles. They tied me to the stick. I began to shout, ''Cuba for Christ! Assassins, Christ loves you.'' I heard the commander say, ''Fire.'' And then I heard the arms. They beganthen I heard laughter. Then they took me to another prison.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC My children and my wife were interrogated; were intimidated at all times as if we were criminals. And in view of the large international pressure, and what I consider a mistake on their part, I was put under house arrest without having appeared before a court, and without having the opportunity to see a lawyer.
I have documents that prove what I am telling you. I cannot bring you the bear, but I could bring some of the evidence and the truth of my testimony, because the secret police always told me that no one would believe me. And what is really sad is that this not only happened to me. I am here today to speak out, breaking the silence, a silence that sometimes becomes an accomplice. But we are breaking the silence and I hope thatI am sure that the winter that covers the island of Cuba under the control of a madman and his followers will be over.
Mr. Chairman, I only hope that the flame of hope will remain and that this great country that took my family in and so many thousands in giving us the necessary refuge, will keep this flame of hope on.
My case is not special at all, but we are here to speak of recent cases, as the case of Samuel Valdez, May 20, 1997, who went on a missionary journey, and never returned home. His body was found floating on a river.
Also the voice of Manuel Rodriguez, charged recently for excess of religiousness and was given five electroshocks as well as hypotropic drugs. Today he is in a mental hospital recuperating in Havana.
I cannot consider this as an isolated case because it is the repression that today exists in my country.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much for your moving testimony and for breaking the silence.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Dr. Veguilla appears in the appendix.]
Mr. SMITH. It seems every couple of months, certainly every couple of years, more evidence comes forward that Cuba has not changed, contrary to popular myth, that it continues to be very troublesome, that the Clinton Administration, under the Clinton-Castro agreement, continues to return those who seek to escape, the rafters, back to a very uncertain and potentially fraught-with-danger fate.
You indicated that the secret police did not believe you. The only reason you are here is that we believe you, and we take great pains to ensure that witnesses are credible, that the information that they bring forward is true and consistent with the situation as it exists.
I want to make it very clear that the Subcommittee not only believes you but is very appreciative of your bringing this information forward, especially at a time when there are a number of Members of Congress and certainly people in the Administration who see Castro in a more benign light. Certainly he does not deserve it and continues to repress anyone who steps across a very closely circumscribed line. Thank you for breaking the silence.
I read Armando Valledares' book years ago, ''Against All Hope'', and was greatly moved by his witness to the desecrations that he endured to his physical person and his mind. And I want to thank you for bearing witness to the truth, for enduring.
I am a believer. I am a Christian, a Catholic, but I believe tolerance is the key, that whether it be in China or the mistreatment of the Uyghurs or the Pakistanis or the Bahái or Catholics or Evangelical Christians, governments have a duty and responsibility to tolerate and not to repress. Thank you very much for our testimony.
I would like to ask our fifth witness, Dr. Kazemzadeh, who also is a Secretary for External Affairs of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'i, to present your testimony at this point.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
STATEMENT OF FIRUZ KAZEMZADEH, SECRETARY FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHÁIS OF THE UNITED STATES
Mr. KAZEMZADEH. Thank you Mr. Chairman. It gives me great pleasure to convey the gratitude of the American Baha'i community for the leadership of the U.S. Congress in championing the rights of the Bahái religious minority in Iran.
The Chairman and the Ranking Minority Member of this Subcommittee, Representatives Smith and Lantos, have been instrumental in the passage since 1982 of seven congressional resolutions calling for the emancipation of the Iranian Bahái community.
Together with annual U.N. resolutions condemning Iran's treatment of the Bahái's, the congressional resolutions have cast the a spotlight of international censure on the Iranian regime and helped to dissuade it from continuing the bloody pogrom against the Baháis.
The status of the Bahái's in Iran is unambiguous. Classified as ''unprotected infidels'', the approximately 300,000 members of the Bahái faith have no legal rights. Killing a Bahái does not constitute homicide. A Bahái may not legally enforce a contract, inherit property, be employed by the government, collect pensions, or attend universities. Baháis are routinely jailed, and their personal properties are confiscated.
A secret government document published in 1993 by the U.N. Commission for Human Rights confirms that anti-Bahái actions are part of the Iranian Government's deliberate policy. Produced by Iran's Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council and endorsed by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, this ''blueprint'' sets forth guidelines for dealing with ''the Bahái question'' so that the Baháis' ''progress and development shall be blocked.''
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Of course, Jews and Christians have also suffered persecution at the hands of the current Iranian regime. A week ago a senior member of Iran's Jewish community was condemned to death by hanging for assisting his co-religionists to leave the country.
As of today, 16 Baháis are in prison because of their religion. Four of the prisoners are on death row, two of them on charges of apostasy. Arbitrary arrests occur regularly in many parts of the country.
