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tv   Hearing on the Islamic State and Religious Minorities  CSPAN  May 17, 2015 12:37pm-2:25pm EDT

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two denominators, the two elements i heard most often were i did not have a dad and i started with marijuana. when you add those two elements to dysfunctional public schools, we are literally denying these kids their constitutional rights. and as someone who thought these -- fought these battles in the past, we need to be for all of the above. if it is dysfunctional, private vendor, charter, residential charter, i don't care what it is. because when you go home tonight and you think about what started this riot the other day, think about the education those kids are receiving and think about with more dads in homes telling their son not to show up at the protest rally and start looting, maybe baltimore is not the story of the country today. host: thank you. let's keep going, dan. a piece of legislation you may have heard of, governor.
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mr. ehrlich: it's not obamacare, is it? [laughter] >> my family lived right across from ocean city, maryland, and delaware. a little closer to home, my wife and daughter have complete coverage for preventative health services and my 19-year-old son gets to stay on our health plan for at least another seven years. my question to you, what would an ehrlich plan do to the affordable care act? giving in mind that almost 40,000 granite staters are -- mr. ehrlich: if burwell is decided the way that i think it is going to be decided, which is a supreme court case, we will have a mess because the subsidies are going to go away. my alternative is this. if you like obamacare, keep it. if you want more freedom to secure a health insurance policy that meets your circumstances,
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not a one-size-fits-all from washington, that meets your health care needs, you should be able to secure that policy by having policies written across state lines. this is going to be a huge issue in american politics. if the supreme court comes out the way i think they're going to, people are going to lose their subsidies. concerning medicaid, if the issue was just expanding medicaid, the president should have just said, all right, let's expand medicaid. it would have been a much more honest way to do this. the way this was brought about was negligent, sloppy. a lot of people have less choice. deductibles have increased. it has helped some people, it has hurt others. for those on medicaid, it has helped. if that was the grand plan to get more people covered, the president should have just said, let's expand medicaid, here is the moral case for, let's do it. he did not do it.
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it is happening incrementally, but with regard to medicaid, i really like governors having more waiver authority to implement that program. host: dan, thank you for the questions. a lot of governors in this race. mr. ehrlich: governors are good. >> hello. do you have a plan that would significantly improve the conditions for new housing starts? mr. ehrlich: we have a mess. please read my first book, the chapter about mortgages. oh, you already -- >> i'm a real estate agent. mr. ehrlich: do you care to give me your view on how this started? >> no. host: you are the candidate. [laughter] >> i know what happened. i'm a real estate agent. mr. ehrlich: politician said you can get a mortgage regardless of your income, regardless of your credit rating, regardless of
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your ability to achieve a down payment. and then when supply for -- when the toxic mortgages got to fannie and freddie, they said, we cannot sell these. and then the president said we will lower down standards, right. then what happened? we sold the toxic mortgages to the world and what happened? one of the worst recessions this country has ever seen. i was on the house banking committee when the community reinvestment act became the subject of such abuse. what happened was advocate said to the banks, if you want a good cra rating, you will write these mortgages, you will write the subprime mortgages. fast-forward, the banks write them, the world goes down, the economy goes down, and what happens on the backside? the obama administration comes in and says because you wrote those mortgages, you will pay
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significant fines. by the way, i'm not just blaming one group, but politics has never paid a price. the raiding houses were into it, fannie and freddie, the whole industry bought into this notion it does not matter what you make, it does not matter your credit rating. and that's wrong. and so you have a lot of reform initiatives in congress, reforming fannie and freddie. did you see the news today? the stress test, they may be a couple hundred billion under. so there are some good housing proposals in washington, but the bottom line is this -- we need to get away -- and the president, by the way, is moving back again to dangerous territory. i was raised in an apartment. if you cannot afford a house it's ok. you don't have a constitutional right to a house if you cannot afford it. we want you to buy a house. it's about america. it's the foundation of this country. but it's ok to live in an
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apartment for a while if you cannot afford a house. it's ok to save your money. it's ok to get your credit rating up. host: about a minute to go. mr. ehrlich: we are up already? i just started. the bottom line is we cannot afford that same mistake again. and i think the president needs to lead in that regard as well. host: does the federal government have a role in making sure that these banks do not get too big to fail? mr. ehrlich: you want that? host: the general philosophy. mr. ehrlich: dodd-frank has real problems and needs to be reformed, and a republican congress can do it. host: thank you very much for the questions. that is all we half or this portion of the show. while we are signing off on television, this conversation with governor ehrlich continues online and our mobile app as well. you will find a full 30 minutes more, questions from our studio audience, commercial free. thank you very much for watching and have a good night. [applause]
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> this weekend on newsmakers, utah senator mike lee, a member of the armed services and judiciary committees talks about the patriot act in the usa freedom act and other senate topics including the defense authorization bill. newsmakers today at 6 p.m. eastern on c-span. ♪
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>> tonight on c-span's q&a, veteran canadian astronaut chris hatfield produced many videos on his activities on international space station and shares scientific and personal aspects of life in space. >> the only time i felt a shiver of fear going down my back was on the dark side of the earth looking at one side of australia , eastern australia, and the darkness and watching a shooting star come in between me and the earth. at first, i had the initial reaction of wishing on a star but then i had the sobering realization that that was in fact a huge dump rock from the university going 20 miles per
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second that missed us and made it down to the atmosphere. it was a big enough one that you could see it. if it hit us, we would have been dead in an instant. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span's q&a. >> on wednesday, the house foreign affairs committee held a hearing on isis attacks on religious and at the minorities in iraq and syria as well as the looting of cultural and religious sites. witnesses from the region talked about their personal experiences and their humanitarian and security needs.by also discussed pending legislation in congress to help those displaced from their homes by the militant group. this is an hour and 45 minutes. >> this committee hearing will come to order. today, we focus on the minority communities, the many minority communities that are under brutal attack.
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some of them on the brink of extermination by isis. by isis principally in iraq and syria, but elsewhere as well. and we're joined by individuals who have personally faced this threat and are familiar with the extreme hardship, with the grief that displaced minorities face in that troubled region. isis has unleashed a campaign of brutal violence, depraved violence, not only against shia muslims and fellow sunnis who do not share their radical beliefs, but against vulnerable religious and ethnic minorities. and as ms. isaac put it simply in her prepared testimony, we cherish ethnic and religious diversity. isis hates it. many americans may not realize that iraq and syria are home to
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dozens of ethnic and religious minorities with ancient cultures, with deep roots. these communities, syrian and caldian christians, yazidis and others are under mortal threat in their ancestral homelands. and the mass execution of men, the enslavement of women and children, the destruction of religious sites is part of the isis effort to destroy these communities, to destroy all evidence of the preexistence of these communities. in fact, isis maintains a special battalion, and they call it the demolition battalion. and that battalion is charged with going after art and going after artifacts, religious and historic sites that it considers heretical and its job is to simply destroy history.
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the situation for some of these groups was precarious even br before isis. according to some estimates, more than half of the ethnic and religious minorities have fled the country over the last dozen years, but what they face today is annihilation by isis. and the influx of isis extremists has become a plague. the fall of mosul in june uprooted two million souls, two million human beings. members will recall last august to break the siege at mount sinjar, where thousands of yazidi refugee families have been trapped by isis. the physical security and welfare of displaced minorities is an immediate priority. options for u.s. assistance range from additional material
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support to friendly forces. all the way to creating safe zones, or no fly zones. and while it's important to weigh the cost of each option, we cannot lose sight of the fact that people are being kidnapped, people are being tortured, women are being raped, and children, and they're being killed every day. beyond that, we need to focus more on their psychological well-being. many of those people, especially women and girls, have been subjected to unspeakable traumas. the young men are mostly just slaughtered. and as with any displaced population, as their vulnerability increases, so does the threat of human trafficking. what can be done to better protect women and girls at risk of slavery?
