tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN March 18, 2016 8:45pm-9:41pm EDT
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>> welcome. on behalf of my colleagues here i want tohost, welcome you to our monthly conservative women's network lunch. we are very pleased and honored to have a very distinguished speaker with us. especially so in this particular week, it has been a very important week in terms of the united states taken a strong moral stand in the fight against isis. on monday, the united states helped representatives unanimously pass a resolution condemning the campaign against christians and religious minorities in the middle east as crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide. it called on governments to do the same.
john kerry recognized that isis is waging a genocide against yazidis, christians, and shiites in the areas under its control. this is only the second time in the united states' government history they have condemned an ongoing genocide. there was some doubt that the united states would include christians. our colleagues have been writing about this for several months. today, we have a tireless warrior for this cause. she has been tireless in helping document the christian genocide, and has worked tirelessly to educate the public, media, lawmakers, and government leaders. nina shea is the director of the center for religious freedom at the hudson institute. she has worked as an international human rights lawyer for more than 30 years. she works to advance individual religious freedom, and human
rights, and foreign policy as it confronts islamic extremism and nationalist and remnant communist regimes. she undertakes scholarships and advocacy in defense of those persecuted for religious beliefs and identities, and acts on democratic measures to end violence and oppression abroad. she has served seven terms on the u.s. commission on religious freedom. during the soviet era, her first client before the united nations was andrei sakharov. since then, she has been appointed as the u.s. delegate to the main human rights party by republican and democratic administrations. she served as a member of the clinton administration's advisors.
in 2005, she served as a member of the coalition to unesco. she has played a role in grassroots for the international religious freedom acts and has organized and led a coalition of churches and religious groups to end a religious war against non-muslims and dissident muslims in sudan. she organized and led a coalition of persecuted iraqi and egyptian christian minorities, which was relieved by a bipartisan congressional panel on may 7. in the summer of 2014, she met with pope francis to discuss the persecution of christians in the middle east. she worked across a broad range of persecuted religious minorities in the world. she has also testified and advises congress regularly on these issues.
i would encourage everyone to check out the hudson institute's website to give you her many accomplishments and links to her writings. in a radio interview nina had had yesterday she noted that this is an incredibly critical first step. it is just a step. as secretary kerry pointed out yesterday, the stakes in this campaign are utterly existential. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming a leader in the fight, nina shea, as she updates on isis' christian genocide and the policies ahead. [applause] nina: thank you so much, bridget. i want to thank heritage and the policy institute for inviting me.
when they did, we had no idea it would be such a momentus week for this topic of christian genocide in the middle east. yesterday at 9:00 a.m. eastern, secretary kerry took the podium and asserted "in my judgment daesh, another word for isis, is responsible for genocide for groups under its control -- including yazidis, christians, and shia muslims. they are genocidal by self ideology, actions, in what it says and does." that is the official u.s. designation. he goes on to give a talk about that. i encourage you to look it up. it is a genocide designation that is historic, surprising, important, and possibly of
utmost significance. that is what i want to talk to you about. it is, as bridget said, the second time in u.s. history when the u.s. designated genocide while it was still going on. the other time was when secretary powell designated darfur as genocide. it has designation under the law as genocide and it is harmful acts committed with -- killings and harmful acts committed with the intent to destroy all or part of a group. a religious group, for example, national group, or ethnic group. ongoing means two important implications. it means that you do not want to wait until lambs are slaughtered like we saw with europe's jews
under the nazi period. 2/3's of that population were killed. we want to prevent it from getting to that number. we want to protect those victims early in what we think is a developing genocide. it also means that because it is ongoing the data is soft. it is not easy to run around in a war zone with conflicts raging. isis is still in iraq and syria at the crime scene. there are huge flows of refugees. it is hard to get testimony. we do know enough, we know too much. the knights of columbus this week, or last week, released
this report on their website and it has thousands of names of christians who have been killed, raped, or tortured because they are christian. they believe it is only the tip of the iceberg. we are hearing new cases that are not in this report. i was talking to cardinal mccarrick, who has just gotten back from iraq, touring the refugee camps. he said a woman told him, and it is not in this report, that she saw her husband crucified on the door of their home. i work for an edition for relief and reconciliation in the middle east. it supports refugees from iraq and jordan.