Last month, authorities in Mashhad surrounded and raided the home of a Bahái family where a class for youth was being held. The teacher, Mrs. Sonia Ahmadi, and the owner of the house, Mr. Manuchehr Ziai, along with 12 students aged 15 and 16, were arrested and hastily sentenced without having a chance to engage a lawyer. The two adults were sentenced to 3 years' imprisonment, while the 12 students were released on parole, having been given, despite their age, suspended sentences of 5 years' imprisonment to be activated should they ever again commit the ''crime'' of taking part in Bahái moral education classes.
In Birjand, Mr. Jamaledin Hajipur and Mr. Mansur Mehrabi were arrested last year and sentenced to 2 years' imprisonment. They appealed, and the Court of Appeals returned an extraordinary verdict confirming the sentence. The Appeals Court stated that ''Baháism is recognized as an illegal organization,'' thus making a mockery of the Iranian Government's claim that Baháis retain their right to the observance of their religious beliefs.
It is startling that the court judgment accepts as evidence of illegal activity such actions as holding classes for Bahái youth in the English language, science and technology. The verdict notes without embarrassment that the two men carried out these activities, ''with the intent of improving the standard of education of Bahái students and their families.''
The context in which the court decision should be seen is that the Iranian regime has excluded Baháis from higher education solely on the ground of their religious affiliation.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have been asked whether there have been any changes in the attitude of the government toward Iran's Bahái citizens since President Khatemi took office. We regret that, despite our initial hopes, events such as those mentioned above demonstrate that there has been no discernible improvement.
For a Western mind, it is difficult to understand why a regime which is gradually permitting a degree of pluralism in political and social life should be bent on suppressing an apolitical minority that threatens no one or to understand why other voices in Iran's political spectrum would likewise be unwilling to grant even minimal civil rights to Iran's Bahái citizens. The explanation lies in the sinister interaction of political opportunism and unexamined religious prejudice that determine all aspects of this matter.
The current circumstances should be seen in the context of the unique nature of the persecution to which Iranian Baháis have been subjected for over a century. The Iranian Bahái community has frequently served as a scapegoat used by various factions struggling for political ascendancy. This has been the case regardless of the changes in political or dynastic regime. Whenever political leaders have felt a need to divert public attention from some issue, they have found the Bahái community an easy target because of the senseless hostility and prejudice inculcated in the public by generations of ecclesiastical propaganda.
Only 2 weeks ago, the Iranian state news agency cited a 1986 declaration made by the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the most prestigious educational institution in the Muslim world, to the effect that ''any Muslim adopting the faith of Baháism would be considered an apostate.'' The news article stated that the Bahái faith ''is false and it has nothing to do with Islam, or even with Judaism or Christianity.''
The belief that Muhammad was the last prophet of God and that with him divine revelation came to an end underlies the continued persecution of the Baháis in Iran in spite of the Bahái acknowledgment of the divine origin of Islam and other religions.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Government of Iran has repeatedly stated that the Bahái faith is not a religion but a political conspiracy. To recognize the Bahái faith as a religion would, therefore, be tantamount to denying the principles of Islam as understood by its clerical hierarchies.
To sum up, we see no evidence of a change in policy toward Iran's Bahái minority. They are outside the rule of law and not protected under the constitution. They continue to be imprisoned and mistreated in an effort to compel them to recant their faith and to convert to Islam. There is no evidence that the secret plan adopted by the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council for the extermination of the Bahái community has been abrogated or withdrawn.
The 1997 U.N. General Assembly resolution on human rights in Iran offers the clearest expression of what the international community expects of the Iranian authorities. Any relaxation of pressure in the Bahái case or any omission of reference to it in the U.N. resolutions would have the inevitable effect of encouraging factions within the regime to compete with one another in demonstrating their determination to root out ''the Bahái heresy.'' The effect would be to jeopardize the achievements of the international community, first of all the United States, in protecting the beleaguered Baháis from the most brutal forms of repression.
It is not the actions of the Baháis but the circumstances of Iranian history that have conspired to make ''the Bahái case'' a litmus test of sincerity for Iranian public figures who represent themselves as voices of reform and progress.
We call upon the Government of the United States to continue playing a primary role in defending the principles of religious freedom and all human rights throughout the world.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much for your testimony, Doctor.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Kazemzadeh appears in the appendix.]
Mr. SMITH. Again, this Subcommittee, both under Democratic leadership and Republican leadership, has consistently raised the issue of the Bahaís vis-a-vis Iran.
I will never forget when President Rafsanjani came into power. There were people who suggested somehow that he was a moderate and that things would change. Regrettably, we were all rudely awakened that nothing could be further from the truth. Now we are hearing the same kind of rhetoric about the moderation of President Khatemi; and the evidence thus far has been less than favorable, as a matter of fact it has been decidedly the other way.
I thank you for bringing the continued plight of the Iranian Bahái to this Subcommittee's attention.
I would like to begin with some questions. Sister, if I could ask you first, and can we have our interpreters sitting near the witnesses?