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finally, what can and should be done to keep these evacuations from becoming permanent? it would be a tragedy if well intended resettlement fulfilled the goal of isis itself. in other words, to drive these believers out. are there ways to support the reconstruction of local institutions in civil society so that post-isis, and there must be a post-isis, these communities can return and thrive in their ancestral homelands. i'll now turn to the ranking member, mr. eliot engel of new york, who has been a true leader on syria and on the humanitarian and human rights disaster in the region, for his opening comments. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, and thank you, as always, for calling this important hearing. and let me also thank our witnesses for joining us today. we're very appreciative that you're here.
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this committee has taken a hard look at the brutal campaign isis is raging in iraq and syria. we've learned about the broader threat isis poses across the middle east and around the world. we know how dangerous this group is. we heard how many people have lost their homes and their livelihoods and their lives in the wake of this violence. and today, we will focus on the heartbreaking struggles of christians, yazidis and muslims who defy the barbaric perversion of islam espoused by isis. we will hear about the dangers that these communities face every day, how isis has killed raped, and enslaved those who don't fall in line with their fanaticism. and i hope their stories will remind us and our partners and allies around the world that we must do everything possible to help these people. we will also hear about the attempt by isis to erase the history of these communities. we've all seen videos and reports of isis destroying ancient sites and historical artifacts in the territories they control.
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these are not random acts of vandalism. isis is deliberately targeting cultural property for two reasons. firstly, to loot and steal cultural artifacts to fund their violent campaigns. and secondly, to destroy what is left in a calculated effort to eradicate minority cultures. this form of psychological warfare against yazidis, christians, muslim minorities, and anyone else that refuses to bow to their oppression, from the tomb of jonah in mosul, to yazidi shrines in the sinjar region, isis is trying to rewrite history. we have seen this tactic before. the buddhas destroyed by the taliban in afghanistan. the nazi destruction of jewish religious property during world war ii. we cannot allow another vicious group to reshape our record of the past. we need to cut off the profits isis gets from trafficking looted artifacts and to ramp up
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our efforts to save cultural property from destruction. a few weeks ago, this committee unanimously passed to protect and preserve into national property act, which i introduced with representative smith, chairman reus, and representative keating. this would help save cultural property from isis's campaign and we need to get this bill to the president's desk. we also need to stay focused on bringing belief to those living under the yolk of isis. i hope our witnesses can shed some light on what religious minorities living under isis control need the most. the administration's response to degrade and destroy isis is a good start. but it's a start. the united states has worked to cut off financial support to isis, to stem the flow of foreign fighters, to deliver robust rue humanitarian assistance, to provide support to our partners including
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through u.s. and coalition air strikes and to push back against the violent ideology promoted by isis. but as we will hear today, people are still suffering in isis-held territory, and i hope today's testimony will underscore from my colleagues the need to pass a new authorization for the use of military force or aumf. i have said this before and i will say it again and again and again until congress acts on its responsibility and passes a new authorization. finally, i want to say that some of us are wearing red today. i'm wearing a red tie. my good friend is wearing a red blouse. and we're doing this because we want to focus on the girls who have disappeared under boko haram. while boko haram is not isis certainly affiliated. their tactics are just as brutal and its terrorism all around the world and we need to stand up in this congress and show that we will thwart it in any way possible. once again, i thank our witnesses and i look forward to hearing your testimony. and thank you, mr. chairman, for your leadership as always.
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>> thank you, mr. engel. our panel that we're joined by here today include sister diana momeka, located in mosul, iraq. sister diana, one of many thousands forced from their homes by an isis offensive last year has been involved in providing assistance to other internally displaced iraqis currently residing in erbil and raising awareness of the plight of minorities displaced from nineveh. ms. jacqueline isaac is the vice president of roads of success, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women and minorities in the middle east. ms. isaac's work has included refugee to aid missions and helping families of victims in iraq, jordan, and egypt. ms. hind kabawat is the director
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of interfaith peace building at the center for world religions diplomacy, and conflict resolution for george mason university. ms. kabawat has trained hundreds of syrians in multi-faith collaboration, civil society development, women's empowerment, and in negotiation skills throughout the middle east, including in aleppo, syria. dr. katherine hanson is a fellow at penn cultural heritage center for the university of pennsylvania museum specializing in the protection of cultural heritage. specifically on the threats to -- she recently served as the program director for the archaeological site preservation program at the iraqi institute for the conservation of antiquities and heritage in erbil. without objection, the witnesses all prepared statements, will be
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made part of the record. members are going to have five calendar days to submit comments and questions on any material they might want to put into the record. with that, sister diana, please summarize your remarks. and sister diana, she'll push that button, that red button there for you. sister diana: thank you. thank you, chairman royce and distinguished members of the committee for inviting me today to share my views on ancient communities under attack. >> sister, i'm going to suggest you move the microphone right in front there. just project a little bit. thank you. sister diana: okay. thank you. november 2009, a bomb was detonated at our convent in mosul. five sisters were in the building at the time and they were lucky to have escaped unharmed. our sister asked for protection
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from local civilization authorities, but the pleas went unanswered. as such, she had no choice but to move us. on june 10, 2014, the so-called islamic state in iraq or syria or isis, invaded the nineveh plain. starting with the city of mosul, isis overran one city and town after another, giving the christians of the region three choices, convert to islam, pay tribute to isis, leave their cities, cities like mosul, with nothing more than the clothes on their back. as this horror suppressed throughout the nineveh plain, by august 6, 2014, nineveh was empty of christians and sadly for the first time since the seventh century a.d., no church bells rang for mass in the nineveh plain.
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from june 2014 forward, more than 120,000 people found themselves displaced and homeless in the kurdistan region of iraq, leaving behind their heritage and all they had worked for over the centuries. this uprooting of everything that christians owned, body and soul, stripping away their humanity and dignity. to add insult to injury, the initiative and actions of the iraqi and kurdish governments were at best modest and slow. apart from allowing christians to enter the region, the kurdish government did not offer any aid either financial or material. i understand the great strain that these events have placed on baghdad and erbil. however, it has been almost a year and christian iraqi citizens are still in dire need for help.
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many people spend days and weeks in the street before they found shelter in tents, schools, and homes. thankfully the churches stepped forward and cared for displaced christians. doing her very best to handle this disaster. buildings were open to accommodate the people. food and non-food items were provided to meet the immediate needs of the people and medical health services were also provided. moreover, the church put out a call and many humanitarian organizations answered with aid for thousands of people in need. presently, we are grateful for what has been done. with most people now sheltered in small containers or some homes, though better than living on the streets or abandoned buildings. these small units are few in number and are crowded with three families. each with multiple people, often
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accommodated in one unit. this is, of course, increasing tension and conflict, even within the same family. there are many who say, why don't the christians just leave iraq and move to another country and be done with it? to this question, we would respond, why should we leave our country, what have we done? the christians of iraq are the first people of the land. you read about us in the old testament of the bible. christianity came to iraq from the very earliest days, through the preaching of st. thomas and others of the apostles and church elders. while our ancestors experienced all kinds of persecution, they stayed in their land building a culture that has served humanity for ages. we as christians do not want or deserve to leave or be forced
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out of our country any more than you would want to leave or be forced out of yours. but the current persecution that our community is facing is the most brutal in our history. not only have we been robbed of our homes, property, and land, but our heritage is being destroyed as well. isis has continued to demolish and bomb our churches, cultural artifacts and sacred places, like a fourth century monastery in mosul. uprooted and forcefully displaced, we have realized that isis plans to evacuate the land of christians and wipe the earth clean of any evidence that we ever existed. this is human genocide. the only christians that remain in the nineveh plains are those who are held as hostages.