it seems like every family that we are helping has a story. i'm thinking of georgina, a young gal that left iraq when isis came in. she left in a car with her grandmother. her parents, and three brothers and another car. they never arrived. only she and her grandmother arrived in jordan. she doesn't know what happened to her family, no doubt they were murdered by isis. there are mass graves in sinjar where the yazidis area is. there were also three orthodox churches there. no one knows what happened to those congregations. there is speculation that some are in the graves. some were seen being taken into mosul, meaning they would be killed or enslaved for sexual abuse. there are mass graves in syria.
these names are not in. i'm trying to emphasize that we only have the tip of the iceberg because it is an ongoing genocide. last summer, we learned there was a protestant pastor outside of aleppo that was crucified for refusing to recant his faith. so was his 12-year-old son after his fingertips were cut off by isis, they were both crucified. we think of isis as showing up in august of 2014 or june of 2014 -- that summer. isis started as al qaeda in iraq in 2004. it morphed into something called the islamic state of iraq in 2006. al-baghdadi was put on the terrorist list in 2014.
here is eight years between the start of ic and isis. all this time, this group has been raping, torturing, and murdering, particularly targeting christians as a main civilian target. one of the biggest ways that they attack christians is by taking hostages for ransom. this is a silent one-by-one genocide. thousands of christians have been taken for ransom. many of them have been tortured and killed. bishops have been killed while trying to redeem priests. priests have been killed while trying to redeem their
congregation that has been taken hostage. wives have been killed as they bring ransom money for their husbands. hostages have been killed after the ransom has been paid. this has been going on all this time. one of my close friends from iraq, he has been featured in knights of columbus ads on television and was in town last week, he was taken hostage, tortured, beaten, shot in the leg, they broke his teeth, nose, back with hammers. he was finally released with ransom. entire towns have been taken captive. there are 200 christians now captive in syria. their church pays ransom for them to keep them alive. 20 of them recently escaped.
there's another group of towns that were taken captive for ransom last year. the final hostages in that case were released a couple of weeks ago. they -- isis, executed three of them and made a video of their execution to bring more money from the syrian church. they demanded money far beyond the capability of that church. in isis territory, there is no church, priest, or pastor. no impact christian congregation anywhere in isis control. this genocide designation by the u.s. government was welcome, but a surprise. since october, the united states
state department has been giving indications that it is willing to designate the yazidis religion as a victims of genocide, but not the christians. the yazidis have sever tremendously with thousands of women still enslaved. this continues throughout the fall, the reluctance and unwillingness to also include the christian congressman jeff fortenberry from nebraska who introduced the resolution that passed that bridget referred to that unanimously passed. his district houses the largest yazidis population in the united states. he asked on february 28 of secretary kerry if they would include christians in the
genocide designation, which was mandated by congress to be made yesterday. secretary kerry on february 24 said to the congressman "they are not killing them, but it is a removal." i can't think of a more cautious, neutral, and misleading term than "removal" in referring to the christians' experience with isis. one day before the deadline, the state department had a public announcement that they would not make the deadline. it was pretty apparent they were resistant. the reason why was, they explained that some point, is that isis did not have an intent to kill or destroy the christian community. that it actually respected
christians and jews as people of the book -- meaning people of the bible. this is, of course, the islamic tradition calling christians and jews people of the book. isis does not follow islamic tradition. it does not want to coexist peacefully with christians or non-muslims. this is repeated in today's "new york times" about the genocide designation yesterday. how state department officials said that christians had a different deal. the implication all along has been that of christians paid the islamic tax that isis was offering them the christians could have stayed and lived happily ever after in their homes. the christians refused and chose to leave.