On June 13, in The Washington Times, in an article written by Lance Gay of the Scripps Howard News Service, Ambassador Li insults and I think absolutely belittles those of us who raise human rights issues regarding China and Tibet. And he says, and I quote, Mr. Li says congressional criticism of China's Government and politics is coming from a few lawmakers who are nostalgic for the old days of cold war confrontation with the Soviet Union. They found that they still needed an enemy. They still needed a target so as to justify their cold war mentality. Because these people were so keen to find an enemy, to find the substitute for the Soviet empire in the past, they have started to look at China.
I would just say for the record, I have been in Congress now for 18 years, nine terms. I have raisedand I am not alone in this at allthe issue of human rights abuse in China, whether it be forced abortion and forced sterilization or the continued crackdown on religious believers or the outrage we saw in Tinananmen Square, which was just a microcosm of what goes on daily in Chinese life.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like our two witnesses, if you could, to respond to that incredibly superficial read of congressional concern. We are not here, we are not conducting this hearing on religious repression, to spin our wheels. It is because there is a sad, dismaying and untold story from disparate areas of the world and from people who have suffered this outrage, and yet we get this shallow, superficial, and I think contemptible, statement by the Ambassador.
And then the business community rolls in, and there are some perhaps that are in this room who represent business interests in China, and they give aid and nurturing to the Chinese dictatorship.
I will never forget, I have led three human rights trips to China. I met with American business people who are probably very, very good business people. And when we talked about human rights, they suggested that constructive engagement was working, that religious freedom indeed exists. It does not. And I asked them if they ever met with anyone like Wei Jingsheng, who at that time had not been rearrested. I had met with him, and if I can meet with him with less than a week to stay in China, why hadn't they? At least get the other perspective.
Already we are seeing a massive lobbying effort by the business community to try to continue most-favored-nation status for China, which may be continued for another year, regrettably. The business people just look askance and act as if they are not part of and party to these Nazi-like repressions of people.
Ambassador Li, again, will be invited to this Subcommittee to give an account; and if he rejects it, we will put an empty chair there again as we did with Chi Haotian, the Defense Minister, and hopefully bring further attention to the abuses by the Chinese leadership.
We are not at war or in opposition to the Chinese people or the Tibetan people. Our dispute is with their government, which is at war with its own people.
Let me just ask if you would respond to Ambassador Li's statement that somehow we need an enemy. I am not looking for enemies. I am looking for friends. I wish we had a strong trading relationship with China, and that, at its core, human rights were respected.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ambassador Li, I think, when he makes these kinds of foolish and contemptible statements, hurts his own cause, because it further brings the light of scrutiny on how misguided they truly are and how cynical they are about our concerns about human rights. I think he owes us an apology. I will invite him to testify as soon as possible.
Let me ask you to respond to that, Sister, Mr. Yasin. In responding, have things, in terms of human rights, gotten better or worse with regard to the Uyghurs and with regard to the Tibetans?
Ms. WONGO. Human rights in Tibet are getting no better. In fact, it is getting worse. I came to India in 1985. Then I went back to Tibet in 1992. I have seen that Tibet, it is in a state of controversy, and many Tibetans are in exile.
We meet many Tibetans in India. They say that human rights in Tibet are not better.
For example, when I went to Tibet, people do not trust one another. There is always a spy among the people.
When I went to visit my parents and my relatives, they said, first of all, when we met, they said please keep quiet, don't speak too much.
I recently heard that there are many civilian-dressed police working among the public. Some people say for each person there is a spy looking after the Tibetans, what they are doing.
Thank you so much.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Yasin.
Mr. YASIN. As testified, our Tibetan sisters and the similar situations going on in our region, but even worse because our homeland, the problem issues are not internationalized. So Chinese Government takes advantage, and evidence shows that they won't improve the human rights in our land.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to thank you very much for listening to my testimony here, ladies and gentlemen. I sincerely hope that the U.S. Government will lend a hand to us, to our suffering people.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Yasin, in July, late 1997, one of the Uyghurs who testified before our Subcommittee suggested that the Chinese Government waited until after most-favored-nation status had been renewed before executing a number of Uyghurs. In other words, once it was safely in the book and for another year, that is when they took the protesters that they had picked up before the renewal and killed them. Could you respond to that?
Mr. YASIN. Constructive improvement of the human rights together with trade is, it sounds like they quite contradict each other. Because, first, we should think that the Chinese Government should improve their record of human rights in our area, not only in our area but also Tibet and in Mongolia. I strongly hope that the United States should put more emphasis before they do any for the trade issue.
Mr. SMITH. Sister Wongmo, the U.N. Population Fund in New York and their representatives in Beijing have repeatedly said publicly, in fora that were held here on Capitol Hill on national television, and Dr. Sadik, who is the executive director of that organization, has said that the population control program in China is totally voluntary. Is that true in Tibet? Is that true among the Uyghurs, that forced abortion and forced sterilization do not exist?
Mr. YASIN. Absolutely, this again is Chinese Government's lying to the world. We have a lot of evidence to show that Chinese Government actually indeed practices abortions, pregnant women, and even sterilize the women.