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to restore and build the christian community in iraq, the following needs are urgent. helping us return. coordinated efforts to rebuild what was destroyed through slaughter and electrical supplies and buildings including our churches and monasteries. encouraging enterprises that contribute to the building of iraq and interreligious dialogue. this could be through school and academic projects. i am but one small person. a victim myself of isis, and all of its brutality. coming here has been difficult for me. as a religious sister, i'm not comfortable with the media and so much attention. but i am here, and i am here to
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ask you, to implore you for the sake of our common humanity, to help us, stand with us, as we, as christians, have stood with all the people of the world and help us. we want nothing more than to go back to our lives. we want nothing more than to go home. thank you and god bless you. >> thank you, sister. ms. isaac. ms. isaac: honorable chairman royce, ranking member engel and distinguished members of this committee, i'm honored to be here today. thank you so much for having a crucial hearing that really is a matter of life or death. i'm not talking to you as an attorney, i'm not talking as a politician. i'm talking about being a human being who's been on the front lines. i've been to sinjar mountain. i've met the girls that have been kidnapped and raped by
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isis. and i'm telling you that we need to give them seeds of hope. seeds of hope to know that they can live and thrive in their home. i'm here because i promised these people, my friends across the world, that i would be their voices today. hear their narratives. i'm here today because of a woman i met. she was in mosul in home at night and out of nowhere, isis came in and said you have two choices. you either convert to islam, or you pay the gizziah. she gave them the money and said give me one minute because my daughter is in the bathroom taking a shower, i'm just going to get her out. they said, you don't have one second. they took a torch, they lit the house, starting from the bathroom where she was taking a shower. she picked up her daughter rita, and she thought she could
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take her to the hospital. she had four-degree burns, but rita died in her arms. i'm here today because of joy. an 11-year-old paralyzed kid from the neck down. isis found him in sinjar town. they thought that he was useless to society, so they picked him up with 190 paralyzed and elderly people and they threw him in the border of syria. but in the midst of all this darkness, i see that there's light. light can breakthrough the darkness, and we need to take our role as human beings, push them and help them to survive and thrive. let me tell you what happened to joy. the heroes of today, the peshmerga army found him with
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the other 190 and they rescued them, and today they're living in safety and the peshmerga army, who's out there risking their lives, are doing this on a constant basis. they are constantly rescuing the innocents. one of those innocent girls that i met, i don't want to disclose her name for privacy purposes. she's 15 years old. and in one night in sinjar town, isis came in and took her with a group of hundreds of girls into a broken down building. and isis came in and they started to trade. trading her off. categorizing these girls as merchandise depending on whether they were beautiful in their eyes, how old they were, whether they were virgins or not. literally treating them like merchandise. she was sent off and she was being raped on a constant basis, and she decided to make an escape.
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she believed that she'd rather die trying. she believed that somebody out there, another human being would help her if she made an escape. and in one night, she broke out of a window and she started to make a run for it. my brave friend went hours hiking on the top of the sinjar mountain. but isis came back for her. and took her back. when she went to that house, they starved her, they beat her, and again, she said, i'd rather die trying. isis forgot to fix the window they broke. and she made a run for it. and this time, she made it to the very top. and who was there to stand by her side? the peshmerga army. the kurdish regional government, who have already rescued at least 480 girls and children.
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30 of which are impregnated. many of those that have been impregnated by isis committed suicide. the others who received the counselling, who received that push of hope, that seed that each of us can provide, started to dream again. started to see a future. today, i ask for four things. i ask that we support the brave peshmerga army, who's resisting terror at the front lines. they're not just fighting to protect their land. they're not fighting to preserve the religious minorities alone. they're fighting for the entire world. second, i ask that we provide humanitarian assistance, more and more of it, because today there's about two million refugees and idps living in the kurdistan regional government region and they need our support.
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they need psychological counselling to deal with the trauma. we're talking about a future generation here. let's help them good what they -- get the support they need. let's help the brave government that's on the front lines. the armies that are truly the boots on the ground. i ask that we recognize the amazing rescue efforts. and lastly, i ask of you to help their partners. a country like egypt who's now taking hundreds of thousands of syrians in their and land. a country like egypt when the president heard that 21 christians were killed in libya, acted immediately by deploying those air strikes. a country like jordan is taking in hundreds of thousands of idps and refugees and fighting on those front lines. let's support them, because this is a matter of national security. it's not about them. it's about all of us together.
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i have a video, if we have a moment to show these girls they're going to share with us their stories. >> without objection. [speaking foreign language] >> these girls were turned out by isis. [speaking foreign language] >> these girls have hope. they have hope that we're going to help them. let's all do it together. thank you.
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>> thank you, jacqueline. ms. kabawat. ms. kabawat: thank you, chairman royce, ranking member engel, and other members of the committee. i am honored to be here today and speak to you about the status of religious minorities in syria. a subject very close to my heart. growing up as a christian in syria, i was surrounded by rich multi-religious history. i have lived much of my life on a road so ancient, it was mentioned in the bible. today, it saddens me to see the christians in syria paying a very high price for this
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senseless war. they have been running from their villages and homes. they are displaced. their churches are being destroyed. a report by my colleague on the destroyed churches in syria, including those destroyed by isis and by the regime. protecting christians is essential. but while i urge you to do whatever is possible to protect minorities and christians from isis, i would like to remind you that isis is killing any and every muslim who oppose them. just as minorities and muslims are killed by assad regime. my friend jemilla, a very
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religious muslim, was threatened by isis and escaped at night to turkey fearing death. some sunni tribes have suffered massive losses to isis. for example, isis forced more than 500 jews in one day last year. women and children live constant traumatizing fear of rape and recruitment by isis. as a christian, i cannot request safety for my christian community without worrying about others. yes, we need to create safe havens for minorities and all groups threatened by isis. it's monumental and worthwhile task. and when selecting these areas geography is essential. areas close to turkish and
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jordan borders are the best candidates because of the guarantee that those borders will remain secure. additionally, an important component of safe havens will be the proximity to protect zone. by first liberating all isis controlled cities in these zones. the secretary of the safe haven will be easier to maintain. in the last three years i have , visited camps in turkey, jordan, and idp camp inside syria, and others. the women there want to go back home. they want to live without fear. as we discuss, religious minorities, i urge you also to consider the need of women who have been marginalized as well.