this is a phenomenal misconception. it is partly based on lack of knowledge. the state department did not send fact-finding teams to the region to find out what was going on with the christians. c\olin powell did when he sent troops to darfur. the knights of columbus went to the region to gather facts and they used the same questionnaire that the powell teams used. about 30 experts and christian leaders, from cardinals to an expert for american progress on the left -- a whole array of christian leaders -- signed a letter asking secretary kerry for a meeting so that they could come in and brief him about the
situation on december 4. we never got an answer. one month before the deadline for genocide designation, the state department went to the knights of columbus, because they had been running television ads, and asked them to collect facts and present it to them in a report. which is what the report did. without waiting for the findings to come back to them, they visited, state department officials, went visiting state officials from iraq and told them genocide was out of the question. the state department did not have any interviews of christian leaders directly dealing with isis over the islamic tax issue. this is the pivotal issue over whether isis intended to destroy christians as it did yazidis to
meet the definition of the genocide convention. i did interview the syrian catholic priest who had dealings with isis, and he said that isis demanded that the adult christian men leave mosul in july 2014 and come to an auditorium to meet with them to learn the terms which isis expected. the christian men decided that it was a trap. that they were being rounded up for slaughter. in the best scenario, if they weren't killed, isis -- they did not trust isis to protect their women and girls. no one protects -- no one trusts isis. not even the state department. they thought the christians
should have taken the deal. the concerns of these christian leaders were validated a short time later when a dozen christian women and girls were taken as slaves and they have not been seen since. the church has not succeeded in ransoming them. 1000 yazidis women and girls have also been taken. that was about one month later. in october, isis released a slave price list giving out prices, sale prices, for the slaves. it is not only the amount of money designated and age, but also christian and ethnicity. these were the slaves being sold. instead of learning about the situation, the state department
seemed to take, it is still in the new york times today, seemed to take isis propaganda at state value -- at face value. the state department's own propaganda on the issue of christian attacks and islamic attacks, for christians to peacefully coexist with isis, is preposterous. we have all seen the beheading videos. isis does not want to coexist with christians. the state department's coordinator for counterterrorism, who worked for secretary kerry until a year ago, ambassador fernandes, wrote a study and called it a publicity stunt, a ploy for further atrocities that serves two purposes.
it makes al-baghdadi look more khalifa-like. and it allows them to either forcibly convert christians or to keep the women around for rape, or forcible marriage to their fighters, or to extract more money from the patriarchs who are in other cities with international financial networks. this genocide declaration yesterday is extremely important. it is important because of the moral power of it. it is the crime of crimes, the most heinous of all human rights crimes. this is reflected in the fact
that it gives a moral boost to the people that have been designated, christians, ethnic shia, and yazidis. today, i received a video thanking the united states from the father and children in his camp. it was wonderful to see that. they are following very closely. they feel, until now, forgotten. here is their christian civilization that was 2000 years old wiped out by a force of hatred that hasn't been seen before. every trace of their civilization is being systematically destroyed by isis. these are churches and monasteries that have withstood 1300 years, the invasions of the romans, mongols, arabs, turks, and so forth.
they cannot withstand this alone. this needs to be recognized. it can be of utmost significance, this designation, if there's a policy roadmap adopted by the administration. it has to be put into place now. not only is the situation dire on the ground in syria and iraq, but the government here is in transition, or will soon be in transition. we will lose one year between the lame-duck and the learning curve of the new administration. what can be done? what should be in the policy roadmap? there are judicial actions. secretary kerry alludes to that. he says he will start preserving and collecting evidence. that this is the business of the
court. this is something that will be directed against those who aid or abet cyber recruiters, financers, arms suppliers, artifact smugglers, all of these accomplices could someday be caught and tried. there is also military action. secretary kerry alludes to that as well, and talks about how they have an eye to the protection of the minority communities that have been named the victims of genocide by liberating their occupied territory and freeing them of isis. he names none of the -- nineveh in iraq in particular. there are other actions that secretary kerry can take in his own portfolio in the state department.
he should adopt these and put them into action. i will discuss them quickly, because our time is short and i want to answer questions. here are five examples. first is refugee resettlement visas to the united states. christians from syria have been grossly underrepresented in the numbers are -- in the numbers resettled. they constituted 10% before the war. there have been only 60 christians and one yazidi over five years of syrian conflict that have gotten pieces to resettle here. -- gotten visas to resettle here. here there have been six christians and no yazidis this
year. they have a published database -- a published database that lists religion. we are bringing in 1000 refugees from syria. six christians is one family and zero yazidis. in iraq, most of the christians and yazidis are displaced in iraqi kurdistan. all of those years pushed them north into the city of nineveh. most of the christians remain in iraq or nineveh during -- most of them are now in a iraqi kurdistan with no resettlement rights. they are not refugees because they are within their own country, yet they cannot resettle in kurdistan. they do not have rights to drive a car, open a bank account, start a business.