Mr. REES. Is that against their will or is that voluntary on the part of the women?
Mr. YASIN. The Chinese Government is against our people's will. They force abortions.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUJI TUERDI. One of our brothers just came from Kazakhstan. According to his statement, the Chinese Government established a hospital. It is a station for protection of women. What they do is they bring up pregnant women from all the towns, countrysides. He saw hundreds of women. Every day they are forced to come from the countryside.
Then the hospital, nurses without any license for practicing medicine, they do abortion even for the 9 months. They allow women to suffer, because those people who exercise that medical practice, they don't know how to do that. Those people are forced to come to that station and stand in line.
That is not voluntary. There are soldiers. They refuse even though they know they get aborted at 9 months old.
Mr. SMITH. I thank you. Before you leave, leave your name. That way, we will have a record of who you are. If you have anything written on that in addition to that, please provide it to us.
Ms. WONGO. This forced sterilization and abortions is a bad policy. It is not that people are willing to do it. This is false statement.
I have two relatives, women relatives, so one of my relatives has two children, one died because of an accident, a truck accident. She wanted a third child, but she is not allowed to give birth because they said, if you give a third child birth she will not get a ration card and no food. None whatsoever. That child won't get it. So it is as if forced.
Farmers, they have no right to cultivate things, what they want to cultivate. Chinese authority give the order. This time, you have to grow this cereal. Next time, you grow this cereal. The third, they have no choice. They have to grow that, whatever the authorities say.
When I visited Tibet in 1992, there are many people that don't have any food to eat. So whatever is grown on the field, they collect a tax and they have to give the grains to the government so there is no food left to eat.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The keeping of cows and sheep there is restricted. The people are not allowed to keep as much as what they want. If the number is over, if you have one extra animal, you have to kill that animal.
So for the people it is very difficult because, according to the number of their animals, whether you get the product or not, you have to give the projected tax to the government.
Even in the cities of Tibet, they have a lack of food. There is a large Chinese population in Tibet and all the work is given to the Chinese, and the Tibetans are left with no work, and that is why there is scarcity of food and income among Tibetans. Even in the prisons Tibetans have only once a month one chance to get the food to the prisoners; it is only one person who can go and meet them. This is important.
Thank you so much.
Mr. SMITH. When you take the transmigration issue of trying to displace indigenous people with Han Chinese, coupled with the flight of so many refugees, coupled with the mistreatment that you have just described, including forced sterilization and forced abortion, does this rise to the level of a genocide? Is this ethnic cleansing like we saw in Bosnia when people were just displaced? Is this genocide?
Would Sister Wongmo characterize what the Chinese Government is doing to the Tibetan people through its mutually reinforcing policies of forced abortion, forced sterilization, the transmigration of actually homesteading so many Chinese in Tibet? When you take it all together with the fact that so many have left under extreme duress, have become refugees, does this constitute a genocide?
Ms. WONGO. That is their policy, to decrease that population, to decrease our population, and then it is very dangerous for our race. Also, it is very critical. Even to this day there are many young Tibetans who have no work, no income. So many young people have liquor and then they fight among each other, kill among each other. But the authorities are not bothered because they don't care about the Tibetan people.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Dr. Veguilla, let me ask you with regard to Cuba, are Evangelical Christians being targeted and Evangelical pastors and ministers being targeted by Castro because they are not recognized by the government?
And, second, as a result of the Clinton-Castro agreement on repatriating the boat people or the rafters, have any Christians ended up in prison as a result of being returned, even if it is under the guise of some other lawbreaking?
Dr. VEGUILLA. Suffering and repression has encompassed all Christians in Cuba. The regime has now targeted Catholics, Evangelicals, all the groups. But all of them have suffered equally.
The very same day on which the Pope arrived in Cuba, many religious leaders were called in. They were brought over, the government and the authorities asked them to come in, and they were asked to close these homes or houses of prayer.
And, for instance, the chairman of the Baptist Convention of Cuba was brought in by the police. He was told that he had to close thousands of houses of prayer.
The aircraft that was shot down some years ago, in a way expresses what is behind your question. There were four young Cubans, three were Catholic and one was an Evangelical. Morales was an Evangelical.
The Holy Father John Paul II recently told the Cuban bishops in Rome the changes that he, the Pope, expected have yet to come. Among those Cubans who leave the island, the Cuban boat people, undoubtedly there is a sound group of our people. It is not unique to hear that a raft arrives empty on the shores of Miami, but many times in these rafts you find Bibles. And this is evidence that some of our people are being returned. We have reports of many who have been returned. And they are repressed, the target of repression on the island.
And others, like Father Sullivan, was expelled, because he distributed literature, specifically the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was expelled. And we have the same situation with other leaders of Cuban ministries, foreign Cuban ministries that are expelled from the country.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In 1995, Mr. Ricardo Luna of Open Doors, a ministry that sends Bibles to countries in trouble, was expelled from Cuba, and he was not permitted to return. More recently, a group from the Baptist Association of Miami wanted to go to Cuba to establish links with its brethren on the island; and all of them were denied visas to enter Cuba. We do not see substantive changes in Cuba's policy toward religion.