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they are the key to peace process, and the key to establishing community that provides support for one another across sectarian lines. empowering local councils to deliver social services is another essential component of establishing safe havens for all syrians. the base guarantee for the prosperities of minorities in the middle east is under a democracy that accords everyone the same rights and privileges regardless of their ethnic or religious background. the message to minorities in the middle east should be one inclusion. encouraging them to be part of the democratic process. which is the only long-term
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possibility to defeat extremism and dictatorship in our country. thank you, and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you. thank you. dr. hanson. dr. hanson: chairman rice ranking member engel, and members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to discuss isis's destruction of minority religious and cultural sites. isis's campaign of targeted extermination includes the erasure of the outward manifestations of minority religious culture, which threatens these communities' way of life. i study the subject as a fellow at the penn cultural heritage center of the university of pennsylvania museum. but, like others on this panel i was in iraq in august 2014 when isis advanced toward the erbil plain. as a program director at the iraqi institute for the conservation of antiquities and
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heritage in erbil, i was leading a course for heritage professionals from throughout the country, men and women of every religion. this training was interrupted and we departed abruptly shortly after air strikes began. despite the setback, the desire of iraqi heritage professionals to protect the religious and cultural sites of the country remain strong. based on my current research experience in iraq, and consultation with iraqi colleagues, i want to share some examples of isis's destruction. slide one, please. in july 2014 in mosul, iraq, isis destroyed the tomb of the prophet jono. analysis of satellite imagery by the american association for the advancement of sciences geospaces technology project where i am a visiting scholar confirmed this destruction. slide two, please. this analysis also showed that isis removed all evidence of the
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shrine by clearing rubble. in doing so, isis erased the physical presence for the entire local religious community. slide three, please. it is an archaeological site in syria with preserved architecture. it includes the world's best preserved ancient jewish synagogue and one of the earliest known christian house chapels. the chapel dates to about 235 a.d. and contains the oldest known depiction of jesus christ. slide four, please. the site has been extensively looted and is currently under isis control. the before-and-after image analyzed analysis completed by the geotech project, demonstrates this over 76% of the site's surface has now been lost. slide five, please. two months ago, i traveled to
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the area adjacent to isis held areas. i met with the director of the antiquities department to identify religious and cultural sites at risk. this site may be one of the only surviving yazidi religious centers. slide six, please. isis has released two videos that include the defacement of an ancient sculpture. these are human headed winged gulls. in ancient times, they represented the empire from the ninth to seventh century bc. today, they serve as important symbols for syrian christians. isis's defacement is thus intended to terrorize the present day iraqi christian community while simultaneously destroying artifacts. in thinking about how we can address this destruction, i would like to offer three recommendations. first, we must prepare humanitarian assistance to religious and refugee
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communities as well as to displaced heritage professionals. in the near future, i will return to erbil, iraq, with colleagues from the university of pennsylvania museum and the smithsonian institution, and there we will work with iraqi colleagues to determine unmet emergency needs. more programs like this are necessary, and the u.s. government should encourage new collaborations in the non-profit sector. second, this committee should inquire into efforts to protect religious and other cultural sites during military actions against isis. there is a report that should shed some light on these efforts due in june 2015 thanks to a provision sponsored by mr. engel in the national defense authorization act. i recommend that this committee scrutinize the report carefully for evidence that steps are being taken to avoid accidental air strikes on religious and cultural sites, and that protection measures are incorporated into advisory roles and military training.
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finally, there is bipartisan legislation to protect and preserve international cultural property act, introduced by mr. engel, mr. smith, mr. royce, and mr. keating. its purpose is twofold. to bring together the agencies that have existing mandates to protect heritage, and to eliminate the financial incentive for entities such as isis to loot religious and cultural artifacts. i commend this community for its bipartisan leadership on this bill and i urge you to advocate for its final passage into law. i would like to thank the chairman for convening this important hearing at a very critical juncture in the preservation of religious and cultural heritage. i am happy to answer any questions that you have. >> thank you, dr. hanson. that legislation, by the way has been passed out of committee. it's on the floor. and we're going to move it shortly, and i would just make a couple of observations.
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one is that this isis phenomenon, another way it could have been handled was when isis originally was in raqqa as they were leaving raqqa. there were those of us on this committee, as well as some of our ambassadors overseas that suggested the overwhelming u.s. air power hit the isis forces in raqqa or hit the isis forces as they were leaving in their long caravan as they begin their attacks, town by town by town. and we did not act from the air at that time. we allowed them to take some 14 major cities, culminating in taking mosul without the use of air power at the time, to stop them while they were in these long columns. subsequently, we began the process in this committee, bipartisan, to argue for arming the kurds. why?
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because the kurdish battalions were strung out a 600-mile front with isis. they were the one effective force, not just fighting isis, but taking in behind their front lines christians, yazidis, other minorities, and willing to put themselves at risk to go into territory isis held in order to rescue yazidis and other minorities, and they were fighting with small arms fire against isis, which had become the best fighting terror group in the history of any terror organization because they took the central bank at mosul and had at their disposal enormous wealth, and because they took weapons along the way. so our efforts here have gone on now i would say for nine months to try to get into the hands of the kurds the anti-tank missiles, the artillery, the long-range mortars that they
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need on the battlefield. 30% of these kurdish battalions are females. there are women fighting on the front lines against isis and they are fighting without adequate equipment, and as you put it so well, they're fighting for civilization. not just their own. for other religious minorities and frankly, for a principle. and because of the pressure from iran, pressure on baghdad, you know, yes, you can support the shia militia, but you can't give support to the kurds. for whatever reason, the weapons dribble in, and this is wrong. this is immoral. the other point i would make, i just wanted to ask you some questions on the issue of the sale of female captives from religious minority groups to isis fighters.
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how extensively has isis been involved in what we here call sex trafficking, or slavery, frankly, particularly the kidnapping and sale of women and girls from these overrun communities. has it been an outcome of lawlessness, or is it part of a more deliberate isis policy to destroy and to subjugate those who do not share their fanaticism? ms. isaac? ms. isaac: looking at the isis philosophy, they believe that the yazidi people in particular are not only to be tortured, but they are to be destroyed in every single way possible. they want them off the face of this earth. and so it is a philosophy to destroy them and to torture them.
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with the girls particularly that i met, they in one night because they felt safe in the beginning in sinjar town, and in one night, isis came and took all of these girls and they told them first, they gave them an option, they said will you become a muslim? will you convert to islam? and many of them said no. and they told them, you are going to be muslim regardless, because we are going to sleep with you, and the moment that we do that, once we rape you, you will be muslim. many of these girls who chose not to be still were raped and came back believing that they were forced into this religion. this is barbaric. it is systematic. today it starts with the yazidis. tomorrow it's going to be not only the christians, but every woman that doesn't fit within their philosophy. we need to stop the menace
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that's going on there. we need to stop at its root. this is a nerve center. right now, all the crazies from all over the world are coming to this center point. to this nerve center. if we can cut the snake at its head, we can diffuse them. their sex trafficking is systematic and it will continue, and it can reach our families if we don't do something about it. thank you. >> let me also ask about psychological counselling. and i'd ask that of the panel. what type of trauma resources are available right now for those who have escaped, and what more is needed? sister diana: yeah, i would say
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from my work on the ground, we don't have that strong program to talk about trauma because i just experienced a case go four -- a case about four weeks ago, a woman who was released by isis the woman told us that we would go to the yizidi family. she is in her 40's. she was brutally beaten. great constantly. -- praped constantly. she cannot control yourself and she tells her story. they tortured her in so anyways that when one of the sisters that takes care of her -- she found her body was burned with cigarettes. we put her in a safer place.