there has to be some kind of plan for them, for many of them. many of them are too traumatized to go back to their home. in the event that their land is not liberated from isis, that is still a question, they will all have to be resettled in the west. there is nowhere in the region for them to go. the second thing would be land and property restitution. these minorities lost their homes, businesses, and farms. isis in many cases has passed them on to other people i selling them or giving them away. other people could have possession of them. the state department must press the governments involved to give priority recognition to the titles of the genocide victims. that is something for them to do.
another item would be a place at the peace table. there is no christian voice at those peace talks. they are not at the table. borders will be redrawn, constitutions drafted, and there is no voice or input. these minorities will be marginalized or shut out of whatever replaces the old syria. we have to speak up for them. humanitarian aid. there is donor fatigue setting in, the minorities cannot go into you and camps because they are too dangerous for them. the persecution that has driven them out of their homes follows them into these camps. there is no christian in the camp and jordan run by the u.n.. these are mostly iraqi and
syrian christians in jordan and the u.n. has large camps, probably the second largest city of jordan is probably a refugee camp and there is not a single christian there. it's very dangerous for them. they are dependent on private aid and church eight and the u.s. government must ensure these genocide victims are not short changed. finally, reconstruction aid -- i say finally because that's my list of five but there are more things that can be done. if and when they do return to their homes after the defeat of isis, these genocide victims will need help reconstructing their homes and towns and churches. america's reconstruction aid to iraq after the military surge was largely diverted away from the christian areas by national and local government. the u.s. government must recognize the specific challenges facing these minorities and provide greater,
more direct, more transparent and more oversight on their behalf. secretary kerry said what dash wants to a race we must preserve and i cannot be -- once to you race we must preserve and that cannot be a reality until we do this. in his announcement today, secretary kerry took the pains to point out that he is not a judge or a prosecutor or jury. and that a judicial and formal legal procedure will be needed. but he has taken a bold step and there are things he can do we're going to need all of your help to get it done. thank you. [applause] we have some time for questions. we have a couple of microphones in the room and i would ask if you raise your hand and wait for
the microphone so that it and be captured on the recording. >> identify yourself and please give your affiliation as well. so -- we are ready for question. thank you. >> i have more than one question. how do we get involved and why do you think it took so long for them to recognize christians over others? >> how do you think we as students should get involved? what you think it took so long to recognize the christians? >> yeah, students can do a lot. everybody can do a lot.
we have the internet. we will be putting up petitions and doing conferences and campaigns and letter writing and contacting your congressman. because this was so unexpected, we don't have a whole set of action points right now. when i say we, i mean a coalition of activists. i have worked all my life to achieve successes in this field and it has been done through working with teams of others, other coalitions. look on my website at hudson.org under nina shea and i write for national review quite frequent late will often put in those pieces, links to more information, links to petitions that we need signatures for. until yesterday, we had a
petition from the knights of columbus that got over 140,000 signatures including a lot of dignitaries. that was part of the pressure because all of this builds pressure. there was the fortenberry amendment that passed unanimously monday and that built pressure. there was the press conference we had last week with the knights of columbus for its report and that old pressure. the european parliament in january past with strong socialist support, a resolution also calling for the designation of genocide on behalf of the european parliament for christians and other minorities. all of that was building pressure and that's why there was this delay or the state department would have just declared a genocide back in
october. that would have been the end of it. that would have been very hurtful for the other minorities. basically, by so -- by selecting one, you are excluding the others by implication. why are they reluctant to do it? there are layers of reasons. one was the ostensible reason that they said it's because they did not think isis -- they think isis respects christians as people. that's basically their stated reason. the second layer may be that -- they don't want to --
feed enemy propaganda that this is a crusader war by sticking up for christians. that was, interestingly enough, the finding of the holocaust museum regarding the nazi holocaust, that the reason that president roosevelt did not single out the jews for concern for american concern at the time was that he did not want to feed anti-semitic propaganda and that the united states was acting on behalf of only the jews and that was absolutely catastrophic as we saw. ships of refugees were turned away at that time. there is a lot of parallel. we are trying to head this off before everybody is killed, frankly. those are a couple of reasons. >> the question here?