Mr. SMITH. Let me ask a follow-up. The 1994 Clinton-Castro agreement, the boilerplate language said to use mainly persuasive methods with regard to those who wanted to leave, and those I guess who returned. You mentioned that they, upon return, are targets of repression. I think we need to knowthis Subcommittee and other committees of Congress and to investigate further if, indeed, the U.S. Coast Guard is acting to bring people back who are then targets of repression.
What kind of monitoring, what kind of work does the Clinton Administration do to ensure that each and every person who is forcibly repatriated, picked up on their way potentially to freedom and brought backtheir Bibles still left on the raftas you said, are not abused upon their return? Is there any evidence that the U.S. Government is doing anything to intervene, to carefully chronicle and monitor those people, after bringing them back?
Dr. VEGUILLA. It is very sad what is happening. Throughout the years the idea of charging a Cuban with being an undocumented alien was not the way Cubans were treated in the United States. I just returned from Nevada, and I found several undocumented Cubans there.
We did not have a problem earlier. The reason is that there was a law that protected and permitted, but that law is not in force today, and instead we have an agreement to return to Cuba. And we do have evidence, we have files that we could send to the Committee about specific cases of repression of people who have been returned to the island.
For example, the mailings that we send are opened by the government, and they put a stamp on the envelope indicating to the Cubans that the government is monitoring their foreign mail. We have more evidence. Many telephone calls are listened to. Those who returned to Cuba, when they returned they don't have any properties, because whatever they had found out has been given away in their absence.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is extremely difficult to obtain a job because of the high unemployment rate. Among the baseball players that are returned from the Bahamas, one is a Christian Evangelical, and we have taped his statements denouncing the repression that he has received. And one of the most terrible facts is that he has a visa from the Nicaraguan Government to travel to Nicaragua and the Cuban Government will not allow him to leave. In fact, this is repression. They will not allow him to leave Cuba.
Another sad example is that, when they return, they are told that the U.S. Government asks them to put their names in this lottery to come to the United States. But there are only 20,000 visas a year, and they are not issuing all of them either.
A personal case is my sister's. She worked in many of my religious activities. And when she asked for an American visa, she was denied. We just don't quite understandwe do not really understand this policy of the government, and we suffer because of it, and we are very upset and very concerned. We see the return of Cubans with great concern.
Mr. SMITH. Let me just make one final comment. You might want to respond.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, when talking about Marxist Leninism, spoke of how at the core of it is militant atheism, not a God does not exist as opposed to a hatred of God. You testified that while you were being tortured, your captors wanted you to say or to blurt out God does not exist. Richard Wurmbrand, when he talked about the infamous securitate and Ceausescu's prisons, said the identical thing was used against religious believers, this obsession with getting a statement out of a tortured prisoner that God does not exist.
This happened to you within yearsjust a couple of years ago. Is this kind of treatment being meted out in Castro's gulags today?
Dr. VEGUILLA. This is evident that it is happening. Nothing has changed.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What has happened, however, is that when people come out of the country, as in my own case, there is sort of pressure, blackmail, and they remain silent, in many cases in Miami, and other cities in which there are witnesses of much worse things than have the ones that happened to me.
I am here, but I have been threatened that they can take strong measures against my parents or me in Cuba, and against my church; and, therefore, I am concerned.
But we have a moral, ethical and religious commitment with my people to bear witness, to denounce; and, honestly, since I arrived in this country, I have tried to knock on every door. And we are not going to stop that. And I am extremely grateful to you for letting me speak here.
We had space in some institutions such as Freedom House and other institutions in the country. We have gone to several countries around the world, and we have spoken to religious leaders and with political leaders to denounce what is happening in Cuba.
One of the worst things that are happening in Cuba is the lack of morals in society. Even Fidel Castro has said in his public speeches that the Cuban prostitutes are the safest in the world. He has institutionalized prostitution, and he has degraded women. However, the image that he appears to project around the world is different; and all of this goes against the Bible and the moral principles.
For instance, he recently said that abortion was the best method of controlling births.
I am a doctor. In Cuba, there is no limitation on abortion. I did not practice that sort of medicine, because I did not want to get involved with abortion. And we are talking about great killings. Not as the abortion that is needed for health reasons. They are chosen, they kill them, and they finally kill them when they are outside the mother's womb. And the Prime Minister of a country promotes that! I believe that this is one of a great challenges to Christian faith.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much for your excellent testimony and the answers to those questions and for pointing out that the Pope has said that the reforms have yet to come.
There is a sense among some of my colleagues and some down at the White House that lifting sanctions today will lead to some kind of breakthrough, and the evidence you present suggests that this has not happened, is not happening now, and it might even be wishful thinking that that will happen in the future. So thank you very much for that testimony.