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we are trying to find a good psychological treatment for her. it is not available where we live exactly. the social-psychological -- i think they are the most important things to look towards at this moment. rep. royce: thank you. my time is about to expire. >> let me start with you. thank you for being here today and thank you for your work to help the iraqi citizens say the religious history. america has a long history of leading the world's efforts to protect religions and cultural sites from destruction. you are carrying this legacy forward today. during times of crisis like those in iraq and syria, our first priority must always be in saving lives and i think the other witnesses for emphasizing that as well. miss isaac there are other
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witnesses about how this is affecting everybody. we are committed to the priority of saving lives, but we must ensure that we stop isis from destroying the history of these groups. as we create safe havens to protect religious minorities had we keep religious sites and cultural history safe as well? hanson: thank you. i think it's very important that we make sure we're supporting local actions. local actors are able to protect sites, much like with firemen, you provide the hose and the water. i also think that in terms of safe havens for individuals, we can also think about that as safe havens within a country for portable objects and artifacts and safe locations where things can be moved. we have seen that successfully take place in mali, for instance, recently.
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rep. engel: thank you. miss kabawat, let me ask you this question, according to state department testimony last summer, sum of isis' religious minority captives have been able to escape while their captors were distracted by coalition air strikes. to what extent have coalition air strikes affected religious minorities? kabawat: when we talk about effect of the air strikes, it affects both majority and minorities because they did hit some civilian places why and i was in hiding one month before they started, and where i was was lots of civilians has been hit. the problem is that they
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need to have more homework. they should know where the civilian so when we want to say targeting civilians, minorities, we need to say targeting civilians and we cannot say only minority because it's sometimes hitting everybody. thank you. rep. engel: thank you. let me ask miss isaac, and also sister, isis is waging obviously a campaign of destruction against religious sites across the territory they control. we saw the slides and pictures. can you comment on the impact, the destruction of religious sites has on the people who share a religious connection to those sites? what do we lose when isis destroys these sites? start with sister and then miss isaac.
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sister momeka: what do we lose? i would say we lost everything, sir. we left -- we lost everything that today every christian that's living in the region of kurdistan we feel we don't have dignity anymore. when you lose your home, you lose everything you have. you lose your heritage, your culture, you become with no identity. and today that's how we see ourselves. and the most brutal thing to us when it was put on tv that two monasteries that were one of them bomb and one -- another one destroyed, just was a sign for us and that's your history is gone. you are nothing anymore. that's how we see ourselves now. all was. rep. engel: thank you. miss
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isaac? isaac: as an american of egyptian descend, i moved to egypt when i was 13, and i remember holding on to the heritage, knowing there were ancient churches still there even if we were the minority. i had a tie, i could identify with my ancient churches. today in iraq you have the center preserved for the yazidis, that is their mecca, that is their rome. today they hold on to that and the peshmerga is working so hard, if that's gone, the yazidi people will feel hopeless, they won't identify anymore with the land they've remained in for many years. for religious minorities in this region, our heritage is everything. it ties us that land. it keeps us there. we're not supposed to just be there to survive. we should be living there to thrive, we should be able to worship
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freely, go to the heritage sites, bring our children and grandchildren and talk about that history. without those sites, we've lost it all. thank you. rep. engel: thank you. let me again thank all four of you for wonderful testimony and wonderful courage. we really appreciate it. thank you, mr. chairman. caller:rep. royce: thank you. our chairman emeritus. rep. ros-lehtinen: thank you so much. today's hearing, as we know, focuses on a subject that all too often gets overlooked or ignored when discussing the crisis in the middle east and specifically the fight against isil. we have discussed this in our middle east and north africa subcommittee on several occasions, long side chairman smith and his subcommittee and chris smith has been a tireless advocate for this issue. isil has issued warnings to
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christians in iraq that they can convert, pay taxes, or be killed. churches are being destroyed, religious artifact sites are being raided and many christians and other religious minorities have been forced to flee. isil massacred 20 coptic christians in egypt and the list goes on and on. isil just doesn't target religious minorities, everyone who doesn't ascribe to its form of islam is a target. so that's why it's imperative that we not only defeat isil but find a way to defeat its radical ideology as well. it's also important to recognize that the persecution of religious minorities isn't just isolated to isil or to iraq or syria. the u.s. commission on international religious freedom has repeatedly called upon the obama administration to designate countries like iraq, syria, and egypt as countries of particular concern. that's a special classification. why? for their systemic ongoing and egregious abuses that the religious minorities face in
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those countries. many of us in this committee have decried the fact that the iranian regime's deplorable human rights record and persecution of religious minorities were not made a part of the nuclear negotiations from day one since the p5+1 efforts were announced. a nuclear deal will legitimize the iranian regime and only serve to make the atmosphere even worse for religious minorities in iran. iran's meddling in iraq, its support for shiite militias have played a significant role in the rise of isil' current difficulties we face in the region and the fight against the terror group in iraq and syria. now we have seen the size of the religious minority communities decline dramatically in iraq and syria as a result of isil's onslaught. sister diana, i'll ask you. you felt the pain and the suffering of your own community and you've been
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witness to what isil has done to ancient religious communities of iraq. you have been displaced twice. can you describe for us the conditions in mosul where you were forced to flee to kurdistan? could you please also detail the conditions in kurdistan? lastly what more can we do to meet the needs of religious minority communities? where can we be most effective? sister diana: thank you. i would answer your question in a story that touches my heart a lot and the heart of the people that we're working with. when we were forced to leave, we didn't -- our children became without any education, without school. so a congregation we care a lot about education as dominican. we start opening kindergartens. so we had 135 children in one of the
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kindergartens, we handed -- one of the classes, we hand them papers to draw on the paper. amazingly, most of the children they draw back home, their hometowns. they draw some their beds, church, homes, that they relate back home. when we asked them why did you do that? they said, we miss home, we want to go back home. we want to live normal life. 5-year-olds, stood up and said i don't feel like i am home here. when i was home, i used to go to the kindergarten i used to go to church with my family. i used to play with my toys, with my friends. that was a normal life when we were back in our homes. we used to live normal life, we have education our parents, brother, sisters, if they are employed would go to work. now it's the opposite. people are jobless. women do not have any work to do. they are
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living in containers or unfinishes buildings, facing terrible conditions besides the humanitarian aid is not enough for them. it's so different that today even our children, what i want to say, our children, they feel that they don't have a place to live properly. they don't have home. so our life has changed tremendously. since before we were this is a bridge that we can connect among diversities now we felt we're alone, we're abandoned. that's how we feel. rep. ros-lehtinen: thank you very much, mr. chairman. we know that isil doesn't discriminate. you're either with the terrorists or they will destroy you or subjugate you. rep. royce: thank you. mr. brad
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sherman from california. rep sherman: mr. chairman the two most powerful forces in the sear ran, iraq area are shiite alliance in iran, and the extremists, sunnis, on the other. we've seen our friends saudi arabia and others do is move towards what they'll accept as, quote, moderate islam, or acceptable islam, and embrace the brotherhood, turkey, qatar and perhaps even alal nustra. had we did more in the process saudi arabia would not be taking that action. the good news is that, reports in the last half hour that the number two commander in isis has been killed. i hope that's true. we'll see. mr. chairman, you commented that isis has all of this iraqi currency. iraq, should of course issue new currency, making its own currency invalid. many countries
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have done this. this is a process that is hated by corrupt politicians and drug dealers with large amount of currency on their own and of course the iraqi government has failed to do so which leads to possible conclusion perhaps corrupt politicians with huge stashes of cash have some power in baghdad. this congress passed the near east south central asia religious freedom act. that required that the state department have a special envoy for religious minorities in that region. we are still waiting for someone to be appointed. do not hold your breath. the attitude of the administration toward following laws just because they are laws is less than i think it ought to be. speaking of laws passed by congress, we
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authorized $1.6 billion in nada to counter isil, think included authorization amened to include provisions for local security forces on the plane including syrian and yazidi forces some -- forces. some far that hasn't happened. and of course, communities that cannot cannot defend themselves are in a difficult circumstance on the nineva plane. one of our witnesses has been unabash in support of the kurdish government, miss isaac. i had in my office yesterday representatives of the yazidi, syrian, and kurdish communities that took a very different view of the kurdish government. perhaps a balance between the two is that the kurdish government has provided sanctuary but not allowed these groups to form their own national guard battalions. and no group on the plane will
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be safe unless they have their own national guard. mr. chairman, i would like to see us bring to it testify before this committee one of the yazidi women who have successfully fled from isis. this would require the state department provide an entry visa and if the person and if the woman or girl was coming from kurdish areas, we would need to get an exit visa from that government. rep. royce: mr. sherman? rep. sherman: if i could interrupt for a minute. we did have a young yazidi woman, a young girl, slated to testify. she had to drop off of the trip because of health reasons. >> ah. rep. sherman: but we will achieve your goal here. i'll relinquish the time back to you.