>> i agree that this definition of genocide adds a moral dimension to it. what are the consequences if the government does not act upon the designation? >> that's a great question. it gets to the core of activism. in a democracy, and an election year, there will be response. that's the beauty of democracy and elections. there is political pressure from the grassroots and that's all of us. if we choose to use our rights in this democracy -- if there is a good idea we had the facts on our side, the advantage of having the facts on her side and once you have that and they are irrefutable, then the
government, um, individual actors, not just some big iraq receipt but secretary kerry, president obama or ambassador samantha power who wrote a book on genocide. she literally wrote the book on genocide and u.s. policy. they are not going to want to risk their reputations to go down in history saying that they did nothing. it's a path, a path that they are traveling down. once you call it genocide, there is no going back. then you say will why didn't you do it? i am dismayed by all the media coverage that emphasizes that there are no legal requirements. the reason the media says that is that's what some of the unidentified state department officials are saying that there is no legal requirement to take any action. there may not be legal requirements but there are
certainly moral requirements. i am not advocating a military involvement or troops on the ground which some have been whispering. the economist wrote about that a couple of weeks ago that while this would mean for troops on the ground, some analysts say. i am not advocating that at all. i think that would be counterproductive. i do see these other things we can do to rescue the minority by giving them refugee status or by making sure they have a place at the peace talks so that they can say what they will need to stay. what kind of laws they want. freedom of religion, equal rights -- secretary kerry, in his talk, references equal rights and they say they're going to advocate them. we've got to get more tactical now and say here is the example
of where it's needed. maybe that's the religious identity line on the national identity card. you want to press the government to react. that is a tool for persecution, frankly. in any part of the world. >> one of the most stunning parts of your remarks is how syrian christian refugees have been accepted. even the body of syrian refugees that have been accepted, they are underrepresented. >> it's like 1%. >> to me, that's almost inexplicable in the sense that one of the barriers to accepting more has been the security question.
you don't want to let in terrorist but here we have syrians who have been victimized by terrorism, by isis terrorists and yet our own government, in a sense, is victimizing them yet again. do you think this genocide designation will somehow prod the bureaucracy to take action on this issue or is there a role for congress in rewriting some of the laws for refugees that could help some of these syrian and iraqi christians get out? >> yes, in fact there is legislation in the works now to designate a certain percentage of those refugees slots to the minorities that have been designated as genocide victims from syria. we are going to have to press them on everything because their approach now when i brought this to their attention last fall, the state department response has been, we've got to find out
how many christians want to apply and how many are being turned away from applying or having a hard time applying. i think that's the wrong approach. there are more than six christians who want to come to the united states. they want to get out of syria. there is certainly more than 60 over the last five years. we should start with the premise that there are others who want to apply. we should go around the system we have in place. the problem here is that the u.s. refugee referral system is done through the u.n. the u.n. takes its refugees from their camps.
as i said, the camps are too dangerous for these minorities because they are victims of genocide and they are targeted. it's too dangerous for them to go there. the u.n. has every incentive to ship out the people it's working to feed and house in their camps so that's who gets referred. that's who has been referred to other western countries as well, not just us. it's a very pathetic situation. it needs to be, instead of interviewing refugees, some stranger going over there and interviewing them about them having problems with the u.n. when the u.n. holds the keys to their future, they will not want to go on record not knowing who is asking them this question, attacking the u.n. because that's the only route out for them.