I would like to ask Ludvica: our U.S. State Department report on human rights practices for Pakistan states that Prime Minister Sharif is a defender of religious minorities and actually hosted a Christmas dinner last year for 1,200 persons. Is this just lip service? Is this public relations on his part? Is the central government unwilling to protect Christians or is it unable to protect Christians from local extremists?
Ms. BUKHSH. Hosting a dinner for 1,200 Christians at the time of Christmas is nothing more than an eyewash. As a matter of fact, I just quoted what a minister of his government said about the circumstances that developed after the death of Bishop John Joseph. ''It is a conspiracy of the Jews and the Christians against Pakistan.''
You can get an idea from what the minister says about what the government thinks of the Christians. Another representative of his party says that under no circumstances are they going to repeal or amend the blasphemy laws. Then, they claim that if the government, or the courts do not punish the accused blasphemers, the Muslims are going to take it upon themselves to punish them in and outside Pakistan with their own hands. Does that show that the government is in favor?
Again, it was in the regime of Nawaz Sharif, as a matter of fact, that one of his ministers wanted to add a column, a space in the national identity card mentioning the religion of the cardholder. What does that mean? Does that sound familiar? Why should a national identity card state the religion of a person?
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The government was determined to do it. They said, under no circumstances would they give in to the minorities, because minorities were protesting against it. It was only after months and months of rigorous demonstrations, imprisonments, hunger strikes and support from the NGO's and enlightened Muslims that the government was forced not to add this religious column to the national identity card. As a matter of fact, without letting anyone know, very subtly, it was still added to the national passport. This is discrimination.
The President of the countryas a matter of fact, Mr. Tarrar, he recently said there is no need and under no circumstances are we going to repeal or amend the blasphemy laws.
It is very easy for the governments to say that the rights of the minorities will be safeguarded. My question is, which rights? The minorities have no rights. Which rights are they trying to safeguard? There are no rights.
Minorities are every day claiming, requesting, begging, demonstrating, give us a combined electorate. The government has forceably, without the consent of the minorities, given the minorities a separate electorate. They have separated the minorities from the mainstream.
Now, can you imagine what happens if you are separated from the mainstream? You just die your own death. The minority representatives, if they want to contest for the National Assembly, have to contest this election from the entire country. If they want to contest election for the provincial assembly, they have to contest from the entire province. As a matter of fact, there isn't any constituency for them.
How is that possible? It costs millions. Minorities are poor. The government didn't even take into account the actual number of the minorities in the country. Arbitrarily, they just fixed a few seats in the national assemblyfour seats for the Christians, four seats for Hindus, one for Parsis, one for Ahmedies. Minorities have no representation in the senate.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And what is legislation without representation? Tyranny.
I mean, minority representatives have no real representation in the assemblies. I mean, if you have to contest an election from the entire country, the voters in different parts of the country don't even know who the candidate is. And when a minority representative is representing only the minority, elected representatives of the majority stay aloof from him because they have nothing to do with him.
Hence, what happens? The minority representatives have absolutely no support in the legislative process. They are just dummy representatives to show the world, yes, the minorities have representation. But are they able to do anything? Nobody listens to them. They are not even able to object to the discriminatory laws that are passed against the minorities in the legislature, in the assemblies. Who cares what the minorities think? Who cares what they feel?
Mr. SMITH. Let me ask, could you tell us what the circumstances were regarding your own leaving Pakistan? Does it have anything to do with your faith?
Ms. BUKHSH. My family, my two children, my husband, myself, we had to flee from Pakistan in 1994. My husband belongs to a very, very influential industrial Islamic Muslim family. He is a Saiyad, and Saiyads are considered to be descendents of Mohammed.
My husband, after he came to know Christ, decided to convert from Islam to Jesus Christ. My marriage was an arranged marriage. At that time, Islamization was not so much enforced. Zia-ui-Hag started implementing Islamization when he brought in the second martial law round about 1978.
As the people realized that my husband was no more a Muslim, life for my husband became difficult with each passing day. He owned a car dealership. His showroom was broken, attacked by the mullah, and the Islamic students of that place, totally ransacked, cars broken, windows broken, property totally damaged. Later they caught him and tied him to the signal, you know, the light signal that you have on the roads. They tied him and started stoning him. They wanted to put him to death.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC They called him a murtid. We could not confess that he had converted. He kept on insisting no, no, I am a Muslim. I am not a Christian. He was only saved by a miracle of God, because God wanted him to get out of that country. It was just by chance that a police patrol came that way, and they stopped it.
When we went into the police station to report against the mullah and those people who were doing it, police realizing that this was a case where a Muslim person had converted, refused to file a case against the mullah whom we knew, we were naming him, but they said, it is a mob attack; we can't do anything.
My husband had to stay 2 years underground. Our house was raided by a mob of more than 300 people who had all sorts of assault weapons. When I tried to stop them from coming up, they threw me on the stairs. I was walked all over. I was kicked in the stomach. My children were beaten up. They hid under the dining table. My mother came and fell at the feet of the people begging them not to harm the children. They kicked my old mother.