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rep. sherman: miss kabawat yazidis are giving the choice, convert, die, or be given an unfair tax. i put three in one category. something that muslim governments have imposed upon the minority communities for centuries and in prior centuries it has been a tax that was endurable, of course it's outrageous and unfair. is isis imposing a tax that is outrageous, unfair, but is a practical thing that the communities could pay, or is it just an excuse for them to say well, we want to confiscate everything on monday, that's your monday tax. on tuesday you don't have anything left so we're going to kill you? is isis offering to allow at least christians the yazidis, of
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course, would be treated differently under their roles, a chance to stay in their homes and pay a tax consistent with what is possible, of course, it's outrageous? misskabawat: just talking about syria, where the isis has full control, most of the christian, there is not many christians now in the isis-control area. when there, they hide. they did say they're going -- they're asking for -- it happened a few time but i think there's not many christians in this area, they're already gone. in other things, the christians now they're all in aleppo or others. they've been away. but where they are
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being now in where there is the moderate muslims control they're not being asked for any because they treat them as equal citizen. rep. sherman: i believe my time's expired. rep. royce: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. dana rohrabacher of california. rep. rohrabacher: thank you very much. let me identify myself with mr. sherman's point about the iraqi currency. we must get to the bottom of who the heck is paying for isis who, what -- what government is responsible for providing them money? whoever that is, we need to make sure we come down like a ton of bricks on that government. and we must make sure that is a high priority for this government to find out who's financing this sinful and this horrendous atrocity against the people of the world.
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whatever faith you are, whether you're islam or christian or whatever faith you are, this is an abomination to any belief in god. we must stand in unity with people of all faiths in this endeavor. i want to thank chairman royce and engel who have the -- have demonstrated the bipartisan nature of many of the challenges that we face and that standing together america, if nothing else, because we come from, you know, we are made up of every race, religion and ethnic group in the world. we're supposed to be the one that sets the standard for the world, and we can do that by making sure we don't cozy up to people and remain friends with people who -- who are financing this type of atrocity. i'd like to --
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look, it's perplexing position because people are being murdered in this part of the world. your friends, relatives really, innocent human beings are being savaged. should our focus be on trying to defeat and eliminate the evil forces that are at play or should it be to extract people from this danger zone to get them here? i wonder if any of you have any thoughts on that. all of you, go right ahead. kabawat: mr. congressman, i think the solution is to stop the conflict. we have a conflict in middle east, i'm talking about syria. we have a conflict. you're asking about who is paying isis they don't -- they took banks, they took -- they
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steal. they -- they do everything they can to -- not to have to be dependent upon anybody to get their money. we want to get rid of them, we have to end the conflict. there is a conflict in syria, and people are suffering, and today we need to think about those civilians how to stop their suffering. isis attacks every day, people are scared. i know many people there escaped, even if they're muslim, they escape because isis will threaten their lives. we -- if we want to stop isis we , need to stop the conflict in syria. we need to stop the dictator. both are the enemies of the security and the safety and the future for syria. thank you.
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isaac: congressman rohrabacher when i take a look at all of the religious minorities that i've met when i was in iraq and i look at their ancient history, you know that they belong there and they want to stay there. and if we try to get rid of the problem by just bringing the religious minorities here >> yes. isaac: -- isis will spread everywhere. it will continue. right now we have a diverse fabric in the middle east and it's really protecting, not only the region, but the entire world. the fact that there are christians and yazidis and jews in that region today makes the middle east what it is. we need to look the bigger fight and understand that isis is against the entire world. their short-term plan right now is trying to get rid of the religious minorities of the region and creating their state. but tomorrow it's going it to be attack the entire world.
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rep?. rohrabacher: i think that your point is well made and i just -- i know that sister diana had trouble even getting here. we should not be having barriers to people, especially coming here to make their case and to warn us. at the same time, i've got a few seconds left, let heme -- let me say we need to make sure we are standing behind those people like our friends, the kurds, up in erbil who are making this stand. we can't -- we haven't solved that problem yet, mr. chairman, where our supplies can go directly to the kurds, some of them are now, but many of them we have to go through baghdad in order to get the supplies there. we should be making sure anyone in that region who is fighting isis gets the full support and direct support from the people of the united states. you are in our thoughts and prayers. we know these communities, i visited a community in syria. my wife and
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i actually went and said it was one of our most important experiences in our life where we said the lord's prayer as jesus spoke. hang tough. we're with you. rep. royce: brian higgins of new york. rep. higgins: thank you mr. chairman. i want to thank the panel here. your testimony is both eloquent and compelling. i just want to focus on the christian community in the middle east. isis has declared war on christians. isis wants genocide now. they want to eradicate christians from the middle east and africa. christian kids have been beheaded, their mothers raped, and their fathers crucified -- literally. isis believes christians are standing in the way of their world conquest, and anything pre-islamic they want to destroy and want to
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prepare the world for the coming of the islamic celephate. christians are losing communities that have lived peacefully for 2000 years. pa -- 5000,000 christians christian arabs driven out of syria during the last three years of civil war. christians have been persecuted and killed from lebanon to sudan, now south sudan. civil wars lasted decades. in iraq mosul is a christian city, the second largest city in iraq, and christians have been living there for 1700 years. as you know better than anybody. after the fall of saddam, the numbers of christians in iraq were estimated christians are living -- estimated to be about 45,000. how many christians are living
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there? sister diana: very few. only those held hostage there. we don't have the exact number. yet they are maybe a couple hundred or less. rep. higgins: a hundred or less. most of those who have fled have lived up to kurdistan? sister diana: about 20 minute distance southwest of mosul. after a week or so our displacement happened, which never thought that would happen with a couple hours that we were forced to leave which take -- it's about one-hour distance from my hometown to kurdistan. took us 11 hours to go there because some were marching, some were driving. because it was a traumatic stage for us. i would say like very few christians have stayed in mosul or that
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they couldn't leave because they were asleep when that happened. rep. higgins: is the hope of the christians from mosul who have been forced to flee to one day return? sister diana: yes. the message that i was given before i left they said to me, i've been working every day with the idps -- that's what they call us, actually there -- they said to me, sister, just please tell the community, tell the members of the congress that help us to go back home, we want to go back home. re/p. higgins: what has been the position of prime minister abody relative to the christian community of iraq? no, don't
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need to say. i get it. yeah. this is, you know, we were told, after al maliki, who was a thug, left, that things would change that the new iraqi government would be inclusive of all minorities in communities. political stability is dependent on the ability to embrace the kurds, the shia, the sunni, but also the christian community of iraq. so that's not happening, clearly. and this is just one of many consequences of the failure to embrace the minority community. this is again the larger problem in the middle east. it's a highly, highly pluralistic part of the world and unless and until you have minority rights you'll never peace and stability. a guy like al assad is a bad guy. but what's happening is minority groups have a tendency to gravitate to him a run -- for
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one reason. because if the majority, sunni become head of the country, all of the minorityies will be slaughtered. so long as there is a zero-sum game in the middle east, the sum will always be zero. and i often say in game theory, there's also what's referred to as a variable sum game, saying there can be many winners. whatever we do there, however much humanitarian aid we provide there, however much military support we provide in the middle east, internally, the leadership that we get behind, the united states, the leadership that we support, have to embrace, they have an obligation to embrace the minority community because we'll be sitting here five years from now, ten years from now, 20 years from now, we'll be having the same discussion with no progress whatsoever. again thank you very much for your testimony. i'll yield back. rep. royce: go now to mr. chris smith of new jersey.