>> it seems to me, that the grassroots is all in place in the churches. every church, and i am a member of three at the moment, having in three different places, they all have missions, they feed people in this country and they do this for that country and they do all these missions. i have not heard one of my churches mention anything about the genocide or trying to get a groundswell of support to help. how would they proceed? and why are we not hearing from the christian churches? ms. shea: that's an excellent question. you hit your finger on one of the big problems with this. the grassroots are not active as
they should we because the churches are not taking the lead in this to a large extent. some are. so i don't want to say that everybody is not. in my own church, i often don't hear about this either and we pray for victims of natural disasters and the ebola disaster. and never for this. i don't really understand it. one clue i got that was an eye-opener that a lot of the church leaders or active have so many other issues on their plate that they cannot make this their priority. again, this shows exactly why the genocide designation is so critical. because it does elevate it to a higher plane, demanding attention and action. again, i hope you look at the
knights of columbus report and go on my website and look at my own writings and follow it and then you will get ideas about how you can take it to your three churches. that would be great. and everybody here has networks whether it's church networks or family networks or community networks. you can do the same thing. it's just what we're talking about, electronic petitions, or e-mail tog, your members of congress. we are going to make a push for some of these action points and we have to do it fast because the transition in washington will distract everybody. we have a very little window here. >> what are the committees in the congress we should be following for action on some of the points you have raised? and which members of congress would take the lead? >> i was speaking to the state department yesterday after the speech. they were saying that we really
do have to be concerned about appropriations. there is the funding to do some of this stuff. not everything requires funding like getting christians at the peace table does not require or pressing but government for property titles. that is not going to require funding but there will be some funding required for some of this. as that evolves, maybe in a year or a month from now, those committee members will be extremely important. even foreign affairs, the fortenberry bill that called it a genocide on monday which pushed it over the edge for the administration because it was totally bipartisan. 393 votes in favor and zero against in an election year, that's pretty good. that was started in the foreign
affairs committee, which does not have a whole lot of leverage. congressman fortenberry is involved in the appropriations committee so they probably knew that. it's all interconnected. there are many avenues. >> any other questions? >> i just want to emphasize that we all have a role. we have a copy of her most recent national review piece outside that you all can take. i would encourage you and especially young people who are here, to search online for the e and post it to your facebook and this video will be posted on our website. i would encourage you to look back and share that link on your facebook so we can make an even wider audience aware and for those watching on c-span, i would encourage you to check out
amina's page on the hudson institute and check the daily signal. we've got a couple of videos interviewing the priests that nina mentioned. stay tuned, i'm sure we will hear more about it and nina will be following this closely along with holly here at heritage james phillips. , we have a few thank you gifts for you which is our tradition. i will let lauren present first. >> thank you. >> thank you so much on behalf of of the clare booth lose policy institute. i would like to present you our mug with the phrase -- no good deed goes unpunished. [laughter] something you are familiar with. i would like to give you a copy of our annual 2016 great american conservative women calendar. anyone can have a copy. ms. shea: excellent.
>> i would like to give you finally our tote bag. ms. shea: thank you so much. >> thank you all for coming. [applause] >> across the lobby, we can continue the conversation with nina so thank you for being here. ms. shea: that's wonderful. [indiscriminate chatter] >> tonight on c-span, republican presidential candidate ted cruz holding a conference in southern arizona, and a john kasich town hall meeting and orrin, utah. later, a meeting with secretary
ash carter. >> this weekend, the c-span a city store posted by our cable partners takes you to montgomery, alabama to explore the cities literary culture. that wasw you a house the turning point for scott and zelda. when they moved here, the idea was to regroup. landing pad, it was a regrouping stage. it was not the sort of place where you were going to find scott and zelda engaging and domestic activities, if you will. it was the sort of place where they would be planning their next move during >> and on "american history tv,"
>> george wallace really tries to reach this moderate and make progressive improvements. naacps the support of the in his initial campaign. but he loses by a significant margin to john patterson. he is completely devastated by this loss. all he wants to be as governor and he is very upset by this loss. he considers that a failing. what thele ask him take away from the 1958 campaign is, he says, i tried to talk good roadsvement and and good schools, and no one would listen. but when i started talking about segregation, everybody stopped and started listening to me. at noon on saturday the c-span a city
store, working with our cable affiliates and visiting city across the country. presidential candidate ted cruz held a meeting in arizona to talk about border security. perry andned by rick a law enforcement. it is 20 minutes. >> good evening everyone, i am marked, the sheriff in this county. i want to say thank you to the for coming out here and bringing true awareness and educating senator cruz and governor perry on what is going on in our border. we could get more people in washington, d.c. to see what is going on in here. the true life for people who live on the border. that being ,