The next day, when I went to report this incident to the sector in charge of MQM, which is a very prominent political party in Karachi, he told me, woman, you are lucky that your husband was not at home. Three bullets were definitely for him. And I said, why are you doing this? What has my husband done? And they said, we know that he is a murtid. Murtid means one who has rejected Islam or the Prophet Mohammed. And I said, no, no, that is not true. He is still a Muslim.
And they said, all right, then bring your Islamic marriage certificate. I didn't have it. In order for anyone to get married to a Muslim, you have to have a Muslim marriage; and when you have a Muslim marriage, you say their creed and become a Muslim. And we could not ever do that. And I knew then that day that the whole system was against us. We could not win. Because if I showed them my Christian Catholic marriage certificate, it would prove that my husband had converted. They would put him to death. If I did not show them my Muslim marriage certificate, they would say, I was living in sin and, hence, stone me.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I had to pay through my nose to get documents made for my husband and make him escape from another airport without proper clothes, with no money, only a ticket. He landed in America on the 23rd of January 1994, with not even warm clothes and you know how bad that winter was. I had to escape one night with only a bag in my hand and the bare clothes that we were wearing, because our house was under constant surveillance.
I knew I would never see my mother again. I knew I would never see my sister again. My mother died last year. I couldn't go back. We came with only our bare clothes on our back. We couldn't bring anything. We couldn't.
It is not easy. It is a systematic, very-well-thought-out process, what is happening in Pakistan. Look, look what they are doing. They, first of all, nationalized our institutions. The Administration, the staffing, which was 100 percent Christian, was either removed or suspended or transferred.
Muslim Administration was brought in and, because of their attitude, their discrimination, schools and colleges that were turning out hundreds of Christian graduates every year now have no Christians at all. Christian children in these schools are discriminated against. Muslim children do not want to sit with them. They are not allowed to drink from the same source.
The Administration condones this. When Christians tried to demonstrate against this nationalization in order to get their institutions back, we were fired upon. Two people died on the spot. Does anyone know about it? No one.
Christians were considered pioneers in the field of education and medicine. The nursing profession had loads of Christian studentsChristian girls and boys. What did the government do? They fixed a quota, only 2 percent Christians are allowed in this profession now.
They passed another law, known as the Law of Evidence, according to which a Christian or a minority member's evidence doesn't have any weight in comparison to a Muslim's. A Muslim's testimony is twice as worthy and credible than two Christians or two women.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Along with this, they passed the Hadood Ordinance, according to which a woman complaining of rape has to present four male Muslim witnesses to prove her innocence. Who gets raped in front of four men? This is crazy.
And then, according to another ruling of the court, if a minority woman or man converts to Islam, their marriage is automatically annulled. So what happens? This has opened Pandora's box.
Muslim men, very conveniently, whoever they like, whenever they like, just walk away with any Christian woman, with any Christian girl. She is kept imprisoned in their private jails, raped, kept there for a couple of months.
When presented in the court, a mullah from any remote place says she has converted to Islam, and the judge condones the entire matter and gives his verdict saying that as (if it is a case of a woman), she has converted, so she cannot go back to her husband, because he is a non-Muslim. If it is a girl, she cannot go back to her parents, because now she is a Muslim. She should not be living with non-Muslims.
What happens? Hundreds and thousands of Christian families have been broken. Children have become motherless. Daughters have been snatched away from their parents. Christian parents lose sleep at the birth of a daughter now. No Christian woman, or Christian girl feels safe.
This is only a beginning. This is not even 1 percent of what is going on. Look at the blasphemy laws. They were made in 1860, when the British were ruling the subcontinent. They were made to protect the religious feelings of any sect, class, religion, group of people, who were present at that time in the subcontinent.
They stressed that the malicious intent of the accused must be established in order for him to be accused of consciously trying to hurt somebody's religious feelings. But now, by the changes that they have made, they have totally eliminated this necessity. They are not concerned about the others' religion. They are not concerned about the feelings of a Christian or any other. They are only concerned with the honor and respect of the Islamic deity, the Koran and their Holy Prophet, Mohammed.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Whether you mean it or you don't mean it, whatever you say can be taken against you if the listener is a person who is very sensitive or who can be very easily provoked.
There is very little requirement of actual evidence. This is a non-bailable offense. Many people, fanatic Muslims, are making use of these laws to settle their scores. If they want your wife, they blame you. If they want your daughter, if you are competing in business with them, if they want your land, they don't want you in their neighborhood, whatever the reasonjust one Muslim person has to say that he heard a non-Muslim say something against the Prophet, the police comes, arrests you, puts you in prison, and you may spend years of your life before you are triedbefore you have any trial.
And then when you are tried, the judge is a Muslim. No lawyer is willing to fight your case. What happens? You don't get a fair trial.
One judge, I don't know how, he gave a ruling in favor of a young 13-year-old boy who was sentenced for death by the lower court. He said he did not have enough evidence to sentence this child. Last year, this judge was killed.