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rep. smith: thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for calling this very, very important hearing and our distinguished witnesses for your courage, for so effectively articulating the plight of these suffering minorities in the middle east, particularly christians. thank you for that. and all of those who are suffering at the hands of isis and people who are extremists. you know, i would like to ask a couple of questions. the human rights commission pointed out that the isis violence against christians and other religious minorities quote may constitute genocide. may? i find it extraordinary, you know, the genocide convention couldn't be clearer. eliminating in whole or in part, even the threat rises to the level of being genocide. and of course international community has always been slow to recognize genocide. we didn't do it in -- when it came to sudan, 100 years later
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we still, only 24 or so countries have recognized the armenian genocide. we seem to gag on the word, and i have tried to get administration witnesses to say what is happening to the christians rises to the level of genocide and that simply is not stated. congresswoman, chairwoman emeritus have chaired a number of hearings on the genocide. those are attacks against christians and others in iraq. gone we get this, well we'll look into it we'll get back but say it, say it clearly and un -- unambiguously. i have chaired 14 hearings on the suffering of christians, particularly in the middle east, and we're still getting, you know, a lack of embrace of the magnitude and the hostility towards people of the
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christian faith. sometimes past is prologue. the clinton administration opposed the international act. he ended up -- i marked of the bill. we ended up signing it but now we find under this administration the post of ambassador at large was idle left vacant for half of his presidency. we have a very good man in that position, trying to make up i think for lost time. but it was a revelation of priorities that we did not have a person sitting in that very important position. approximately seven months ago legislation passed totally bipartisan, to establish a special envoy for religious minorities in the middle east and south central asia. no secret the administration didn't want it. but he did sign it. the president did sign it into law when passed in a bipartisan way. but now for seven months nobody has been selected to take that
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position. that person should have the ear of the president and could shuttle back and forth and assess what's go on on the ground with clarity and to speak out boldly. nobody has that position. i find that appalling. you might want to comment on that as well. finally, let me ask you the faith of the young people has to have been -- i know we saw that wonderful video of the resiliency of the young women. but the faith of the young people has to be shattered. you know they must wonder where are the faithful elsewhere, particularly in the united states? i don't think we've done enough. again, special envoy vacancy speaks volumes to that. but if i could ask you where is the faith of these young people? sister diana: the matter of fact
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mr. smith, is that our faith it's amazing that we see it's increasing more and more. it it's making us more stronger. we left churches that were like used to be filled with people. now we have only one church and you see like young people, all people see that we still have faith in god, that we are -- we were displaced yet we feel that the hand of god is still with us. so in the midst of, as my colleague said, in the midst of this darkness, this suffering, we see a god that is holding us, it's holding us, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to be witnessing to our faith that's increasing day after day. i think this is one of the gifts of the holy spirit giving us the strength to continue our faith and to be strong, to stay in our country. some left, yes, but they are willing to come ba example. this
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and that will come with your help. >> the faith of the christians in damascus is increasing. today, we are more involved in humanitarian. we know to lead by example. this is our christianity to help others. that's why my my immediate family in damascus, but their faith is to distribute bread for the poor. take care of others because this is what jesus christ told us take care of the small people. in aleppo, they worked with the muslims on humanitarian issues.
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yes, we are christians. but more than ever we are christian because we know we need to practice our christianity on the ground and to take care of the small people who are suffering. isaac: congressman smith, i went to egypt and i met the families, 15 of the 21 families that were -- had victims, slaughtered in libya. i was astonished by their faith. as a fellow christian, i thought, how would i be if i was in the situation today? meeting the fathers, said to me, thank god that today they're in heaven. thank god. a wife talking to me about how her husband had said, i'm going to libya, and i will be in danger but if i don't make it, teach my children. teach them the principles of jesus christ. these are the cans -- accounts of their faith. i've seen it in iraq across the
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board, how christians and standing strong and helping all, helping the yazidis. we had a case. there was a group of yazidis that found a local church, and that church was providing care for them, providing a home for them. this is what they're doing. they're struggling but giving everything that they have. so thank you. rep. royce: we go to mr. william keating of massachusetts. rep. keating: thank you, mr. chairman, for holding this hearing. thank you, as witnesses. i want to let you know, we all share your commitment to saving living, saving religious and cultural heritages and artifacts, and stopping human trafficking. i also want to acknowledge, as dr. hanson has, the legislation of chairman royce.
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i want to focus on one thing. i believe that we can do more of in the u.s. to stop this -- these terrible actions by isil. and that's to look at an issue that time and time again has come to my attention as ranking member on terrorism, straight, and nonproliferation and this committee as well as counterterrorism and homeland security and that's the issue where isil is not only destroying cultural and religious heritages, particularly in iraq and syria but it's doubling down on that activity. either through tax criminals or themselves, they're trafficking in these looted antiquities and financing their own terrorist operations again. so it becomes cyclical. and i saw firsthand i -- i just came back days ago visiting eight countries in the
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middle east and europe how this is occurring and in fact, had comments from the leaders in these areas how smuggling in these antiquities is such a force of financing for these terrorists. so what i am doing today as well as introducing legislation to prevent trafficking and cultural property act, the name of legislation. it's geared in on one aspect i i think we can easily move to afford these activities. and that's the fact that even the agencies themselves in customs and board patrol and in i.c. they're not as coordinated they don't have the tools to gear in on this when these artifacts and trafficking -- when the trafficking comes through our own border on the u.s. one of the things we have
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to do, i believe, is to work to make sure there's principal leadership there. a designated person to really key in on this. and also importantly, to have the training in this activity, because even if that commitment and coordination is there, it's important that these u.s. officials receive sufficient training and identifying cultural property from regions at the greatest risk of looting like iraq and syria. they know the techniques specifically related to this so they can investigate and prosecute this activity to really quell the demand. one of the destinations of the world, the united states of america. so, we're working on that. i would like your opinion on how from your perspective this could be helpful as well. and i think particularly dr. hanson has some experience in that regard. hanson: thank you. what you mentioned is incredibly
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important and it is vital that we remove the financial incentive for terrorist group -- prior to the demolition of religious sites, particularly shrines and tombs, isis has gone in an advanced and looted artifacts out of the area. architectural elements. things that they can sell. the reason they are doing the looting in those instances and in the images we saw, is that there is a market for it. your legislation and what you mentioned is incredibly important in taking action to reduce that market. right now it is crucial that we get restrictions on material from syria put into place in the u.s.. as a market country, our demand for that in the u.s. is similar feels isis' actions.