The courts are Muslim. The lawyers are Muslim. The judges are Muslim. And the poor Christian accused blasphemer is left at their mercy. Even if they get a chance to take the case to the high court and the high court overturns the decision, it is very difficult for the accused to have any security in Pakistan, because they are killed by the people.
Once you are accused of blasphemy, whether you have done it or you haven't, people take it upon themselves to kill you because this is their religious duty. Where do you stand? Where do you stand?
This is the beginning of another Holocaust. If this is left unattended, very soon Christians and other minorities will be totally eliminated from that part of the world. They will be forced to change their religion in order to safeguard their life. They cannot flee. They have India on one side who under no circumstances is ever going to let a Pakistani become a refugee in their country. On the other side is China, who is a very strong ally of Pakistan. The other side is Afghanistan and Iran, who want no non-Muslims in their countries.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Christians are poor people with no support, with no help. The only thing that they can do is to die at the hands of fundamental Muslims there or go and drown in the Arabian Sea in the south.
I request, I beg and I plead to the American Government not to condone this, please do not condone this. This is as treacherous, this is as forceful and disastrous as a nuclear bomb, because millions will be killed. Why should we be concerned only about a nuclear bomb and not about the persecution of minorities which is not only going on in Pakistan? It is definitely going on in many other Islamic states of the world.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much for that very extensive, but very insightful statement.
Ms. BUKHSH. I am sorry.
Mr. SMITH. No, you made your point very clear. And I think it needs to be made clear that our concerns vis-a-vis Pakistan shouldn't just be about the bomb; and, unfortunately, what goes on internally, even though it is a human rights abuse, very often is ignored or just brushed aside. So thank you. I think that was a very, very telling bit of testimony, and I think all of us are much wiser for it.
Let me just ask, Dr. Kazemzadeh, a couple of final questions for the hearing. Has the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, supported or assisted the forced repatriation of Iranian Baháis from Turkey? Or has it just been the Turkish Government that has forced those people back?
Dr. KAZEMZADEH. As far as I know, the UNHCR has not assisted in the deportations, but they have been a bit strict in their definition of who is a refugee. And if there were any problems it was in determining whether a person qualified as a refugee under their rules and regulations. The U.S. notion of who is a refugee is much more liberal than the UNHCR notion.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Have Iranian Baháis been sent back to prison as a result?
Dr. KAZEMZADEH. There have been a few cases which did not have enormously bad consequences. In other words, on their return to Iran, a few dozen Baháis who were deported from Turkey, were not executed. They were kept in jails for a period of time, but I have not heard of any executions.
Mr. SMITH. I mentioned earlier about President Khatemi and this notion in the west that somehow he is a moderate. What is your read on where he will take Iran in the coming months, perhaps years with regards to religious minorities, especially the Baháis?
Dr. KAZEMZADEH. On the whole, the political establishment is unanimous in their attitudes toward the minorities, particularly the Baháis. Because the Jews and the Christians at least are people of the book, and even though they are not granted equal rights, they are accorded rights as protected infidels. With the Baháis it is worse than that. Baháis are unprotected infidels, and their right to exist can be questioned and frequently is.
Within the establishment itself, right now, there is a very powerful clash of views, of opinions. The government, its policies are in flux, and it is very difficult to predict who is going to win, how things are going to turn out.
I mentioned in my statement that there has been no improvement as far as Baháis are concerned. I am glad to be able to amend this somewhat. Things have changed for some individual Baháis, in the sense that the inquisition is not quite as strong, and an individual Bahái engaging in private business, for instance, is not as badly threatened as before.
However, when it comes to the community, there is no relaxation. In other words, if a Bahái wishes to remain anonymous, does not advertise to what religion he belongs, if he is quiet and goes after his own business, he will largely be left alone. But if he tries to teach his children, if he organizes a class for Bahái youngsters, even teaching the English language to them, then, all of a sudden, there are arrests, jailings and accusations of apostacy as well, even directed at those who were born in Bahái families.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So it is a mixed thing. It is not quite as bad as it was in the early 1980's. But it is still extremely repressive and, most of all, for the Baháis.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you.
I want to thank our distinguished witnesses for giving us your insights and information today and to encourage you that there are many of us who will take this information and amplify it, ensure that others know about it, and hopefully make it mesh with policies that are prudent and will advance the ball for religious freedom and liberty. And the information that you provide is of extreme value, because we are able to let others know what is truly going on, rather than the gloss that is often given by perhaps well-meaning but misguided people, or by those who just don't care. And I want to thank you for your excellent testimonies and your answers to the questions.
And I would, without objection, include Mr. Buu's statement for the record. Unfortunately, he had to leave and couldn't testify. But his full statement will be made a part of the record as well.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Buu appears in the appendix.]
Mr. SMITH. The Subcommittee hearing is adjourned and thank you.
[Whereupon, at 12:35 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Insert "The Official Committee record contains additional material here."