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rep. hanson: yeah. i was really intrigued when isis -- it showed the videos of their desecrating these religious institutions and sending those videos to the world and saying, they're doing it because of a sense of pureness and they're -- they're narrow if you call it religious beliefs -- should be the only beliefs. yet if these artifacts they are destroying so no one else will be able to culturally go forth, if they're portable, they're moving them around and profiting on them and preserving them to fuel their on terrorism . which shows where their priorities. in my recent visit, it is in the tens of millions of dollars they're getting from this and that is underreported. it is pretty hard to get a figure on it. quickly, last question. hanson: we know it is
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significant. those are moon scapes now and all of those artifacts that come out of the ground can get financial benefits for them. you just have to assume the lowest estimates have to be staggering. i can't give you an exact dollar amount and that's something that we're continuing to research and work on. rep. hanson: i heard $37 million. i yield back, mr. chairman. rep. royce: mr. scott perry of pennsylvania. rep. perry: thank you mr. chairman. ladies, appreciate you being here. you know the stories are shocking to our conscience americans need to have their conscience unfortunately continue to be shocked because of what continues to happen. but the stories break our hearts. not much else to say than that. dr. hanson, we've seen isis crucify in public squares, stone to death women, throw gay people off of buildings, and proudly
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tweet and post these horrific acts on youtube, other social media. in fact, they've gained followers based on the use of social media. the question is, has isis' propaganda campaign affected the disposition of religious minority communities beyond iraq and syria? and what effective action would you recommend the united states to combat isis, the propaganda especially on social media? have you researched that, and what are your recommendations? hanson: my research doesn't directly encompass social media. one of the things that we have noticed in working with the cultural heritage destruction and the religious heritage destruction is that the videos are clearly designed to demonstrate power and demonstrate terror. right now we have an nsf grant to study what's happening with damage -- with the phenomenon of damage to cultural heritage and why it's occurring and we're working on
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answering some very basic questions, like when does cultural heritage damage take place? is it before or after the religious minority population is physically threatened and murdered? when it comes to social media, what is happening with the videos is exactly the same thing that's happening with the videos of deaths and destructions. the cultural heritage site rbzing destroyed -- are being destroyed in a way to demonstrate power and terror. rep. -- we'll wait to hear back from you based on the grant, if you have any recommendations. i'd like to turn to -- correction -- miss kabawat, is that right? we've been told by the administration that the u.s. government is examining all -- i emphasize all
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-- viable options for detecting minority vulnerable communities and halting the parade of atrocities isis is committing what happen do you view? you lived there on the ground. what is the viable options for the u.s. to protect these communities, if there are any? kabawat: again, mr. congressman, i feel on the ground, when they hear this kind of comment, the people get little bit disappointed and angry. we can't protect one minority without thinking about what happens happening to the whole country. we're talking about thousand of refugees, of christians but also there is millions of sunnis and they're paying the price from isis. so, the solution will be a package. we don't want to be isolated from the other syrian who we have been raised and lived with them all our lives. i want a solution not only for the minority, i want a solution for whole syria. we need to stop the conflict. so when we say we want to protect us, it's offending me because i don't want to be
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protected when my other neighbors, sunni, has been attacked. so please protect the whole civilian. we have so many moderate muslim, christians, we live together all our lives. so if you want to protect us, as a christian, i'm asking you protect also my neighbors. thank you. rep/. perry: sister diana, do you think that the isis targeting of minority communities in areas has primarily been due to strategic opportunity, because you're there and it's easy, you're vulnerable, or is there something more deliberate? i mean, would you articulate if it's one or the other or a combination of the two? sister diana: as i mentioned earlier, mr. congressman, it was quite shock for us because we used to watch the news on tv
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that isis took over mosul, but we never thought someday in a few hours we'll be out of our homes, left with nothing at all. i, myself, only with my habit and my purse, which i was lucky i had my passport in it. most of my sisters and people left with no documents, nothing. so it start with the plane and it was a gradually. if it was deliberately or not, i can't say that but all what i know now we were driven out of our homes within a couple hours, that was. without any warning. rep/. perry: my time's expired. thank you. rep. royce: we go now to mr. david sis leaney of rhode island. >> thank you for calling this hearing. thank you to our
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witnesses for your courageous testimony and the description of the horrors and the violence and the sadistic behavior of this terrorist organization, i hope is something that the whole world understands better as a result of your being here today, significant personal risks yourself and the work that you're doing. thank you for being here. as my colleague from massachusetts said, i think our whole committee's committed to doing everything that we can to support the preservation of cultural and religious site. but more importantly in my view to do all that we can to protect and save lives. this effort to destroy cultural and religious sites, i think, is clearly an extension of the terrorist effort to eliminate entire religious communities in this region, something we have to respond to in the strongest terms. terms. my first question is, i know there are religious minorities, christians, yazidis, faced terrible persecution and have fled their ancient homelands. but they're aunable -- unable to cross the border so
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they're technically refugees, -- not technically refugees they're internally displaced , persons. these are vulnerable population what happens can the united states be doing bettor -- better help these communities that are trapped in very unsafe locations be in a safer place and provide some protection. these internally displaced what i would call refugees, even though they're not technically refugees because they haven't left the border of their own country. anyone? isaac: mr. congressman, when i went to northern iraq and i met the kurdish -- the kurdistan regional government, i was amazed the work they've done. not because of meetings i went to but because of the ground. i went and saw the girls kidnapped and raped by isis, for exampling and i saw the care they were getting. yes, the kurdistan regional government doesn't have a lot of resources but they're still doing everything that they
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can to make yazidis, like the girls that we met, christians, and all other religious minorities feel like an equal. in fact, a lot of these workers have been unpaid for months at a time. to give everything that they have to these religious minorities, shows that they are truly a safe haven. i've never seen a people like the kurdish people because they have gone through their own atrocities so many times. they understand what it's like to be a religious minority fleeing. so i say the solution is to support, number one, the peshmerga army who is the ones on the front lines and boots on the ground. let's help them as they fight this war, let's support them in any way. help the kurdistan government by providing providing humanitarian assistance with psychological care. when i was in jordan, i
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helping the syrian refugees, i remember a little boy and u.n. secretary-general bon ki-moon flown over and said, do you see that helicopter? i said, yeah. he said i hope to god it bombs jordan. i was shocked. i said, why would you say something like that? because it happened to me. it has to happen to everyone else. a lot of the children that are coming in to these territories have seen so much destruction and trauma and they don't how to how to deal with it. in order to protect the world we need to focus on the , new generation and how do we do that? by supporting the kurdistan regional government as they work on not just the medical care but that psychological element as well. and of course, the support of -- support the partners like egypt and jordan, also bringing in refugees and taking care of their people. in egypt alone they're educating 14,000 college students from syria. and
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thousands of, about 40,000 students in elementary schools are being taken care of. let's support them on the ground. rep/. cicilline: i was just in jordan and saw at border and the syrian borden the incredible work of the jordanians, you know, supporting over 1.5 million refugees fleeing syria. we have to be sure that we continue to support that. miss kabawat? kabawat: again mr. congressman, i emphasize about the solution of the protected zone. we need it. i've been also in jordan last month. it's so important to start thinking about this. we need to get the civilian in a safe way, in a safe area, that can be protected from the isis and from the bomb of the syrian regimes. we need it. this will give better position for turkey and jordan so they can take care of other things. we thanks to the american for all of the humanitarian aid they're give

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